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19 November 2014


She came to me before dinner started, holding two papers in her hands. “Teacher,” she asked me in Spanish, “is this good?” I looked at the papers, which screamed in bold-face type, “A $5000 loan has been approved for you!” Easy! Fast! The paper made no mention of the penalties, fees, and sky-high interest rates that typically accompany such offers. The promise appeared so very enticing to my student, who could undoubtedly use extra cash to supplement her very tight budget. I was able to warn her that it was unlikely to be the great promotion that it appeared to be, that in the end she would likely pay much more, perhaps even double, than the original loan amount. “Oh thank you!” she told me, clasping my hands.

Another student arrived, away from class for the last couple of weeks and surprised to find that it was our Thanksgiving dinner night. I welcomed her, so pleased to see her, and asked about her sister, who is also a student. “Please pray for her,” she told me. “She is depressed because she has not been working.” “I will,” I promised. And I am.

One of our students wants to come to classes more regularly, desperate to learn better English, but without family or friends to care for her young and very busy children during class time. Another is seeking out more opportunity to learn, recognizing that she isn’t speaking the language enough but finding few options for formal learning in her everyday life. Every one of our students has a story to tell, the path which led to our classes, the factors which motivate them, the obstacles they face in their quest to master a new language.

As in all of the world, we meet people who have marital problems, who experience family difficulties, who battle constant economic struggles, who face health issues, and so much more. But for a couple of hours each week, our students push those things aside as we gather around a table and stumble over English pronunciation. We learn new vocabulary and unfamiliar sentence structure and the nonsensical irregularities of this non-native language. We laugh together with one another, and encourage each other along the way. We care for one another, and share a small sliver of life together.

And hopefully, with specific intentionality, we share our faith that in this world where struggles are many and real and there are very few EASY! FAST! solutions, we have hope. We believe in the son of God, Jesus, who came to save all nations, tribes and tongues, who offers eternal salvation for those who put their faith in him. What a privilege, to know Jesus, and to know these dear friends as well, to share a bit of their walk along the way.

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