“Kom Mongo Tari?”
I thought I had asked one of my students at potluck, “Have you eaten already?” But instead of getting a response from her I was greeted by hearty laughter. And not just from my student but from everybody who was at potluck. They laughed and pointed at me as if I was standing in my underwear. I quietly finished my food and went to my apartment above the school.
I hate when they do that
Later that day, I decided to go hang out with the kids. As I approached, I noticed two of my students were there, I waved to them and said hello, but they just stared back at me. I thought, maybe they just didn’t hear me. So I got closer and noticed they were watching the principal’s wife riding a strange contraption, a bike. Their gazes were intent and their eyes were glued on her like a dog’s onto a piece of meat, I could tell they wanted to ride.
So I asked them if they knew how to ride and both of them said no. Finally, an opportunity to bond with these kids who seemed to not like me at all in class and were constantly saying they missed their last teacher. But I couldn’t seem too eager, so I just said casually,
“So, you guys want to learn?”
Twenty minutes later I saw them riding bikes up and down the parking lot, laughing, and having a great time.
Why does reaching out to these people have to people have to be such a struggle?
And that is how you could describe my first month here in Kosrae, the struggle. Everyday of this month has seemed like a constant battle with no victories. At school, I have dealt with comments from students like,
“I wish Ms. Makayla was here.”
“Why don’t you put up the multiplication tree like Ms. Makayla?”
Then, at church, there are many times I have felt left out and nonexistent because everyone is speaking Kosraen and there is no translator. I started asking what things meant but I stopped because I thought, what’s the point, I won’t remember it and it won’t help me anyway.
Yes, the first month and three weeks of school have been about as gloomy as Seattle’s weather. Then. I got a letter from a former Student Missionary who had been in Kosrae. In his note he put a lot of kind words, but there was a phrase that stuck out to me, Enjoy the Struggle.
Enjoy the struggle, how am I supposed to that? And why?
The next day after school, I decided to ride the bus with the kids. While on the bus I started talking and learning more about some of the kids in my class. The whole time the bus was bouncing up and down. The kids loved it andwere laughing and having a great time, and so was I. Later that day, it hit me. It was then that I finally started to understand what my friend had been talking about in his letter.
Without the struggle I would never be able to fully appreciate the journey. Just like on the bus, the bumps along the road had caused the kids to laugh and had enhanced the good times we had. Also, the bumps on the road were made worth it because of the final destination, home. Without the struggles of this first month and the others that will come, I won’t truly be able to call Kosrae my home for this year.
Yes, the services are still in Kosraen, I still mess up Kosraen words, and sometimes my kids just stare at me despite my amazing jokes. My situation has not changed but my outlook is. I am learning to laugh at myself and yet still do my best to learn. Those students are finally starting to open up to me and I am being more real with them. I don’t doubt there will be more struggles here in Kosrae and also in your life, but find the joy in your struggle. Because without them we won’t end up where we need and so desperately want to be, HOME.
J-Fiah is a junior studying psychology and theology.