If someone were to tell me a year ago that I would be teaching In Mexico, I would have thought they were crazy. I have had a deep desire for missions since I was young, but I never dreamed that God would make that dream a reality in His perfect timing and grace.
My journey for missions first began when I was sixteen years old. I went on my first short-term mission trip to Guatemala. My world was completely transformed as I was suddenly emerged in this brand new culture. I worked at a local orphanage every day for a few weeks and instantly my heart was captured by these sweet children. At this time in my life, I had no idea what I wanted to do occupationally. I was actively involved in children’s ministry in my church for most of my life. I always loved kids, but I had no idea that on that missions trip, God would turn my love into a passion.
One of the kids at the orphanage, in particular, caught my eye; her name was Erica. She was twelve years old but held the responsibility of an adult. She spoke fluent English and Spanish, therefore, she acted as an interpreter for us to communicate to the other kids. The young orphans adored her, and she acted as their mother and their sister. I was blown away by her maturity and love for others. She instantly became my buddy. On the last day of my trip to Guatemala, the children at the orphanage put on a show for us to say goodbye. Some of the students in my youth group gave the kids gifts. So the kids gave us thank you notes. My buddy, Erica, gave me a thank you note but I was so confused because I never gave her a gift. So, I asked her why she gave me a card. Her response directed my steps to the passion God had set for my future. The sweet little girl said to me, “My gift was God giving me you.” At that moment I knew God had given me a desire to teach and care for students across the nations.
After this life-altering trip, I began to purse a college degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Global studies. College however, did not come easy for me. Throughout my entire life I struggled with learning disabilities but it wasn’t until college that I realized how much it truly affected me and my inability to complete my assignments successfully. Little did I know how much Jesus would use this struggle to shape who I am and what he has called me to do. Because of the challenges I faced, I was able to connect with students during my many practicums and relate to them in ways that others couldn’t. God had gifted me with the encouragement and opportunity to help students who identified with the struggles I faced in school. Therefore, I knew that God called me to teach and he continued to reveal his promises to me through the struggles and challenges that came my way during my college career. I just had no idea that Mexico would be my next destination.
During the completion of my last year of college, I started planning and thinking ahead of what would be next. I began to have a huge desire to teach in an Urban or Inner city. I even attended a Teacher Career Fair where I applied to such settings. As I stood in line so speak with a representative for a local Inner City school, a Global Educational Ministries representative spoke to me about the school and ministry that took place in Mexico. At that time however, I thought I was certain that teaching globally wasn’t what was next.
I am so thankful to serve a Father who knows the deep desires of my heart and has my steps planned according to His will and not my own.
Less than two months before graduation, I had this overwhelming feeling that what God had in store for me in this new and upcoming season was not located here in the States. I began to think about Mexico and GEM. I soon applied and instantly fell in love with their mission and core values. The Lord revealed that, had I never struggled in school I would never be gifted this opportunity to teach at this time in Mexico. Through out the interview process, I was filled with that same love, passion and excitement to educate students globally.
I am both humbled and thrilled to be a missionary teacher with Global Educational Ministries. I am most excited about the growth that will take place in the classroom and in the heart of myself and my future students.
-Philem Andress, GEM Missionary
If you’d like to support Philem as she serves with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact her directly to talk further about what it means to be on her support team and find out how you can be praying for her!