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A Great Little School

I had filled in all my forms to apply for student missionary positions in South America, but God had other plans...

By: Christina Sapiatzer

I never would have thought that I’d end up teaching primary school in Austria! Mission work has always interested me, but I connected it more with poorer, more interesting countries. I had filled in all my forms to apply for student missionary positions in South America, but God had other plans…

My family lives in Spain at the moment where we attend the local Seventh-day Adventist church. Over the summer months there are always families coming from all over Western Europe who spend their holidays on the Mediterranean coast. One of those families was from Austria and told me about the great little school their children go to and that they really need an English teacher. I wasn't very interested as I already know the German culture and can speak the language fluently-I was sure the culture wouldn't be different enough from the German one to make it interesting or very educational! Sometimes our thinking is very limited!

A few weeks later the principal of the school rang me to ask me if I would please reconsider and come. I prayed about it and sought counsel from my parents and I couldn't come up with a single plausible reason that spoke against it. The school year was due to start in two weeks, so I got the first ticket I could get and arrived a couple of days before school started. I thought I would be teaching only English, but when I arrived I found out that I would also be teaching biology, art and PE as well as taking the morning worships. I am learning so many things through working with the children-patience being one of them!

The Elia School is quite small with 19 children, but there are grades 1-8. This year is a special year to be here as it is the school’s 10th anniversary and we are organizing a public open-day where the Mayor, Regional School Inspector, and others will be in attendance. Over the years the school has gained a very good reputation in the area and the local community is curious to see what exactly it's all about. The open-day will be a great opportunity to demonstrate the concepts of Christian education to all those who attend.

When I first started teaching here, I felt completely overwhelmed by the task of having to stand in front of a bunch of children to teach them not only academically, but spiritually as well. Somehow I always thought that being a student missionary would automatically bring you closer to God and make it easier to stand strong in the faith. I've come to see, though, that we need to actively seek God wherever we are and whatever our job may be. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13) is one of my favorite verses and one that often gave me courage to keep going when I felt like I wasn't getting through to the children. Some days are still trying, but most of the time it's great working here and I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to learn so much and to play a part in the lives of the children here.

By: Christina Sapiatzer

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Christina Sapiatzer