Special Deliveries Yesterday

Sitting at home is boring. It is funny how when life is going normal for me, I am so busy that I wish to have a day at home. But now freshly out of a hospital stay and with Thanksgiving Break, staying home is the last thing I want to do. 🙂

I am thankful for two special deliveries yesterday. The first was a drop off by the director of the Family Literacy Program I teach in. The students in my morning class made me get well cards. One of the students also made a plate of food for me. The director stopped by to drop them off for me along with a gift card to my favorite burger place in town.

Yesterday evening my new friends from Ukraine, Alexey and Ruslana, dropped off some food for me. I only told them I was sick without going into details. It was great to see them even if only for a few minutes. They are new grandparents with their first grandson being born last week here in my city. I am not sure if I will let my Ukrainian friends know I was in the hospital to have my heart shocked back into rhythm.

Cards made by hand, food so I don’t need to cook, and friendly faces are nice. However, I think I am feeling good enough for a visit to the coffee shop today. I had my day at home. It is time to get out for a little while. 🙂

Tomorrow I am invited over to a friend’s home for Thanksgiving. I like the start time of 4pm I can sleep late. If you are in the USA, what are your Thanksgiving Day plans?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Startled At The Coffee Shop

Yesterday afternoon I was enjoying time at a coffee shop with Ukrainian friends when it happened. We went to a coffee shop with a nice outdoor seating area and enjoyed our last afternoon of warm weather before the sudden cool down arrives tomorrow. We were having a wonderful time of fellowship and coffee to celebrate the birthday of the husband when a car sped by on the street, gunning it, that had no muffler.

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The noise was loud and came suddenly. It startled the wife. She jumped a little from her seat. Then she laughed but perhaps not because it was funny as much as to release the emotion of it all. It was more of a nervous laugh.

She had just left the war of Ukraine in March making her way with her family through sounds of war to safety. Sudden loud noises are a trigger for many refugees.

Without letting her know what I was doing, I did a few things to help bring her back into the present. I held up my hand and asked her jokingly, “how many fingers do you see?” Then I touched my nose and asked if she could do that and she did. Then I waved my hand and asked if she could do that and she did. She did not know why I was doing comical little things like that, but they brought her back into the present moment.

We continued on with our fellowship over coffee and I learned more about Ester the girl who received a violin. She told me that she plays music by ear as well as with written music. She told me she learns better by ear. I used YouTube to show her the song You Raise Me Up because it has beautiful violin music. I explained that the war and fleeing the war was a trauma but Jesus is raising her up. My friend Clark, Director of the Youth Symphony in my city and a viola/violin player, suggested that after she has practiced and feels ready that she could play with the symphony. We also talked about the two of them playing a duet.

Her mother was blessed to hear all of this. She recovered from being startled shortly before that. Such moments can bring healing to the souls and spirit of refugees. We will go out for coffee again this evening after our afternoon class. Hopefully no more loud noises.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

She Has A Laptop Now

A friend of mine receives slightly used laptops from people and works on them. Then he gives the laptops to ministries or people in ministry. I emailed him about a single mom from Venezuela I wanted to get a laptop for. Carmin came here with her son in August 2021.. She works hard at a Kawasaki plant here but has a thirteen year old son to provide for and also sends money to her parents. She could not have bought a laptop, but I knew it would help her practice English at home, make it better for her to video chat with her parents, and connect with her son’s school, so I wanted to see her have a laptop.

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My friend had a laptop for her. I picked it up early last week, It cost me nothing and cost him only the time he spent refreshing it. I went a Walmart. Yes, for such a worthy purpose I walked in quickly to such a place. I got a violet backpack to put her laptop in.

To have a little fun with it, last Tuesday I told her I had a surprise for her but I could not tell her the surprise because then it would not be a surprise. That gave her most of the week to wonder what the surprise was. Sunday morning in our group, I gave her the backpack and told her to open it. The look on her face was priceless. Then I showed her how to access things for her son’s school.

It feels like a Christmas morning for me when I can see my friends blessed like a few months ago when Samuel was given a guitar by an older couple from church. Seeing the joy on the faces of my friends is wonderful.

Tomorrow my young friend from Ukraine will receive a violin. My friend from church who is the Youth Symphony Director/Conductor will visit my class to bring her the violin. I am SO looking forward to see my young friend Ester’s reaction.

