I was told when I first started teaching, "Teaching is hard and a lot of teachers leave the profession after a few years. If you can make it ten years, though, you'll be in it for life."
In a couple of months I will finish my 10th year of teaching. It's hard to believe it's been that long, but I am reminded of it every time I come in contact with a former 4th grade student of mine who is now in college! I've been reflecting a lot lately on this calling God has given me, one to love on kids, to help them reach their full potential, to build relationships, and to reflect Christ as well as I can to all those young people placed in my care for 180 or so days a year. I really can't think of another thing in this world I'd rather do.
It's funny when I came to Botswana on my scouting trip to figure out how I would best "fit" at the mission, teaching was not on the top of my list. I just figured that since God had called me out of teaching in America to serve in Botswana, Africa, surely He had other plans for me than just to teach. Well, if you read the first few posts on this blog, you'll see how the Lord slowly revealed to me that teaching was exactly what He had in mind for me, even here in Botswana.
You see, for some reason I thought God could use me to do more for Him involved in a "real ministry" here. Maybe I could serve more people. Maybe I could grow more. And maybe that is true, but what I've found is that He has given me a very special love for this occupation. Not so much the actual teaching of lessons (although I love that too), but mostly this amazing privilege and opportunity of having twenty or so children in my care everyday, providing incredible opportunities to pour out love and encouragement in countless ways, helping to shape who these kids might become, and striving to reflect Christ to them all through the process. What I've found is, this is a real ministry.
Some days my heart just overflows with thankfulness that I get to do this job. Today is one of those days. I felt it when I walked into my classroom this morning and was greeted with shouts of "Miss Andrea!" accompanied with big hugs. I felt it when I sat in chapel this morning next to two of my students as we giggled and sang and prayed together. I felt it when I handed back graded tests and saw kids' faces light up at their good score as they ran across the room to show their friends. I felt it when I found one of the boys in my class crying and after a walking chat together and a big hug, saw those tears turn into a smile. And I felt it when I checked the mail and found a letter from a former student who is now in 7th grade, writing to tell me "thank you" for teaching him and helping him to be a better reader and writer.
We teachers are so blessed. I mean truly, truly blessed. I hope we never take for granted this great calling God has given us. I know I personally am appreciating it more and more each day and looking forward to doing this for many years to come. Having almost reached that great 10-year mark, I'm happy to say I do believe I'll be "in this for life."