Starting School in 2020: COVID-Style

"Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to Him." (Philippians 4:6, NIRV)

The summer of 2020 felt both long and short here in Palau. Only five of us short-term missionaries decided to stay and teach after the coronavirus shut everything down during last school year. We made a hard left turn into online remote learning for the fourth quarter and it ended up working out great for almost all of our students at Palau Mission Academy. Luckily, because we still hadn't had a case of the virus, we were able to move forward with a graduation ceremony for our seniors this past May.

Since the beginning of the summer, four of us remained on-island to teach face-to-face summer school for students who really struggled during the last quarter. Once that was successfully completed, we had barely a week of downtime before we needed to begin prepping for the upcoming school year, for which all four of us would stay and teach. At that point, we all knew that it would be difficult to push through the start of another school year without a break. However, we all still feel compelled to follow God’s calling and remain here to support His work in Palau.  

Students and staff of Palau Mission Academy

Since school has started, we have all had to cover the gaps that are left due to the lack of student missionaries this year. Here in Palau, we typically function best with at least a dozen or more missionaries to cover all the teaching positions at the Palau Elementary School and at the academy. However, we have been constrained to utilize the remaining teaching force here on island. This has included hiring some additional locals to help bridge the gaps – but it still isn’t quite enough. Those of us who remain at the academy have had to take on additional responsibilities and classes which we didn't expect to have. Therefore, we are all feeling the strain as we put our best foot foreword in everything we do. Even so, we collectively are working to minimize stress by managing our time as best as possible and learning to say “no” to other responsibilities outside of school. With all of this, we are really looking to be as sustainable as possible for the long-term, ideally for as long as we can until we can get more missionaries to come.

The Junior Class of Palau Mission Academy on a field trip to experience U.S. and Palauan history by visiting the WWII sites of Peleliu this past June

So far the start of the year has been great overall and we are very excited to have the opportunity to be face-to-face without the restrictions of distancing or masks. Even so, we are continuing our online remote learning in conjunction with normal school to maintain a hybrid program in case at some point we may need to close school again.

Thankfully, Palau is doing well without the virus. Everything is functioning normally with the exception of the tourist industry, and people are going about their daily routines for the most part, including all businesses, schools, and sports activities. We are blessed beyond measure at the Palau Mission Academy where we are continually “Striving to Restore God’s Image in Every Student.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: The North American Division has recently approved GMM volunteer calls to teach online from Guam to our other islands! Please visit our Missionary Openings page to learn how you can join our dedicated team and support these amazing students and schools.

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