Deciding where to volunteer was not easy as there were not too many places for a married couple. We wanted to go to an exotic place, but more importantly, to a place where our help was really needed. So we received information that in a faraway country called Micronesia, there was an urgent need for teachers. To be honest, that was maybe the last option we had in mind, but after thinking and praying for a while, we decided to take a leap of faith and we promised to go to Micronesia. More specifically, we went to an island called Yap, which by the way, means a canoe paddle!
Well, this was near Christmas time, so we thought that we would be ready to leave by the beginning of January 2011. But getting there was not that easy. Obtaining a visa was not a quick process at all, as we are Finnish citizens and needed a visa in order to get there, while US citizens did not. We were informed by the principal that the island has its own time pace, which means that things move a bit slower there than in Europe. In addition to that, I got sick just as we got our visas, and we had to postpone the flight. After all these difficulties, we were finally on an airplane at the end of February and arrived to the land of stone money in the beginning of March. We were warmly welcomed by the principal and his wife, and by our colleagues (other teachers). When we got to our new apartment on the school campus, our new pets – geckos, mice, and cockroaches – were there to welcome us as well!
We had one day to recover from jet lag and then our careers as teachers began. Once it started, the semester just sped by. It was surely not an easy task to come in the middle of the school year with no training or experience (now we recommend that volunteers start their service in the autumn when school is just starting!). But thanks to our helpful colleagues and cute students, we were soon settled and felt like Yap was our home. I taught Second Grade and had 13 adorable and lively students. My husband, Markus, taught Seventh Grade, which we had heard was the nicest grade in the whole school.
Fortunately, we had spring break in the middle of the semester, and had a chance to participate in the island experience of snorkelling with Manta Rays. There was also a nice Adventist church on the island, and we felt good to be members of the world-wide family of our heavenly Father. We had the opportunity to be there only 3 months, but we surely do not regret any moment of it. Regardless of the difficulties in getting there, it was worth it!
Through the experience, God taught us teachers many things. Trusting in Him was the main lesson for me. The week after we arrived, there was a big tsunami in Japan, and our family in Finland was really worried. But God was taking care of us and nothing happened on Yap. Also during our service, my grandmother got sick and I was worried that she would die. But what God wanted to teach us was the knowledge that He is the same almighty God in Finland that He is in Yap, and without His will, nothing was going to happen. Another important lesson Markus learned was that God wants us to realize that without Him, we can do nothing; we need His help. It was a good experience to be in these totally different situations in order to learn that better.
Now we are again back in Finland and continuing our everyday life, but I would say that we see the world through different eyes. We want to live our lives with God and see what adventures He leads us to in the future! We will never forget our experience and all the students and new friends we met there. So if you ever have a chance, we want to encourage you to go where God leads you. And if the place He leads you seems too challenging, don’t be afraid in taking a leap of faith, because He will surely catch you if you fall!
It is our responsibility to do our best and let God do the rest!
Saija and Markus Tarro are originally from Finland, and served on the island of Yap from March of 2011 to June of 2011. Saija served as a Second Grade Teacher and Markus served as a Seventh Grade Teacher. Saija feels that the best way to show God’s love to people is to love them, show them respect, and accept them for who they are. Both Saija and Markus are excited to see what God has in store for them next!
To view more pictures for this article and to read more articles from this issue of Mission Post Magazine, visit http://www.adventistvolunteers.org/MissionPost/v13n4/v13n4.pdf.
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