Followed Through on a Prompting and Was Blessed

Yesterday when I picked up my prescriptions for the month, I also got a Shingles vaccine. I have to admit it stung and is still sore, but it is better than getting Shingles. Due to having chronic illness, the pharmacist asked me to wait 5 minutes before leaving to make sure I did not have any reaction.

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A blessing before getting the shot was seeing my friend from Iran. She is a university student studying to be a Cardio Vascular Ultrasound Sonographer. It is always good to see her if she is working when I get my prescriptions. She works part-time as a Pharmacy Tech.

She came here five years ago with her parents and siblings as refugees from Iran due to religious persecution. They are Mandean. She and her family are my friends. I always enjoy visiting their home.

I tutored her in Spanish for her Spanish class. We laughed a lot as we studied. In two more years, she will graduate and being working in a hospital.

Just going out and about to run errands gives me opportunities to experience small blessings. In the morning, I hadn’t planned to get my refills, but the thought occurred to me while having coffee with a friend to do so. By following through on that thought, or should I say prompting, I was able to reconnect with my young friend and discuss visiting the family.

So even though the shot stung a lot, I am glad I went to the pharmacy yesterday. But I did not get a sticker or candy for getting a shot. Kids are do lucky. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Mourn with those who mourn

Yesterday I visited a family from Iran for a meal commemorating 45 days after the husband’s father died. We sat and ate on the floor. Our meal was fish and veggies.

This family is special to me for many reasons. I wanted to be there with them to show my support for them. It was the first time the husband called me brother.

One of the hardest things for refugees is when a loved one is sick or dies because they cannot travel home to be there for their loved ones. My desire is to be there for refugees at difficult times.

We rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.

Want to Make Summer Break Count

Sunday afternoon I visited a family from Iran, We had lunch together as part of their observance of it being 30 days since the husband’s father passed away. For Mandean people, 30 days is an important time to come together again to remember the person who passed away.

My desire was to try to be a blessing to my friends by coming alongside them at an important time for them

I hope to spend more time with my refugee and immigrant friends this summer. For my morning class, summer break has already started. Last week we had summer weather here, so I jumped the gun a little bit and got my summer haircut and beard trim last week.

But then this week started with rainy cooler days, so maybe my summer haircut was a bit early. 🙂

Summers for me have been a time God shows me things. They have been times of realizing significant directions from God and also times of significant changes for me.

A few examples”

July 1995 the doctor finally diagnosed my problem after a two year struggle with hypothyroid.

June 1997 was my first international trip going to Romania for a ministry trip.

July 2001 I began teaching English as a Second Language at the college where I teach.

June 2010 I went on a ministry trip to Mexico and Jesus showed me he wanted me to study Spanish.

June 2013 I went on a ministry trip to Brazil and Jesus showed me he wanted me to study Portuguese.

July 2017 I found out I have Celiacs Disease.

July 2018 I started medication for depression and anxiety brought on by autoimmune problems.

SO

With my summer break for my morning classes having started already and a five week total break coming in June/July

I have decided on a few things to make this summer meaningful since I won’t have any ministry trips.

1-Spend time with Jesus.

2- Summer reading

3- Spend more time socializing with my refugee/immigrant friends.

4- Practice my Spanish more.

5- Practice my Portuguese more.

6- Get caught up with bloggers.

7- Write more short stories.

If you have books you have found meaningful, please let me know. I have not formulated my summer reading program yet. My budget is very limited for a summer reading list, but please share books that have blessed you.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

An Avocado Salad + A Refugee Family= Me Learning Something

I have the opportunity to spend time with friends from many different countries/cultures every week, actually every day. I teach them English, help them with issues related to living in America, and spend time with them as friends. What they may not realize is that I learn from them. Sometimes I learn life lessons from them. I always enjoy learning about their cultures. Sometimes it is something that seems minor, but I appreciate it so much.

One example of something that may sound trite or silly to you, but I appreciate learning, is that I like avocados.

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All my life I assumed I didn’t like avocados because they were used to make guacamole and well whenever I looked at guacamole, it made me think of something I won’t mention because I don’t want to gross you out. So for years, I didn’t eat avocados and avoided guacamole at parties.

Then one day I went to visit a refugee family from Iran that I had been helping. They wanted me to come for dinner as a way to thank me for helping them. I love Iranian food, so I was excited to join them for dinner.

I got there and the wife/mother told me their 15 year old daughter made salad for the first time because I was coming for dinner. So I knew that I had to “like” whatever she made and let her know how much I liked it because she had never made salad before and in her mind, I was an honored guest.

We sat down for dinner and I looked at the salad and saw it had avocado, tomato, onion, and bits of cheese. No problem I told myself because I had a glass of Pepsi as back up to wash down the taste of avocado and not let it show to the girl that I didn’t like the salad. So I took a bite of the salad as she watched not wanting to disappoint her.

Lo and behold, I took my first bite of the salad and discovered something. I LIKE AVOCADOS. That may not sound like much to you, but it opened up a new culinary world for me. Now I  enjoy guacamole too. Another benefit for me- Avocados are healthy. I eat them with other veggies a couple of times a week. They are good with eggs too. I even make my own version of guacamole sometimes.

