Reinforcements

by Genalyn Toñacao (37th Batch)

“….and every man shall receive his own reward according to his labor.” 1 Cor. 3:8

Have you ever given rewards to someone (especially in a classroom situation) who had done greatly in his work or punishments in order to stop an unnecessary behavior? If yes, then definitely you know the principles of the Reinforcement Theory, developed by one of the greatest behaviorist, B.F. Skinner.

As a missionary English teacher here in Korea, the Reinforcement Theory is one of my most applied theories in teaching and in the learning process in a classroom.

Reinforcement comes in two ways–the positive and the negative reinforcements. Positive reinforcements come with simple praises such as “good job,” “well done,” “very good,” etc.

On the other hand, negative reinforcements, like punishments, weakens the behavior because a negative condition is introduced or experienced as a consequence of such behavior and teaches the individual not to repeat the behavior. However, another author said that it only works often when the punishing agency is present.

I used to give appraisals to my students whenever they could read or write the tasks given to them. Sometimes I would even give them some candies or bread which most likely reinforced their behavior to win a game or get the highest score in our classroom activities.  But oftentimes I incur punishments because of their unmanageable behavior, but they still could not be tamed until a Korean teacher manages them inside the classroom. But whenever he is not around, we usually to go back to the usual scene.

For us Christians, isn’t it that God also incur punishments when our behavior is not right in order for us not to repeat the said behavior? But oftentimes, when anyone is not looking or when we feel that God is not looking at us, we tend to repeat that undesirable behavior.

God also does give us the appraisals whenever we do great things.  And the most wonderful reward we could ever get is the reward of heaven when we strive to finish the goal. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we worked so hard not because of the earthly rewards we could get but because of the heavenly reward that awaits us when God will appraise us with a “Well done thou good and faithful servant?”

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Doing the Mission ‘Til Accomplished

by Analiza Maluya (35th Batch)

During my first year of service as a missionary here, I struggled a lot. I was struggling as to how I could invite and win souls for God. I even struggled whether I should extend my missionary term or not.

For the first three months, I only had one Bible student. But by constant prayer and supplication, God has given me five more and another two at the end of the term.

By the grace of God, almost all of them were interested to have their own Bibles. They even bought some for themselves! Then many changes took place in their lives, especially in their lifestyle. In fact, four of them are already attending the church every Sabbath.

On the 8th month of our Bible study, we discussed about baptism. I asked them of their decisions but it was not that easy. I just left everything to God and believed that the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts.

Several times during our Bible study, my students and I would cry upon knowing the truth. But then again, whenever we would talk about baptism some would slowly evade the class.

None accepted Him at that time. It would often discourage me and consequently made me ask, “Do you still need me here, Lord?”

But one day after my English class, one student-mom came and said, “Ann, please give me more time to decide. I’m so confused. I like your church and I believe that God really exists. The problem is that when I told my mother and my sister about the joy I had experienced while attending our Bible-English class and coming to your church during Sabbaths, they were very angry at me. They told me that if I choose to become a Christian, I might as well forget that I have a family to go back to!”

This news made me both sad and happy. It reminded me of extending my term. Should I leave her and the others, I would really miss the chance of sharing to them the truth about our Living God. And so I decided to hold on to the mission until it is accomplished! Once a missionary, always a missionary!

Building Relationships

by Peter Joseph Patricio (36th Batch)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot on how to get closer to people around me especially to my students. I have to say building a relationship with them is one of my concerns these past few days since I will be serving for another year. It is quite hard to adjust when you are already used to being reserved and alone, and you only have the chance to show the real you when you are around with people close to you.

Most of the time, I need to give my “best” to meet my students’ satisfaction, yet I still end up unappreciated (maybe I am seeking for their affirmation or its opposite). It is tough when you have already given everything and still you think it was not enough.

I started to get tired in initiating because it is always ‘I’ since day one. In my case, I have no choice but to be the one to adjust to and learn about them.

This had left me staring blankly at an empty space where my id, ego and super-ego started to have their conversation. “What’s wrong, why can’t I have a good relationship with my students,” id said.

“There is nothing wrong with you; you are just fine!” super-ego replied.

Then my ego reminded both id and super-ego, “Remember, you cannot please everybody.”

Then one day, I came across a quote on Facebook. To paraphrase: “If you want to have a good relationship with man, have a better relationship with God.”

This quote struck and enlightened me. I started to search online for “Ways to have a better relationship with God” and the Internet gave me several answers.

I picked five things that I can possibly put into action. I made a mind sticker to aid my short term memory–[ReTalk, Fast, and Stay away with RSM]. These are the five steps I’ve made to develop my relationship with God:

1. Read and study the Bible. The Bible is more valuable than any other book you can find in any bookstore–it priceless! “It is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

2. Talk to Him in prayer. God loves to hear our prayers and loves to answer them. He expects us to stay connected with Him by reading the Bible and talking to Him in prayer.

3. Fasting. Spiritual fasting also helps us draw near to God. Aside from spiritual awareness, it has also good effects on our body. It purifies, rejuvenates, revitalizes, and provides rest for our digestive organs. It is essential for detoxification; it improves our senses, hearing, taste; and, it aids in weight loss.

4. Stay away from bad influences and material things. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Evil company corrupts good habits.” God is displeased to see us choose evil over good or what will lead us to choose evil. Material things can possibly make our lives busy and would hinder us to have a healthy relationship with others and especially with God. It can choke to death our spiritual self.

5. The ultimate, most powerful way to stay close to God is to Repent and be Spiritually Minded by accepting God’s gift–His spirit to dwell in one’s heart and mind.

Our relationship with God must be our most important priority than any other relationships. In every situation that we come together with students, friends, significant others, and people around us, we are to do so in Jesus’ name. Matthew 18:20 says,

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the middle of them.”

