Sister Michelle Amos had just started to flourish in the empty-nest phase of her career when she got called to serve a mission instead.

June 1, 2022 8:23 am

By Shelley Hunter

Listen to the Episode

Setting Her Priorities

Having been a NASA Engineer at Kennedy Space Center for 30 years, Sister Michelle Amos is passionate about her career. But it's not the most important thing in her life. Instead, she prioritizes God and Family (in that order) above her work.

Michelle Amos at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Sister Michelle Amos and a colleague at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Here are some of the ways she has shown allegiance to those priorities over the years:

  • Engaging in Service. Despite working full-time, Sister Amos never turned down a church calling or an opportunity to serve in the community. She served as the Relief Society President, Young Women President, Stake Young Women President, Cubmaster, and more at church. She did plenty of outreach at schools for NASA and led community events in Orlando as well.
  • Carefully Choosing Projects. When colleagues pushed for bigger and better opportunities at work, Sister Amos stood down, determined to be available to her children as much as possible. She went to the office early so she could leave in time to pick the kids up from school and rarely worked on projects that required overtime.
  • Waiting to Further Her Education. Though she wanted to obtain a master's degree, Sister Amos delayed post-graduate studies until the kids were older and a little more self-sufficient. She recalls, "I was a mother, I had small children, so I had to wait until my children were in high school or out of the home to take on management training or get my master's degree. I remember sitting at the table with my kids; we were all doing homework."
  • Partnering with Her Husband. President John Amos encouraged Sister Amos to apply for the job at NASA. He supported her desire to work after the kids came along as well. She says, "President Amos has always been supportive of my career as an engineer. ... President worked locally in the city, so he could be there if there were emergencies at school. We knew our positions. We were able to plan if there were school activities or school events."

In addition to those daily choices, this successful engineer also had to make big decisions too.

Michelle Amos and family

President and Sister Amos with their family

Quitting the Job She Loved

When the kids went off to college, Sister Amos finally got the chance to further her career and take on more significant opportunities. In November of 2018, she got selected to join a flagship project as a Systems Engineer for the Mars 2020 Rover--a role she relished and temporarily moved to California to fulfill. Then just as the team prepared for the launch, Sister Amos and her husband got called to serve as mission leaders for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Once again, Sister Amos sublimated her career aspirations to put God first in her life.

In this interview, you'll learn how she made the decision, what it cost her, and the unexpected blessings her obedience brought. Plus, as amazing as her career at NASA was, you'll hear why Sister Amos believes it was simply preparation for the higher calling she now holds.

It's a good story. Have a listen.

Artemis Moon Exploration

Artemis Moon Exploration

I think everything I've done in my life to this point was God preparing me to do this mission. My work at NASA is helping me reach people I would've never been able to reach as a missionary.

- Sister Michelle Amos -

Artemis Rollout in 2022

Artemis Rollout in 2022

President and Sister Amos with missionaries

President and Sister Amos with missionaries serving in Louisiana Baton Rouge

We are intelligences... We are encouraged to seek after knowledge... If you have all of this knowledge, then you need to use that knowledge to help and benefit others.

- Sister Michelle Amos -

Sister Amos in kitchen with missionaries

Sister Amos with missionaries

Download the Transcript

 At the Pinnacle of Her NASA Career, She Left to Serve a More Important Mission

Guest: Sister Michelle Amos

Shelley Hunter: You're listening to the Faithful Career Moves podcast. I'm your host, Shelley Hunter. This is the place where we talk to people who have found the career they were born to do and recognize God's hand in the process. Welcome to Episode 31 of the Faithful Career Moves podcast. Today I'm honored to be talking to Sister Michelle Amos. She's the Mission President's wife and companion for the Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Now, prior to being called as a mission leader, Sister Amos worked for 30 years at NASA Kennedy Space Center as an electrical design engineer, project manager, and systems engineer. She worked on several flagship NASA programs, including the Mars 2020 Rover, which landed on Mars February 18th, 2021. That landing made headline news because it's significant to the world, but also because Sister Amos got permission to share the experience with the missionaries serving in Louisiana. It's a remarkable story and I can't wait to share the behind-the-scenes here with you today.