So she was happy to see me eat three servings of her salad and I discovered I love avocados. It was a win/win situation 🙂

A slightly humorous story but one that illustrates my experience in life. As I seek to serve others, I learn and grow. My refugee friends add to my life in so many ways. My hope is that they also learn that God loves them as I help them and share life with them.

Nowruz- Persian New Year with My Friends

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Yesterday was the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and for most of us that is all it was known as. For my friends from Iran, the first day of spring is also one of their biggest holidays called Nowruz. It is their New Years Day.

In the picture above you see me standing at the table of the Haft Seen. Each item on the table symbolizes something such as the garlic representing good health.

We had a traditional Nowruz dinner of fish and rice which was delicious. I was with a family who are dear friends and in fact I call little sister, niece, nephew etc. They tell I am part of the family. When the grandparents came, I joked with them that I cooked the food, but as a chef I can’t tell my secret recipes.

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Spring began at 4:58 pm our time here in my city, so that was the moment Nowruz started. A few minutes before 4:58 we sat at the Haft Seen for silent prayer. At 4:58 we wished each other a Happy Nowruz with hugs. Then we sat down to eat dinner.

I had to leave to go teach my final class for the quarter, but before I left I expressed my wishes and blessings for the whole family, a family that is very special to me.

Celebrations like Nowruz are so important for my friends from other countries to observe to keep their culture. It is hard to leave one’s home country and start over and special holidays like Nowruz are times that could make it harder because even though my friends faced hardships in Iran, at least Nowruz was a huge holiday there. Here it is only a holiday within their own culture. Getting time off from work or school would be difficult here.

Each time I join in cultural celebrations, I feel honored to be included. I also reflect on how Jesus spent a lot of time visiting people in their homes. I like to think of it as in a way Jesus did visit my friends yesterday through me.

As I was saying my goodbyes, my little sister, the hostess, smiled and told me I am part of their family. It is such a blessing to be part of their family.

Happy Nowruz, Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

My Mornings with 20 Moms- Snow Days

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This week has been uneventful so far with the moms.

Monday was a teacher planning day, so we did not have class.

Tuesday was fun. I enjoy using humor to reduce stress for them. I make a pot of coffee, but I am the only who drinks it. Maybe it is because I make it too strong. 🙂  So there is always some left. Tuesday morning I noticed there was some cold coffee left from Friday.  I poured myself a cup and drank it. There were some gasps and laughter. I may have overacted while drinking it such as a big Ahhh after taking a drink.

Then Wednesday came, only it didn’t really come for the class. We had another SNOW day. At least it was announced the night before which meant no alarm clock 🙂

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At this point my friend Alphe of Alphe’s Corner would think- “Not fair” because she told me they never have snow days in Poland no matter how much snow. She is very creative with craft ideas and food recipes and shares her ideas in her blog. You can check it out at alphes-corner.com.

My snow day consisted of sleeping late, well late for me, getting up at 8am. It was time for coffee. But the afternoon was great. I visited some of my Mandean friends from Iran for lunch. I love Iranian food and even more my Mandean friends. My visit was about three hours.

This morning it is back to class and, well, we will see what Friday brings with another winter storm system coming. We are getting closer to March, so the snow has to end eventually. Twice in my life we have had snow in early May, I hope that doesn’t happen. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Seeing Myself Through The Eyes of My Refugee Friends

It is easy to get in a funk sometimes and for me that has been true the past week or so. Sleep being interrupted due to waking up in pain after rolling onto my bad shoulder, wondering if the upcoming blood tests will finally show something, and of course the freezing weather have all combined to get me down a bit.

In such times my normal attitude is to just forge ahead and keep going. I have kept my prayer time, continued to listen to worship music, and read my bible, but not much of a spring in my step lately.

But then it happened again, something that might seem small or insignificant to others but is a huge boost to me. It is when God lets me see how others view me especially someone he has brought into my life to share his love with.

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I call her my little sister. She is part of a Mandean family I have gotten to know the past several months. They came here as refugees. It has been my privilege to get to know them and help them with their new lives in America. She wrote about me and a line in what she wrote blessed me.

“He calls me a little sister. Although he is not my real brother, I think he is kinder than a real brother.”

It is because of my little sister from Iran and my other refugee friends that enduring difficult times is worth it for me. What she wrote was definitely a boost for me.

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Her first response when she heard I injured my shoulder was to tell me she would bring me dinner and she did. I wish people could see what I see when I spend time with her and her family and with other refugees. Jesus has filled my heart with so much love for them.

Tomorrow I will go to my doctors office early for blood tests, hopefully not too many vials, and in the afternoon I will go to my first physical therapy appointment for my shoulder. Knowing there are people Jesus wants me to show his love to, makes it worth it to do what I need to do to get healthier.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Birthday Coffee with My Mandean Friends

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The simple things in life can bring simple enjoyment and be a blessing. Last week one of my Mandean friends from Iran had a birthday. I don’t think he normally celebrates his birthday, but I wanted to do something for him.