It is essential in every relationship to have the purpose of glorifying God. Jesus must always be in the middle. In every relationship, there are good question to ask ourselves: Does this relationship bring me closer to Jesus? Or does this relationship bring the other person closer to Him?

A-MAZE-ING Life

by Joanne Maghuyop (34th Batch)

As a missionary and as a teacher, I try my best to reach out to my students. That is why sometimes I would let them play games. We would often play maze, but one time I noticed that they were not so interested with it anymore. Some of them complained that it was too easy. So one day, I decided to search for the most difficult maze available on the Internet.

At first they were excited and were focused, but after a few minutes most of them complained and all of them gave up later on. Actually, I also did not know the right direction. I felt sorry because at that time I was not able to give them the answer.

After the class I realized that I’m their teacher. How can I teach them if I myself don’t even know the answer? And so I decided to solve it.

I thought it was very easy, but minutes later I felt like giving up. However, the thought came back again: “How can I teach them if I myself don’t know?”

My mind says I don’t want to do it anymore but somehow I need to. So I prayed to God to show me the right direction. Then suddenly I got the idea! I was able to make strategies and eventually finished the maze.

That experience have made me realize that life is like a maze. In our lives we have a lot of decisions to make–choices that would either lead us to the right way or the wrong one. Decisions are like the roads on the maze game. Some of them are made to confuse us, some of them will waste our time and most of them will lead us to the wrong direction. If we are not patient and focused enough, we will never be successful.

Another parallel is that we all make mistakes; we all experience failure. It is very easy to give up and feel discouraged. But we should not because our heavenly Father is watching us. He is always ready and willing to help us. In fact, He is the Creator of our aMAZEing life. The good news is that He has already provided the way as what He says in John 14:6,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

The Guiding Light

by Maria Eleofe Magtahas (36th Batch)

Being a missionary living in a countryside offers much opportunities. One can make friends–lots of them. As for me, I make friends with my “kababayan” Filipinos.

I am really blessed with understanding, caring, and loving friends. They would often invite me to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions with them. They  share their various activities with me like apple picking, for instance. They even helped me avail of the free Hangeul (Korean language) lessons in the multicultural center here in our place.

I attend Hangeul class twice a week. Oftentimes, my friends would treat me to lunch after class. It is during this time that I would have the chance to talk with them. They share their different life experiences, especially about their respective marriages. And I share my own stories, too.

One time after class, I was invited for lunch with my two friends. While we were preparing the food, one of them said that she had a nightmare. I asked her if she had prayed before she went to sleep. She said, “Yes, I prayed.”

Then I asked her how she prayed.

My friend was a devout Roman Catholic. She just memorize her prayer. I told her that praying to God is not merely memorizing words. We must pray with sincerity of the heart. And I also told them the right way to pray as what Jesus had taught his disciples in Matthew 6:5-15. I told them that whenever we pray we must always recognize the power of God, ask His forgiveness, and tell Him everything that we want Him to know.

Before we ate, I asked that I would pray for the food first. After I prayed, I told them to do the same–not memorizing it but simply telling God what is in the heart.

The next time we were together for lunch, one of my friends suggested, “Let’s pray first.”

I was so happy to hear it. My friend remembered to seek God’s presence and she did it in the right way.

Matthew 5:16 tells us “to let our light so shine before men.” And these men are just around us. They might be our students, our students’ parents, our friends, or even our new found friends who do not know the truth about God yet.

Jesus also said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). As Christians, we bear this light.

Chosen light bearers of Jesus Christ must make use of every single minute by letting their light shine. In this sinful world, we must keep our lamps burning and walk in the light. By this, we could guide those who are still living in the darkness into the path of that glorious heavenly light.

Pass It On

by Myrthel Gay Fabiala (37th Batch)

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)

Nurturing and rearing a child is a huge responsibility given by God to parents. It is a commitment to God on how to mold, educate, and raise a child in a Godly manner. Ellen G. White said: The early training of children is a subject that all should carefully study. We need to make the education of our children a business for their salvation depends largely upon the education given them in childhood. At an early age the minds of children are very susceptible to impressions of good or of evil. It requires earnest thought and prayer, no less than patient, persevering effort.

In this matter, I can proudly say that my parents have done their duty perfectly.

I grew up in a devoted Seventh-day Adventist family. My parents were very particular in attending church services and Scripture reading. My mom who used to be a teacher in an Adventist school reiterates to us the importance of keeping the Sabbath holy as well as the good values of being an Adventist. I would say my mom is a virtuous woman. She nurtures us according to God’s way. Every time we have our morning worship, I would always complain. But instead of getting mad at me, she would just say, “God will bless us for serving Him.”

My parents also give importance to Christian education, believing that it would help sharpen my faith in God. Financial constraints never deterred them from sending me to an Adventist school where I finished my degree.

During my college years, I’ve been through a lot of challenges–those that made me weak as a Christian. There were times when I really wanted to give up, but my supportive mom was always at my back cheering me up, inspiring me with words of encouragement that invigorated my spiritual aspect as well. She once told me not to doubt God’s plan for me; that I must have faith in Him, entrust all my worries and cares unto Him. Her unwavering advices kept me going. It helped strengthen my relationship with God.

Having experienced those trials somewhat helped me grow as a worthy individual. I’ve learned to take risks, believing that God won’t let me down. Growing like Jesus isn’t easy as we may think but as we start to walk with Him, to know Him better, we will eventually imbibe His attitude.

As a missionary teacher here in Korea, I handle kids of different ages. I consider myself lucky for I now have the chance to pass to these little angels the teachings on how to possess a Christ-like character and grow like Jesus. Though adversities keep on coming, I am not afraid for God’s guidance and mercies are with me!