How I Learned I Like Avocadoes

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 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Coffee Meeting About Ukraine

A few weeks ago, I met with the Youth Pastor of a Ukrainian church in my city. I found out about the work they are doing to help refugees from Ukraine in Poland. I shared the information with the Missions Pastor from my church. It is my privilege to set up a meeting at a coffee shop for the Lead Pastor and Missions Pastor from my church to meet the Youth Pastor from the Ukrainian church.

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Hopefully we can meet later this week. I will find out this morning. It will be a wonderful combination of meeting to discuss helping refugees, introducing pastors, and of course coffee.

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This afternoon will involve a solo trip to my coffee shop to do some writing while eating nachos and drinking coffee. I have free nachos coming thanks to my punch card.

I am hopeful we will have a new person come to my Sunday morning group a young man from Guatemala. It is a blessing to see my Hispanic friends each Sunday. Last Sunday we shared about Easter, listened to songs in Spanish about Jesus, and prayed together.

What are your Sunday plans?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Story Time- Toy Cars in Class

Yesterday in my afternoon class, we had a woman come to talk with the moms about free driving lessons. She brought some toy cars with her for the moms during her presentation. We had translators for the Hispanic moms and Karen People moms, but the translator for the Afghan moms could not be there, so I sat with them.

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My colleague also sat with them. We wanted to make sure the Afghan moms felt included. So what does and experienced teacher do in such a moment?

I started playing with the toy cars, Matchbox, with the two moms rolling them back and forth with them. The moms smiled as we played. They are new arrival refugees having come here in the past two months with no English, so I decided they needed a little fun. It was not about me having fun. 🙂

My colleague, however, did not see the wisdom of my playing with cars with the moms. She took the cars and put them in the box. Talk about a buzz kill. lol

This afternoon is English class time for them, so I get to decide what we will do. I think we will have a few moments of fun. We have round tables in the classroom, so we will walk around them pretending they are roundabouts for a few minutes. I might even make car sounds. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless,

Sunday Is Here

Sunday is here, so this morning I will be at church. I will arrive earlier than normal because I have a meeting with the pastor who oversees our Missions. We will talk about partnering with a Ukrainian church in my city for their efforts reaching out to refugees from Ukraine in Poland.

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Then it will be my Conversational English class. We have friends from El Salvador, Honduras, and Venezuela come. We also have an American who is a 78 year old grandmother. Our Hispanic friends love having her join us and smile as she learns one new Spanish word each week.

Then it will be time to join 2nd Service. Last week the pastor joked that if anyone could write a sentence using the word Hermeneutics correctly he would give them one dollar. I use my IPad for Bible Gateway in church, so I quickly sent him a message with a sentence. I was the only one. 🙂

Then it will be off to the coffee shop for more writing. Oh and some nachos for lunch. A person needs brain food to write.

What are your Sunday plans?

Thank you for reading, God Bless.

Looking Forward to Summer Break

As much as I love teaching, I must admit I am looking forward to summer break. This has been the third school year that COVID has had an effect on school. It has also been a transition year for both sites I teach at transitioning to a new person as part of the team with me. This morning I counted the teaching days left and I have 28 after today.

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There is another reason I am looking forward to summer break. The USA will receive 100,000 refugees from Ukraine and I am certain my city will receive many. During summer break, I will have a lot of free time to help them. I have already talked with one of the pastors at a Ukrainian church in my city about ideas for helping refugees.

I also have writing projects to work on. That means many days in the coffee shop with my laptop and coffee. 🙂

I realize spring just started but that also means about nine weeks of tree pollen my worst allergy. Another reason to look forward to summer break because by then tree pollen is finished.

But it is helping Ukrainian refugees that I look forward to the most. God has led me to a place in life that summers mean more free time. Jesus has led me in life to the point that I have a lot of experience with the practical things for helping refugees.

I wish we could fast forward to summer 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Conversation with a Ukrainian Pastor in My City

Yesterday I had a poignant conversation with a man named Oleg. He is the Youth Pastor for a Ukrainian church in my city. I met with him to find out how my church might be able to support their efforts. When he told me what his church is doing in Poland and Ukraine at this time, it was truly inspirational.