We always have fun when I visit and we drink coffee, In fact the first time I visited his home last year on Labor Day, we drank a lot of coffee. For some reason it didn’t register that my morning class would begin the next morning and I didn’t get much sleep that night. I shared that with my friend and his family the next time I visited as a humorous story and now it is our running joke each time I visit about whether I should drink coffee or not.

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A friend from Brazil brought me some Brazilian coffee I really like  in December. So for my friend’s birthday, I got him some of the same Brazilian coffee. I visited him yesterday to give him the coffee and wish him a happy birthday.

I always enjoy my visits with my friend and his family and yesterday was another great afternoon with them. We ate fish stew and talked. My friend and I made the coffee, but I think I made it a little too strong 🙂 because my friend let me know he added water.

It wasn’t an extravagant kind of afternoon. It was just a simple visit to give my friend a simple gift we both enjoy. But sharing simple moments is part of what friendship is all about and friendship is something that means so much to me with my Mandean friends because I know they have been oppressed.

Each time I visit my friends from other countries, I am mindful of how Jesus visited people in their homes. He shared meals with people in their homes. He comforted people in their homes. He performed miracles in their homes. My hope is to show people the love of Jesus in their homes.

Moments of simple things like my visit yesterday remind me of what Mother Teresa said:

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

 

 

My Sunday with My Special Friends- Mandean People from Iran

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” Romans 12:15

Sunday afternoon I joined my Mandean friends in Lincoln for a memorial lunch. The father of two of my former students passed away in Iran. I wanted to go to show support for my former students. Losing a loved one is hard enough, but to lose a loved one and not be able to go back for the funeral is unbearable.

As I talked with one of his daughters, she teared up as she shared with me, “I couldn’t go see him” and “He was supposed to come here soon.” I could only listen and give her a hug.

I met her daughters who are young women. I also met her sister visiting from California and her daughters. We talked which was mostly me listening. There are no magic words to say in such moments, only a sympathetic ear.

There were maybe about 40 or 50 people there for the memorial lunch. I had a chance to see other former students and meet new people.

We had a traditional Mandean lunch when someone passes away of fish and rice. When they brought the dessert tray they told me which ones I could eat because one of my good friends there explained that I have Celiacs. With each food and dessert that came, they would say, “I heard about you. This is okay for you to eat.”

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I did not take any pictures of my Mandean friends out of respect for them and their privacy in such a solemn occasion. I went to be there for them, not for me. I love my Mandean friends and former students.

As we ate lunch, the thought occurred to me that fish is what Jesus cooked for his disciples to serve them breakfast one day after his resurrection. We read in John 21:

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.”

After lunch was finished, I had a chance to interact more with my friends. The little four year old girl of one of my friends came up to me to give me an apple. She was eating an apple and thought I should too. In the midst of the sorrow a little girl wanted to give something to her dad’s friend.

My Mandean friends came here as refugees because they were a religious minority in Iran and oppressed there for centuries. They are peace loving people who love their families and want opportunities for their children.

My hope is to show them the love of Jesus, help them with their new lives in America, and to be a good friend for them. I look forward to seeing them again.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

New Friendships and Dinner- Life with My Refugee Friends

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Last Friday evening was one of those moments I wish could last so much longer. I visited my Mandean friends from Iran and was joined by my friends Daniel and Bailey from church. For me the evening was magical. The picture is of the dinner that I was totally blessed to enjoy. 🙂

The youngest daughter of the family has a dream of studying to become a Dental Hygienist. That may not sound like a big deal to people who live in the western world, North America and Europe, but it is a huge deal for her. Because she was not part of the religious majority in Iran, she could never hope to study at a university let alone to study for a career in any part of healthcare. Her people group was oppressed and severely discriminated against.

It has been my privilege to get to know her, her mother, her father, her sister, and her sister’s family. It has been a huge blessing for me to help my friend in little ways to pursue her dream.

My friend Bailey from church is a Dental Hygienist. so their friendship has a natural common ground. So Bailey, her husband Daniel, and I visited for dinner last Friday. It was a wonderful evening of good food, friendship, laughter, and fun.

We had appetizers that alone would have been a meal. Then we had kebab, rice and chicken for dinner. After dinner, we talked which allowed to my friends to get to know each better. We played cards and had fun.

One of the most poignant moments I have experienced recently came when Bailey told the daughter she would help her if she can. Tears welled up in the mothers eyes. I can’t imagine how it felt for her after years of oppression to hear someone say they would help her daughter with her educational goals.

Friday evening was one of those moments I wish I could freeze in time as I watched my friends from church get to know my friends from Iran. It was moment that felt like this is why I am still here, why Jesus gave me more time in this life and led me to the ministry and work I do with refugees.

It was also a moment in time that was a powerful example of how what we may consider to not be a big thing to us, at least as far as what it would require us to do, may very well be a huge deal to someone else.

It makes me think of what Mother Teresa said:

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

I know my friends Bailey and Daniel and have no doubt they prayed for my friends from Iran. I know their love for my Iranian friends is genuine. I know they are people I love and I enjoy doing the little things I can for them.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.