Even though we managed to teach the class, I felt I’d failed. I poured out my heart to our host, Wayne, about my feelings of defeat and falling short. He reminded me of Second Corinthians 12:6 in the Bible where God says to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast gladly of my weaknesses.”
Then he spoke words that I treasure and hope will be remembered, not just for our time at MIBS, but for all my life and beyond, “We can all stand taller because you have been here.”
Every morning at 9:30 the faculty took turns doing a chapel service, and preaching or sharing. When it came my turn, I shared about myself to get acquainted and explain why I had not been talking. That led me into talking about my handicaps and my failures. A young woman in my class, Marilee, had become discouraged and withdrawn, and was thinking about quitting school. After hearing my message, she talked for hours with Betty, decided to stay, and graduated the following year.
Paul from Pohnpei shared with me, “I am strong, and you are weak, but you have come all this way to teach us. I need to re-think what I can do.” After graduation, Paul became a missionary to Kapingamarangi, then moved to the United States and became a pastor at an international church in California, and worked for a mission organization.
We also learned the importance of observing cultural rules. Betty went with the students to a neighboring island on the school sailboat for a swim and picnic. Betty swam with the girls, all wearing long dresses. Betty pinned a towel over her bathing suit to cover her legs. With her mask and snorkel, she could point out an abandoned shell on the bottom, and the girls dove to get them. We have them displayed on our shelves.
At our farewell party, the students presented us with a beautiful wall hanging made with shells and black coral stems. Paul gave us a large spray of native black coral, also on our shelf. Black coral grows below a depth of 200 feet, so how or where he got it, we don’t know.
In retrospect, we did have a positive impact in our time at MIBS, and some treasures to remember. Time and memory dull the ordeal, so we remember the good things about our experience at MIBS, and that we learned more than we taught.
Time to go home? Nope; The Women’s Mission Board in Honolulu had given us another contact to check in with, on Saipan. Join us next week as we spend a week on Saipan.