Move At The Speed of Trust

Do you ever hear something and react-YES!!! that says what I have thought for a long time? I had that experience yesterday at my office, aka coffee shop, while meeting with two women who organize CLC in Title I schools in my city. CLC is Community Learning Centers.

We were talking about working with refugees and immigrants when one of them said, “we move at the speed of trust.” My reaction was, “I love that!! That is spot on. Who said that?” They told me Cormac Russell said it.

We move at the speed of trust. Why did that grab my attention?

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My work and ministry with refugees and immigrants have shown me the importance of taking time to listen, to not rush in, to be patient, to let them share their stories as they feel is okay. Building trust is worthwhile. By letting other people develop trust with me, it fosters a relationship that can last.

I do not want to make the mistake of thinking just because I am a Christian that it makes me an expert on all things. My role is not to be the answer man about everything. My role is to share Christ, his love, and the saving message of the gospel.

My role in the lives of others may vary depending on the situation. Maybe my role is sowing the seed of the gospel. Maybe my role is watering. By moving at the speed of trust, it opens opportunities. If I rush, it can close a person down.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Ahh Yesterday-Burgers and Coffee Shop

It was a double blessing day yesterday with two different cultures. It was the kind of day that filled me with gratitude for Jesus calling me to my ministry and work.

After a LAZY start to my day which included a NAP, I met with my friend from Bosnia to have some burgers. We hadn’t gotten together for a while because he has been working extra to save up money for him and his wife to travel to Bosnia. Burgers always taste better when meeting with friends. 🙂

Then it was off to my favorite coffee shop where I spent time blogging and reading. I also got some writing done. As I was getting ready to leave, two young men came in who were speaking Spanish. I went over and introduced myself in Spanish and ended up sitting with them for an hour practicing my Spanish. We added each other on Facebook so we can meet again. One of my summer goals is improving my Spanish.

To top it off, in the evening I received an email from my therapist telling me her verse of the day was James 1:12 which made her think of me. It was a nice little icing on the cake for a lazy, fun, summer break day for this teacher.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Today is methotrexate day, so downtime is in order, but have no fear, the coffee shop is on my Saturday list. How has your week been?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Perfectly Timed Rain

Five of the students from my morning class have birthdays within 5 weeks of each other, so we decided to have a picnic before one of them leaves for a visit with family in Mexico. We chose yesterday and had planned on the picnic to start 11am. but rain came through from 10am to 11:30 am, so we changed the time to 12:30.

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Because of the rain, the people who reserved the best shelter in the park did not show up. That meant we could use it for our picnic. The rain was perfectly timed. We enjoyed the best spot in the park because of the rain. The rain left in time for us to have a picnic and a nice sunny afternoon.

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We had A LOT of food, fortunately none cooked by me, a lot of good conversation, and the children played in the playground. It was a perfect early June Saturday afternoon.

Funny thing was that I prayed it would not rain, so it would not interfere with the picnic. But God already had it planned out. By having the rain come and leave at the times it did, it allowed for us to have a wonderful time.

Oh and by the way, I was sent home with leftovers. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

School Safety- What Does Jesus Think of Us?

Each morning the past eight years it has been a blessing for me to interact with children at the school where I teach. I have so many fond memories of conversations with the children. It was always a joy to walk through the library and hear a chorus of-Hi Mr. Matt.

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There have been children who Jesus blessed me to help in a deeper way like the little girl this year who had anxiety, the little boy from Afghanistan, the children of the moms I teach and more. During a fire drill a few months ago, two of the little girls in the ELL Level 1 class walked down the stairs and out the door holding my hands.

It is way past time to take school safety seriously, stop playing politics on both sides, and take action. It is more than gun control. There are other issues such as the prevalence of violent video games that end up being training videos for those who would seek to do the evil of a school shooting.

What I know for certain is that children are precious to Jesus and the church needs to become a loud voice about making sure children are safe in school. The only thing children should wonder about is their homework, what lunch will be served in the cafeteria, learning, recess and just being a child.

We do not need to discuss what Jesus thinks about children being safe because he already stated that in Matthew 18:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”

The question we need to be asking ourselves is what Jesus thinks about his church when it comes to being a voice regarding school safety.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Be Jesus’s Representatives

Twenty years ago a young woman from Vietnam asked me a question that I shared more fully in- I Hear You Help People, Will You Help Me? She asked other students about me because I greeted her in her language. She wanted help to prepare to go to college which was monumental in her mind because no one in her family had ever gone to college.

That encounter is a constant reminder for me that people know us either by how we treat them or how others talk about us with them. My desire is that any refugee or immigrant in my city would feel they could approach me to ask for help.

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That encounter also serves as a reminder that we are the hands of Jesus in this life. We are his representatives in this life. Our reputation reflects not only on us but also on Jesus in the eyes of those around us.

That thought alone makes me want to seek Jesus in prayer because there is no way I can be a positive representative of Jesus on my own. It is a simple prayer, but one I pray almost daily, of-“please help me to be a blessing to….” During the school year I pray for help to be a blessing to my students and colleagues. During summer break it is my prayer as I meet with people.

