I was told to write about my experience here. What I was expecting… What I found… Was I disappointed, or pleasantly surprised? Were my expectations met? Exceeded? Or maybe not met?
To tell you the truth, I’m not totally sure what I was expecting. I came here pretty naive. Maybe I was expecting to fulfill my couple months of service like a good Mennonite. And maybe along the way I hoped to make some really cool friends and touch the lives of a few children and maybe even get the chance to say I changed a child’s life. How cool would that be? Oh yes, I knew I would be far away from my family and have a new culture to adjust to, but life is all about new adventures, right? And yes, I had been warned that I would have to deal with humans, but I had been through that before. I mean, you don’t teach for three years without having a few run-ins with that kind.
Little did I know what I was signing up for! In the last eight months I have learned two new languages and experienced the extremely frustrating and lonely feeling of being surrounded by a chattering group of people and not being able to talk to anyone.
I have missed my mother mountains and mountaineers of West Virginia, but at the same time I have fallen in love with a land where the people frustrate you with their tardiness while teaching you to relax and enjoy each moment as it passes.
I have missed my family and friends at home more than I thought possible, but in the meantime God gave me a group of people who constantly challenge me in my relationships with God and those around me as well as constantly amaze me with how much fun we can have together.
I have met children whom I am not sure I have taught anything, but who have taught me more about myself than I ever thought there was to know, and not all of it was pretty. Children that I want to strangle one day, but the next day I would give my life for. Children that I am not sure how I will be able to say good-bye in a month.
I have learned that a warm shower is a luxury, not a necessity, and that it is possible to take three showers a day and need every single one. I have learned that toilet paper is a luxury and if you want it you better plan on supplying your own. I have learned that geckos are less frightening if you give them names, even the ones that run across your feet during the night. I have learned that in the absence of a car you can usually find a bus that will get you where you need to go. And you’ll have a better story afterwards.
So were my expectations met? I would have to say they were exceeded in every way, because no joke about it, it was hard. Harder than I though tit would be. And the rewards? Yes, I see the rewards every day. The little miracle in my kids when they finally connect the dots; in my own life when I realize that I’ve actually made it to that point I thought I wouldn’t survive. But the big ones, the big rewards of seeing these kids succeed in life–someone else will get to see that. But what I can see now is enough for me, and the promise that one day I will have the opportunity to see these kids in heaven. That is enough for me, and that is why I’m not finished yet.