by Herssel Shaira A. Capobres
“Teacher lang? (Just a teacher?)” That was how my friends commonly reacted when discussing our college plans. “Why do you want to be ‘just’ a teacher?” They would ask with astonishment mixed with dismay.
I came from a family of teachers. My mom, two aunts, and three uncles are all teachers. Growing up, our family deeply instilled in us the value of education. Early on, I knew I had always loved learning and sharing what I knew with others. However, being a teacher is a career that is far from my dreams since it is a very undervalued career back home. People perceive it as an unlucrative job which requires long hours and hard labor. Well, they aren’t wrong.
However, God has an interesting way of calling people in this ministry. I remember that when I was a little girl, I loved to play teacher with my dolls, and when I was nine, the Branch Sabbath School leader asked me if I could tell a story to the kids in the community. Oh, how thrilled I was to say “yes!”
Year after year, I grew up being involved in the Children’s Ministry of our church. As the Children’s Ministry Coordinator, my mom would bring me to her conferences, where I’d hear lectures about ministering to the kids.
Given all my exposure to children, I have not always been meaning to study education. During my high school senior year, my friends and I had big college plans. Most of them went to study business, law, medicine, engineering, etc. Little did I know, God had big plans for me too.
In 2013, I took the qualifying exam to study accountancy or journalism at the University of the Philippines—one of the best schools in the country. I prayed to God that if He allowed me to succeed in either of those careers, I would serve him later as a teacher. How practical!
However, God probably found my prayer hilarious. As the Bible says, “Many are the plans in the man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). Obviously, I didn’t go that route because I didn’t pass the UPCAT (University of the Philippines College Admission Test). I was devastated, but not for long. I prayed and reevaluated my motivations. I realized I must put God first in everything I do, even in choosing my profession.
Upon considering my personality, strengths, and deep love for the children’s ministry, I was convicted to study education instead. In 2014, I enrolled at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, a state university in Manila (capital city), where I got a full-ride scholarship. However, God convicted me to come up higher.
The summer before I entered college, I read the truth about Adventist Education in the book Messages to Young People. I realized that my secular education wouldn’t be able to provide me with the spiritual training I needed to be a Christian teacher. I prayed a lot and told God I wanted to transfer to study at the Adventist University of the Philippines next semester.
It was challenging at first. Most people who knew me tried to dissuade me of the idea. Not only is it far from home, but the tuition and miscellaneous expenses will cost my family all our arms and legs! I prayed to God that if He wanted me to be an Adventist teacher, He would provide for me to sustain myself and finish my studies in four years.
God was truly faithful because He providentially answered my prayers through a scholarship and sponsors. I also worked on the side to earn my allowance. To cut the story short, I finished school in 2018 and passed the licensing exam for teachers that same year.
God fulfilled my covenant to work as an Adventist teacher for me. In 2019, He led me to work as an 11th and 12th-grade teacher at Manila Adventist College before I moved to serve as a missionary teacher at Palau Adventist Elementary School in 2022 for a year.
While I was always open to serving wherever God would call me, I didn’t know that the United States would open its doors for me in 2023. My aunt and uncle (both previous Palau missionaries) got a message from a school board member (another former Palau missionary) at Dodge Center, Minnesota, informing them of an opening for a middle school teacher in their school.
Not sure how to feel about it, I resolved to check out the opportunity and allow God to navigate the entire process. In my mind, if things panned out well, then I would know that God was giving me a green signal to go. In the end, everything worked out. I interviewed, got my visa two months after processing, and flew here to Minnesota with all expenses paid by my new conference. Along the way, God used multiple people to make my move to the States as comfortable as possible.
I now serve as a fifth through eighth teacher at Maranatha Adventist Christian School in Dodge Center, Minnesota. I am happy that I decided to obey God’s calling for me. I got to confirm each step of the way that God paved the way for me to be where I am now. I am joyful to say that the same love I had for teaching when I first got into the profession is still the same love I have for it until today.
Herssel Shaira A. Capobres is the 6-8th grade teacher at Maranatha Adventist School in Dodge Center, MN. She recently moved there from the Philippines and loves teaching!
To learn how to become a teacher within the Mid-America Union please visit https://www.midamericaadventist.org/joineduteam/