Before we start, I want to highlight a theme in the show that may be evident throughout, but it's specifically addressed just before I asked my final question. At first glance, it may seem like Sister Amos left behind an illustrious career at NASA to instead serve the Lord on a mission, but that's not how she sees it, and neither do I. 

Consider that as you listen to this interview. I asked Sister Amos to introduce herself to you today.

Sister Michelle Amos: I'm Sister Amos. I'm a Mission President's wife, and leader of the Louisiana Baton Rouge Mission. My husband and I, we have three children, and we have five grandchildren. We were asked by the leaders of the church to serve a mission. We left our home in Orlando, Florida, where we've lived for over 30 years to serve a three-year mission for our church in Louisiana. This mission covers a good portion of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. My husband and I, together, we manage over 200 missionaries serving throughout these states. We just love people, we share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them, we invite them to come unto Christ, we also show our love for them through service.

Before the mission, I was a NASA engineer for Kennedy Space Center for over 30 years. My background is electrical engineering. I started off doing communications design engineering, that's any type of communication systems data, video, or voice communication. Then I ventured off into project management leading the whole team of people. My final work that I was doing before I left for the mission was a systems engineer. A systems engineer is getting more back on the technical side, making sure all of the systems in a project work together to give us a whole solution.

I had the privilege of working at our nation's space program on two really-- we call them flagship missions. These involve a lot of people and a lot of money, and sometimes it can involve international partners. I was working on the Mars 2020 Rover at the Jet Propulsion Lab. Right before I left for the mission, I was working on NASA's new lunar exploration program called Artemis. I was at the top of my career, enjoying the work, and the Lord said, "Give that up, Sister Amos. Come and serve with me. You're now ready. I need you over here to work in the vineyard."

Shelley: I have so many questions, but let's go back to the start of your career. How did you get to work at NASA?

Sister Amos: Okay. I have three brothers that are engineers, and I graduated in '84. This is back in the '80s, and they were saying, "You should study engineering because there's not a lot of African Americans, first of all. There's not a lot of African American females, and you're smart and you can do it." They had already been at Southern University. My family's from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Our family went to the Southern University. Let me tell you that one. 10 children, 7 of us graduated from college. In our home, it wasn't, "Are you going to go to college?" It was more like, "What are you going to study? What do you want to be?"

They encouraged me, kind of gave me that nudge to study electrical engineering. I'm at Southern University, I completed my engineering degree. In my senior year, I met President Amos, we got engaged. He had already been in the Navy, and he was committed to serve for four years as a nuclear power engineer. He was going to Orlando for the nuclear power training program. I had to find a job in Florida. He comes over, we're in the engineering building, studying or hanging out, whatever and he says, "NASA is recruiting. You need to get your resume and get over there ASAP."

I went over to the recruitment center, I sat down for an interview. Turns out the lady who interviewed me became an astronaut. She was very interested in me. I kept my average up. It was very important to keep your grades high so that you can be a good competitor for positions. She submitted my application for hire. After graduating we were in Florida and NASA called me and offered me the position. I got an interview, I went to visit the Kennedy Space Center, my boss who hired me said, "We need people to come in and help to digitize an operational intercom system."

This is the system that we use on launch for testing and throughout the Kennedy Space Center, over 2000 people will be communicating on this system at one time and it's all analog, older technology from the [unintelligible 00:06:54] days. They wanted us to come in and they were hiring new engineers to come in and help digitize the system. I said, "That's what I would be working on?" I was like, "Sold."

Shelley: You were excited by that?

Sister Amos: I was so excited. I had done all my co-op opportunities with IBM. I was ready. I was what they call collared blue. I was ready to go work for IBM at the Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had already worked there a year and a half. When I met president, everything kind of changed, I wasn't going to go back to North Carolina, I was going to have to find a job in Florida.

