Yesterday was a big day for me. It was a day of living large and boldly going where I have not gone for a year, cue Star Trek theme. 🙂
Life is opening up in my city. Yesterday I went to a coffee shop in the early afternoon to meet some friends. We sat outside because it was such a nice day. That is my state for you. 3 weeks ago record cold temperatures and yesterday it was 70 degrees F, 21 C. I made a new friend named Winston. He is a very friendly dog. 🙂
Then I went to one of my normal hangouts for coffee shops to sit inside, drink some Moroccan Mint Iced Tea and work some more on my book. As I chatted with the manager, she told me she was trying to decide what delivery food to order. A prompting in my spirit led me to go next door and get her an order of nachos. Of course I got one for me too.
When I gave her the nachos, she smiled and said, “moments like this make me think God exists.” I could not resist saying, “He does exist, By the way did you know I am a part-time pastor?” She laughed saying she loved it.
That kind of day would have been a normal Saturday for me before the pandemic. But yesterday felt like I was living in the fast lane. 🙂
Yesterday after my morning class, I enjoyed lunch with my friend from Bosnia again. Of course we met for hamburgers which are his favorite. I keep forgetting to take a picture of the actual burger I eat, so the one from pixels will have to suffice. 🙂
The first I said when I sat down was, “my morning class is now on break.” One change we noticed was how full the restaurant was. When we met two weeks ago, there were only a few tables being used. Yesterday all of the tables were full. The COVID situation has improved that much in my city. We talked about how life seems to slowly be getting back to normal in my city.
He told me his sister-in-law is coming to visit for a week, so I sent a message to him and his wife saying, “Next Tuesday will be warm and sunny a perfect day to go to the Outlet Mall and walk around for 8 hours for the three of you.” I send fun messages like that all the time. Then I looked up and said, “You are so lucky to have me helping you.” We laugh a lot when we get together.
So my break started off by having lunch with a friend at the same restaurant that was my last public outing last year when the pandemic hit. It was a life comes full circle moment.
I will NEVER forget the Friday before Spring Break for my morning class last year. We heard COVID was in a few places and no one knew what to expect. I thought maybe it would be like the flu season, but was I ever wrong.
The Friday before Spring Break last year, all of us teachers in the building said to each other, “See you after break.”
But we did not. We ended up 100% remote learning. We did not see each other in person again until August last year. We had to adapt on the fly. Our lives were lived out in ZOOM. By the way, the strangest thing happened. People panicked over toilet paper of all things. I still don’t get that one.
So here we are one year later. In my city we saw the risk dial go all the way up to red and stay there for two and a half months. It has come down to yellow now which is great.
Today as I interact with my fellow teachers and my students I will again say, :See you after break.” But this time I feel confident we will. The vaccine has been given to thousands in my city. We have also stayed in the yellow for a month now
The teachers are so deserving of a week off. They need Spring Break to refresh for the final 10 weeks of the school year I had thought about surprising them with more bananas today, but they will already be excited about a week long break. So I will surprise them the Monday after break to help them get started again.
When a break for teachers comes where you live, remember them, be kind, do small things for them. But please don’t go crazy buying toilet paper, 🙂
Slowly things are improving and I am venturing out a little after a year of being isolated most of the week. Yesterday I went to one of my favorite coffee shops and I brought something with me.
I printed out the first ten pages of the book I am writing based on my short story Jessica’s Encounters at the Harbor Coffee Shop. I am doing a fine tooth combed edit. I plan to go to the coffee shop again today with the next twenty pages to edit.
The coffee shop I went to is locally owned. I am not a Starbucks guy. I prefer to support locally owned businesses. The one I went to has a large blackboard that someone changes the art design periodically using chalk. The manager is the one who gave me a set of corny jokes a few months ago.
My hope is to finish the final edit of my book in a few weeks. My plan is to donate money from each sale to organizations that fight Human Trafficking like Love Justice. Spring break for my morning class starts this coming Saturday, so I should have plenty of time to get it done.
So my day today will consist of watching church service online, and spending some time at the coffee shop editing. The coffee shop has few people whenever I come, so social distancing is easier. I plan to return to church in person after my second dose of the vaccine.
One fun little realization hit me after my first dose of the vaccine. For one year, I have been waking up whenever I woke up on Sundays with no alarm clock. If I slept too late, I could still watch the worship service on YouTube. My second dose will be in four weeks and then two weeks after that it will okay to be more public. So six weeks from today I will use my alarm clock on a Sunday morning for the first time sine March 2020, I look forward to being there in person, but not to an alarm clock. 🙂
Last Saturday I shared about a Friday lunch of hamburgers with my friend from Bosnia and our discussion about what we wished we knew before the pandemic hit.
Yesterday it was back to the same restaurant to meet with one of the pastors from my church for lunch. I ate the same burger, but side note he paid. That always makes lunch taste better. 🙂
As we talked, it dawned on me that due to receiving the first dose of the vaccine Thursday, and scheduled for the second dose in four weeks, it is time to think about restarting aspects of my ministry that have been shut down for a year. The light is on at the end of the tunnel it seems.
