July 7, 2013

You Mean I'm Not ALLOWED to Speak Spanish?!

"Can you come by around 4 so we can talk about a job opportunity?"

It was almost 2:00 when I got the call from a local institute that teaches English. I was covered in dust and paint splotches, trying to finish the walls on the apartment we were moving into so that we could bring in the boxes the next morning--the first day in over a week that the forecasters were promising a break from the rain.

"Sure!  I'll be there at 4:00," I answered, just as much because it gave me an excuse to take a shower as for the excitement over what sort of job opportunity might be lurking.

When I arrived, I learned about a program offered in partnership with the American Embassy.  Twenty-five high schoolers were chosen from in and around Encarnación, based on a selective application and interview process.  These guys, I was told, were the cream of the crop, and they were being offered a scholarship to attend this prestigious institute for a two-year, intensive English course.  One taught by immersion in the language, meaning NO Spanish in the classroom.  One that would be taught by a native English speaker.  Enter me.

"This is very interesting.  What are the hours?"  Friday night for two hours, then Saturday morning for four hours.  Straight.  Phwew.  I'd need to be well-prepared to pull that off, huh?

"When does it start?"  I was looking through the teacher's manual I'd just been handed, thinking that with a few weeks preparation, I could swing this.  Then I got the answer to my question.  Surely I heard wrong.

"Did you say it started at 4:00?  Like, TODAY?!?!"

So I said a quick prayer, felt very at peace about taking this opportunity, and made my way to the classroom where these 25 eager, slightly apprehensive students awaited me.  Let's just say that first night's "lesson" was very relaxed.

Gotta get a wider angle lens so they'll all fit! 16 of the 25
That was a few weekends back (now you see why my posts have been a bit sporadic?), and I'm having a blast.  The kids seem to be learning, and I'm working with the age group I adore.  This past Saturday, I had lunch with most of them at a local pizza joint, which was a great opportunity to share more personally and build relationships with these bright kids who are ambassadors from so many different schools and communities.

We had a sing-along during the fifteen minute break.
Turns out Hillsongs is a favorite of several girls.
I remember being so worried when we first felt the "call" to come overseas, because I'd not studied missiology or majored in intercultural relations.  I didn't know if any of my skills would translate into anything God could use, but I trusted Him to do something with what I brought to the table.

I remember taking online classes and reading every missions book I could get my hands on, like cramming for a final.  I downloaded resources and created curriculum, piling up that resume in my head to be worthy of this lifestyle.  Then the plane landed and I found out right away that our biggest missions tool was a deck of UNO cards.  And it seems the language I was born into has been one of the most useful skills for opening doors of opportunity.  Yeah, it's easy to keep falling in love with a God who can drop surprises like that with such a sense of humor.  :)

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