Do you ever look back at past decisions and feel thankful that God had led you in that direction? There aren’t many opportunities in which I think about the past. It can sometimes be embarrassing and cringy, but at the same time, helpful and uplifting.
I was asked again to share my experience about being a student missionary here in Guam and remotely teaching to the Micronesian islands. I remember giving a testimony during my first week teaching, explaining how I was doubtful about my placement here and if I would have the skillset to effectively teach. I overcame that doubt and relied more on God to show me how it’s done. After teaching for almost five months, I have gained a lot more confidence in myself and in my Creator.
As you may have heard or experienced, online education is not the most effective way to teach or learn. It definitely has its benefits, but when you teach to a small island where the internet connection is about as stable as the students’ attention span, it can be difficult. I thank God for the flexibility of the students and for the teachers of each classroom I teach. I have experienced at least one unexpected “holiday” from each school because of a rainstorm or electrical problem. Even though we may have missed a class and may need to cram more information than usual, the students are ready for it. At the very least, they don’t complain too much about it.
In the beginning, it was definitely a challenge to connect with the students. I’m basically an interactive YouTube video to them. I didn’t think they would be so conversational, but I was wrong. Unfortunately, with the internet being spotty, conversing was hard. Sometimes I couldn’t hear them, and vice versa. But that did not stop them. Probably as a way to delay class, they would always ask questions about me, especially about my love life. I have been the punching bag for many jokes, but I know that just means they are comfortable with me (at least I hope that’s the reason).
As I think most teachers can relate to, the highlight of my time spent teaching has been watching these students grow and seeing their personalities shine. There are many times in which I had to stop teaching because I couldn’t control my laughter during a competitive review game or from a joke that they would say. They have been a blessing on my life, both the hard times and the fun times.
Not every moment has been fun or memorable. Maybe about a month ago, I was experiencing a slump. Life started feeling like an uphill battle. I didn’t really know the cause, but I knew the solution. I may have lost track of why I was here in the first place. I think I may have also had doubts again about my teaching. I knew I was weak and only had one person to turn to. I started to pray to God to give me strength throughout the day and the motivation to push through it. Slowly, it became easier. I didn’t need to force my way through every class. I learned once again, that you can’t do much without God’s guidance.
Unfortunately, I am on the last legs of my stay here in Guam. While writing this, I have finished grading the final exams for three of the four schools that I have been entrusted to teach.
As much as I would have preferred to teach in person, I am super thankful for my experiences here. Who knows, maybe my skillset was better for online teaching anyways. All I know is that God has allowed me to be here and I am excited for the next mission he plans to send me to.
In January 2021, the volunteers, like Aaron, who came to Guam to teach second semester were an answer to prayer. Their work helped alleviate the burden on the other island schools due to the vacancies left by COVID-19 border closures.
Circumstances this year have left many island missionary positions still vacant. To ensure that our students' Adventist education continues, Guam-Micronesia Mission has opened additional online teaching positions on Guam to support the 2021-2022 school year. Please visit gmmsda.org/positions#Guam to learn more.