The experience of working at NASA has been just phenomenal. It has been exciting, it has never been dull. I've loved every bit of it. I feel honored to be able to serve my nation and to serve the people of the United States of America in this position, and to work with so many experts in the United States and through an international also to do things that others have never done before.

Shelley: Yes, it's pretty remarkable. When you hear that somebody works for NASA, it feels so much bigger than a job.

Sister Amos: Yes, [laughs] and most people at NASA realize that. They realize that the work that we do, NASA's mission is to benefit human life on earth. We all feel like we're in a calling. We know our work is going to have huge impacts on our nation and it does. There's so much technology that we transfer back into the public that helps benefit all humanity not just the people in the United States.

Shelley: Oh, interesting. Things that are developed at NASA then come to us and we probably don't even know they originated in NASA.

Sister Amos: Yes, that's correct.

Shelley: Interesting. Okay, so you have three children. How did you make that work?

Sister Amos: [laughs] Well, President Amos has always been supportive of my career as an engineer. We both did engineering majors and so we knew we both were going to work to use our skills and our technology. Engineers all over the world are doing things to help benefit all humans like building bridges, building equipment, all your computer, technology, it's just everything in our lives. A lot of things in our lives are engineered.

NASA was about 40 minutes from our home in Orlando. I would leave home early to make sure that I could get back home early. When the kids were small, we had nannies come into the home and take care of them. When they got a little older, they did go to daycare, and then, of course, they started school. I was always out of the house really early so I could be home when the kids were out of school or almost out of school, and that I could pick them up.

President worked locally in the city in Orlando, and so he was able to be there for if there were any emergencies at school. We knew our positions. We were able to plan if there were school activities or school events, this is through elementary, middle school. You have to plan. You prioritize the work. Work has always been not the top priority, God, family, and then work. We were there always engaged in our children's lives for school and also for church activities.

Shelley: I have to ask you this question. This was back in the '80s when fewer women in our church also worked outside of the home. There were more often messages about a woman's primary role being in the home. Did that bother you while you were blending career and family?

Sister Amos: Not really. I know that Heavenly Father has given all of us special talents and special abilities. We come to earth with desires in our hearts. We have to follow those desires. We each might have a special mission or a special purpose in life. You have to search for, "What is my purpose in life?" We are told in our scriptures that knowledge is light and light is truth.

We are intelligences, and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are all-knowing. They created the planets and the earth. We are encouraged to seek after knowledge. That is to our advantage to gain as much knowledge as we possibly can. If you have all of this knowledge, then you need to use that knowledge to help and benefit others. We're told we each have different gifts of the spirit and all of those gifts of the spirit are to help other people. As you discover your gifts, and you gain knowledge, and you find applications to use that knowledge, it's incumbent upon you to do what the Lord has inspired you to do.

I've never felt like I couldn't do both. I felt like I'm a divine child of God. I can be a mother. I can be a better mother if I'm educated, and if I use my education to help my children, I can help them with homework. I can help them make better choices in life. I've never felt like I couldn't be a mom and take good care of my children. My children are college-educated. They have strong firm testimonies and faith in Jesus Christ. I've been called right now to serve as a leader of over 200 missionaries. That's at one time. The missionaries- [crosstalk]

Shelley: At one time.

Sister Amos: Yes. They moved in and out. We probably influenced probably 400, 500 missionaries already. That to me is confirmation, and the fact that I've been selected for this position is confirmation to me from Heavenly Father that I've done what he wanted me to do in life and that I'm on the right track.

Shelley: What I love the most about that is for many women out there, they might have the same experience and it just doesn't have a paycheck that goes with it, but they should be using that education to be actively involved in their community. Whatever sphere the Lord wants you to be in, He will guide you there.

