The Fruit of our Labor

As our first school year came to an end in Juquila this year, we prepared our end of the year event with much expectation and excitement. We knew that the year was worthy of celebration. It was filled with difficulty and many challenges, and I think we all felt that completing the first year was a huge accomplishment. As a team, we learned so much over the past year and we found so much unity because of what we went through. We also grew deep relationships with the families of our school, and we were so thankful that we had gotten a year to get to know them and be a part of their lives.

Weeks leading up to graduation, we planned and prepared for an epic event. The week before, we spent everyday painting the school, deep cleaning, creating decorations, baking, and eating every meal together. The days were really long but so satisfying. We worked with such joy and anticipation. I think the joy was fueled not just by the excitement for the event but also for the year to be completed.

On the day before graduation during the school day, we had all our students come to the middle of the main area where we had put a big rug. Everyone gathered around as Tito shared a piece of scripture and shared his thankful heart with everyone. He then gave the teachers time to get up and share a word. When I got up, I told everyone how a year ago when Brett and I were making the decision of whether or not we would come to Juquila we had no idea what God had in store. We could not have dreamed of how special each and every one of these kids would be to us but we were so thankful that we made the decision to come. After all of the teachers shared, we gave the students a chance to say anything. It started with a lot of students saying thank you to us for teaching them. One student Bruno who entered our school the age of a 3rd grader not knowing how to read stood up and said, “I want to say thank you to teacher Euclides because when I came here I did not know anything but he taught me to read and now I know a lot.” Another student Emilio stood up and shared how he was really scared to come to our school because he had been bullied at other schools. He then started crying as he shared with everyone that they are like family to him now and that he loves to come to school. All of the students then began crying and hugging Emilio and one another.

It was such a sweet thing to watch these kids share their hearts and be vulnerable. The love they have for one another is so beautiful. The fact that this little school has been the vessel for connecting them is definitely God’s handiwork.

 The next day was graduation, and we felt so proud of the way our school had been transformed after all of our hard work. The paint job and decorations really came together! About 100 people poured in and we celebrated our two graduates, Chelsey and Cristian, as well as La Luz’s first year! It really felt like we got to experience a small slice of the fruit of our labor. This one event made everything that was difficult worth it. It exemplified the beautiful things that came through the struggle. And we all felt so proud of our little school that God has so graciously carried and grown. We cannot wait for La Luz’s second school year!

-Annie Balsley, GEM Missionary

If you’d like to support Brett and Annie as they serve with GEM in Juquila to share the gospel with this unreached town, you can do so HERE. You can also contact them directly to talk further about what it means to be on their support team and find out how you can be praying for them!