Friday, August 27, 2010

ESL Ministry

A few years ago, when I was in another country, I had the opportunity to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to primary school teachers for a week or so.  I had never done anything like it before, but really enjoyed the interaction with the students and especially the opportunity to share the gospel.  There was much fruit from teaching ESL and in fact one of the students, who was not a believer at the time, now feels called to pastor!  ESL is a great way for an English speaker, who doesn't know other languages, to meet and communicate with people from other countries and languages. 

This summer, Josh has preached on being a missionary in our community.  He wanted to provide our church with opportunities to do missions where we live.  I immediately thought of ESL and Josh and the mission team agreed it would be a good time to try it.  I wasn't quite sure what I was getting myself into, but I'm learning as a I go! 

Thankfully, The North American Mission Board has a book on how to start an ESL program in your church and it has been so helpful! The book has everything in it for student registration and placement testing. It suggested we do a short devotion at the beginning of the class and one of the members of the Hispanic ministry, who speaks decent English, is sharing the devotion in Spanish. I have no idea what he is saying, but I pray for those who do.

We meet on Thursday nights at 6:30pm and have met for three weeks.  The first week we had six students (5 men and 1 woman), the next week we had 10 students (6 men and 4 women), and last night we had 19 students (I've lost count of men/women)!  All of our students are Hispanic (there is a significant Hispanic population in our community) and they are from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, etc.  Some of them know enough English to hold down a job, and a couple of the new ladies last night knew almost nothing.  Thus far we have had everyone together with me as the only teacher, but that is changing after this week.  With so many students at different levels, it is impossible to know if everyone is getting it or if I'm belaboring some of the curriculum for the more advanced students.  

We are using the curriculum Word By Word Picture Dictionary and I really like it.  The teacher's guide spells out what to do and that is very helpful.  I am also supplementing with curriculum that a friend from seminary created.  Right now we are just doing the basics: alphabet, personal information, numbers, time, money, etc. 

If you think of it, please just pray for the Lord to use this ministry for the advancement of the gospel.  Last week, our family went out to eat and we ran into (almost literally!) a student from the class, her child, and her boyfriend/husband (no one is married but they use marital words).  We were able to talk to the couple for a while and the student, Senia, even asked if I would invite her to church sometime!  I invited her right then, but she was unable to come on Sunday because of sickness.  Please also pray for me and the other teachers to have much clarity and encouragement as we teach.  I'll try to provide an update once a month on the ministry.  Thanks for your prayers!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thomas Turns 3!

On Saturday, August 21st, our oldest son turned three!  In some ways it seems surreal that I have a three-year-old.  I remember his birth as if it happened yesterday.  I started having contractions early on Monday, August 20th, 2007, but Thomas didn't make his appearance until Tuesday, August 21st, at 9:29am.  Even with Josiah, I was in labor a long time, but not that long! 

Thomas has been such a blessing to us and sometimes I have called him our "guinea pig" since he is our first-born.  There are so many things to learn with a first-born child and so many things you do wrong.  I'm just glad children don't remember the infant years!  Thomas has always been such a sweet baby and now a boy.  He is quite shy and timid when he first meets people, and it takes him a while to "jump in" with the other kids.  He is very observant and is a people-watcher.  Thomas has an expansive vocabulary now and we realize that he listens to everything we say and understands much of what we talk about.  While we have to watch what we say, we also have the opportunity now to share the gospel with him more and more.  He has learned the first five catechism questions and is working on Scripture memory (he knows Ephesians 6:1...we quote it a lot!).  Thomas also loves to read the Bible.  Most of the time, we read The Big Picture Story Bible because it has lots of pictures and points to Christ throughout. 

We did have a party with our families on Saturday.  He was so excited about his party and his cake.  I made him a Lighting McQueen cake from Cars and he loved it.  He loved all his gifts, and especially a big box of cars my brother gave him.  His gift from us was visiting Thomas the Train last month (although Josh did run to the store to get something for me and came back with a Cars puzzle for Thomas).  Below are some pictures of our fun filled day! 

Thankfully, family was eating the cake, because there was definitely some saliva in his blowing out the candle!
Excited about his gifts!
Sweet Josiah enjoying the festivities!

Friday, August 13, 2010


I recently read David Platt's book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream and I would highly recommend it.  Through reading this book, my eyes have been opened as to how I love this world more than Christ.  This book is very challenging and while it is a short book, it isn't something you can read in one sitting because it is so convicting!  As a Christian, I am called to take up my cross and follow after Christ.  David Platt fleshes out in real, hard hitting ways what that means and how it is contrary to the American dream. 

If you are looking for a great review of this book, visit the Search & See blog.  Pastor Wil Owens is much smarter than me and does a much better review than I could ever do!  After you read his review, go to Lifeway or Amazon and purchase Radical! 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thomas & Thomas Meet!

Right after we returned from vacation, I received a flyer in the mail advertising Thomas The Train coming to North Carolina.  Josh and I talked about it and decided this year would be the perfect time to take Thomas.  He loves to watch Thomas the Train (and loves that they share a name) and we knew it would be such a fun trip for our almost 3 year old.  We decided not to take Josiah since it would be a long day and he wouldn't care anyway.  He had more fun with Grandma and Poppy then he would have with us! 

We drove up on Thursday evening, spent the night in a hotel, and went to see Thomas The Train first thing Friday morning.  Thomas was memorized by it all!  While we were standing in line waiting to take his picture with Thomas, I asked him what he thought about Thomas the Train and he said, "He's not talking Mama."  He always talks on the movies and so I told him, "Maybe Thomas is shy like you and he doesn't want to talk right now."  He agreed that had to be it!  Thomas got scared when the train blew off steam, but he certainly wasn't the only one!  Children all around us started crying at the noise! 

Besides the 25 minutes train ride, they had four stations for the kids to rotate through and then they got a prize!  Thomas played at a couple of train tables, played in sand, played with bubbles, listened to a Thomas the Train story, and even watched parts of a movie.  We also went to see a train museum with lots of model trains as well.  Of course, there was a gift shop and Thomas picked out a new engine (Charlie) for his birthday, as well as a book. 

This was a perfect trip for Thomas.  I told Josh this was such a better use of time and money than going to Busch Gardens!  The weather was perfect, all the children were around Thomas' age, and he had a blast.  Below are some pictures of our fun day! 

Excited about riding the train!

Playing with the sand...he could have done this for hours!

Love the serious face!

Train museum