Sister Amos: One of my daughters-- I have two older daughters and a son is the youngest. My daughter studied neuroscience at BYU. She's a neuroscience graduate. She's a stay-at-home mom. She is able to work in the community. She gets involved in organizations. That knowledge helps her be a better mother, helps her raise her children, helps her to venture out and to find those opportunities to be the best mom. She knows a lot about medicine, so she can help her children. She understands their psychology. She's a divine person. She's a great speaker and she's a wonderful mother.

Shelley: I love that. What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career similar to what you've done?

Sister Amos: You have to prioritize. I think I'm going to go back to that. Always, from the very beginning, I was 11 years old when I was baptized into the church. Faith in God and serving my Heavenly Father has always been my top priority. God has been number one, family has been number two, and then work. You might hear people say, "You got to balance work and family and God." There's no balance. There's no balance.

You're going to always be shifting between one and the other, but if they all start prying for your time, and that overlaps, and there's just conflicts, you've got to be willing to say, "God, family or work," whatever your priorities are. That's what the situation was when we were called. God was first, and work was not my top priority, so I gave up work. I felt like I followed with the Lord wanted me to do.

Once you decide your priorities and you put them in order, that becomes your guide. I never said no to any callings or community service because I know by serving other people, I'm serving my God. I've held lots of different positions in the church while I worked. You have to learn to lead and delegate. You don't do things all by yourself. You have to bring in your family, bring in your community, bring in your neighbors. There's no problem with asking other people to help you to be successful in work and to be successful in the community opportunities. We need other people. The phrase is, "It takes a village." It does take a village. We're all one community and we can help other people.

Another thing is once you have those priorities outlined, I didn't take the big career opportunities like everybody at work was doing around me. I was a mother, I had small children, and so I had to wait until my children were in high school or out of the home to take on management training or to go and get my master's degree. I do have my master's degree. I remember sitting at the table with my kids, we're all doing homework.

Shelley: Oh my goodness.

Sister Amos: Yes, but I didn't do that when they were babies and when they needed me more. Your children are growing, they're developing and they have their own little time that they need. You can be more free when they're also a little bit more mature and independent. Then when they're out of the home, they're in college, man, flourish. That's when I had the opportunity to work on the Mars 2020 Rover.

The kids were in college. It was just me and my husband at home. I said, "Hey, this is an opportunity for me to do an assignment away from home." I actually lived in California for 10 months. My husband and I, he would come and visit me every other month. We were together. That's when you do it. You continue to see what you can do. "When is the best time for me to take on all of these challenges?" and then you just make it happen.

Shelley: It's a good example too, that there will always be something more. You passed up probably some big experiences early on, but then this other opportunity came at the time that was right for you.

Sister Amos: Yes. Never ever think that, "Oh, no, this is the only opportunity." If we believe in God, and I do, God has something in store for you. He will show you and he will help put all those things into place to make it happen for you. I saw that so many times in my life where I felt like, "Okay, I'm not going to be able to do that because I need to be at home with my kids," but then the opportunities come around, certain people are put into your path and they will give you those opportunities. Just have faith, do what you know to be right at that moment in your life, and just realize that you don't have to do everything this year or next year, it will come and God will help you.

Shelley: I super needed to hear that myself today. I read that you've been an ambassador for NASA as an African American woman already, but what changed when this landing happened?

Sister Amos: Let me give you a little bit of timeline because I think it'll help show the whole big picture. I resigned in May of 2020 to take on the mission call. I had finished my assignment at the Jet Propulsion Lab in California. I had been there for 2018, 2019, and I'd come back to Kennedy Space Center. I was working on NASA's new lunar exploration program.

My husband and I left for Louisiana Baton Rouge mission on June the 28th, 30 days before the launch of the Rover. I missed the launch. I had worked on this Rover in California. I had flown back and there was so much excitement being at Kennedy Space Center. I was the only person that actually worked on that Rover at Kennedy Space Center. I was going to be the only person to have worked on it, and see the launch and then be a part-- I wasn't going to be a part of the operations, but I understood it because I did a lot of testing with the engineers who were now doing the operations. I was just in this unique position. I missed the launch and I was like, "Let it go."

