Murrell

Kenya

Murrell is a teacher at West Nairobi School in Kenya.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how and where you grew up, where you went to school
My parents were originally from Jamaica.  They lived in Nottingham, England for a number of years after they were married and that's where I was born.  When I was about four years old, our family relocated to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  After graduating high school, I took a few college courses while working part time and still trying to figure out God's will and direction for my life.  Through the encouragement of my pastor, he suggested a school called Heritage Baptist College in Cambridge, Ontario. 
What made you decide you become a teacher?
I had graduated with a Bachelor of Theology major with a Youth Ministry minor. I had always thought I would work on a church staff as a youth minister. After I graduated I did an internship at the church that I had been attending while at Heritage. The church was called Temple Baptist Church and I did serve as the youth pastor during the internship.  The church also had a Christian school as well. I taught Bible for a semester and would occasionally sub as a PE teacher. It was my first exposure to teaching and it was a good experience and looking back it was something God would use to open up a door a little later on.
How did you first hear about opportunities at NICS?
At the end of the internship, I sensed God was moving me on to something else. To make a long story short, I had the opportunity to go to Korea for a job teaching English in a private school. I went with a couple of friends who I had graduated college with. I thought it would be a interesting experience, and to give me time to pay off some school debt as well as figure out what I may do next when I return to Canada. Upon arriving in Korea (in January 2001), I ended up moving into a neighbourhood in Uijongbu, which was just across the road from ICS Uijongbu. I remember seeing a sign for their school.  Since it was one of the few signs in English, it seemed to stand out. I was quite curious as to who they were and what they were all about. Eventually, I had the chance to meet some of the NICS missionaries through the church I was attending. Through that relationship, was how I learned more about NICS and then I eventually applied for a position at the school.
Did you speak any languages beyond English?
While I was in elementary and high school in Montreal I had French classes everyday since they were a required part of the curriculum of going to school in Quebec. I had picked up French pretty well and it would prove useful to me during my time with NICS.
What did your family say when you told them you were teaching in another country?
My family was very supportive when I first went to Korea, and they continued to be supportive and encouraging during my time overseas.
What was the biggest barrier keeping you from signing on as a NICS Teacher?
Perhaps the biggest barrier was that I never studied education while I was in college.  I was a Bible major and I thought I would end up ministering in a church setting.  So when it came to things like classroom management, writing lesson and unit plans and many of the other skills that education majors learn, it was all new to me and I wasn't sure how I would be able to manage.
What convinced you to overcome that barrier?
Well it's been said that God doesn't call the equipped but He equips the called and that's what He did and continues to do in my life. I have been with NICS since 2002 and have served in three different countries. Through it all, he has given me clarity, creativity and confidence to be able to teach in whatever situation I have been in.
 
What was your biggest fear once you signed up?
There really wasn't much fear, it was much more of an excitement. During that first year in Korea, I had met, started dating, and eventually married a young lady who was serving with NICS, named Jeanelle Culver. Jeanelle was a great encouragement for me in that transition to NICS. She is an excellent teacher and I have learned a lot from her example of preparation for classes as well as showing love to students.
Did your family encourage you to go? If so what was the most encouraging thing they did?
As I stated above, my family was encouraging and supportive during my time overseas
What was your biggest fear when you first landed in your new country?
When I first landed in Korea, I think my biggest fear was just getting used to eating food that was very different than what I grew up eating. But I really didn't have much choice, it was either get used to it or starve! But there were also several Western food options available as well, so that adjustment didn't turn out to be as difficult as I first thought.
What was your favorite experience living in a new country?
Jeanelle and I have served in Korea, Japan and Kenya. Our favourite experiences include getting to meet the people who we will be working with. We always appreciate the people who have reached out to us and our family, particularly when we moved to Japan and to Kenya.
What is the funniest thing that happened to you as you acclimated to a new culture?
One of the weirdest thing that happened within my first few months in Korea was when I was riding on a city bus one day. I remember Jeanelle was with me and that the bus was getting crowded. At one stop a lady who was carrying her baby came on. And in Korea, I guess it's common for people who are carrying bags to just give them to people who are sitting down to hold them for the people who are standing. Well this lady with the baby gets on the bus, and there's no seats available, so without even thinking twice, she just plops her baby down on my lap and so for about 10 minutes, I am holding this baby until they get to their next stop. The baby didn't seem to mind too much :)
Tell us your favorite story from teaching at your NICS school.
One of my favourite things was last year when it was my birthday. Throughout the day, I had several students write "Happy Birthday" greetings on my whiteboard. By the end of the day, there where greetings in English, Swahili, French, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Norwegian and Amharic.
What makes teaching at NICS so special?
I believe what makes teaching with NICS so special is that we have the privilege of giving the Gospel to so many students from across the globe and then these students can potentially go back to their home countries and share the Gospel as well.
How did your experience with NICS help you grow as a teacher?
I think just being able to be exposed to a variety of students whose first language may not be English, combined with different learning styles. has shown me that not everyone learns and processes the same way. I am continually looking for ways to add variety so that my students can remain engaged as I teach.
What do you wish you knew before you signed up?
That no matter what you learned in your college classes, there are just going to be some situations that you are not going to be prepared for, so you need to be flexible, have patience and exercise grace.
What would you tell someone considering becoming a NICS teacher?
There are a number of ways that you can be involved in a school ministry without having a teaching degree. If you have a background in office work, or business ot nursing or working in a library, there are a number of needs to be filled in the schools across the network. So if you believe that the Lord has called you, then respond!
What is the one thing a new teacher should pack for their trip?
Well there are always going to be essentials and staples that you need to pack, but I think it's important to pack an item or two that reminds you of home as well. That may look different for everyone, but I think having something that connects back to the comfort of home is important.
What is your best advice for getting used to a new culture/climate?
Allow yourself the opportunity to find a way be involved in something outside of your classroom. Whether it's an extracurricular activity that involves students, or building relationships with people at church, but find a way so that you don't end up just falling through the cracks.
What final words of encouragement do you have for someone considering a job with NICS?
Pray about it and if you believe the Lord is leading you in this endeavor, then just do it!

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