My New Yazidi Friend

I met a new Yazidi friend yesterday. She wanted some help with her English composition class. Her older sister had been my student some years ago and told her to ask me because I help people. Her cousin told her the same thing because I helped him with his essays for Pharmacy School applications.

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We met for lunch and talked for almost two hours. She came here with her mom, older sister, and two brothers as refugees after Daesh came into Iraq murdering thousands of Yazidi people. As she shared her story, I asked about her family. She teared up as she told me her dad was killed by Daesh. She is only 23 and has been through so much trauma.

Her goal is to graduate from the university and go to Pharmacy School like her cousin, I told her that I would like to meet her often to help her with her studies. I shared with her that in my faith Jesus taught that God loves us, so I like to help my Yazidi friends because God loves them. We will meet again this afternoon.

It is a blessing to know that my refugee and immigrant friends tell each other to ask me for help. Helping them is what God has called me to do.

So it is off to church and then after church I will meet my new friend at the coffee shop for a study session.

What will you do this Sunday?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When A Former Student Helps The Teacher

Yesterday morning I was having a little trouble with the Macbook Air Pro issued to me by the school. I couldn’t log into the system and kept getting an error message. Normally I seek out the librarian because she is our school’s teach wiz. I went into the library and saw a former student of mine. He is one of the Yazidi refugees I had the privilege of teaching in the evenings at the community college.

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He now works for computing services for the school district in my city. He came to my classroom and within two minutes he had the problem fixed though I am not sure how.

Each time I see him come to my school to work on something it is a blessing to know he has experienced success in life. After he finished, he spoke briefly to my two Yazidi students in their language. I am not sure what he said, but the moms were smiling at me.

Considering all my Yazidi friends experienced in their lives in Iraq, seeing them experience good things here makes what I do so worthwhile. Being a small part of them building their new lives here is a great blessing. It is moments like yesterday that cause me to be grateful God led me to this work and ministry.

What are you grateful for today?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Matt Reaching The World

This is a picture I asked a student to take for me shortly before the pandemic began. For me the message of the picture is Matt reaching the world. The public schools system in my city has children from 157 different languages who have come here as refugees with their families, as immigrants with their families, or are children of people who have come here in connection with the university.

Jesus has blessed me with the opportunity to teach people from all over the world in living in my city. He has blessed me with opportunities to share the love of Jesus with people from all over the world living in my city.

He has also blessed me with opportunities to travel Brazil, France, Mexico and Romania for ministry trips. An extra blessing has been being able to visit Austria, England, Germany, Holland, and Switzerland as part of those trips.

All of this has been while living with chronic illness for thirty years. He has blessed me to be able to rise above the pain and fatigue to reach the world.

I am grateful that Jesus has given me opportunities to share his love with so many people from so many places.

What are you thankful for today?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

My Friday Morning Routine

For me each Friday begins with coffee and worship/prayer, but there is something I do only on Fridays. Friday mornings are the time I inject my medication methotrexate.

I had actually thought about making a video of me injecting like I see some of my fellow chronic illness warriors do in Instagram, but my friend and pastor told me. “no one wants to see that.” 🙂

It is amazing that only half of the vial can pack so much punch. Thanks to this medicine I can stand for more than a few minutes. It is slowly helping me to reclaim parts of my life. But it also means coming home to take a nap after my classes on Friday because I am wiped out by that time.

Why put myself through that? Good question.

For me it comes back to the truth of Philippians chapter 1

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;  but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

I want to squeeze as much as I can out this life, so I can share the love of Jesus with others. The daily pain and fatigue cannot compare with the glories of heaven. My desire is for others to join me there. For now, it is more necessary for those who do not know Jesus that I stay in this life.

So I will inject the medication this morning, go to the school and mooch some candy to get ride of the aftertaste, teach, and then come home for a nap. That is my Friday routine, so I can do things like have hamburgers with my friends from Bosnia tomorrow.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

People Remember How We Treat Them

When a commercial falls under the category of obnoxious for me, what sticks in my mind is that no way will I buy the product being advertised. A few examples are a car insurance company that uses an emu in its commercials and a burger place that has a creepy fake king head.

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How I come across to people can affect whether they want to listen to me as I seek to share the love of Jesus. I am not talking so much about methods because with methods what appeals to some people will turn others off. I try to be aware of the person I am sharing with understanding of where they are coming from before being concerned about method. Though I must admit I have never been a big fan of gimmicky approaches.

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What I am talking about is how I treat people. People remember how we make them feel. People remember how we treat them. I want people to know that I am genuinely interested in them as a person, their lives, and how I can help even if being a friend is all I can do.

I am genuinely interested in the lives of my immigrant and refugee friends. It excites me when they achieve things in life. I love to celebrate with them. I want to be there for them in tough times. My friendship is there for them whether they want to listen to me about Jesus or not.

So today as I prepare to meet with my friend from Venezuela, I prayed for her and our time together. I am helping her prepare for the TOEFL test which is an English proficiency test for admittance into a university. While we study, there is laughter, and she knows she can ask questions. She was a dentist in Venezuela and wants to be one here. She will need to take the Dental Boards and complete two years of Dental College here. I want her to succeed.

Thank you for reading. God Bless..

Barbecue and Deep Conversation with a Yazidi Family

Tuesday afternoon I visited a Yazidi family. The father is my student in my online class. He invited me to join his family for a barbecue.