Shelley: Oh gosh.

Sister Amos: I missed the launch. I saw the Rover land and get off the big airplane. I saw it all packed. I went over and saw it being tested making sure everything was working at the Kennedy Space Center. I saw it being prepared for installation to the rocket, so it was my baby. I missed my baby being launched. When I got into the mission, I said, "I want to see it land. I want to see this Rover land on Mars." This is my passion. I called the area authority and I said, "Can I please watch the landing of the Mars 2020 Rover?" He said, "Yes." I said, "Well, can I also ask our missionaries or have our missionaries watch the landing of the Rover with me?" I knew it was going to be one of the most exciting events that they would ever experience.

Shelley: Oh my gosh.

Sister Amos: Because their mission president's wife worked on the Rover, I could explain things to them, I could show them things. It was just a great opportunity to inspire the next generation. The area authority said, "If you can link this to the gospel of Jesus Christ, if you can bring in your missionaries and you can all watch the land." I was like, "What? That's easy.

In Moses 1 we learn that Heavenly Father created worlds without end. We know that all the stars and our solar system are beautiful planets that we can see. Also through public space telescope now NASA has shown or proven the scriptures to be true that there's worlds without end. There's billions of planets out there. The Mars planet is just another sphere that Jesus Christ created. We get to actually see another sphere the savior created."

He liked that. I said, "Yes." I was going to explain it to Him. We set up a zoom and all 200 missionaries or however many that were with us at that time, we watched the landing of the Rover. We watched it through YouTube, YouTube had the Jet propulsion Lab, all their engineers were in the communications room. The lead person that were talking back and forth, I knew these people. I knew the chief engineer.

Shelley: Oh my gosh.

Sister Amos: I knew the chief engineer. I knew the project manager. I knew the chief engineer of JPL who was actually narrating the whole event. They would show clips of people that I worked with. I would tell the missionaries this is so and so, he's in charge of entry, descent, and landing. That's the chief engineer who developed the landing mechanism that they use, the sky crane mechanism to lure the Rover onto the surface. I would tell them all these things. Then also, I showed a PowerPoint before the landing, so they understood that Jesus Christ through Moses 1:33 was the creator of Mars. He uses His priesthood power to do all of this marvelous work throughout the heavens.

Amazing thing happened. Our missionaries begin to link, "Oh, Sister Amos, we have that power. We have that same power." I said, "Yes, you sure do. You're using that power to save souls. That's why Heavenly Father has created all of these planets so that His work continues." They begin to link science. They begin to link the gospel together. It is one. There is no difference. All knowledge comes from God, whether it's for secular knowledge that we've learned, that man has learned and gained on its own, or whether it's spiritual knowledge that we have through the scriptures, it all links together. It was just an amazing experience. Now I've recruited some NASA engineers-


Shelley: I bet.

Sister Amos: -in the mission. I tell them, "Whatever you want to do in life, I want you to imagine how would you do that on the moon?" Because one day we're going back to the moon.

Shelley: I watched one of the clips where it landed and everybody cheered and it totally made me emotional. To me, it wasn't because of the science and the accomplishment. It was because of looking at those people and thinking how hard they had worked, and like you, just so much heart and soul and passion went into it and this was a win and realizing that for the 30 people in that room there were thousands more I couldn't see. Life can be hard. Then when you see something that really works out, it's amazing to me.

Sister Amos: You are so right. They probably can fit probably maybe a hundred people in the command room, where you're watching on YouTube, but there's people all over the world. It's just a human accomplishment. Humans on earth have landed a spacecraft on another planet. The Mars Rover is an international project. We have people all over the world. We use the best technology, the best people to develop those scientific instruments that are on board. To develop the camera system, the Rover itself. It takes an international effort to do that.

