With school in session for over a month now, the summer break may seem like a distant memory. But those fleeting vacation months did not pass by unproductively. Teachers and staff at schools throughout Guam-Micronesia Mission (GMM) were buzzing with activity. Many staff are locally-hired or are Adventist Volunteer Service (AVS) teachers who stayed on island over the summer. These valued members maintain an essential year-round presence and influence across our eleven schools and their communities. This summer, schools affected by the coronavirus, like those in Guam and Saipan, prepared their facilities to meet the safety measures for returning to school during the pandemic. Other schools, such as Chuuk and Palau Mission Academy, organized and operated summer schools to support students after the pandemic forced the fourth quarter online. In Delap on Majuro, church members immersed their youth in Pathfinders and Adventurer activities. And further up that Marshallese atoll, teachers in Laura prepared for their Vacation Bible School (VBS) program.
During the school year, Mrs. Elsie Jokray is an elementary teacher for the Laura SDA School. But for one week this summer, she filled her classroom with eager young learners for the “Heroes” VBS program. To recruit participants, Mrs. Jokray and the Laura teachers posted fliers in local stores and visited neighboring homes to invite parents to bring their children. Church members also invited their relatives’ children to the program. As a result, the majority of attendees were neither SDA nor attended the Laura SDA School. Out of the 60 children that attended, only five were students from the school.
The VBS was held on the school campus, which utilized the church, as well as the new outdoor cafeteria which was built by donations from the local councilman and mayor’s office. Children delighted in stories, activities, and songs about different Bible heroes, while learning how Jesus can impart the same characteristics in their young lives. At the end of the week, the children attended Sabbath School and presented the Special Music for divine worship. The week’s program culminated on Sabbath afternoon when certificates and recognitions were awarded to children and staff. Primary Treasures and Our Little Friends magazines arrived in time to be distributed with the toys and tokens.
Although only a week long, the summer program’s influence extended into this school year. Prayers continue for the seeds that were planted in the hearts of the children and families that attended. A group of public school students have joined an after-school chorale that is led by Mrs. Jokray. The church youth that participated as VBS assistants have joined Bible study groups and Pathfinders. The youth were given leadership positions in these groups, to remind them that they are mentors themselves, especially as they returned to attend public school. We praise God that the teachers and adults of Laura invest their time in preparing, not only a summer program, but an atmosphere that nurtures leadership for their youth.
All across the GMM region, the contributions of local and long-term staff provide stability and consistent support for the work on each island. In fact, without these and the additional local employees who took on the vacant roles caused by the pandemic's travel restrictions, our schools would not have been able to operate this year. GMM truly thanks God for these perennial missionaries who ensure that mission never takes a break.