Many people think that being a missionary on an island is all “rainbows and butterflies” because it’s paradise. It may be true that the scenery is breathtaking, but that doesn’t mean discouragement and struggles don’t exist.

One particular week, I was feeling slightly more discouraged and homesick than previous weeks. Monday began, and I was able to focus on my classes and the work I needed to accomplish. But when evening came, I could no longer restrain my tears. They began to tumble from my eyes and down my cheeks like an overflowing rain gutter. I didn’t feel like I was making a difference or doing anything extraordinary. Anyone can be an English teacher, I thought, so why am I here?

Kim with some of her students at a welcome party at Palau Mission Academy.

Tuesday morning, I wasn’t feeling up to teaching, but I went to school anyway. My principal noticed that things were a little off with me, so he and his wife prayed with me. He asked God to send someone my way so that I would see that I was making even the smallest impact. For the next couple of days, nothing happened.

I forgot about the prayer until Thursday night when several of my students came to ask me a question about an assignment. “Miss,” they began, “what does it mean to love your enemies?” Instantly, I remembered the prayer of my principal and his wife.

Feeling God’s love and peace wash over me, I began to explain to my students how Jesus had decided to leave a place more beautiful than we could ever imagine just to come down and die for our sins. I tried my best to describe how much Jesus loves all of us, even those who hate Him. After I finished explaining as best as I knew how, I asked them whether they had ever heard the story about how Jesus died on the cross. These kids had never heard it! I asked whether they wanted to go over the story in class the next day, and they seemed excited by the idea.

After they left, tears filled my eyes as I tried to grasp the fact that God had just used me. I was only an English teacher, but He had given me the opportunity to realize that I’m in a position to help change lives.

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The following day, I told the story of Jesus’ death. Never before have I been so passionate about God. It felt amazing! As I reached the part in the story where Mary and John were standing at the foot of the cross, I began to cry. My students were completely silent, taking in every word. As I told the heartbreaking story, some students were also moved to tears.

The following week, I gave a test, and, for extra credit, I asked the students to write about what they had learned in my class and their favorite thing about my class. To my amazement, some of the students said that they had grown closer to God because of my class. Others shared that they loved our worships and that I made learning fun.

God’s timing is always perfect. He always knows what we need to hear and when we need to hear it. Just knowing that He used me to make a difference in at least one student’s life makes this whole missionary experience worth it.

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Kimberly Ford
Originally from the United States, Kimberly Ford serves as a volunteer teacher at Palau Mission Academy in the Republic of Palau. She earned a degree in global policy and service studies from Southern Adventist University in 2017.