"Why Honduras?!" My father exclaimed circa 1am as I told him I would be leaving August 8th for the island of Roatan to teach high school English and that I had already quit my well paying corporate executive career at one of the largest retail companies in the world. "What if there is a hurricane? Or you catch malaria? I thought you liked your job? And why do you want to leave Charleston? Have you thought about these things Jessica?" "Well yes, there may be a hurricane and I might catch malaria too. No, I do not like my job and yes, I love Charleston. I have thought about these things long and hard." I said. "Dad, I don't know if teaching is the answer but I do know that this is what I am supposed to be doing."
I remember writing 8 words in my journal on December 26th, 2009 as my hours at work that week were totaling near 80. GOD, I WILL GO WHERE YOU SEND ME. Alright I lied. There were 6 more. JUST GET ME OUT OF HERE. As I searched non profit job listings around the country trying to reconcile my guilty conscience for making more money than any young single woman should make, I remembered a friend who was teaching at a Christian bilingual school on the island of Roatan. I emailed the academic coordinator, started praying hard, 4 months later I had a phone interview and BOOM. That was it. I had a rush of emotions after I immediately accepted the position. Am I doing this out of selfish ambition? Am I a ridiculous resume builder masked as a compassionate Christian? Will this make me more admirable? Is this the right program at the right time? What will everyone think? How am I going to survive financially? I was anxious. I was uneasy. I had a pit in my stomach that I knew was from God. I also had no idea where I was going to live for the remainder of my time here in the United States. A wise mentor then reassured me that God had purposefully laid this desire on my heart, a door was opened and I was to run through that door until it closed. Thank you, Mel. And thank you corny country artist who said, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans." God gave me a place to live, a gracious and supportive boss and enough vacation hours to keep me afloat throughout the summer.
The thing I've learned about following God is that He will make you feel extremely uncomfortable and ridiculously excited all at the same time. Dropping everything and moving to a foreign country was not something I thought I would ever do. Quitting my highly sought after position and leaving my best friends, family and amazing church community was not on that list either. But here's the thing. Rick Warren once stated that "God is more interested in your character than your comfort, and he's more concerned about your holiness than your happiness." Growing involves taking risks and surrendering to a higher purpose. I want to take from this conference inspiration to help my students live better lives no matter what their circumstance.
I want to help with the start up of a mentoring program between the private and public schools in Roatan. I have already spoken with a peer about this dream and it is most definitely in it's early stages. Most of the public school students do not know how to read and the process would involve pairing these students with a private school student to help continue their education, and would need peer to peer mentoring. This plan will involve tremendous support, teamwork and organization from each respective school, faculty member and student. I am envisioning a buddy system, where the students can learn, play and grow together. I am envisioning public schools that teach children how to read. I am envisioning greatness. Of course there will be roadblocks. Upset and unsupportive parents. Lack of funding and resources. Poor organization. Defeated educators. The enemy is already at work within the country and has no means of backing down. I plan on hitting the ground running once I arrive to the island. I want to build relationships within the community, begin my networking circle amongst the faculty at the public schools and start planning with my fellow peers. It would also be helpful to learn some Spanish. I am thrilled to see where God takes the 2010 school year.
Last week while I was at home in Charlotte visiting my family, I overheard my father talking to a friend on the phone. He said,"Yes, and my oldest daughter is heading to Honduras to teach English. It is where she feels called to be so she is going." I started crying because there stood my father, once skeptical and concerned, now standing tall and proud behind his daughter. He may never know why but I'm sure he will see one day how faith is walking to edge of all the light you have and taking one more step. I have faith that lives will be changed and hearts will be open to the amazing love, power and life changing abilities of the Lord.