History of Christian Missions
Background

The History of Christian Missions started in the book of Acts. The first major Christian missionary was the Apostle Paul. The majority of the New Testament book of Acts records Paul's three missionary journeys.

But Paul's missionary journeys were only the beginning of Christian missions history. Twenty centuries have passed since Paul traveled through Asia minor, and every century has had its missionaries.

If you'd like some idea of the many missionaries who've labored around the world, you might want to read the pages I've written of missionary quotes. These missionary quotes give us many "snapshots" so to speak of the missionary's mind.

However this page is designed to deal with my (Sherilyn's) history of Christian missions, especially in the beginning. I thought I'd write the first five years of my missions experiences in one page, but I realized it was more like a booklet by the time I finished. I think my readers will find it far more useful if broken into smaller chunks, so this page is part of that process.

My History of Christian Missions
Levittown, Puerto Rico

If you're interested in the story line, you'll want to be sure you start with my fund raising for mission trip story, since it might be considered the first chapter in the book. This history of Christian missions story picks up from there...

I managed to make it to Puerto Rico two days before classes began. To say that I was a bit overwhelmed to begin with, would definitely rank as one of the greatest understatements of all time.

I lived in a small two story apartment about two blocks away from the school with another lady who also arrived that year to work in the school. It was convenient because I could walk to work. I don't remember much about those first few weeks, but that isn't unusual for me right after I move.

All of my free time initially was taken up with unpacking and trying to set up house. I had never lived on my own before, so I had to buy furniture, and some pots and pans along with the necessary things you need to live on your own. I liked to cook, so I spent a good deal getting the things I needed to do that with.

However, I didn't have to buy as much as you might think because my family, friends, and many ladies missionary societies back home had given me many of the things I'd needed. All my personal belongs had been shipped over in a large container. It took a few weeks for that to arrive, but when it did I was able to get it almost immediately since Levittown is a suburb of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico.

I remember one ladies group had given me a lot of Tupperware that I used for the next twenty to twenty-five years, in fact I'm still using some of it. It was a tremendous blessing since bugs and cockroaches, always a concern in the tropics, couldn't get into it.

I also had to work on getting my car out of customs. That was a process that took somewhere between two weeks and a month. It was a very slow and difficult procedure. I think I had to take a couple of days off school, at least, to get it done, although I don't remember for sure.

History of Christian Missions
First Year of Teaching Experience

After the second day, I didn't have much free time, since school had started.

I was teaching a combination class with twenty-three students. The students were in first through fifth grade, so it was a variation on a one room schoolhouse.

If the wide age range of the children wasn't challenging enough, additionally, most were Spanish speakers!

Although the teaching materials were in English only three of the students were English speakers. The rest were Spanish speaking children whose parents wanted them to learn English.

I had learned a lot on the summer mission team, but I still wasn't fluent in Spanish.

Most of the children were in first grade, but there were about five that were scatted in the upper grades...

I had my work cut out for me!

I enjoyed teaching the children, but it was definitely a challenge. When they came up on the playground to tell me something, it generally took at least three times before I understood what they were saying...

To this day I'm very aware I only survived that first year by God's grace.

History of Christian Missions
Church and Social Life

My social life was limited by my teaching responsibilities, but it centered on the church and church activities.

I started singing in the choir as soon as I reached the island. I love to sing, and they practiced about an hour each week, so I was able to learn the Spanish words during practices.

Most of the tunes were familiar to me from English hymns. I had to adjust to the hymnals though, since most didn't include the music as they do in the United States. As soon as I could I went to a Christian bookstore and bought a hymnal that had both music and words. That way if a song wasn't familiar to me, I was able to pick it up quickly.

Additionally I continued my friendship with the three girls who had provided transportation for us while I was on the mission team. Within the first year or two, my closest friend came to be Iris.

When holidays came, we'd try to go see, or do something. My favorite place on the island was the rain forest. It was on one of the highest mountains on the island, and it was cool enough to remind me of home. But I can remember spending a day or two going to small offshore island's and the phosphorescent bay as well.

But those outings didn't happen more than a few times a year.

History of Christian Missions
Outreach

I remember one of my biggest frustrations as a new missionary was my inability to dedicate all my time to winning people to Christ. I had the desire to do so, but life truly gets in the way...

I still had to clean the house, wash my clothes, mow the lawn, and all the other normal chores required by living. Additionally since I was teaching full time, most of my time was required to fulfill my teaching obligations.

I was involved with church visitation, but I wasn't able to dedicate nearly as much time to outreach as what I had idealistically expected when I went as a missionary.

So I had to learn to apply Paul's teaching when He said "Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God."

I've since come to understand that if we make that theme our major goal and priority in life, it will make our lives honoring to God and enable Him to use us in outreach, as we are faithful.

My personal History of Christian missions was only just beginning. I will continue with a children's story written from the student's perspective.

Although names have been changed to protect the student's privacy, and it is somewhat fictionalized because I have no way of knowing what the student's thoughts were, the major facts in the story are true, and it did happen during my first year of teaching in Puerto Rico. I hope you'll enjoy the continuing saga in my history of Christian missions...

Return from History of Christian Missions to Puerto Rican Mission Trips

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