A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to Becoming A Pastor Part 1- A Decision and A Book

I have been in the process of trying to become a substitute teacher in my city. There is a shortage of substitutes due to COVID. To teach Adult ESL a person only needs the college degree, but to teach K-12 a person needs teacher certification. I have taught ESL for adults for over 20 years.

During a phone conversation with someone at the State Department of Education, I said, “I should have gotten certified to teach.” She replied, “Why didn’t you?”

My reply was, “Well I was studying to become a pastor. A funny thing happened on my way to becoming a pastor.”

I shared that with the librarian at the school where I teach Family Literacy She encouraged me to write about it in my blog, so here goes. This will be at least two parts.

A Funny Thing Happened on my Way to Becoming a Pastor Part 1- The Decision and a Book

In the late 1980s, God began to do a work in my life to draw me to him. I was an Office Furniture Rep for a top 50 dealership in the U.S. actually located in my home city. He began bringing people into the store that were Christians, in ministry etc. Through that series of “chance” encounters, Jesus brought me back to himself and I rededicated my life to Jesus in July 1989.

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God became so real in my life and my pray times were so deep. I would lose track of time in the prayer room at my church. In that prayer room, God changed me on the inside to where my desires in life matched his. In 1990, I visited a bible college in Minneapolis with my pastor. The decision was made that I should indeed go to that school to study to become a pastor.

In 1990, I also read a book- Tortured for Christ by Rev, Wurmbrand. He was a pastor in Romania during the brutal communist dictatorship of Ceausescu. Rev, Wurmbrand was imprisoned for his faith but was allowed to leave the country. He eventually came to the U.S. and started the ministry Voice of the Martyrs.

When I read that book, an overwhelming thought struck deep within me, “I must go to Romania.” I just simply knew God wanted me to go to Romania for some reason.

In 1991, I left my home city, my career as a sales rep, and moved to Minneapolis to study to become a pastor. But a funny thing happened on my way to becoming a pastor. More on that in Part 2.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Children Need Blessings Now More Than Ever

As I was walking in the school where my morning Family Literacy Class meets, two children greeted me because they know I teach their moms.

They are both in 2nd Grade. The mother for one of them was in class last year. Her husband would join on Fridays. The little girl said hi to me. I greeted her in Spanish and asked her to tell her parents I said hi.

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The other little one said, “I see you talk with my mom in the mornings when we come to school.” I told him yes and that his mom is a good student.

Brief interactions with the children of the moms in my class are always a blessing not only for them but also for me. The classic one for me was when a boy in 5th grade once asked me if I was a teacher, I told him yes. He asked me what kind of teacher I am. I told him I teach moms who have children in the school. He asked me if his mom was in my class. I asked him her name. He told me and I let him know yes she was in my class. Then he asked, “Is she doing good in class?”

Children need blessings especially now in these turbulent times. Even little affirmations of a teacher talking with them and recognizing them can lift their little spirits.

I am often mindful of what Jesus said of little children when the adults tried to keep them from “bothering” Jesus in Mark 10 in the bible:

When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Notice the attitude of Jesus towards the people trying to keep the children away- indignant. Jesus then blessed the children.

During these times of turmoil, let’s remember the children are aware something is wrong. They are wearing masks in school, social distancing, some remote learning. Imagine the stress on them.

Let’s bless the children like Jesus did.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Last Day of Break-Back to Class Tuesday

This is my last day of winter break. It was nice to have several no alarm clock days, but I must admit I am looking forward to being in class again. I have not seen anyone in person since the day before break except cashiers and the one morning a friend took me to the eye specialist.

What did I accomplish? I rested A LOT, interacted with fellow bloggers, watched some movies online and most importantly spent some time with Jesus. In other words, I enjoyed the break 🙂

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But it is time to be in class again and see my students whether they are in class or in Zoom. It is also time to see my fellow teachers even if it is just waving at a window to their classroom.

My dream for this semester would be for the vaccine to work against this pandemic so that after Spring Break in March, we can all be in the classroom back to “normal.” Even if we could do so at the end of the semester. It would be wonderful to celebrate with a party in class with the moms bringing food to share like we did in previous years.

The pandemic is not over yet, so please keep praying for teachers and students and keep being kind to the teachers remembering they have no control over decisions.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

It’s A Wrap- 1st Semester of Crazy COVID Year Is Finished!!!

