y brother, Jonah, and I grew up listening to stories about student missionary (SM) life from our dad, who had served with his brother as a teacher in Majuro, the capital city of the Marshall Islands. Those stories inspired us, and Jonah and I started to dream about keeping the SM brother thing going.

So, one day, after Jonah experienced one too many extra-dark days at Walla Walla University and I had a difficult general biology test at Southern Adventist University, we decided we needed to go to the islands.

We had planned to follow in our father’s footsteps by going to Majuro, but after some difficulties with vaccine regulations, we were given a new list of places to choose from. One location piqued our interest.

The Adventist school in Kosrae, an island in Micronesia, was looking for two teachers to instruct its kindergarten through eighth grade (K–8) students. Jonah felt impressed that Kosrae was where we needed to be. I thought it was the best choice because our dad had taught at two-teacher, K–8 schools, and we understood how a small school setting works.

After we arrived at Kosrae, we learned the school had just expanded its curriculum to include grades 9 to 12. And no additional full-time staff were coming.

My brother and I were stretched to the limit with the school so understaffed. He taught four levels of English, three social studies, two sciences, Bible, physical education, and a homeroom. I taught five levels of math, three branches of science, Bible, and health. To top it off, we had limited teaching material and no internet or cell service to access outside resources during the first few months.

Noah teaching seventh-grade general math
Jonah, the acting principal’s grandson, and Noah at the SM’s going-away dinner
Noah with several students in front of “sleeping lady” mountain
Jonah getting drinking water
Jonah checking to see whether there’s too much surf for spearfishing

The whole situation was really challenging, but God helped us. We were blessed with a missionary family who helped teach some classes. And the many teachers in our family advised us on how to handle difficult situations in the classroom and pointed us to educational websites once we had access to the internet.

Being a student missionary gave me a taste of the fulfillment that teachers often talk about. I loved seeing my students discover new information; leading them to their independent “aha” moments was gratifying. I completely understood why my dad and uncle changed their majors to become teachers after being SMs. I would do the same!

Receiving care packages containing things we couldn’t get there really helped Jonah and me. For example, all the flip-flops I’d brought eventually broke, and no one sold a size 15 on the island to replace them. The exact week I broke my last pair, I received a sturdy, comfortable new pair that I used every day. So, if you know a student missionary, I’m sure they’d appreciate a package of useful and delicious things. They’d also appreciate someone simply keeping in touch, even if that means sending Instagram memes in the middle of the night due to the time difference.

If you’ve felt called to step away and be an SM, I highly recommend it. You’ll live outside your comfort zone, be completely immersed in a new culture, develop relationships that will shape the rest of your life, and, most importantly, learn to lean more on God.


If you’re interested in being a volunteer, visit: AdventistVolunteers.org.

Hear from other volunteers at m360.tv/avs.

Noah Pierce from Southern California, United States, is an elementary education major at Southern Adventist University. Last year, he served as a volunteer teacher at Kosrae Seventh-day Adventist School in Micronesia, fulfilling a dream of serving with his brother on the islands.