English?

You know I think each of us had these super grand ideas about becoming a missionary.  Ideas about where we would go and what we would do, and how super freaking awesome it would be.  Saving the world might have been thrown around.  😉

Like this super awesome Mormon kid that wants to go to Orlando.  He had a plan.  Go to Orlando–because he is the most awesome and therefore God will surely give him what he wants–go to Disney World and save Orlando from the devil’s hands.  Or something like that.

As many of us have settled into our respective places, I would wager that, for most of us, it isn’t quite what we thought we’d be doing.  It isn’t quite as awesome or it’s WAY more awesome, or the work not quite what we bargained for, perhaps it’s easier or harder than we ever imagined.

One of our MIs, Becky, posted about teaching English at her placement site on facebook today.

“So, ever since I’ve come to Ecuador, basically EVERYONE here is asking me to teach English. It’s a bit awkward since I don’t have teaching experience and that is not my primary job here as a missionary. I am teaching two afternoons a week at an elementary school here, but now the adults in the community want to have classes too!!…but I didn’t come here just to be a teacher. I want to dig deeper into the roots of the culture and community and minister to the people here.”

Interestingly enough, I ran into a lady from the states (that I have lived across the street from for 4 months and have only just met….  I need to work on my neighborly skills) the other day, and she had similar sentiments.  She said that she hadn’t come to Ukraine to teach English, she came to be a missionary.

I have to admit, I thought that I would be doing something different here too.  Well….  I thought lots of things, but that’s neither here nor there.  What I do the most, besides hanging out and eating/drinking the best stuff EVA, is teach English.  I am in a constant state of English teaching.  Most folks talk to me in 100% English, and I am constantly giving grammar lessons and word choice advice (why do we have so many synonyms????????).  Not to mention the English club we have on Tuesdays.

We are about to expand our English empire to formal English classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, two classes per day.  The thing is, is that even though I kind of hate English (I can’t explain why we say it that way, or why I wouldn’t use that synonym), I accept that it is a valid form of outreach, evangelism  and community and relationship building.  Even more than that, it’s not just a felt need, it is a desire.

Though I may dislike teaching English–mostly because of my own ineptness–I realize that that is how I have really made connections with lots of folks.  The first time I can really remember connecting with one girl was when she asked me to teach her all the words for boobs, or when a fella was walking me home I blew my own mind with an explanation of the word clothes (it’s always plural, cloth is what you make clothes from, clothe is the verb to put on clothes, and so on) .

No matter what I thought I’d be doing, or what people think I should be doing (standing on street corners screaming with tract filled hands—oh please no).  I am still serving.  I am still filling a need in this community, and this is one that will endure.  This isn’t a basket of bread that will go bad tomorrow, but language (especially one as international as English) acquisition is a valuable skill that can help many in their everyday lives.

We often, as people and especially as missionaries, feel under qualified or prepared for the task at hand.  I know I didn’t take “How to teach English to Non-Native Speakers 205” at Winthrop, but I trust that God’s grace covers my shortcomings and that the Holy Spirit will help guide me through this foreign territory (see what I did there?).  I think that we have to embrace any opportunity (within the limits of our sanity) to further engage the communities that we are all working in, in new and different ways that are valuable and needed.  If that means teaching English, then I’m down.  If that means shooting pigeons with a bb gun sign me up–oh please sign me up I hate those freaking birds!!!!!

So as we go about being our most awesome bad ass selves, I leave you with one more Book of Mormon songs.  Go blow God’s freaking mind with your life folks!

Book of Mormon is a hilarious broadway play that I will one day see.  I don’t own the rights their songs, and I do not really think that we can do something to blow God’s freaking mind because we can only do incredible things with God.  But hey, it’s a funny song, don’t take it so seriously.

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One thought on “English?

  1. Eric! Your English teaching is a beautiful ministry. You are also create such an important bridge. As I learn more Spanish, I am able to actually connect and listen and be with people hear. You are allowing your “students” to learn about a totally different culture. YOU ROCK!

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