Last night my U.S. Citizenship class met for the final time until January 5th. Yesterday morning my morning Family Literacy class also met for the final time until January 5th. It is a wrap which in theater terms means- it is done. 🙂

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1st off I want to thank Jesus for carrying me through the most challenging semester of teaching I have experienced in over 20 years!!!

I felt led to self isolate at home with the exception of being in my morning class or the brief endeavors in the market for food for the duration of the semester. Foremost in my mind was that my students depend on me to be there for them. I felt that I needed to protect myself from COVID so I could be there for my students.

I am so very proud of my students in my morning class. When the semester first began, I was not sure how they would respond to a blended class of some in class and some remote via Zoom. They all stepped up BIG TIME!!! They learned and accomplished so much,

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I could never have gotten through the semester without the help of teachers and staff at the school where I teach, my friends in my Life Group from church, my other friends from church, and my blogging friends especially the ones I meet with in Blogger Chat on Saturday mornings.

So as I breathe a sigh of relief, I want to thank my colleagues at the school where I teach Family Literacy, my friends in my Life Group from church, my other friends from church, and especially my students. Thanks to all of you and most of all Jesus, I made it through this crazy COVID first semester!!!

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Coming to the End of a COVID 1st Semester

Counting today, there are four more days of classes until a 13 day break. What a first semester it has been. This has been the craziest year of teaching in my 20 plus years and in some ways the most rewarding. I am so proud of the moms in my Family Literacy Class!!! They have learned a lot, not only English but also technology.

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The first few weeks I used a strategy with the in class students. During conversation practice, I had the moms, who had not joined via Zoom in April and May, come to the front and join me with the students remote learning. By doing so, it allowed for them to become curious about Zoom and they began to ask questions which led to me showing them how to use Zoom.

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Now they log onto Zoom quickly when I tell them to do so. They have also learned other programs for learning English and for reading with their children. They have blossomed.

If I had pushed them on the issue, they might have been resistant. But by creating a situation where they could observe and ask me, they had ownership in the choice to learn.

God gives us opportunities to learn and grow. He has created us with abilities and talents and gives us opportunities to explore them and learn as we go.

He has done that for me even during this pandemic. I have gained new skills as a teacher, in ministry, and in life. My desire is to incorporate the skills gained into my teaching and ministry after the pandemic is over.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Wonderful Surprise for This Teacher

Yesterday was a planning day for teachers, so we did not have class. I spent the day at home preparing lessons and other aspects of my class. It was a cloudy day and when I went outside to go to the store, it was raining mixed with snow. As I drove something caught my eye. There was a sign outside my building.

I noticed in the email the principle sent to us Thursday that his Friday plan was YSP. I had no idea what it was. Yesterday I realized it stood for Yard Sign Project. The principle and assistant principle drove around and placed a sign in the yard of each teacher and staff person of the school where I teach in the mornings.

We are at the end of the first semester with only 7 more school days before the Christmas break. After teaching ESL, English Second Language, for 23 years, I can certainly say this has been the craziest semester I have ever taught. It has also been in many ways the most rewarding as I see the moms in my class gain new skills. COVID has been an ordeal for everyone, but there have been positives come from it for me and my students.

If you want to encourage a teacher this year, don’t overlook the small things like a thank you note, a yard sign, a lunch delivery, and even a thank you email.

A Glimpse into the Week of A Teacher During COVID

Currently I teach for two different jobs. I teach Family Literacy in the mornings for our local public schools. It is a class of moms learning English at the school where they children attend. I also teach U.S. citizenship classes for a local center.

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My week began Monday with a series of meetings in Zoom. I had an In Service, an Instructors meeting, a Staff Meeting, and a meeting to discuss the new U.S. Citizenship class and what that will entail. Six hours later it was time to plan for the next day. Six hours in Zoom. One note about Zooming from home is that I can wear a dress shirt and sweat pants because only my head and neck are visible. 🙂

Because of what was discussed in the meetings for my morning class, I scrapped my lesson plan for technology the week and made a new one to include what we discussed. That is the nature of teaching during COVID. It is a fluid situation.

Each day I drive to the school for my morning class. I actually feel safe from COVID there because of the protocols we follow. After spending the morning there, it is time to drive home and teach in Zoom. I am thinking about getting a recliner to sit in while I teach in Zoom, but wonder if it would be so comfortable I would fall asleep while teaching.

