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Volunteer Teaching Abroad: El Camino Bilingual School Introduction Part III

We are back with our final installment about what life is like as a missionary teacher in our little community on the northern coast of Honduras. Our wonderful staff has answered another 10 commonly asked questions about volunteer teaching in Honduras at El Camino Bilingual School. We hope that these responses help you envision the rewards and challenges of being called to serve at Loma de Luz. 

#11 How is your service making a positive difference?

“Every day I am able to look my students in the eye, hug them, and tell them how much Jesus loves them. Then I am able to teach them to read and speak English. Letting students know that someone if for them and loves them has the power to change lives.” – Katie, 4th Grade Teacher

 “I know that I help children learn to believe in God, to believe in themselves and their abilities, and learn how to get along well in the community.” – Kathryn, El CaminoTeacher

  “I see the pride and joy in parents’ eyes as they realize education will make an amazing difference in their children’s lives.” – Linda, El CaminoTeacher

  #12 What has been the most surprising part about being a missionary in Honduras?

“The challenge of living in community with other missionaries.” – Katie, El Camino Teacher

 “I did not expect my kids to be such a big part of our ministry here in Honduras, but they (even at 6 and 3) have jumped right in. They’ve learned the language, adapted to the culture, and identify more with the local kids than the missionary kids. It has been a beautiful thing to see them grow in this culture, and run right alongside us in this missions journey.” -Teresa, El Camino Teacher

 “For me, I never really experienced culture shock like I was expecting to.  But also, it is surprising to me how little things that I think don’t really bother me too much at the time sometimes just build up and I later realize that they really do bother me.” – Kathryn, EL Camino Teacher

“Something richly surprising is the close-knit missionary community here. I had only spoken to a few people who lived here before moving here and now many of these people are my closest soul friends. Working together with common callings and goals allows for rich and fast friendships to form.” – Reagan, El Camino Teacher

#13 What has been the most important lesson that you have learned throughout your experience?

“Jesus is everything.” – Katie, El Camino Teacher

 “His grace is sufficient, and He knows what He is doing.” – Teresa, El Camino Teacher

“Trust God.  He is at work here, and he loves us.” – Kathryn, El Camino Teacher

 “In so many ways children and parents are the same the world over.” – Linda, El CaminoTeacher

 #14 If there was 1 item you wished you had packed, what would that be?

“Chocolate. All the chocolate.” – Katie, El Camino Teacher

 “Chocolate. Good chocolate is hard to come by, and when you do come by it, it’s expensive.” – Teresa, El Camino Teacher

 “My pillow.” – Kathryn, El Camino Teacher

 “I have been back and forth from the states many times and something I am always bringing with me are little things to make my home feel more like a home to me. I have brought printed pictures, candles, pillows, bed sheets, curtains, and a beautiful tapestry. Many days I get home and feel like I’ve poured out all I have so having a home that feels like a sanctuary is important to me.” – Reagan, 3rd Grade Teacher

#15 What is life like living at Loma de Luz?

“Hard. Amazing. Frustrating. Rewarding. Challenging. Incredible. Horrible. Wonderful. All the things.” – Katie, 4th Grade Teacher

“Life is never dull here unless you want it to be. My family and I find ourselves swimming at the waterfalls on the weekends, going to the beach, exploring in the local communities, making new friends from local communities, playing on the playgrounds at the children’s center and hospital, riding bikes, and just enjoying the slower pace of life here.” – Teresa, El Camino Teacher

“ Hard, but worth it.  Amazing.” – Kathryn, El Camino Teacher

“It is not the jungles or desert of Africa, but it’s not the United States either. It is hot, very dusty during dry season, very muddy during rainy season and 50 kilometers (half of it dirt and potholes, the rest asphalt and potholes) from a “real” grocery store. Electricity can be sporadic at times. But it is a beautiful country and the people are warm, friendly and do a lot of laughing.” – Linda. El Camino Teacher

#16 What is a favorite or funny memory of your time at El Camino or The Children’s Center?

“At the Children’s Center, I thoroughly enjoyed playing with the kids in the evening’s dimming light between supper time and school or after supper before bed. At school, I remember a couple of years ago when the students arrived for their first day.  They were all dressed up and excited.  We had a new student that year and he was so pleased to tell me something, but I didn’t quite understand it and had to ask him a couple of times what he was saying before I realized what was going on.  Here is what he said with a huge smile, “I have hell!!”  What??  Surely I was not understanding what he was trying to tell me.  I finally figured out that what he was trying to tell me was that he had gel—hair gel in his hail- but was pronouncing the “g” like an “h”.

