English Lessons

So Cason & I finally jumped in. After talking for almost 2 years about wanting to volunteer regularly with a refugee family, we took the plunge. It’s been the commitment factor that has stopped us in the past. Working on my MBA part-time while working full-time, I wasn’t sure if I could commit to spending a couple of hours a week with a family. I certainly did not want to let anyone down. So we put it off, waiting for a better time to come along.

I’m not sure if a better time has actually come along, but we couldn’t put it off any longer. It was one of those obedience things that we knew we were being called to and we had to follow through.

We were matched at the end of April with a young Cuban refugee named Yerandy. He is 30-years-old and lives with his sister, her husband, and their younger brother. We are specifically assigned to Yerandy, but his sister often joins us. Yerandy has been in the U.S. about 5 months and knew virtually no English.

While I’m supposed to know Spanish (it was my 2nd major in college, but based on the current condition of my abilities, I’m embarrassed to admit that), Cason only knows the handful of basic Spanish words that any American knows. It makes for an interesting time.

We try to go to his house twice a week, but that doesn’t always work out. In our short time of doing this, we are already learning some valuable lessons:

Patience is key.
After showing up to his house twice early on & him not being there, we started to get a bit frustrated. It is an hour drive round-trip & we all know how expensive gas has gotten. But we can’t let ourselves get too upset. Other cultures work differently than ours. Not everyone is as time-obsessed as we Americans. We did get his phone number after that so we can call before to drive over there. Sometimes he’s available at our scheduled times. Sometimes he’s not, and that’s okay.

Sometimes you just have to let things go.
My Spanish has gotten rusty. There are a lot of things we can’t communicate with each other. Even when I call to see if he’s home first, I don’t understand everything he says. I get the gist (are you available – yes or no) and then move on. I’m learning that I don’t always need to know every little detail and always feel in control.

We must honor our commitments, even when we don’t feel like it.
There are many days that we don’t feel like going over there. We have plenty that we need to do at home, or we are just feeling lazy. But when we push through and go, after it’s all said and done, we are very glad that we made the effort.

God can equip us for anything.
Neither one of us has ever taught English as a second language before. We don’t really know what we are doing. My Spanish is terrible, and Cason doesn’t know any. But that doesn’t stop God from using us in what He has called us to do. For that, I am very grateful.

Above all, relationships are what matter most.
Last Thursday was one of our favorite evenings with Yerandy. It wasn’t because of any great progress in his English abilities (though those are becoming more evident), but it was because we just generally had a good time with he & his sister. She kept offering us various foods & drink. We were able to chat a bit and joke around. I felt like we grew closer to them that evening. It was a great time!

So I am very glad that we did step out in obedience and finally make this commitment. I know it’s one of the things that we are supposed to be doing in this season of life. It’s an adventure and we are along for the ride.

To read my other posts about refugees & World Relief, click here.

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