When people heard I was leaving home to be a missionary, they were so amazed and excited about my decision. They told me that I was brave, that I would be making a big impact in the world, and that people like me are necessary to further God’s work.
Of course, I believed they were right and I also felt the same way. So I left home and traveled halfway across the world to a tiny island country called Palau. And thus began my experience as a missionary.
People sometimes assume that missionary work has to involve hard physical labor and terrible living conditions. But that’s not always the case.
While in Palau I lived in a good house and worked in a good school. I started off as just a 4th-grade teacher, but towards the end of the year, I also became the English teacher for one section of the 8th-grade class. Was it easy? Definitely not. Was it worth it? Definitely.
I tried my best to make every day worth it, to cherish every moment. Every day I had the chance to not only tell students about God but to also show them Christ through my actions. Every day brought a different kind of hardship, but every day God brought me through it. The more I fell in love with the students, the less the problems mattered.
And that’s what I expected. I knew that once I let God use me, everything would be ok. Nothing is perfect, but we can make the best of what we’ve got.
So when I left Palau at the end of my 10 months, I was devastated. Naturally. But that was ok. I expected to have a hard time saying goodbye.
What I didn’t expect was how hard it would be to adjust back at home. I didn’t expect to get tongue-tied every time someone asked me about my experience. But how do I sum up my 10-month experience in a 2-minute sound bite? I didn’t expect for EVERYTHING to remind me of Palau. When I’m at home, with friends, or even at the store there’s always something that triggers a memory from Palau. I didn’t expect to feel like I had to hold my tongue to avoid annoying people with my many stories from my time in Palau.
It’s just that for the last year my life has been centered around the country and people in Palau. I can never forget the hugs and smiles of my students. Or the funny things they would do and say.
I didn’t expect to miss it this much. I miss the students that would come to my classroom after school every day just to hang out. I miss the students that would go out of their way just to give me a hug. I miss the students that would humor me on the basketball court even though I’m no good. I miss the students that would go out of their way to help me in my time of need. I miss the students that would write me notes and bring me little things just to see me smile. I miss hearing them call me “Miss Hannah”. I miss it all and that’s why it’s so hard for me to stop talking about it.
I didn’t expect to miss it this much.
So thank you to the people who have asked me about my experience and genuinely cared to hear all about it. Thank you to those who stay and listen to me go on and on about it even though you might be tired of hearing it. Thank you for being patient with me.
I’ll be ok you know.
Truly, I’ll be ok because thankfully I know I’m going back. I’m going back soon. In exactly a month actually. Yes, in August I’m going back for another 10 months of service; to teach at the high school this time. I guess I love it all too much to let it go just yet.
I may not know what exactly to expect, but I dare say I’ll be alright.
Here’s to a new school year and a new adventure!
Read more of Hannah's adventure's on her blog: