Reformed Seminary, College, Free Sermons, Scholarly Resources, and Overseas Missions Opportunities
SURINAME MISSIONARY TEACHERS
INTERVIEWS - 2009
Interviews of visiting missionary teachers at
MENU: Visiting Missionary Teacher Interviews
Lance Visser from Mount Vernon, Washington, U.S.A. Taught Chemistry, Math and other subjects
The following interview was completed while Lance Visser was working at CLA (Christian Liberty Academy) at the end of his two year stint from 2007-2009. This is the full, unedited interview done by Lance in writing. The questions are in bold, while the answers in regular fonts.
Please introduce yourself briefly by explaining where you came from, your educational and occupational experience and age prior to coming to Suriname. If possible, please provide us with a picture of yourself that we may also use.
Hello, my name is Lance Visser. I lived in Northwest Washington until I was 20 years old and decided to come to Suriname. I attended Western Washington University and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry approximately two months before beginning my work here. Surprisingly enough, I always told people that I was NOT going to be teaching with my chemistry degree. That’s why I went the extra ¼-mile to get the Bachelor of Science rather than the Bachelor of Arts in Education with a focus on chemistry. Believe it or not, I spent the last two years of my life teaching chemistry (and other subjects too!) in Suriname. I definitely didn’t see that one coming. Anyway, since I was so adamant about not teaching chemistry with my chemistry degree, I had virtually no teaching experience, aside from my being a laboratory assistant for a poet-level chemistry course. I came to Suriname flying by the seat of my pants, making it up as I went. I trust I haven’t created too much irreparable damage.
Now that you have been living and working in Suriname for a while…
1. What are the most surprising things to you about living and working in Suriname?
One of the most surprising things to me about living and working in Suriname is how friendly the people are.
2. What have you liked the most about living and working in Suriname?
I like the sense of community that I have become a part of.
3. What have you disliked the most about living and working in Suriname?
4. What do you wish you had known in advance before coming to Suriname?
A little better idea in the finances department would have been nice. A rough need of somewhere between $100-300 USD per month on average is not the most useful information. Was that supposed to include things like health insurance and flights to and from Suriname? I know. All I had to do was ask.
5. What advice would you give to someone who is considering coming to Suriname?
The same things Mr. P. said to me: Mr. Hamid is a good go-to guy. You can’t go wrong with him.
6. Do you feel that you were well-prepared for coming to Suriname (explain)?
I was about as prepared as one can be. Something like this takes a leap of faith. For me, it was probably better that I didn’t know too much about the place because it would have probably led to some anxiety. I may have even talked myself out of coming here in the first place. I came with a solid Biblical foundation and an open mind. I think they served me well.
(If not, please explain in some detail how you could have been better prepared)
7. If the Administration were to invite you to, would you consider returning for another year? (Please explain reasons why/why not)
I have put my life back home on pause over the last two years. It has worked, but being out of the country for months at a time has strained some relationships. I love it here, but it is time for me to go home. Plus, if I don’t leave soon, you’ll never be able to get rid of me!
8. Do you sense the support and care of Administration? (give details if you wish)
9. Do you sense the support and care of co-workers?
The ones I come into contact with—yes!
10. What do you feel you have learned from your experience in Suriname that will help you later in life?
The Reformed faith is something that really works, but it takes a tremendous amount of effort. I have grown in my understanding of Reformed theology and my responsibilities to God and to my neighbors.
11. What changes do you believe you have made as a result of your experience in Suriname?
I can’t say that I’ve saved anyone in Suriname, but that’s outside the realms of my abilities, so I guess I haven’t failed there. I’ve talked with countless students about theology and faith in general. I often wonder how much of it is because they’re searching out the truth in life and how much is because they have a Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) test the next period, but I’m always more than willing to discuss things like that…outside of class!
12. What kind of an impact do you feel you have made on the students and/or the school as a result of your time in Suriname?
This is something I’ve been wondering about a lot over the past two years. I’ve gotten to know a number of the students outside of class, which is nice. I hope they’ve learned something from algebra class other than that x + y = z. I’ve tried to show them how in real life—this is something they always want to know where algebra plays in—they need to be rational, thinking human beings. There are set rules or laws of nature that must be followed for society to exist. It is their duty and responsibility as upstanding citizens to logically think things through before acting. To use the trite expression, “look before you leap.”
13. Please tell us briefly a single story from your experience in Suriname that sticks in your mind from your experience of working here?
I was giving a chemistry quiz when I noticed one of the students took a good look at her neighbor’s paper. This was no casual glance; it was a definite attempt to check her neighbor’s quiz for answers…or so I thought. When she looked up, she saw me looking right at her. I collected the class’s quizzes and asked her to stay behind after the bell. After the others left, I gave her an explanation on how such behavior is entirely unacceptable in my classroom and that she was going to be receiving a zero for the quiz. What I found to be entirely interesting is that she didn’t argue the fact that she was cheating. Her answer? “Sir, I knew the answers to the first nine questions. I just couldn’t figure out the tenth. Would it be possible for you to just not count the last question? I only looked at that one.”
14. What have you learned about working with different language groups and cultures during your time in Suriname?
I admire those who have not spoken English for their whole lives but who are now highly successful English students.
15. Would you care to make any general comments about your life and work in Suriname?
It has been a real privilege to live and work with the people here. I have thoroughly enjoyed our time together. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Headmaster at Christian Liberty Academy
Rev. Rudy Poettcker
c/o Reformation Christian Ministries
13950 - 122nd Street
Fellsmere, FL 32948-6411 U.S.A.
Email: rep @ reformation . edu