I first heard about the teaching opportunity in Cameroon in late January of 2012. Mrs. Cheryl announced the need at Refuge. It piqued my interest because the speaker in Perspectives that week had been a former teacher of missionary kids and had talked about what a joy it was. He said it was a great way to use other gifts (besides your "typical missionary" ones) to get involved in missions, and that stuck with me. I also knew that Cameroon was in French-speaking Africa, and I have always been interested in the French language. I minored in it at LSU.
After a series of events involving much prayer and seeking wise counsel, I decided to make a 1-year commitment to teaching at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé in March 2012. My favorite part of teaching was without a doubt the relationships I made with the students. There are 100 students in the school, 7th-12th grade. I taught about 50 9th-12th graders, but I've gotten to know all the high schoolers through Running Club, class events, and small groups. I love being able to blatantly and intentionally integrate Christianity into lessons and have follow up conversations with students outside of class. It's been so fun to apply principles of discipleship to teaching these students how to develop in their walk with the Lord. They will go out all over the world after this and be able to take these principles with them!
This is one of the most incredible opportunities that I've ever been given, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I wish everyone graduating college would spend time in a completely different culture. You just learn so much about God when you have to rely on Him for everything.
The Lord taught me a lot that year that I don't even know how to summarize it all. I know one huge thing has been how sufficient He is, and how He works through my weaknesses. I spent a lot of time with very emotional female teenagers, and anyone who knows me knows I'm not an encourager in my flesh. But I had some really cool opportunities to reach students in this school that haven't been reached by others. God also taught me a lot about not being judgmental. I'm consistently around a lot of missionaries who seem to be from a very different background than me. I rubbed several people the wrong way with my "liberties." It was really hard for me at times. At the same time, I learned that people that I would classify as uptight actually have a lot to teach me about loving Christ and obeying Him. We all have such different histories, but God has brought us together for His purposes. We are His body, and each has a different part. I wouldn't eat with my foot! It's cool to see how people that are so different from me also fulfill different purposes. At times I've felt uncomfortable, judged, or like I wasn't doing anything useful and I remembered 1 Cor 15:58: "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. "It's not about me!
This is one of the most incredible opportunities that I've ever been given, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I wish everyone graduating college would spend time in a completely different culture. You just learn so much about God when you have to rely on Him for everything. You learn so much about how deeply He cares for you when He brings you encouragement from people you haven't known long at all. And, you learn so much about the sins of your own culture. American materialism becomes a whole new level of nauseating when you see such stark poverty every day. It's cool to pray about how my life can look different upon returning than it did before I came.