2 Corinthians 5:20 says:

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

In these troubled times we live in, so many people need us to live like Christ’s ambassadors. They need a safe landing place of friendship. They need those who follow Jesus to be a blessing because we have been blessed.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

What A Wonderful Way to Start Summer Break

Yesterday was the first day of summer break from my morning and afternoon classes. Wednesday was a bit draining having final meetings and saying goodbye to children I have connected with, so I was wondering about first day of break.

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God gave me a sign right at the start. I went to meet two pastors from my church and a pastor from a Ukrainian church to talk about how we can work together. When I got to the coffee shop, there was a woman sitting outside at one of the tables with her golden retriever. Her dog Norman came to me to greet me. I spent a few minutes petting him and chatting with her. Why is that a sign? I had a golden retriever when I was a boy. I LOVE golden retrievers.

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The coffee meeting went great and I made plans to teach new arrivals from Ukraine English at the Ukrainian church. We will also work on other joint endeavors and as they develop, I will share more.

I know this will be hard to believe, but my next stop was at my favorite coffee shop where I was able to tell a few jokes and enjoy a cup of coffee.

So one aspect of summer has begun. More to come 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Little Girl Had Anxiety- She Will Be Okay

I shared back in February about a little girl at school who had anxiety in- A Little Girl Had Anxiety. She had anxiety because she was a beginning English learner and school felt daunting to her. She is only in 2nd Grade. After speaking with her in Spanish, she began to visit me in my classroom, which was next to hers, each morning. I shared about that in-Being A Safe Place-My Special Visitor Each Day.

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She made a lot of progress to the point that when I would ask her-“Sientes Nerviosa?”, do you feel nervous, she would say no. She has made little friends in class and has been doing well in school. But yesterday when I told her it was my last day at school, she did not take it well at first. I reminded her that she has friends in school now and is doing well. As she hugged me, I told her she will be okay and that Jesus is always with her.

I went into her classroom to give the children cookies, When I went in, she hugged me and cried. I held her for a few minutes while she cried, and reminded her again that Jesus is always with her. After I left, her teacher helped the students in her class to make cards for me. The little girl, Maria, made this one for me.

As I left the school, I saw her having fun playing with the other children during recess. She will be okay. I am glad I could be a small part of helping her adjust to being in a new school in a new country in a new language.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Goodbye and Hello

This morning I will say goodbye to the school I have been at for the past eight years. I will continue with Family Literacy at a different school next school year. I actually said goodbye to people already but will be in the building for a meeting this morning. I have been at the new school already having taught in that program too, so that is not the hello I am referring to.

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My summer break begins tomorrow and beyond that I will have a bit more time freed up for whatever God has planned for me. The summer will be spent writing books and also reaching out to refugees and immigrants in my city.

It seems that God is calling me to new adventures. I have a few preliminary ideas and if they start to shape up, I will share more on them. The hello part of this post is saying hello to new opportunities that God will show me.

It reminds me of what Good said to Abraham when he first spoke to Abraham in Genesis 12:1

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

God basically told Abraham get going and I will show where to go as you go. No itinerary, no map, no just get going and trust God.

So for me it is a day of Goodbye and then Hello to whatever it is that God has planned for me that he has not given me the details of yet.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Who Wants Cookies?

My morning class is next to an ELL Level 1 class-English Language Learners. The children are beginning English learners. I know their teacher well and she is my fellow Christian as well as teacher. If she is not there and a sub is late, I wait in the classroom while the children eat breakfast until the sub arrives.

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I also know each of the children. They often come into my classroom to say hi or for a hug. I joke with them in the hallway just to see them smile.

Each morning I go into their classroom after my class finishes and bring with me a package of chocolate chip cookies. First I ask their teacher, “Ms. Wilcox do you have good students today?” She answers yes. Then I ask her, :Can they have a cookie?” She always says yes.

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Then they line up and have to practice saying in English, with me, “May I have a cookie please?” The package of cookies is not expensive and it is a little thing for me, but it is a big thing for the children. I must admit it is a highlight of my morning to see them smile and to joke with them a little.

What the children don’t know is that I pray for them. Children are a blessing but they also need blessings from adults. They need to be and feel safe and valued. If I can help in small ways, I am glad to do so. Jesus loves them and so do I.

By the way ,in case you are wondering, I give them chocolate chip cookies. Ones I buy not bake myself after all safety is important. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

FriYeah Is Here :)

On the last Friday I will need an alarm clock until August, an epic failure occurred. I woke up an hour before my alarm clock went off. I know it is like a horror story. However, I survived the ordeal, so no need to worry.

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Today is celebration day for both of my classes. Today is also methotrexate day meaning by the time my afternoon class finishes, I will be ready for a power nap. That will be followed by binge watching some shows while laying in bed.

My friend from Venezuela, who I usually meet with on Saturday mornings, has been sick, so we won’t meet tomorrow. I sense a full day at the coffee shop coming. Hopefully they will give me a good coffee mug to use. The last two times they gave me one with flowers on it and one with little birds and hearts on it. Such mugs should be reserved for repurposed sodas like lattes and are not fitting for a coffee purist. A super hero mug is fitting for a coffee purist. 🙂

Anyway back to it being Friday. I counted and I have 14 Fridays coming with nothing to do. That puts a whole new meaning to it being FriYeah. My summer break is almost upon me. If you hear a thud, it will be the sound of sudden relaxation hitting me. 🙂

What are your weekend plans?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.