Even to launch it. On the JPL team, there was 2000 people at the Jet Propulsion Lab. When you launch it, you probably bring in another 2000 more from the Kennedy Space Center. Like I said, there's no one place or one thing. There's people all over the world that are watching this because Spain, Netherlands, Norway, all of these countries, France, and Europe, were involved with the development of those scientific instruments. It's an accomplishment of how people come together and we do something greater than we ever could have done as one nation. That's the accomplishment. What we can do together is just out of this world.

Shelley: My earliest memory was the landing of the moon, but I don't think that I actually recall the landing on the moon. I just remember that my mom gathered us to the TV and said, this is really important and you need to watch it. That's what I remember.

Sister Amos: That's what I wanted for our missionaries. They now have that experience that they have actually seen the Rover land on Mars. You will get to see people living and working on the moon.

Shelley: Are you kidding me?

Sister Amos: No. NASA-- We ended the shuttle program so that we could now go into deep space. The shuttle program was International Space Station which is about 220 miles above the earth. The moon is maybe 200,000 miles away from the earth. Now we are going back to the moon. We call it deep space missions. In 2025, it's called the NASA Artemis program.

We've already developed a rocket. It's being tested now for a launch, a test launch this summer, and it's going to orbit the moon without humans. It's just a test launch to make sure we're ready to put humans in the Orion space capsule crew module to launch humans back into space. This summer we're going to have our first test launch. By 2025, we're going to land the next man and the first woman on the moon.

NASA's new lunar program is called Artemis. The '60s and 70s program was Apollo. People know about Apollo. We landed 12 astronauts on the moon during the Apollo era. We're going back in 2025 and this time we're going to be able to take women and other minorities on the moon. You might ask, "Why are we going back to the moon?" Well, we've discovered frozen oceans on the moon. There's water on the moon. Rocket fuel is liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen which are primary elements of water.

If we can learn to separate those elements on the moon and use them for rocket fuel, we can launch from the moon and go to Mars. That's the plan. We want to live and work on the moon and learn how this impacts the human body. Then what we learn on the moon is like our stepping stone now to go into deep space, to go to asteroids, to go to other planets. Hopefully, we can get humans to Mars.

Shelley: You're blowing my mind. Before I ask you the questions that I ask all of my guests, what haven't I asked you about your career that I should have?

Sister Amos: The one thing that I've learned by working at NASA is that people are the most important thing. People make up projects, people land rovers, and people develop rockets that launch people into space. Whatever work you do, you need to remember that people are your most important asset and you have to love the people. When the people love you and you love them, then you're going to be inspired. Love is the motivator love is also what inspires us. If someone won't do something for some reason, if you can find a way to become their friend, if you can find a way to connect to that person, you can get them to do practically anything.

Jesus Christ is a great example of love. He inspired people, the apostles to do things that they never thought that they could have done through love. The worlds were created because a God loves us. People are the most important thing. Make sure you find a way to show people that you work with, that you love them, and they will follow you and do whatever you ask them to do and work long hours because they know that you're asking to do something because you love them and you're not going to ask them to do something that wouldn't benefit them or wouldn't help them in the long run.

Shelley: They trust you. Can you tell me about a leap of faith that you had to take to get where you are now?

Sister Amos: Leaving the Artemis program that I was working on and serving this mission took a lot of faith. I had to hope that what I was doing, leaving my career at NASA was the right thing to do. Then following the leaders of our church to serve this mission. I knew I was comfortable at NASA with what I was doing. I didn't serve a mission as a young girl, neither did my husband. We were going in to do work that we were very unfamiliar with.

My husband is a nuclear power engineer. He worked for the Navy and he also worked for Siemens. He was the lead head of engineering for Siemens wind division. All the wind turbines in the Americas. He was the lead engineer on all of those. We are both engineers. We both had really good careers. He had retired. I was still working. We had to go in to do something that we had never done before.

