Four years ago Chris and I were at De Kroze Danne Conference Centre for our GO Conference – an introduction to the values and work of OM. This August we were back there for the third time, watching 243 more people embark on their journey with OM. Having helped with OMNIvision at the 2 previous events this summer I felt much more part of the crew this time and enjoyed the chance to try some new things. However, I was also there in my role as Family and Educational Advisor so my time was split between the two roles. Here are a few of my highlights from the conference:
Having spent a significant portion of my childhood as an MK (missionary kid) I developed a strong awareness and interest in mission work which stayed with me into adulthood, although I never had any plans or ideas where this would take me. By the age of 5 I’d chosen my career path and this finally came true in 2004 when I qualified as a primary school teacher. These two passions have always been present in my life to varying degrees. Throughout university and my years teaching in the UK I went on several short term mission trips and was involved with the mission team at my church.
In 2008 I finally felt the time to serve longer term in mission was approaching. For me it was an obvious and easy decision to teach MK’s as this combined my own experiences, passion for mission and love of teaching. Eventually I ended up on Logos Hope, as a teacher in the school onboard. Amongst the 400 crew onboard there are usually about 40 children, aged from 0 – 16. The school usually has about 8 teachers who provide an education for these children during their time onboard.
Having taught in the school on Logos Hope for 2 years I returned to the UK in October 2011, again wondering how all my passions and experiences could be combined. Through a series of thoughts and conversations God has led me to take on the role of ‘Family and Educational Support Advisor’ with OM.
Part of this role is to ensure that families and children on the mission field are well cared for, receiving the support and advice that they need to raise their family, make educational choices and deal with the unique challenges they face. This means providing resources, support and advice at all stages of their journey: as the plan and prepare for the mission field, during their time overseas and as they re-enter their home country. Having been an MK myself I can understand some of both the positive and negative impacts that can occur and I hope to be able to help maximise the former and minimise the latter.
Another part of the role is recruiting and supporting teachers, especially for the ship school. Recruitment is something totally new for me but having been a teacher onboard the ship I have some understanding of how to support them effectively. This includes being available to answer questions, providing resources and ensuring they are kept up to date with the curriculum.
Successfully fulfilling this role will require a lot of networking; researching about MKs, attending conferences and liaising with OM offices around the world. One person described the need for someone to be a ‘children’s advocate’ and I guess in many ways that is what I am hoping for – that I will be able to speak up on behalf of the children involved in mission and ensure that their needs are remembered by all involved.
All of this will be a part time role. In many ways stepping out of the classroom and into an office is a daunting prospect but I feel that my experiences all add up to help me face this new challenge. And to make sure I don’t go completely insane through a lack of interaction with children I hope to be able to teach part time. This will have the added benefit of enabling me to keep up with the changes to the curriculum. At the moment I have no idea what this teaching job may actually look like but am trusting that God has something lined up for me and will reveal it at the right time.