I feel a bit like a fool. What am I really doing here? I could teach English anywhere. I could teach History in the United States. How does me being here in Western Bohemia make any difference? Well the truth is, it doesn’t. The one resounding fact that I have began to learn, which has been humbling, is that I don’t matter; many of my students, particularly at the middle school level, have gotten over the romance of having an American teacher. I’m just any other teacher that makes them complete worksheets and do homework. Lame. I’ve been focusing on creating good classroom management and keeping the “trouble-makers” in line; I’d forgotten why I had even come.
Teenagers can be infuriating. For every parent and secondary educator out there, you know exactly how I feel. They purposefully push your buttons just to see how far you will go before you boil over; they take pleasure in going to painstaking lengths to upset you, but somehow they are also so endearing, so real. Teaching is nothing. At the end of my life when I reflect at what I have done, I will never utter to myself about how proud I am that my students speak English well, that I successfully helped them improve in their language abilities. No, I want to look back and see that I left a legacy of love - not my love that is flawed and insufficient. I want all of these students to see the love that shines through me and have it inspire them to look beyond me - beyond this earth.
Many of these students have never known a Christian, have never talked about Jesus as a Savior (not the baby who gives them presents on December 24th - yes Santa Claus and Christmas are different here), and many come from broken homes and broken lives. I had a conversation with a dear friend the other day about my mission here. As she described it, sometimes tilling the soil in a place like this is similar to taking a pick-axe to concrete. It can be depressing to look at where we are and see a whole church in a town larger than mine with a congregation the size of my Thursday night Bible studies back in America. It can be upsetting to see students get drunk and then berate me on how I could be foolish enough to believe in God. But most of all it is killing me to think that I have not taken every moment with these students in my classroom and loved on them. I’m here to teach English, yes, but that’s secondary. I am here to share Christ not only in time spent outside of class with my students by building friendships, but in ever moment in the classroom. My mission here is no different than any other Christian’s mission at home or abroad. We are called to spread Christ’s joyous gospel and His love. People will know that we are His chosen people by our love. It is with this realization that I have heard a million times that I choose to accept it and live by it. The moments in class where I would like nothing more than to smack someone and pull my hair out are the moments that God can so readily show His mercy and patience through me. I, Amy, canot make a difference in the Czech Republic, or anywhere for that matter, but God can. So with recognition that things will be tough, I ask for God to work His most through me in Most.
Please pray that I would be different here; in a country so unfamiliar with God, pray that I would be a testimony to Him, especially in the little things that become mundane in life. Teaching is a unique way to get to know students, a unique way for people to feel a special connection. Pray that God would use me - my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength - to show the people in this culture how rich life can be without beer, sex, or even wealth.