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They currently have three teams in Poland. They are providing food, shelter and copies of the Gospel of John in Ukrainian. One team had gone into Ukraine to give food to refugees and help them on their journey to Poland. One of the team members was killed while doing so leaving behind a widow and six children.

The other teams are working with a temporary shelter that has 300 cots. They feed the refugees, gives them supplies, and help them to travel to the next place on their journey.

As I looked at the pictures, I saw a former student of mine. I also saw pictures of two of the children of a former student who are young adults now.

They are sharing the love of Jesus not only in word but in deed and risking their lives to do so. Please pray for these three teams and all of those who are showing and sharing the love of Jesus with the Ukrainian refugees.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Friday Evening- Visit Ukrainian Friends

Friday evenings are usually the time I lay in bed because it is methotrexate day meaning I am wiped out. I made a change this week. I injected last night because this evening, I feel led to visit my Ukrainian friends at their church.

I read that the U.S. will receive 100.000 Ukrainian refugees and I am certain my city will receive many over the coming months. My city is a Targeted Refugee Resettlement City. We have refugees from all over the world. My city has three Ukrainian churches.

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In anticipation of Ukrainian refugees coming to my city, I plan to reconnect with my Ukrainian friends to see how I can help. I helped many from Ukraine from 2000 to 2008. They were so hard working and did so well getting established that realizing other people groups needed me more, I did not keep up with them. It is time to change that.

I may not be able to go help in Ukraine, but I can help those who are coming here as refugees and I have friends from the three churches I can partner with. As I help refugees, one thing I always keep in mind is that during his earthly life, Jesus was a refugee. His earthly step father Joseph was warned in a dream to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt because King Herod was sending his soldiers to kill Jesus. Those soldiers killed every male child two years old and under in Bethlehem.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- Hope of The Nations by Brian Doerksen

Our world is in turmoil with Russia invading Ukraine, an ongoing pandemic, and other woes. Who do we turn to?

Ultimately our world as we know it will see the return of Jesus. That is the great hope of humanity that one day Jesus our creator and savior will return to reign over our world as the Prince of Peace.

But what about the meantime? He is still the true hope that we can offer to people. We can also pray for those who suffer and seek out ways to assist through donations to causes that will help the refugees who have fled.

I choose to look to Jesus regarding the tragedies in our world.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When The World Seems Crazy

When things get crazy in the world, the first thing I tend to think about are people I know. Through them I feel connected to many places around the world. The public school system where I live has children from over 160 languages just to give you an idea of the possibilities there are for meeting people from around the globe.

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The recent troubles in Canada had me thinking about my Brazilian friends living in Winnipeg. I connected with them through a woman who used to live in my city when she was a graduate student here. The situation also had me thinking about bloggers I connect with in Canada.

Russia invading Ukraine has me thinking about my friends from Ukraine and the Ukrainian church I have helped. I might go visit there this weekend to show support.

China threatening Taiwan has me thinking about my former students who live there.

I have a new student from Afghanistan who is a newcomer refugee.

The list could go on but as for me, my small part, I can only be a listening ear and supportive friend and of course pray.

When I see the troubles in this world, in my spirit I say Maranantha, come quickly Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

His First Days in School-A Boy from Afghanistan

My city has received many refugees from Afghanistan and our schools have had many children from there enroll. My school had a boy from Afghanistan start last week. He is in the ELL, English Language Learners, class next to my classroom.

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I met him last Friday and he seemed happy when I bent down to shake his hand to welcome him. Yesterday I stopped in to say hi to the children and their teacher and I noticed he had his head down on his little desk. I walked over to him and asked him how to say hi in Dari his language. He told me Salam. So I said Salam to him and then looked at the other children and taught them to say Salam and asked them to greet him. All of the other children are Hispanic. When I left the classroom, he was sitting up at his little desk.

Can you imagine having to leave your country abruptly with your parents, coming to a new country, and starting a school where no one speaks your language, at the age of seven years old? It was my privilege to welcome this little boy.

It is important to me to bless children in the morning at school. Jesus thought it was important to bless children. In Matthew 19 we read:

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

It is a scary time for all children during this time of COVID. Children are aware of more than we think. They need small moments of kindness.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.