A Surprise Saturday Blessing

Yesterday I shared about my Not So Exciting Weekend Routine about how I stay home most of Saturday because of medication on Friday. My typical Saturday diet is anything easy because I don’t have the energy to do much.

Yesterday early in the evening I had a message from one of my Yazidi friends letting me know he was going to bring me some kebab. It was a huge blessing on a Saturday for me.

So your friendly fellow blogger who is a terrible cook, did not need to worry about cooking on his down day. His wife is in my morning class. I joke with him about how he and his wife need to eat kebab for their health and jokingly say Dr. Matt. When my friend brought me the kebab, he said, “Dr. Matt.”

It is not just me teaching English in my class. It is about the relationships we have with each other. I am so proud of his wife for how far she has come and also how she is now helping other students.

My Yazidi friends in Lincoln are so welcoming and appreciative. I love spending time with them and hope this whole COVID thing dies down, so I can starting visiting them again.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

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.

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.

So Happy for My Yazidi Friend- He Is A Citizen Now

One of my joys in teaching and in my ministry is to see my students experience success and special accomplishments. On Wednesday one of my students in my U.S. Citizenship class passed his test and had his ceremony the same day. He became a citizen this week. 🙂

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His back story underscores why I was so pleased for him. He is Yazidi. In his home country, Yazidi people are oppressed by the majority group. He was in Iraq when the latest genocide against Yazidi people happened. He came to the U.S. a little over five years ago as a refugee. Now he is a citizen.

My schedule will be a bit lighter next week, so we are going to celebrate by having lunch together. Of course it will be kebab. 🙂

My city has the largest number of Yazidi people in North America. One of the things I look forward to so much is being able to visit them in their homes again after a few more weeks. After I had my second dose of the vaccine yesterday, I realized in only two more weeks, it will be okay for me to visit people again.

I have more Yazidi people in my Citizenship class, so I look forward to more celebrations in the future.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to Becoming A Pastor- Part 6-Many Cultures and Beginning to Teach English

This is a short series about my journey and what happened in my journey to become a pastor. Part 1 is about A Decision and A Book. Part 2 is about A Discovery and Downfall. Part 3 is about The Valley of Death. Part 4 is about Recovering and Remembering That Book. Part 5 is about Romania.

Today’s post is about Many Cultures and Beginning to Teach ESL.

As I shared in Part 5, during my third trip to Romania I felt Jesus prodding me to get more experience with teaching English Second Language.

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I went through a training to become a volunteer ESL tutor in March 2000. I told the organization that my mornings were free and to fill up my mornings. After one month, I had 10 students I was meeting with for one on one lessons in the mornings.

One of those students was a man from Iraq who was shy about speaking English in public. After several months with me, he began talking in public in stores and other places. His wife worked for a non-profit agency and knew the Director of ESL for the Community College I currently teach for. She kept telling her that she should hire me as a teacher because her husband had made so much progress. She then told me I should call the Director. I called and we talked on the phone for about 15 minutes. I went in for what I thought would be an interview, but it was for filling out paperwork to be hired.

As I taught over the following years, my home city was not boring for me anymore. I had always wanted to move away because it was a boring place for me. But spending time with so many different cultures became kind of like my own personal Disneyland. My home city became so interesting to me.

I loved spending time with cultures no one knew much about and information was hard to find on the internet about them such as the Yazidi people, The Karen people of Burma, and more. I learned about them by spending time with them in their homes and at cultural celebrations.

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To give you an idea of how diverse the refugee/immigrant population of my city is, the Public School System here has children from over 100 different languages enrolled. Of those, I have only learned greetings and phrases in 30 of them.

The first few years, I was just focused on my fun personal Disneyland. But then in May 2002 while praying, I felt the impression of a question in my spirit-“Why did I want you to do this?” Jesus was reminding me of the reason for getting experience with teaching ESL.

So in may of 2002, the ministry application began….