Seeing others blessed is a huge blessing. When someone blesses one of my refugee/immigrant friends, I view it as them also blessing me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Burgers With My Fellow Blogger Gary

It was a blessing to have burgers with my fellow blogger Gary Fultz of garyfultz.com yesterday. Gary lives in that area of the USA that in the winter becomes a frozen tundra. He was on his way to another place in Nebraska for an outdoor adventure with a friend and he stopped by my city to have lunch with me. I waited outside the restaurant for him and when I saw a pick up truck pull in the parking lot, I knew it had to be him.

Our conversation was a mix of getting to know each other, sharing our mutual faith in Jesus, talking about blogging, and some laughter. The blessing of meeting a fellow Christian blogger is that it means meeting a brother for the first time. Gary has some poignant stories from his life that he shared with me, so check out his blogs to read them.

One of those stories involves his daughter and how a medical person and his family came to Gary’s church and ended up becoming Christians. That is a story I will leave for Gary to tell in his blog.

Gary had fun regaling our server with stories about winter and ice fishing in the northern lands of Minnesota. Our server kept coming back to hear more. I may have told him a few jokes. At one point I said, “you must have a grandmother praying for you.” to which he replied in heaven. I told him, “God has a purpose for you.”

Thank you for lunch Gary. It was fun and great to share fellowship with you.

Now that I have a much better car, I might make road trips in the future to visit bloggers.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- First Time I Ate Borscht

Borscht is a soup that is popular in Ukraine. The first time I ate borscht was during a dinner with my friends at the Ukrainian church many years ago. They were having a special potluck dinner and had invited me to join. Never one to pass up homecooked food, I gladly joined them.

As I was going through the line getting my food, I came to the mashed potatoes. Next to the mashed potatoes was something that looked a bit like salsa to me, bur I did not see anything next to the ‘salsa’ to put it on, Being the creative person that I am at times, I began putting the ‘salsa’ on my mashed potatoes much to the surprise of my Ukrainian friends.

A few of them quickly said, “no teacher that is borscht” while laughing at my blunder. I asked them what borscht is and they told me it is a soup. Not one to waste food, I sat down and ate my food including the mashed potatoes with the borscht on top. It actually tasted good. I told my friends I sat down with that perhaps I should get more. They just smiled and laughed.

Sharing a meal is a great way to get to know people and build friendships. Jesus often shared meals with people in their homes. He would eat in the homes of people who were looked down on by the Pharisees, religious leaders of the day. One time the Pharisees asked Jesus’s disciples why he ate with sinners. Jesus heard it and replied in Matthew 9:12-13:

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The issue is not who we share a meal with or what the meal is. The issue is why we share a meal. Jesus shared meals with people to draw them to himself. Likewise, we can share meals in hopes of Jesus drawing people to himself through our friendships.

By the way, borscht is a delicious soup, but I do not put it on mashed potatoes anymore.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Burgers with Friends and Book Update

Sunday after church, some friends invited me to go out for lunch. We went to a fun place called Honest Abes a local burger restaurant. They have normal burgers/cheeseburgers and also some interesting combinations. The one I ordered had BBQ sauce, bacon and cheese.

My friends have a ministry for people from the Middle East living in my city, so we have a lot of common interests. They had just returned from an East Coast trip to visit family and supporting churches. Our lunch was a time to catch up lunch after a summer of not seeing each other for a while.

When I shared with them about the books I am finishing, particularly the one Jesus Understands Trauma, the husband looked at me and said, “you will have a lot of people who want to talk with you.” My reaction was that I hope so.

Speaking of my books, I printed out the pages for Jesus Understands Trauma, so I can read over it for a final draft. That is my project this week. The finish line is getting closer. It will be published through Amazon and available through print or Kindle.

Having printed out the pages necessitates one thing. A visit to the coffee shop is on my agenda today to sit down and do some editing while empowered by coffee and hopefully a gluten free cupcake. A person needs brain energy after all. 🙂

So after my therapy appointment this morning, and perhaps a nap, it is off to my office aka the coffee shop.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Greeting In Heaven

One of the things I love about teaching an ESL class at the college is what happens before class and during the short break we take. It is an opportunity for me to walk around and greet students from all of the classes in their languages. Interacting with them is such a blessing and has allowed me to learn to greet people in thirty languages.

