My Missionary Journey

Following God's call

I was lost. It was shortly after graduating from Union College in 2018. I did not know where to go or what to do. Everything in my life felt like it was falling apart. Although I was going through a lot, I knew I wanted to be used by God. I had applied for jobs in the U.S. and was awaiting answers when, at the end of June, I decided I was willing to answer a different call.

I saw a video about the need for missionaries on Ebeye. The SDA school needed teachers or else they would have to close the school. My decision to go felt validated as my application was quickly processed through Union College's Campus Ministries program. All I had to do was raise the funds, which took me only two weeks!

Arriving on Ebeye, I was excited for school to start so I could meet my twenty-four sixth graders. On the first day of school, that number had increased to thirty – maximum capacity.

It was a challenge teaching so many students on an island I was not familiar with, but God truly blessed. There was a range of external obstacles-- from power outages and no fresh water -- to internal challenges -- how to manage my classroom better, thoughts of whether I should be there, and if there was someone else who’d do a better job than me. But I began to realize why God led me here, as I saw Him working: always providing for my needs, sending me students who taught me patience, helping me learn to be content with what I have, and showing me the joy in each day.

Jessica with her parents and students on Ebeye

In February, my parents spent a week with me, experiencing Ebeye life, power outages included. My dad observed how much joy I had while teaching my students and asked if I was interested in teaching for another year. After prayerful consideration, God gave me my answer. I began making plans for the next school year.

But on my birthday in April, my mom got sick and was in the hospital fighting for her life. Because of her situation, I was unsure if I would return to Ebeye. However, thankfully that summer, God performed a miracle and healed my mom. I felt comfortable leaving home again, knowing my mom’s health was improving each day. I went back to Ebeye to teach high school English and be the Senior Class homeroom teacher.

Jessica (center) and Ebeye SDA School staff spell "Ebeye" at sunset

When I arrived in August, the school year was postponed for two weeks due to dengue fever spreading around the island. A few days before school started, I came down with the fever and was hospitalized for three days. During my stay in the hospital, I felt the love from my students as they sang and prayed for me. I received notes from the fourth grade students, and many other messages saying people were thinking of and praying for me. A few days resting in my apartment and I felt well enough to teach. Of course, that school year had other challenges. The seniors were planning a Senior Class trip to the U.S., but when Covid-19 arose, we had to cancel.

My parents and I also decided that I should return home early because of the pandemic. I was discouraged, and felt like I let my Senior Class down, but I knew God had a plan and continues to work in those students’ lives. I keep them in my prayers and I pray we’ll reunite in the near future.

While home, I heard about the opportunity to teach online from Guam to the other islands in Micronesia. I was tempted to apply, but thought I should keep making money so I could travel back to the Marshall Islands once the borders reopened. Then I felt God tugging on my heart once more, telling me to continue my missionary journey.

Once I announced my interest to GMM, they were excited to have me serve again. God worked everything out, and I am happily serving my third year as a missionary. I am teaching English to Ebeye, Kosrae, and Chuuk. I also teach world history to Chuuk, and physical science to Kosrae.

Teaching students from two different islands

It is difficult teaching online: there are internet issues, as well as the inability to do hands-on activities with the students. Yet, I am still able to develop relationships with them. During my first week teaching online, I realized there were two English classes at the same time, but to different islands: Kosrae and Chuuk. Thankfully, it was for the same level: ninth grade. Since the students on the two islands do not know each other, it is fun having them both in the same class so they can interact and learn more about each other!

While on Guam, I get to teach from the comfort of my apartment. I can wake up fifteen minutes before my class and still look presentable. Even though I like having that option, I decided I would commute to Guam Adventist Academy (GAA) to teach my online classes from there. This also allowed me to visit and observe the third and fourth grade classroom.

After a couple of weeks of teaching from GAA, the principal asked if I would consider teaching upper school English next year. I took some time, prayed about it, and thought, “If God is leading me to keep serving Him, then I will apply. ”I counseled with my parents and they encouraged me to purse the position. I submitted my resume and had an interview a couple days later. Soon, I found myself accepting their offer to teach the fifth and sixth grades.

I did not come seeking that position, yet God blessed me with what I wanted deep down inside. I no longer feel lost, but have discovered places where God wants to use me. He really knows the desire of our hearts, and if He wants us somewhere, He will bring us there. I am grateful for this opportunity to continue serving God and teaching His precious children in a place that I love.

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