Saturday, June 19, 2010

Linguistic Richness

The last two weeks have been crazy. It has been one of those times in our lives where so many things converged that it seemed impossible to respond to everything. To start off, Alfie agreed to teach a two week intensive class to students from the Middle East. He agreed to give 30 lectures in two weeks. Halfway through the class, our first construction team left for the US and the second one arrived. The second week of the class, Julie and Alfie started the ESL Café (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Well, sounds like a crazy schedule, but all should be well as long as nothing goes wrong. Unfortunately, our team-mate, who was taking care of the construction team was in western Ukraine and her car was stolen. So Alfie needed take over logistics for that team, but just for a few days. Next, we had a catastrophic computer crash. Our new notebook is currently a large paperweight. Of course it happened about an hour before Julie’s ESL lesson and, of course, before she printed her lesson. She did a great job of teacher her two hour lesson without her notes and prepared material.

Alfie’s class is over now and our teammate, Susanna, is back in Odessa to take care of the construction team so things should be a little smoother.

So, is it worth it? Yep. It has been hard but two of many highlights make it more than worth it.
First, it has been a pleasure teaching these students at the seminary. There are only three of them but they are unique. One speaks English, Russian and Arabic. The next speaks some English and Arabic and the third speaks Russian and Arabic. So my class is an ordered confusion of English, Arabic, Russian and Greek. We often have all four languages on the whiteboard. Also, listening to what these young men have already been through and their desire to serve the Lord among Islamic communities has reminded me of the ease of my life. When I see what they have sacrificed for Christ, I am humbled.

Second, it has been a joy to see the fruit of relationship building. Over the last year Julie has been hosting “teacher exchange” meetings. She and friends have gathered English teachers and shared experiences. The purpose has been to develop relationship and provide a meaningful time of professional development. Many of the teachers from the teacher’s exchange are coming to the ESL Café. The first part of the café, Julie leads a lesson in vocabulary development. It is for high level speakers, so there is much interaction. Then we have a short break and drink coffee and tea. We have some cookies and candy and enjoy fellowship. After the break, Alfie leads a Bible study from the Gospel of John. We have believers and unbelievers and the interaction and the interest has been a joy to see. Our goal is the same as John’s…that they me understand the Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and by believing in Him, they may have life in His name.

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