This is a missionary story how older adults have felt the call to missions. Please share your story with me at firstname.lastname@example.org so others can be encouraged!
by Linda K. Thomas
Sally retires from public school teaching
Before moving to Kenya in 1996, Sally had never left U.S. soil. She had recently retired from the Bellevue School District in Washington State and although she retired from public school teaching, she did not retire from ministry. She spent her first year after retirement teaching missionaries’ kids (MKs) at West Nairobi School in Kenya.
Sally worried about adjusting to cross-cultural living—and it was a valid concern, possibly the biggest question mark for many who consider teaching MKs.
But bless her heart, she went for it!
And, she admits, “I came with a very comforting thought—I have a round-trip ticket.”
The adjustment period
Once Sally arrived in Kenya, she surprised herself. “I learned so much about what I could adjust to.”Among other things, she discovered that Nairobi, like many cities in developing countries, had occasional power and water outages. And sometimes, in those days before cell phones, it was easier to place a telephone call to the U.S. than to call across town.“I learned the meaning of ‘flexible,’ ‘adjustable,’ and ‘teachable,’” Sally remembers. “So the phone doesn’t work—you leave notes.”
Working with missionary kids or “MKs”
Sally noticed that even school settings can have different cultures. Missionary kids come from a variety of backgrounds and countries, and they’ve traveled more than most children.While many students learn geography from textbooks, MKs have lived geography—they’ve experienced geography firsthand in their travels to countries around the world. The same is true for anthropology. During their short lifetimes, they’ve probably been exposed to several cultures and might already speak two or more languages.
Teaching on the mission field offers a special joy to former public school teachers, an opportunity that was missing in the public system. “I can pray with my students,” says Sally. And in the classroom, teachers are free to look at any topic or issue from a biblical standpoint.
3 Advantages of living in another country
Although the challenges of cross-cultural living might catch a person’s attention at first, living in another land has advantages.
- Westerners find much to enjoy in the music, art, dance, literature, and the worship of other cultures.
- They discover new foods to taste and restaurants to visit.
- They also can make friends with local citizens, visit their homes, celebrate national holidays, and go sightseeing.
Around the world MKs need educators, and a growing number of retirees, like Sally, are discovering that teaching them is just what they’ve been looking for.
“Teaching on the mission field was a valuable experience and personally rewarding,” she says.
“I had to be willing to leave my comfort zone and do something different.”
To those considering overseas ministry, Sally gives this advice. “There is no reason you can’t go somewhere else once you retire. Don’t be afraid to jump in and try it.”
Each year, hundreds of MK teacher positions go unfilled around the globe.
Could you help fill the need?
Perhaps you know educators nearing retirement,
or someone who has retired.
Please forward this information to them.
Be sure to check out Teachers In Service, Inc.
TIS has oodles of info about items to consider about teaching MKs
in schools and non-traditional settings,
and TIS welcomes inquiries.
link for TIS http://www.teachers-in-service.org
link for “inquiries” http://www.teachers-in-service.org/contact_us.php
Linda K. Thomas’s work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and blog posts. In 2010, she published a memoir, Grandma’s Letters from Africa, covering her first four years in Africa. In 2018, her second memoir will be released, Please, God, Don’t Make Me Go! in which she writes about three years in a remote outpost in South America. In addition to speaking, she teaches the craft of writing memoir to community and church groups and through her blog, Spiritual Memoirs 101, athttps://spiritualmemoirs101.