We apply all of our knowledge, all of our skills, all of our leadership skills, all of our organization planning that we learned in our workplace that we've learned throughout our years of working in the church to what we're doing now. The Lord prepares you. He prepares you throughout your whole life for what you're doing now. This is what we've been prepared to do. We have to have faith and trust in the Lord that we are ready, that we're prepared. We pray a lot. We see his hand a lot. We've seen miracles in the mission. We know he's with us and he's helping us to be successful

Shelley: Those are lucky missionaries. What is an unexpected blessing? Something you could not see for yourself in embarking on this career.

Sister Amos: I spoke about love earlier. I felt that Jesus Christ has imparted a portion of his love for these missionaries to me. I have never loved so easily as I do these missionaries. The new missionaries as they come in, I look into their eyes and I tell them that, "Heavenly Father loves you and Sister Amos loves you, and I'm here to help you." It just comes freely.

There's nothing they can do. There's nothing they can't do to stop my love for them. It's just there, and I know that's a gift from God. It also extends to the people in the mission. We travel all over this huge mission, visiting different wards, speaking to people in different [unintelligible 00:32:04] and the people are just-- they love us that we love them back. The love is just overwhelming.

I want to serve them. I want to help their friends, the missionaries. I want to help our missionaries to be the best missionaries they can be to find and teach people and to be able to bring people to the gospel of Jesus Christ because the peace that we have to the gospel can bring happiness to us now in this life. There's so many people that don't know that. They don't know that they're loved. Love is just a blessing, an unexpected blessing to feel a different kind of love. I love my husband. I love my children. I love my work. I have a passion for the work that I did it. Now I've been shown a different kind of love.

Another thing, I took on the responsibility of being a medical coordinator for the mission. I'm not medical background, but all of the missionaries that have mental health or medical needs, they come to me, I have a team of medical doctors and nurses that I work with. I'm learning a lot about medicine. It's science it's knowledge. It kind of transitions with the processes that I've learned as a systems engineer, as an electrical engineer. I can use all of that knowledge of processes and organization, helping our missionaries get all the medical care that they need. That has been unique and a new experience.

Shelley: Yes. You know what I find interesting? When I ask you about your career, you generally talk about the mission. You've had this decorated career. What you did at NASA, it could be a movie, but you talk about the mission as your first instinct when I ask about your career. Do you feel like these are two distinct chapters in your life, or this is more like a promotion?

Sister Amos: I think everything that I've done in my life to this point, God was preparing me to do this mission. My work at NASA is helping me reach people that I would've never been able to reach as a missionary. People will come up to me because they know of my NASA experience and then I can share the gospel with them. The outreach that I've been able to do all over the United States, people are contacting me. They want me to talk to their schools. They want me to talk to their organizations.

I've spoken at youth conferences. I've spoken to high schools, middle schools, I've done youth science camps organized by states. It's just been phenomenal. I know that my work at NASA is helping me to share the gospel. In all of these opportunities to speak about NASA, I have to be introduced as a mission president wife. I have to use my tag. They see my tag as a missionary and they call me Sister Amos.

Shelley: I love that.

Sister Amos: These third graders and fourth graders, these high school students, these people in the community. I've spoken to politicians. They refer to me as Sister Amos. They know that I have left a career in NASA to now serve the Lord, and that helps me share the gospel.

Shelley: It's amazing. My final question. How have you seen the hand of God in your career?

Sister Amos: Every day my prayers are extended because I'm thanking God for helping me with something. I've seen his hand in so many things. To be selected for the Mars 2020 project, I had to go through interviews. I had to be selected from my center, Kennedy Space Center, and then after Kennedy Space Center, NASA has like nine centers. All nine centers sent people to Washington DC. I had to go through interviews for that.

To be selected, to be in the program, to be trained as a system engineer, to me, was God saying, "Yes, it's your time to do something more?" He was preparing me all along to work on that Rover. Out of all the projects, there were 20 or so projects that I could have been selected for. I was selected by all these leaders from Washington DC and they put me on the March 20 Rover and it was a flagship project.

