I ride to and from school each day with my coworker Karen, who is also a teacher. (Check out her blog here.) We have great conversations in her jeepeta (Dominican word for an SUV) about life, the school, the village, Kids Alive, recipes… Last week we noticed something interesting. At the end of the school day, when we plop our weary bodies into the jeepeta to drive home, one of us usually say, “Pues, sobrevivimos.” (Well, we survived.) And when we’re at school and it starts to rain in the afternoon, sometimes we say, “Maybe we’ll dismiss the kids early!” If a hurricane is coming, we often wish for a day off of work. We are glad when the day is over and grateful for unexpected breaks. Yuck ducks.
BUT. It’s a pair-of-ducks (a paradox) – they always come in twos. And the other duck, the yay duck, says that we LOVE our jobs! We do. We love our students, we love our coworkers, (well, most of the time, let’s be honest…) we love the beauty of the village with its flowering trees and rolling hills, and we love being Kids Alive missionaries.
Teaching is simultaneously incredibly rewarding and unbelievably difficult. It is life-giving yet exhausting. Being a missionary, living cross-culturally, is also both incredibly rewarding and unbelievably difficult, both life-giving and exhausting. So when those two aspects of our lives collide, we are left with days that wear us out by lunchtime, days when it’s a huge accomplishment to survive without a meltdown, days when we wish we taught in the US where there are smartboards and photocopiers and teacher stores, days when we listen to our students’ stories of abuse in their houses, days when it feels like God has abandoned this place.
We are left with small victories, like a day without a fistfight in our classroom, or days when we find a cute lesson idea on Pinterest that’s actually feasible here, days when we have enough energy to visit one of our students’ homes, and days when we feel like we’re figuring out how to fit in with our coworkers.
And we are left with amazing, joy-filled days when our students behave well, days when we get to model forgiveness and grace and reconciliation, days when we love teaching here without the restrictions and structures of education in the US, days when our kids have “aha” moments, days when we have enough energy after school to do something other days when we feel God closer than ever.
It’s our double pair of ducks as teachers and missionaries. One day, one hour, life here is SO HARD. The next day, or hour, life here is beautiful and rich and we feel incredibly blessed. We breathe gratitude for the calling to teach in this place, and in the same breath we wish God would call us somewhere else, to something else. We breathe joy for the blessings of this crazy life, and in the same breath we breathe desperation for God’s strength to carry us through the day. This life, as a teacher, as a missionary, as a daughter of God journeying through this not-home-yet world, is a multitude of paradoxes.