I always thought that the experience of being a student missionary at Maxwell Adventist Academy would be a very similar one to the experience the SMs have at NUA (Academy I graduated from). What do SMs back home go through? Culture shock, homesickness, trying different kind of food. I can handle that. After all, I’m going back to Africa; it should even be easier than being in the States. I was wrong. I never expected this year to be that tough.
My first month at Maxwell was great; however, by the second month things started to change. Things became a lot more challenging to the point of being VERY uncomfortable. I was still getting used to the whole teaching system and it was hard to find balance in different ways. There were a lot of times when I asked: “What on earth am I doing in this country?” On November 29, 2010 my diary read, “ Lord. I’m here, in Kenya. Honestly, I don’t know why you sent me here for. If I knew how the situation was going to be like before I came, I wouldn’t choose to come here. But, I know that you sent me here for a reason. Show it to me please. I want to be happy about being here”. It was very tough and the only things that could satisfy me was to be home. I just wanted to go home.
I did go home for a long Christmas break. I recharged my batteries and I was ready to face the challenges of the second semester. After Christmas I faced a whole different challenge than the one I faced first semester. Now, the problem was not about being in a place where I felt uncomfortable; Maxwell started to fell like a third home (after Egypt and LSU) to me. The problem was all the things that were going on back home; starting with the January 25 revolution and ending with the death of one of my friends. Since the start of this year, 2011, there has been a lot going on back home. It seemed that every time I went online there were more sad news to hear. It came to the point where I hated the Internet. I wanted to be home, but this time it was for a different reason. It wasn’t because of the discomfort at Maxwell; instead, it was because I wanted to be near my family and friends who were hurt!
One prayer I prayed as I said goodbye to my brother, John, and my friend, Joseph, at LAX was, “Father, help me to grow to be more like you this year.” There came many times when I questioned if God answered this particular prayer. And now as the year comes to an end, I can clearly say that He did answer my prayer. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” Galatians 2:20. This year was filled with the most challenging situations I have EVER faced in my WHOLE life. And because of these tough situations, I’m no longer who I used to be. Many things that used to really matter, no longer do. And things that I never valued are NOW worth living for.
And now as I write this, only few hours before graduation, I can say that my experience here at Maxwell Adventist Academy has been nothing but rewarding. If time could go back to when I were to decided where to go as an SM, I don’t think that I would choose to go anywhere else!