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Perhaps in heaven I can have a job as a greeter for new arrivals greeting them in their languages. There won’t be a need for a missionary since everyone in heaven will know Jesus already. There won’t be a need for a language teacher.

Sometimes I think how cool it would be to greet someone upon their arrival in heaven in their language. Can you imagine entering heaven and someone greets you in your language?

Of course we have little understanding of what our eternal lives will be like other than it will be way way better than the best life we could have in this life. But I still like to entertain the thought at times.

This morning I am going to church where we will have a fellowship time in Spanish with friends from Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and Venezuela with some Americans as well.

Hope your Sunday is blessed.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Coffee Shop Realization

Yesterday I was at my office, aka the coffee shop, all set to do some work for my classes when a realization hit me. It is about the latest development with tech. Both the college and the public school system I teach for have gone to a verification code thing. It sends a code via text message that one needs to enter to be able to access the system. Great idea but it does not take into account one thing.

It presupposes that when it comes to little things like remembering to charge my cell phone, let along remembering to bring it, it somehow eludes your coffee purist. There I was at the coffee shop ready to do some work when I realized that yet once again my cell phone was not charged up.

Have no fear I brought a book with me too and there was some blogging to do as well.

But to add the my troubles, there were no blueberries with cupcakes attached. I experienced a brief disruption to my personal universe. Noting there were no gluten free crumble bars either made the situation dire. Enter Holly the young woman who bakes all of the magical treats to save the day. After bringing the terrifying dilemma to her attention and telling her one of my brilliant jokes, she assured me some crumble bars would be forthcoming.

Sure enough a short time later, the crumble bars came out as in apricot crumble bars. Holly the baker who spins her magic made my day by giving me a crumble bar on the house. Suddenly my day was turned around. 🙂

Empowered by the apricot crumble bar and coffee, I was able to have a productive afternoon. It was a close call, but I survived.

At a table next to me were some women who are also with the school system that know me. As I on my way out, I reminded them that young people should be home by the time the street lights come on.

I think a return to the coffee shop is in order today. Hopefully they will still have some apricot crumble bars.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Spanish Ministry Idea?

My weekend English conversation groups at church have been going for twenty years with the exception of one year during the COVID shutdown. Over the years people from diverse cultures have come, but after the COVID shutdown I felt release to try something, which is to focus on Spanish speakers. I speak Spanish at an intermediate level and use Spanish to help them understand English.

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A dream I have had for future ministry is for my church to have a Spanish club that meets regularly. It would give my Hispanic friends a chance to help people with Spanish and also give an opportunity for people from church to practice Spanish.

If this happens, it would also give American high school and college students studying Spanish a place to invite friends from Spanish class to come practice Spanish.

This week my church is hosting a visiting pastor from Brazil. Portuguese is the language of Brazil, but my friend also speaks Spanish. He emailed me asking if I thought we could have a time of worship. Of course I replied YES. We will try, He is here for a short time, so not sure if it will come together. But his email encouraged me to keep dreaming about the potential.

Gracias por leyendo. Thank you for reading. Dios te Bendiga. God Bless.

Story Time- My Plans Thwarted Sunday Morning

Sunday after worship service, my church had food trucks in the parking lot so we could enjoy food and fellowship outside in the shade. Two friends of mine from Venezuela joined me, but we sat in the coffee area inside the building due to the heat. That meant walking out to the food trucks a few times, once to get our lunch and once to get ice cream.

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My initial strategy was for me and and two friends to get ice cream first and then food thinking the moms would insist on their families eating lunch first and then ice cream thus the ice cream line being shorter at first. I shared what I thought was my brilliant strategy with my pastor in a message as a joke.

Sunday morning as he was beginning his teaching, he talked about the food trucks and said. “I won’t call the person out but someone shared with me their strategy is to get ice cream first thinking the line would be shorter due to moms insisting their families eating lunch first.” The congregation got a laugh out of that. 🙂

Sadly when my friends and I went out to the food trucks, the line for ice cream was long. Perhaps due to my strategy being made public. I messaged my pastor that he spilled the secret.

I love the joke that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Psalm 94:11 says:

The Lord knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.

But God’s plans for us are always good. Jeremiah 29:11 says:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Nothing can thwart God plans for us. Psalm 33:11 says:

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

We can trust God’s plans for us. We can trust his goodness.

But I suggest not sharing secret plans like my ice cream plan or they may be thwarted. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.