This trip has been one in a lifetime! For those of you who do not know me, I grew up overseas as a missionary kid. This trip represents my first overseas mission of my own choice. I have been processing all week what missions will look like for me, why my parents had chosen to be missionaries, and what the Lord’s plan was for this week. On Monday, the education team had the privilege of teaching at the Billy White school. I have recently completed my student teaching semester in suburban Missouri with a third grade classroom. In my classroom we had five Ipads, two Chrome books, a Mimio board, white boards, chalkboards, and many more resources too numerous to name. I felt the lack of resources in my class back home. “We don’t have enough books”, “the wifi isn’t working” and “can you call the tech guy?”, were questions and phrases I muttered all semester long. At Billy White, they don’t have enough markers for their one, struggling white board, no air conditioning, a very small amount of paper and writing utensils. To say that I am blessed back home would be an understatement. I taught my lesson in an Infant 1 classroom. This would be the equivalent of a kindergarten classroom. There were 33 kindergarten students crammed into approximately 25 desks – and I mean the old school, desk attached to the chair, row style desks. Although the national language of Belize is English, most students do not begin learning English until they enter Infant 1. So my kiddos have been learning English for 2 months and speaking Spanish for 5 years. I played a game called “that’s me!” And proceeded to try a line up and group activity that didn’t work out. Thankfully one of the things that teaching in the states does prepare you for is thinking on your feet and I was able to jump in with another activity. The entire time I was teaching I was thinking about my students back home. These 33 five year olds, most of whom couldn’t understand me, were more attentive than my 8 year olds who understood every word I spoke. I have rarely felt as appreciated as I did then. It made me sad for my 24 students at home who have everything they need, even the poorest one. And yet feel underprivileged and dissatisfied. How mistaken we are?!
At the end of the lesson, I was invited to observe the teacher as she led her students in some transitional songs. Let me tell you, they have transitions down! That is something that I will take away for sure! My lesson was not even close to perfect. As I processed through the day, I noted so many things that I would change or reword. But what an experience! To teach students who know so little English is such a great learning experience. I pray that I am a better teacher because of this!
I am typing this in the airport as we wait the three hours before our plane departs for Atlanta and reflecting on the entire trip. During the last week, I have revisited emotions from my early days as a missionary kid, taught in a foreign school, played soccer with 8 year olds who destroyed me, eaten termites, climbed the Maya ruins, swam with sharks, sea turtles, and stingrays, fallen in love with the children, broken my heart for those same kiddos, and lived to take it all back with me. Last night we had a small worship service and one of the things that we meditated on was the quote by Derek Webb, “let the bread on your tongue leave a trail of crumbs that lead others to where you came from.” I pray that as I leave this beautiful place behind, my heart will drop its crumbs in the lives of the people that I meet, worship with, and teach to lead them all back to my Great Big God! He is so good! Thank you College of the Ozarks. Apart from the free college education, and meeting my husband, this is the greatest gift that you have given me during the four years I have attended. What an incredible blessing!