It’s a little funny, sometimes, how the pieces eventually fit together. When you least expect it; when you’re not looking, it happens. First a tiny seed is planted. It could take years and years of watering and nurturing before the first fruits become visible. Along the way, life happens. Sometimes life doesn’t seem to make sense, and we ask, “Why did God allow that to happen?” or “How does this fit into the bigger plan for my life?” And then suddenly, it’s all there; right before your eyes. And you know. You just know you’re doing what you were meant to do.
That’s how things happened for Bulembu Christian Academy’s new music teacher, Kristen Toda. From the time she was just 12 years old, Kristen felt called to full time missions. There’s the seed that was planted. In the meantime, she had been a successful child actor for the Disney channel, Fox Kids, various commercials and TV programs. She also took lessons in the French horn. Those beg the question, “How does this fit into the bigger scheme of life?”
Kristen has always had a heart for kids and for Africa. She’s also always had a heart for music, but if there was one thing she was sure of when she was younger, it was that she didn’t want to become a music teacher. “The one thing I say no to in my heart, I have become,” she said. But how did she get from the seed that was planted to doing what God meant for her to do?
Despite her success as a child actor, she knew acting was not something she would pursue. “I was very shy,” she explained. “Even then I was a perfectionist and would take it personally if I didn’t get booked for a job.” But, the success she had also gave her a financial cushion, which she’s using now to support herself as a full time volunteer in Bulembu. Water.
Outside of her French horn lessons, Kristen taught herself to play numerous instruments. More water. In early 2010, Kristen was introduced to the international singing group, The Tenors. The group from Canada became one of her favourite vocal groups, and she had the pleasure of attending a couple of their concerts as well as watch them represent their home country during the Winter Olympics, which were held in Vancouver, British Columbia. Even more water and nurturing.
The Tenors have long been ardent supporters of Bulembu, having visited twice and held several fundraising concerts to benefit the children of Bulembu. All the while Kristen was exploring mission opportunities but couldn’t seem to find the right fit. Considering how blessed she has felt because of the relationship she’d been able to establish with the Tenors and the impact their music had on her, she began to wonder how she could give back to something that was important to them. Then she remembered Bulembu. Suddenly the water that had been poured out in the form of music lessons, acting that provided a financial safety net, and an inspirational and philanthropic group of men who happen to be sensational singers seemed to produce the beautiful fruit from the seed God had originally planted many years ago. And the pieces all seemed to finally fit together. That’s how she knew she was meant to become a music teacher in Bulembu.
In addition to teaching music at the primary school for grade 1 through grade 6, she is working with the drama club. The money she saved up will sustain her in her volunteer efforts as she hopes to stay in Bulembu long-term, or at least until God plants another seed.
Bulembu has opportunities for additional volunteer teachers, and while there is no limit on the need, their immediate desire is for the Pre-Primary School: a two-year old’s class and a Pre-School/Reception class teacher. In the Primary School Grade 2 teacher, Librarian, and Special Needs/Development teachers are needed. And the High School is searching for teachers in Math, Science, English, Music/choir and Agriculture. Volunteers should be willing to commit to living and teaching in Bulembu for at least a year, but preferably two years. If God has planted a seed and provided lots of water in your life, perhaps all the pieces will eventually fit together in Bulembu for you too.
For more information on becoming a volunteer teacher, contact Caley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Theresia Whitfield