Sunday, September 16, 2018

Back in the Canary Islands

 Back in January, I traveled to the USA to be with my mom who was battling ovarian cancer. I was blessed to be able to spend the last two weeks of her life caring for her. I wouldn't trade that for anything. I felt torn as it meant leaving Doug and Leanna in the islands by themselves for several months, but those are the types of difficult decisions missionaries often face. Above is a picture of the minister talking about the hope we have of eternal life in Jesus Christ, and I am confident my mom is now in heaven rejoicing with her Saviour.
We are back at work, and one of my favorite ways to engage myself with the locals is to teach English. I teach 15 hours a week, in addition to homeschooling Leanna. This is my way of getting to meet people, and serve them in a practical manner. I am reminded of the lyrics of the beautiful song,
"How can we reach a world we never touch? How can we show them Christ if we never show them love?"
The Lord has opened many doors through my teaching, and I've met many wonderful people on the island of Tenerife that I wouldn't have met otherwise. They are a very friendly people, but I didn't use to think so until I got to know them on a personal basis, and it has taken many years to gain their friendship and trust.
Language is the way God communicates with us, and the way we share God's message. Fortunately I enjoy language and was an English major at Wright State University back in the 90's. By force I had to become a learner of the Spanish language too. This has helped me be a patient language teacher as I appreciate how difficult it is to learn a foreign language, and I respect my students--many of them study three, four, or even five languages in school.
During the summer while in the US,  I was able to attend Michigan State University who hosted an Oxford Seminar for certification to teach TESOL/TESL/ TEFL. It worked out rather nicely as it gave me some extra time to visit my daughter's family who live in Lansing, Michigan. We also had a great time renewing friendships and visiting a few of our supporting churches.
One of the things the Lord is teaching me about the ministry is to be patient. We can't follow our own timetable or expectations when it comes to dealing with people. Learning is a process, and even though we would like to see people miraculously change overnight, it doesn't happen, and often there are setbacks and we get discouraged.
With that in mind, we keep plowing. We stick at it. Like anything else in life that is worth achieving, it takes time and patience. Sometimes I think the Lord is more concerned with changing me more than about me teaching others. This goes along with the idea of leading, or teaching by example.
My son-in-law recently preached an excellent message on gentleness. It challenged me to remember to be gentle with people. Be kind, courteous, and try to put yourself in someone else's situation. Be empathetic. Be genuine. The world is truly lacking in these qualities today. Do we communicate God's message with gentleness, or like a bull in a china shop? Take Psalm 18:35 to heart,
"Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great."