It was a blessing to meet his family. I discovered his wife was in my Zoom summer school for Family Literacy. His daughter in 3rd grade was fun to talk with. She told that she likes eggs for breakfast, so I asked her a series of questions like- Do you like ice cream on your eggs.

As we were eating, I found out his oldest daughter is in high school. We talked about applications for college, scholarships and financial aid. I will be visiting the family in the future to help her with the process.

Sharing a meal is a great way to get to know my refugee/immigrant friends. It gives me the opportunity to discover how I can be of help. Being genuinely interested in helping them with their lives opens doors to share the love of Jesus.

That was the one social time in my hectic week and it was a wonderful time. The weekend is here and I have a feeling my bed will make me take a few naps. 🙂 I do have a birthday barbecue this evening and church tomorrow, but my bed is letting me know naps will be required.

What are your weekend plans?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Steak and Deep Conversation

Yesterday I met with a Yazidi friend who is applying to Pharmacy School to go over his essays for the applications. We spent a few hours on them and then we went for lunch at Texas Roadhouse-his choice. Texas Roadhouse is a steak restaurant.

I ordered a 15 ounce NY Strip smothered in mushrooms. It felt like heaven on earth after a long summer of watching the food budget. Summers are normally that way for me. But my friend wanted to thank me so off for steaks we went.

As we talked, I learned more about my friend such as his refugee experience, how he fled to Kurdistan, and building his new life in America. We also talked about COVID. The shocker is that his wife found out she was pregnant the same month as the shutdown started where I live. Can you imagine?

He asked about what we do in church. He has never been in a church worship service. It was a blessing to share my faith with him.

It is a honor for me to be able to help my friends from other countries with their educational and career goals. The food is just an added bonus. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Heat Waves and Airports

It is going to be a HOT day today where I live, which is just a normal part of life here. It will be 104 F, 40 C. Yesterday was a hot one too. The recent heat wave reminds me of two different experiences walking out of airports.

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In June 2010, I went to Ensenada Mexico for a ministry trip. We had a rough heat wave where live the days before we left. We landed in San Diego California where it was a 72 F, 22C, day. When I walked out of the airport there, it was so nice that I wondered if they needed ESL teachers there. I even looked up things like cost of living in San Diego, which after doing so I realized I could not afford to live there. 🙂

In July 2015, I returned from Brazil after five weeks of teaching English at a university in a small city in the mountains of Southern Brazil. With Brazil being in the Southern Hemisphere, it is winter there when it is summer in the USA. The ‘winter’ in Brazil meant it was about 65 F, 18C, each day. It was so comfortable for me. I love cooler weather. When I returned to my city in the USA, it was a hot and humid day here. When I walked out of the airport the heat was too much, I wanted to go back in the airport and catch a flight back to Brazil, but I had to start teaching a few days later, so I stayed.

Both experiences illustrate something about me. I don’t like hot weather, So why I do continue living in a place that is unbearably hot in the summers you might ask? Good question, Thanks for asking. 🙂

God has called me to share the love of Jesus with the refugees and immigrants living in my city. That has been what has kept me here. God has called me to be here.

So on days like today, I am grateful for that wonderful invention called air-conditioning. I will hang out at a coffee shop for a while after my morning and afternoon class and then relax at home in the air-conditioning.

What about you? Do like extremely hot days?

Thank you for reading. God Bless,

Story Time- My New Teaching Toy

You know the saying, “the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys?” This past week that has certainly been true of me for my U.S. Citizenship classes. The Community Center I teach them for rents space from a larger Community Agency. That agency had something new installed in the conference rooms I teach in.

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The new set up has a large screen TV which is connected to the internet, a cool sound system, and has a cordless keyboard and mouse. It has been so much fun this past week trying out my new toy. 🙂

The classes are blended classes with some students joining in Zoom and some students in person. We can see the Zoom students on the large 64 inch screen. They can see the whole classroom. I have been having fun exploring what I can do with this wonderful new toy. 🙂

Even with the fun new technology, the most fun for me is the diverse group of students. My students come from Burma, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Iraq, Libya, Mexico and Sudan. As I teach them, I think about how they can all become Americans. We are all studying together because they each share the same goal.

Yet as wonderful as it will be when they each become citizens, it pales in comparison to the ultimate realization of diverse people coming together as one with the same purpose which will be to rejoice over being in the presence of Jesus. People from every tribe, tongue/language, nation will be there.

Another thought- no electronics, tech, toys etc in this life can compare to what we will see in heaven. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Wellness Wednesday- 2nd Dose of Vaccine Today

It has been one year since I have been able to visit my refugee and immigrant friends in their homes. That has been a huge part of my ministry for 20 years. I have missed that so much this past year.

In two more weeks, I will be able to resume visiting my refugee and immigrant friends in their homes. That is because I had my second dose of the Moderna COVID Vaccine this afternoon.

In my city we are doing them at the Arena where concerts are held and the university men’s and women’s basketball teams play. So now I can say I was on the floor of the arena and leave it to the imagination of my friends. 🙂

The first dose did not cause me any problems, though I secretly hoped to gain some mutant powers like super strength, so here is hoping no side effects with the second dose either.

If I have any side effects, I will share them in a future post. Please research and decide for yourself about having the vaccine.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.