I don’t know how many of you know the story of how I came to be on staff at my church, South Potomac Church, in Maryland.
The story starts when I was 12, when God called me to be a teacher. By the end of high school, I had a life plan that went something like this: teach in the public school until I got fired for sharing my faith and then teach in a private Christian school or overseas with missionary kids. (There was a whole other piece to the plan involving marriage and kids but that is a topic for another day…)
As God would have it, I taught for Charles County Public Schools in Maryland for 8 years, walking out that plan and my calling. Three of those years I was an exchange teacher in Japan, teaching English to middle school students. But as I taught, I got sicker and sicker with horrible sinus infections as well as persistent bronchitis and chronic asthma. After my 4th sinus surgery, which was within 6 months of my 3rd, the best-in-the-nation doctor at Georgetown told me it was the children, that they were re-infecting me and that I had to get out of the classroom or face a gruesome surgery called a “sinus obliteration”.
So I left the classroom and became a Gifted Resource Teacher for the county – and hated every moment of it because it felt like it was about politics and testing, not kids. Because I was missing interacting with children, I started doing something I had never done – volunteering in the children’s ministry at my church. Up until then I had served in almost every other capacity, other than the praise team. But while I was teaching, I worked with kids all week long and I did not want to work with them on Sundays. However, that year I was missing the kids, so I started serving in the preschool on Sundays.
Because of that, when the then-children’s pastor told the then-senior pastor in December of 2002 that he was changing jobs, the senior pastor asked, “Who is already here that is your logical replacement?” And the children’s pastor said, “Kathy.” The rest is history. I took the job and officially joined SPC staff August 1, 2003.
Thankfully, my health did improve after I left the classroom. But in 2005 I made a life-altering discovery – that I have Celiac Disease. I began to suspect that it was not the children who caused my health issues but instead it was gluten.
I proved that theory this past fall. God opened the door for me to take a one-year Sabbatical from my church and teach here in Guatemala at the Christian Academy of Guatemala. My 3rd graders have been sick with all the crud kids carry, including the flu. However, I have had one cold all year and I was able to easily kick it without meds and without missing any school.
My heart has always been about children: loving them, serving them, drawing them closer to the King and the Kingdom. But my first love in how to accomplish that has always been the elementary school classroom. Five days a week pouring into their lives, teaching them, modeling Jesus for them, loving them – that is my dream job.
At the same time, I had been sensing for the past couple years that my role at SPC was going to shift, that it was time for a change. I had no idea what that looked like – I just knew I had a holy discontent building inside. When God opened the door to take this Sabbatical, I had thought that perhaps this was the extent of it – an extended break from leadership.
However, God has made it clear that He is giving me back my greatest passion – being a classroom teacher – and mixing it with another great passion, world missions. Although my time thus far in Guatemala has not been easy, it has been incredibly blessed and very fulfilling. I have come to realize that I long to stay here as a classroom teacher for as long as God wills.
So as of August 1, 2020, after 17 years on staff, I will be switching roles at SPC from pastoral staff to missionary. I am in the process of finding a sending agency to join and will begin raising support as soon as possible. SPC will be my “sending church” and remains my church home. I will be coming home to Maryland in late May, after school lets out here, to deal with my house, stuff, car and cats. I will then return in July with the short-term team to go to our Care Point, Bethlehem, with Children’s Hope Chest. But when the team gets back on the plane August 1, I will head back here to CAG to start a new school year.
I know this is a shock for some of you. Others have suspected since the beginning that this would happen. I really had no idea when I came here that God was going to call me here for the foreseeable future. And yes, I will miss SPC and my family and friends in the U.S. I already do! And yet, I know that I will have all of eternity to hang out with you guys. But being here and teaching at CAG facilitates at least a dozen ministries to happen for the people of Guatemala. In other words, my impact is exponentially increased while I am doing something I love and was designed to do. And MKs (missionary kids) have a unique position and set of needs. They did not choose to be here and for many it is a struggle. Being here to disciple them, love them, serve them, draw them closer to Jesus and yes, teach them academics – it is a joy. And it is a joy that positively impacts hundreds of Guatemalans as their parents minister across the area in Jesus’ name.
Thanks in advance for praying for me. I will keep you posted about the next steps and what God is up to in my life.
Benediciones para ti!