Sunday, September 19, 2010

The end...

As you may know, my three years in Chile has come to an end. It’s a bittersweet moment for me as I say goodbye to a country that has held my heart for so many years and also joyfully return to my home where I can regularly spend more time with family and friends. I have been home for two months now, and as I write this letter on the 200th anniversary of Chilean independence, I realize that I still very much miss being there.

The Lord has blessed me so much and taught me even more in the course of my three years there. I learned how to be a teacher and that I actually like it! I realized that’s the career path that God wants me to pursue, whether I end up staying the States or going out elsewhere. I spent an intense and interesting semester as both full-time teacher and co-administrator of the school, and that was certainly a stretching experience. I learned what I do and don’t like about being in charge, and I learned to take on boss-like qualities that I don’t normally exhibit. I don’t necessarily feel the need to try my hand at being the head boss again.

I learned to trust and depend on God, although I still feel like I have a long way to go in that realm. I often battled loneliness as at times families celebrated holidays without me, or I had to make my own birthday plans so as not to be forgotten, or a family problem caused plans to fall through, leaving me with a lot of alone time on my hands. The time that this loneliness was the most acute was the week after the earthquake as families came together, and I felt particularly lost in the shuffle. God certainly provided a strong network of support through the other missionaries and friends that I met along the way, but life was much different for me there, and there were times that I found myself without the social support that I could usually count on in the States. This is when I learned that I needed to rely more on God, even more than I already was.

Obviously, after three years in South America, I was able to gain a relatively high level of proficiency in Spanish, and I would like to bring my love of languages and culture to students in this country. My last year or two, especially, I was able to get to know the Chileans better and get involved more due to my growing grasp of the language. I was able to worm my way in to one or two families, and I truly miss them.

Probably the most impacting part of my experience was the relationships I was able to form with my students. Honestly speaking, it was for them that I kept extending my time in Chile. They lodged themselves in my heart, and I was equally concerned for their education as well as their spiritual and emotional maturation, to the extent that I felt a burden to be a positive role model and felt greatly saddened when a student acted in rebellion or defiance. I know I was able to make an impact in the lives of several kids and teach them lessons about life that perhaps they had never considered before. I was especially shocked to hear that some students had actually taken my advice to heart!

Now that I’m back home, I’m going to grad school to get my master’s in education so that I can be a “real” teacher. It will take me approximately two years, and I’m hoping to be certified in both English and Spanish. I’ve also found an almost full-time job that provides benefits as well (God blessed me once again by giving me the first job I applied for!). After I’m done with my schooling, I honestly have no idea where God will lead me. My plan is to stay in New Jersey unless told otherwise.

I want to thank you for supporting me so heartily over the years. It was such a comfort to know that I had people praying for me and interested in the ministry that I was involved in. It was especially comforting when so many people contacted me after the earthquake to let me know that I was in their prayers. I certainly needed it. I could not have gone to Chile and done the work God had called me to do without both your financial and prayer support, and I know God will bless you for your generosity and faithfulness. I don’t know how else to express the fullness of gratitude I feel, other than to once again say thank you.

Still serving where I am,

Kelly Wentzell