Also, one time specifically I remember a Kindergarten student mixing Spanish and English grammar in the same word.  She said, “so-and-so is culping” me”—from the Spanish “culpar” to blame, and the English ending “-ing”.  She was trying to say that someone was “blaming” her, but it wasn’t her fault.” – Kathryn, Kindergarten Teacher

“It has been such a blessing to watch my students serve and love on others. They are amazing at making people feel special and appreciated. My students really are the sweetest kids I have ever met. When it was some of the teacher’s birthdays at the school, my kids made them birthday cards, performed their favorite song in sign language, and prayed for them. It is incredibly heartwarming and rewarding to watch the people who you are ministering to, go and minister to other people.” – Angela, El Camino Teacher

 “We were talking about Mary and Joseph having a long, hard way to travel to Bethlehem. I asked how they could get there and one of my students, a missionary kid, said they could take an airplane. When I said they hadn’t invented airplanes yet, she still insisted they could go down to the airport and talk to people. After showing them the picture of Mary on a donkey and Joseph leading it, the other students got it…they had seen people traveling like that. I think my little girl still thinks they should have flown.” – Linda, El Camino Teacher

#17 What has shocked you the most about living in Honduras?

“I’m not sure what has shocked me the most … but … so. Many. Bugs.” – Katie, El Camino Teacher

“How easily I have adjusted to the tropical climate. It’s hot here, but it really isn’t that bad. Once you adjust and find ways to deal with the heat, it really isn’t bad at all.” – Teresa, El Camino Teacher

“The poverty.” – Linda, EL Camino Teacher

# 18 How has being a volunteer teacher in a developing country changed you?

“Jesus. I have learned and experienced so much more Jesus. He is everything.” – Katie, EL Camino Teacher

“It has taught me what is truly important in life. It’s not about the competition among kids to see who is smarter or better. It has taught me that teaching is about helping these kids become the best they can be. Not so they can be better than their classmate, but so they can be better for their future and their family’s future.” – Teresa, El Camino Teacher

“It has made me less uptight and more able to go-with-the-flow when unexpected things happen than I would have been if I’d stayed at home.” – Kathryn, EL Camino Teacher

“I realize how blessed we are in the United States, but that God’s love reaches everywhere and that it is His desire for His kingdom to reach to the ends of the earth. And children are the same everywhere.” – Linda, El Camino Teacher

“Learning to work with the resources we have has definitely stretched me a forced me to be creative when we do not have something I want for my classroom or a certain lesson.” – Reagan, EL Camino Teacher

“This is an own education and life experiences. Ultimately, you become more tolerant, grateful and compassionate.” – Sharman, EL Camino Teacher

#19 What were you most concerned about moving to Honduras?

“I was most concerned about leaving family and about the safety of my girls.” – Katie, 4th El Camino Teacher

“I was most concerned about taking my kids away from family in the states. It has not been an easy thing to do, but I am so grateful for technology, and the internet that we have here. We are able to keep in contact with our family via video chat. This has been huge for myself and my kids.” – Teresa, 1st Grade Teacher

“Having some prior experience living and teaching in a foreign country before coming to Honduras, I really did not have any concerns about moving to Honduras. My only concern was about how things would go with my roommate, whom I had yet to meet, but she is absolutely amazing so I had nothing to be concerned about.” – Angela, EL Camino Teacher

“Having been to Loma de Luz many times previously on short trips I kind of knew what I was getting into.” – Linda, EL Camino Teacher

“I was concerned about being lonely or not liking my position here. Both of these concerns have turned out better than I could have planned them.” – Reagan, 3rd El Camino Teacher

“The heat and humidity.” – Sharman, EL Camino Teacher

#20  How do you feel that volunteering strengthens your connections with others?

“I think working at El Camino has taught me so much about the world, about life outside of myself, about putting myself in another’s shoes and being able to love better.” – Katie, El Camino Teacher

“When you are volunteering, you are doing something that you are truly passionate about. You have chosen to volunteer in this capacity, which means you have a passion for it. When you are working among others with similar passions there is always something to talk about, grow in, or do together.” – Teresa, EL Camino Teacher

“I feel that my connections with people at home have in some sense been weakened but broadened.  My relationships with people back in the USA are now based more on the commonality that comes from being part of the same body of Christ, and less on deep friendships that come from sharing life together.  However, the longer I stay, the more life I share with the people here and the more those types of relationships are being built up here.” – Kathryn, EL Camino Teacher

“I love how volunteering connects individuals in so many different ways. Not only does it connect the person volunteering with the person receiving the services, but it also connects those who are volunteering together. One of my favorite things about LDL is that you get the opportunity to serve alongside your friends. So the people who are my co-workers at school are also the people I have Bible study with and are also the people I eat dinner with a few nights a week and are also the people I serve alongside at the children’s center. One of my favorite things that we have done is invite some of the children’s center kids over to mine and my roommate’s house for dinner and a movie. It is so fun to take dinner with friends and turn it into a way to love on the people we are ministering to. It is such a blessing to do ministry together with those you are close with.” – Angela, El Camino Teacher

Joining our Community

Behind the gate that is simply marked Dios Obra Aqui (God Works Here) outside Loma de Luz at the edge of the jungle, there is a community comprised of over 100 missionaries serving with the Cornerstone Foundation. If your heart is encouraging you to join us and help with El Camino Bilingual School, please contact us for more information and an application. If you do decide to serve, take the advice above and remember to bring lots of flexibility and pack plenty of chocolate!