I was like, "Okay, how did I get here? I'm working with world-renowned experts. These are people who have sent spacecraft throughout the solar system. At Kennedy Space Center we do ground infrastructure. We don't do flight instruments. That was the uniqueness of this experiment. It was to pull me out of what I was comfortable doing, infrastructure, launch control systems. Remember working on communication systems for the launches. Now I'm working on a spacecraft that's going to actually fly on a rocket and go to another planet. It was a huge learning curve. I had to learn a lot, learn about the processes. I took advantage of every opportunity.

The Lord said, "Go meet these people, get to know them, and that's how I was able to work with more people at the Jet Propulsion Lab than that were on my project. I interviewed the director of engineering. I interviewed the director of public affairs. He sent me decals or patches of the Mars Rover that I shared with the missionaries because I had already developed this huge network of people at the jet proportion lab.

They were able to continue to help me even with the Artemis program when I got back to Kennedy Space Center. Developing the network of people, God said, "Go meet this person, go spend time with this person." I used every opportunity to just develop this beautiful network of people that continue to help me. I still communicate with them today. They are my friends.

We have to listen to the promptings of the spirit. We have to overcome our fears because who would ever think that the director of engineering at the Jet Proportion Lab would want to spend time with me? Or the chief engineer of all these scientific spacecraft missions would want to spend time with me. They all said, "Yes." I got to meet them and got to know them personally. The project manager for the Mars 2020 Rover is a good friend. I'm good friends with his family and his wife. God puts people here. We're back to people. People are the most important thing. If you can network and build that network, you're going to see more and more blessings occur in your life by developing good relationships with people.

Shelley: You are the personification of what I wanted this podcast to be about. I thank you so much for taking your time to share your journey with me and the people who listen to us, so thank you so much.

Sister Amos: Thank you so much for this opportunity. I've enjoyed it. I hope that somewhere along the way, we have reached at least one person to help enlighten and inspire them.

Shelley: I hope you love that as much as I do. In wrapping this up, I have many thoughts, but two that I'll share. I imagine it was not easy for Sister Amos to leave her job at NASA at arguably the high point of her career. After all that work she's done, it must have felt like she was walking away before the payout, but God had plans for a more amplified experience. Think about it. Had she stayed at NASA.

This would've been a great story for people in her circle who knew what she did for a living, but instead, she got to share the landing and the connection to Christ's priesthood power with over 200 missionaries plus people all over the world who learned of the story. The combination of her NASA background with her current role as a mission leader is opening doors and starting conversations that never would've happened otherwise.

Two, please don't compare yourself to Sister Amos's storied career and miss the bigger message that God has a unique work for each of us based on our own talents and interests. Our job is to develop those gifts and partner with God in knowing how and where to use them. Because as is evidenced by this story, developing our talents leads to greater fulfillment in our own lives, allows us to bless our families, and ultimately to serve others, whether or not a paycheck is ever involved. The better we become in our areas of interest coupled with personal revelation, the greater our sphere of influence will be.

Now, some of us may end up doing our thing on Mars but most of us may simply be called on to make the world a better place in our own backyards. The true impact of that will not be the actual work we do, but the people we love and bring to Christ in the process. In that sense, we have all been called to leave the high points of our worldly desires in favor of more important missions. Now before I go, in the show notes, you can find some amazing pictures of Sister Amos in action along with a few links to articles about the Mars landings she shared with missionaries. I dare you to watch it without tearing up. Thanks again to Sister Amos and thank you for listening.

Thank you for listening to the Faithful Career Moves podcast. If you want to know more about how to connect your natural talents and abilities to job opportunities and business ideas, then visit our website at

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Shelley Hunter

About the author

Shelley Hunter is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach with a passion for helping people up-level their careers, return to the workforce with confidence, and identify their strengths so they can find the career they were born to do. She is also a work-at-home mom who left a traditional career as a programmer to be unapologetically home with her kids.

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