I am thankful for our ESL class

On Day 19, I am thankful for my ESL class. In particular, I am thankful for:

Donje (Congo) and Afiwa (Togo). Missing from this picture are my other favorite Africans – Cecille and Kate (Ivory Coast), Lucienne (Berundi), and sweet Manga (Egypt) along with all of her adorable (and talkative) kids.
I am thankful for Rosie, a spirited woman who joined our class about 10 days after she moved here from Colombia and literally spoke about two sentences of English. But lucky for her (except I know God knew exactly what he was doing) we had two of the nicest students from Colombia (all from the same city – Bogota) already in our class, and they immediately became best friends. All three are now going to our church’s Spanish Sunday school class, and because we offer translation via headphones of the main worship service, they have sat with us in church. My heart did a back flip that Sunday with excitement. 

I am thankful for Christina (Mexico) and also for her father-in-law Leonardo (Venezuela), who was one of our most faithful students in our beginner class. We ended up befriending this entire family – they are particularly special to us. (I’m also thankful for my co-teacher, mix-tape making friend and bridesmaid Katie.)

I am thankful for Carolina (Mexico), Kati (Colombia), her mother Hermalina (Colombia) and Rosie (Colombia). These ladies helped translate for each other, allowed Mr. Right to practice his Spanish, and were such fun students to teach. 

I am thankful for all of the countries represented in this picture. And I am most thankful that as the semester came to a close, I can proudly say that our church now has attendees from Syria, Colombia (3), Mexico (2), and hopefully soon a new visitor from Congo. Please join me in praying for these sweet students, that God would protect them and provide them community during our two-month class break, and that he would help them find their way back next semester. It’s a scary place out there when you don’t speak the language or understand our crazy culture. Please pray that God would continue to make them brave, and to make them hungry for his love.
Please also join me in praying that we will find more teachers who want to love on these students, as I expect our numbers will increase even more in January. I promise that they will get a much bigger blessing than what they put in. 

English and Sunshine

From a series of notecards I designed with the theme “Things that make me happy.”

Life has been tough this year. There have been days I was so stressed I thought my head might explode. But today is not one of those days.

Mr. Right called to tell me that he and our Nigerian friend, whom he tutors in English once a week, prayed for me this morning.  I will gladly take anybody’s prayers, but there’s a sweetness to the prayers of people from far away places, whose backgrounds and life stories are vastly different from mine, and yet we share the same God who hears our prayers, regardless of our accents.

Other fun ESL moments lately:

-I taught my class all about the World Series. Which they thought was silly, since it’s not really the “world” that plays in it, just North America. How egocentric we must seem to them! Thankfully I’ve got my class fully educated on baseball, and I got to hear Go Rangers! in the most delicious array of accents.

-We have two sweet West African women who have decided that Will and I should get pregnant. Now. They lovingly told me they are praying that we would have FIVE kids (gulp) and that God would make us pregnant now. I asked them if they could kindly ask God to give us three kids instead of five, and if he could give us a little more time to enjoy the carefree newlywed life before we get pregnant… we have some trips to plan first.  And my husband is in seminary. But if we make a surprise announcement anytime soon… you can blame my students.

-I showed one of those same women a picture of me holding my niece, and she happily exclaimed “Your arms look fat in that picture!” Like it was the greatest thing in the world! I saw the look of amusement horror surprise on Mr. Right’s face as I tried to remind myself that in many cultures around the world, being fat is a sign of beauty.

If you think of it, please add my sweet students to your prayer list. They face some very real challenges as they experience culture shock, children who struggle to adjust to new schools, adults who need jobs, and the ability to communicate well so they can be taken seriously in their new home.

English class


My entire life I wanted to be an English teacher. As a little girl I played school with my poor, helpless, bossed-around younger sisters, and as a college student I wavered between majoring in English and journalism, changing my major five times as I tried to decide between a career as a teacher and joining the world of communications.

I picked communications. 
But a small part of me has always dreamed of someday being an English teacher. And now I am, although in a classroom I never expected.
Mr. Right and I are working with an ESL (English as a Second Language) class at our church. Will is the organized guru who makes sure teachers have their lessons, classrooms are set up, kids are returned to their parents, and tummies are full with pizza each week.
I teach the beginner’s class with one of my best girlfriends, and I have fallen in love with my students.
In the past six weeks I’ve taught people from DR Congo, Burundi, the Ivory Coast, Jordan, Egypt, Nepal, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico. In our other classes we have folks from South Korea, the Ukraine, Bangladesh, Syria, Somalia, and several other countries that I can’t seem to remember now. 
I have refugees. I have a physician. I have people who need to learn English to find work. I have the very old and the very young. One of my students has seven children. I have people who speak Swahili, French, Spanish, Arabic, Nepali, and Bangla. I have muslims and Christians, and I suspect I probably have some hindus and buddhists. I have a child who told me that in his country, if you convert to Christianity, you will be killed. My students have lived such brave lives.
I have never met a more fascinating group of people. My beginner students are passionate about learning English – many are searching out additional programs so they can get more practice. They ask questions and work hard to grasp the concepts, they help each other, and they do every last bit of the homework I assign them. They are a dream class to teach.
Even better, they’re learning English at my church. Every week as we celebrate the end of a lesson with pizza, we tell them about Jesus, and about how incredibly loved they are by Him. And by us. 
It’s rewarding to teach someone English. To open a new world of possibilities, of freedom, of independence. It’s even more rewarding to share with them the source of my hope, and my peace, and my motivation for loving them.