Mission trips always seem to change you in some way or another. Sometimes it’s not always a big life-changing type of change where you go through a complete transformation, but there are little changes that you notice, whether it’s the way you treat other people, talk to people or the way you approach certain situations. Having the opportunity to minister Christ to these students was something that I never really imagined myself doing, yet looking back upon it now, I’m genuinely grateful for the experience.
I remember my first time teaching last year. The night before my first day of teaching, I had all these doubts and fears-that I wasn’t good enough, that I had no experience, my students wouldn’t listen to me, my students wouldn’t like me, I would forget my lines, my testimony wasn’t good enough…so many worries. This year, I was a little more confident because I knew a bit more of what to expect, but every year is different-different team, different location, different grade level, etc.
Still, with all the support behind me, I am really happy with the way things have turned out. To be surrounded by such welcoming people always makes me feel so lucky to be where I am. After my first few days of teaching, I almost felt like an older sister to a lot of the kids. Sure, they were shy and somewhat introverted, but they always showed me respect and were always laughing while we played games. The atmosphere is just so special-being able to have that impact on kids you barely even know thousands of miles away from your comfort zone-really pushes you to put yourself out there, to challenge yourself, and to never give up on what it is that you are passionate about.
Thursday is the most special day because that is when we give our testimony and pray with our students afterwards. Although we come here as English teachers, we also come here as missionaries. That was something really important that my friend encouraged me to keep in mind while we were having one of our late night chats. Here I was, complaining about how I wasn’t good enough, how I was having a hard time getting my students to volunteer, how some of my kids were really hard to control…but my lovely friend assured me that God’s grace was sufficient, and sometimes hearing that is all you need to know that you will be okay.
I often have a hard time opening up to people that I barely trust…and I’m sure many people could agree with me on that. Telling my students my testimony and sharing personal stuff? Now that can be even more difficult. I was really contemplating on what I was going to do with my morning class-they were only in elementary school, how would they understand what I was going through? Would they laugh at me? Would they even listen? Should I just skip the altar call?
But, you see…
Sometimes you have to do the things that scare you. The things that challenge you. And afterwards you will know how capable you are as an individual. And so, whispering a little prayer before sharing my testimony, I put myself out there to these students. This time, not as a teacher. As a human being, as a person with many flaws, as a friend. I told them about how I came to know and appreciate God’s unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness despite all of the mistakes I have made in the past. That I’m not a perfect person. And sometimes I feel lonely. Sometimes I want to give up. Sometimes I don’t know who to believe, or even what to believe. I told them my story. But at the end of the day, my faith is the thing that helped me through when I thought that there was nothing left. And they listened.
I remember someone telling me once that my job is not to make them believe in God. My job is not to make them convert into Christianity. The only job that I have to do is speak-to plant that seed in their hearts and God will move in their hearts. After our prayer, we have them write “yes” or “no” to indicate if they prayed their prayers. Several students said no, and you know what? I’m perfectly okay with that. Not everyone agrees with others’ beliefs. Some people have their own beliefs. Several of my students were Buddhists. Maybe some don’t believe at all. But I can smile looking back on this now because I know that I have done what I was called here to do and that these students know that there is always hope. Last year, I had a girl tell me that “this was her best day ever” after our prayer. Little things always stick with me and remind me of why all of this was so worth it.
“I could sing of your love forever…”
Right before I shared my testimony.
Prayer of accepting Christ. So sweet.
I’m always reluctant for the end of the week to come, but I know that these experiences will always stay with me in my heart.
To my students, I miss you all and thank you so much for being so nice to me. And for always listening to what I have to say. Thank you for allowing me to have so much fun while teaching. My hope is that you will take away a little something of what I have given you and taught you over the one week. Best of luck in your future studies ♥
To my TA’s, you are all a bundle of happiness and I can’t help but smile whenever I think of all of the memories we shared together. Together, thank you for all of your help, but more importantly-thanks for being such a bubbly and fun-loving friend and allowing me to be completely crazy around you.
To my team and fellow volunteer teachers, I can’t thank you enough for welcoming me with such open arms. You were my most reliable support during the week and I love you all for always making me laugh. For just one week, you have really showed me how amazing your friendship is.
And thank you for reading. Have a lovely day ♥