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One Teacher Makes The Difference

Kathy Wood

Former Missionary, Christian Academy of Guatemala, Guatemala

Our son, Chelsey, was most enthusiastic about moving to a far away and exotic country, but seven months later lay in tears after school each day, unable to understand why our family had to “move to Guatemala” and “not just visit”.  His anticipated hope to live in the jungles of Guatemala were crushed by the reality that our new home with a small yard was located in the middle of a huge city, surrounded by ten foot tall concrete walls, topped with razor wire and shard glass for security.  The streets, we were told, were too dangerous for a ten-year-old boy to ride his bike, so it sat parked in the damp laundry room, never to be ridden on the streets of Guatemala City.  Our son couldn’t understand why he had to leave his friends and relatives, and all the things he loved back in the states.  It wasn’t easy to live in a new place, surrounded by a language and culture he didn’t understand.

Each day our son returned home from school filled with sadness, confused and shaken by the realities of the transition into a new country and a new school.  He attempted to make new friends but the harshness of middle school years, facing puberty, self-consciousness, and self-doubt seemed to plague him.  Our boy, who normally was SUPER outgoing, creative, musically-gifted, and VERY social, soon became quiet, depressed and lacked no interest in any of his usual activities.  He didn’t like school or his teacher. Many evenings were spent curled up on the couch; no words to describe his hurt, yet tears streaming down his face.

I knew without a doubt that God had called our family to this place, but now I was wondering if we could stay.  “How could we stay in Guatemala if the impact of the transition was going to be so emotionally detrimental to our son?”  We prayed.  We consoled our son and attempted to give counsel.  We prayed more. We prayed for a teacher who would come and connect with Chelsey in a special way.

God was faithful and answered our prayer in the form of new friends for Chelsey, and a new missionary teacher and soccer coach who invested in his life.  This new teacher, Matt, was intentional about connecting with the missionary students at our international Christian school.  He was a dedicated teacher and experienced coach.   He was a generous and giving man, not only with his time and attention, but also with gifts (new soccer uniforms he donated to the school he came to serve).  Our family found refuge in this new missionary teacher; one, it seemed, that God sent specifically for our son and family.  Matt, and the relationship he built with our sons, was one of the main reasons my husband and I could remain on the mission field and fulfill our roles as missionary teacher and school counselor at the MK school for the next seven years.  Matt may not have known that when he said “Yes, Lord…I am willing to go and serve in Guatemala.” that he would have an impact on our children’s lives forever!  

We will always be grateful for the impact Matt has had on our family and the many MKs he served in Guatemala.