When I first met this pastor, he was in elementary school. His father is one of the pastors at my church. I began going to my church in 1994. He has grown to become a wonderful Christian leader and pastor. He is married and has a baby girl. It was great to reconnect after a year of not seeing each other in person.
My ministry is reaching out to and sharing the love of Jesus with refugees and immigrants living in my city. There are also international aspects of it due to my travels in the past and people I have known moving elsewhere such as Brazilian livings in Winnipeg.
I confided in my friend that I have felt guilty at times for receiving my monthly support check without actually fulfilling my ministry due to the shutdown. He reminded me that the same is true of all missionaries. There are some who cannot return to the countries where they have ministry because of COVID.
So the boy I met 26 years ago is now a pastor who ministered to me over burgers. Life changes 🙂
Ever have a day where it seems God is smiling upon you? You know, the kind of day when God lines up blessings for you. I had one of those days yesterday. It felt like sunshine was upon me all day.
I received an email Wednesday that our Country Health Department wanted to schedule people from Cultural Centers in my city for vaccination. I filled out my registration and got scheduled for yesterday at 2:45pm.
Yesterday morning in class I noticed progress by some of my students. My student from Sudan is doing so much better with her writing. Two of my students from Guatemala correctly translated for themselves how we use the have verb. Seeing students succeed always makes my day.
When I came home from my morning class, I checked and saw that I have been approved to be a substitute teacher. I will probably start subbing after Spring Break in March.
When I went to the place in my city where they are vaccinating, everyone volunteering and working were so positive. I saw some of my colleagues from my job at El Centro de las Americas that I had not seen in person since last April. One of them commented, “Matt really misses being around people.” That is so true. I was almost giddy seeing them again. I also saw some former students who are now working at other cultural centers.
When I left the vaccination site, the sun was shining and it was 54 degrees farenheit, 12 degrees Celsuis, so I walked to my car carrying my jacket. I drove home without wearing my jacket.
When we have a day it seems like God is smiling on us, we should savor the moments like there are an oasis in life. It has been a long year since last March and I am beginning to feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Today is payday for my work with El Centro and one of the pastors from church is buying my lunch. Perhaps today is another day it will seem like God is smiling upon me.
I’m sure some of you have been wondering where in the world I’ve been! Last year was a pretty brutal year for me health wise. Physical and Mental. I’m not in locked down, I’m locked in. Having co-morbidites and a very, very low immune system because of the immunosuppressants, meant that going out in public […]
This picture is of me starting the Zoom session for my morning class before the remote learners join. The projector is on so it gives a cool look behind me. Am I in the zone? Maybe I have been partially absorbed into Zoom like in the old movie Tron when a man gets absorbed into the video game Tron.
This school year has been unlike anything I ever experienced before. Starting my day consists of arriving in my classroom, getting my laptop connected to the projector, starting the Zoom session, greeting in class students as they enter, while simultaneously letting Zoom students in.
Finding the balance of giving attention to in class students and remote learners during the same class period has been a bit of a juggling act. Even more so helping the students keep the sense of community among each other when half the students are remote leaners.
I am not unique. This has been the experience of educators everywhere. Some teach 100% remote and some teach blended classes like me. All educators have had to adjust A LOT.
I share my experience to help those who read my blog to understand what teachers all around the world are experiencing at this time. So please be kind to teachers. 🙂
Yesterday I was talking with one of my colleagues at the school where I teach in the mornings. She is a young woman and does wonderful work with the children who have difficult lives. Her grandfather is elderly and in hospice care now. It is only a matter of days until he passes away.
As she was sharing with me, her eyes teared up. She apologized for it. I asked her to not apologize or feel she needs to hide her feelings. I shared with her that I understand what she is going through and if she ever needs a listening ear, just let me know.
We all need a safe space, safe friends, a safe place especially now during this pandemic. Everything is heightened now for our emotions, stress, etc. We need safe places to land.
Jesus is definitely a safe person for us to come to and confide in about what we are going through. He invites us to do so in Matthew 11:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
My hope is to continue to be a safe place, a safe person, for others as we continue to go through this pandemic. We all need connection with others. I love this song A Safe Place to Land. Please listen to it and think about if you can be a safe place.
It has been literally MONTHS since I hung out at a coffee shop. With my city doing so much better with COVID, I decided that for my mental health to hang out a little at one of my favorite coffee shops.
The tables are spaced 6 feet apart and not many people here. Yes I am wearing a mask. This is my favorite mask to wear. I think you can see why in the picture below.
But due to already drinking three cups of coffee this morning, I am now drinking hot chocolate. More snow came this morning but not much and it is already melting.
I have my laptop with me and also printed out pages of the book I am working on to do some editing.
It feels so good to get out and see people. I told a few jokes to the barrista. Now it is time to get to work.