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Thankful for Freedom of Religion

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

Something I appreciate and value so much is freedom of religion. The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives us freedom of religion.

That freedom is something some have sought to hinder or take from us, but thanks to the Constitution, when such cases come before the Supreme Court, they get struck down.

An example from only 7 years ago is the case of The Little Sisters of the Poor. Obamacare tried to force The Little Sisters of the Poor to have provisions for birth control. I am not Catholic, but from what I understand, when a woman chooses to become a nun, she makes a vow of chastity meaning no sex. Furthermore, for serious Catholics, use of contraception violates their faith. The Federal Government under Obama went after The Little Sisters of the Poor, so they went to the Supreme Court and won. You can read about it at- The Little Sisters of the Poor.

It seems absurd to me that the government under Obama would do so because after all, a woman who chooses to become a nun has made the decision to not have sex for life. It was the government under Obama trying to strong arm a group of nuns.

It did not surprise me since Obama had referred to bitter clingers clinging to their religion. Such rhetoric was concerning to me.

My city has the largest number of Yazidi refugees in all of North America. They are so grateful for freedom of religion. They were a minority group in Iraq and Syria and were severely oppressed for it because of their religion.

I am thankful my Yazidi friends and friends of other religions have freedom here. I am also thankful I can share about Jesus with them, and remain friends with them whether they receive Jesus or not.

We need to be vigilant in the U.S. about freedom. Losing freedom will happen here not all at once but small steps like the Federal Government under Obama going after The Little Sisters of the Poor. I look at California where there are severe restrictions about going to church under the guise of concern over the pandemic. What makes that claim dubious to me is the fact that looters and rioters are allowed on the streets in mass gatherings there and are called peaceful protestors.

We will lose freedom of religion here only if we passively let it happen.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Cares about Refugees

I watched a video on Youtube by Kristina Kuzmic that explains what many refugees experience on the 4th of July- being triggered by fireworks.

As I watched the video, I remembered what happened one day when the Blue Angels were practicing for an air show in my city. They were flying over the city and the sound of the jets caused the children in English Language Learners class to hide under their desks in fear. They thought the war their families had fled in their country had come to my city. Translators had to come explain to the children there was no war here and the jets were practicing for an air show.

A Yazidi family from Iraq was being taken advantage of by a woman who worked for the property management company they rented a house from. The woman came and collected cash giving the husband a receipt each time. She actually pocketed the cash. The husband showed me the eviction notice letter for lack of paying rent for five months. He showed me the receipts the woman gave him. I told him we need the police to investigate. The thought of interacting with police scared him, so I told I would go with him. Happy ending was that the woman was fired from her job, arrested, and the husband was sent an apology letter from the company.

Just a few real life stories of what refugees experience. If these stories do not cause you to feel empathy, then consider this- Jesus was a refugee. Read Matthew 3 about Joseph being warned by an angel to take Jesus and Mary and flee to Egypt because the soldiers were coming to kill Jesus. The soldiers came and killed every male child under a certain age. Fleeing government soldiers who seek to kill you means you are a refugee.

My contention is that refugees have a special place in the heart of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Friday Lunch with My Yazidi Friend

Last Friday a Yazidi friend of mine bought me lunch. We had a great time talking eating and good food.

I love hummus especially when it is freshly made in a restaurant. We also had kebab.

The kebab was awesome. I miss being able to eat the naan due to Celiacs. but kebab with salad is wonderful.

As we ate and talked, I wondered again about something that I have wondered about many times. My Yazidi friends are so friendly and generous. It is hard for me to understand people trying to kill them simply because they have a different religion.

I shared with my friend that as a Christian I like to share about the love of Jesus and if anyone does not agree with me they are still my friend. I shared that Jesus taught God is Love and that threatening people about differences in beliefs is not love.

Just a glimpse into my life with my refugee and immigrant friends on a rare double post day.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.