Nichols: Missionary work always her dreamPublished 12:00am Saturday, July 31, 2010
Elisabeth Nichols has dreamed of being a missionary her whole life.
“I thought missionaries were super heroes,” she said. “I collected missions cards like others collected baseball cards.”
The 2003 graduate of Florala High School felt called into missions at 19.
“So I just kind of knew I would go into it at some point, but I wasn’t sure when,” she said.
After earning an education degree at the University of Montevallo, Nichols learned of a school in Senegal.
“I decided to apply and I teach at Dakar Academy,” she said. “I went mainly to teach but I have been working with the Assemblies of God missionaries working with local street children.
“It’s a very poor area. People are hungry for God. There are 3 million people in the city and less than 1 percent are Christian,” she said. “There are 51 Assemblies of God churches in the area, and you have people lined up just trying to hear the message.”
Nichols went to Dakar last July and taught third graders there this past year.
“All my students spoke English,” she said. “I had 12 students coming from eight different countries. The thing I like most about the school is the diversity.”
Nichols said Dakar Academy is a Christian international school attended by more than 200 international students.
Nichols plans to return Aug. 5 to Dakar where she’ll teach first grade this year.
She’ll have a class of 10 students, only two of whom speak English.
“It’s going to be interesting,” she said. “They speak four different languages. They will spend the first couple of weeks learning English.”
In order to leave on Aug. 5, Nichols still needs $55 in monthly support.
“I’ll be there for two years,” she said. “After that I’ll come back and have to raise more money. I’ll stop teaching and just do missionary work.”
Nichols said that anyone interested in donating can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nichols said Senegal is definitely a third world country.
“There is no American food, clothing or anything,” she said. “I live in an apartment owned by the school. It’s a nice apartment. There’s no TV and no air conditioning. It’s hot year round. It’s hot season from June to October, with 100 percent humidity. Alabama weather helped me prepare.”
Since Nichols has no way of getting American food or supplies in Senegal, people can send care packages to her.
Nichols said the only stipulations are no liquids and nothing that can melt.
“It’s nice to get school supplies and little treats and things,” she said. “We can always use pencils and loose leaf paper.”
Nichols said she’s not picky, but it is nice to get American snacks such as peanut butter M&Ms, sunflower seeds, Kool-Aid or tea packets to have something different.