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Each Wednesday morning, I introduce a tech tool for my students that we will practice in subsequent classes. One week that was using quizzes I made using Google Forms. I try to lower their stress by using humor when we practice new tech stuff. For the quizzes, we did class quizzes first with questions like- Do you want the teacher to cook in your kitchen. Answers to choose from- Yes, it would be funny, No, I don’t want the fire department to come.

I try to make a week long overall lesson plan and go over it with my assistant for my morning class, but each morning before class it has to be modified due to so many different reasons.

As fluid as the situation is teaching during COVID, there is something that has not changed and has become even more important for me. My day starts with spending time in prayer while listening to worship music and drinking coffee. That is how I invite Jesus into my day.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Thanksgiving Week Break- What Next?

The schools in my city are taking the full week of Thanksgiving week off. Normally we would only have the Wednesday thru Sunday off, but due to COVID we will have a full week off.

That is due to some teachers being in self quarantine and also a lack of substitute teachers. The hope is that by having a full week off, it gives a chance to recoup a bit and it also give teachers extra time to prep for blended classes of in class and remote learners.

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But it brought back memories of the last time we had a one week break back in March for Spring Break. I left the Friday before thinking we would be back, but we never were. We were 100% remote the rest of the semester.

So I had my in class students take their folders and books home with them just in case the one week out of class turns into the rest of the semester becoming remote learning.

We will be better prepared if that happens. 100% of my students know how to log into and use Zoom. They have also learned how to use other websites for English language learning. It has been a major focus of mine since we came back into the building in early September.

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So I enter this week with the thought in the back of my mind of what next. What is next? Life has certainly thrown its share of curve balls this year. I am grateful for something that I shared yesterday with a person who works at one of my favorite coffee shops.

I shared with her that my hope is not in government or science. My hope is in God. Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful that the vaccine will come and for how the President worked to help remove barriers to making the vaccine available. But even if that was not happening, my hope is in God.

I am also so very grateful for how God provided for me in numerous ways, and helped me gain new skills through a crazy year.

So really my what’s next is what is next with God by my side.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Another Coincidence About A Baby

On my way home from my morning class yesterday, I stopped at a convenience store. The clerk is a young woman I have chatted with before. Talk about coincidence and timing, she had just had a call from her doctor 3 minutes before I walked in confirming she is pregnant. I was the first person she told. It is beyond me why people open up to me the way they do except to say it is a God thing.

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Before I left the store, I shared a simple message with her saying, “Jesus loves your baby and he loves you too.”

Speaking of babies, one of my morning students from last school year rejoined class for the first time yesterday. She had a baby in July and has been busy taking care of her daughter. We held a baby shower for her in Zoom a few weeks before her baby was born. Today was the first time the class had a chance to see her baby.

Every year at least one mom in my morning class either has a baby or finds out she is pregnant. That has not happened yet this year. But we are not even half way done yet, so there is still time. 🙂

This all is a bit amusing for me because I have no idea about baby stuff. Having only held babies for a short time and giving them back to their mom or dad when they get fussy or something else happens, my experience is quite limited.

One thing I do know for sure is that Jesus indeed loves all babies.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Fun Surprise Visitor to My Class

In my morning class, some of the moms are in the classroom and some join via Zoom. Each morning we have some large group activities and then I have the in class students login to Zoom, so I can set up breakout rooms for small group work by English level, one with me and one with my assistant.

Monday morning one of the moms who is usually in the classroom joined class via Zoom. She was in my breakout room for the hour. While our small group was studying, my student had a knock on her door. She went to answer her door. While she was gone, we had a surprise visitor join our group.

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My student’s 3 and half year old daughter popped up from the sofa her mom was sitting on and started asking me questions, some in English and some in Spanish.

She asked me- “Como estas?” How are you. Then she asked- “Are you mommy’s teacher?” Her next question was-“Tienes hijas?” Do you have daughters?”

Obviously the cute factor was way off the charts. I answered her questions and asked her a few questions. The other moms in the small group smiled and laughed as our surprise visitor asked me questions.

When my student came back, she apologized, but I told her it was fun and not to worry.

Sometimes during this very unusual year of blended classes a person just has to go with the flow and embrace such moments.

Children are a blessing from God. Jesus did not think of children as a interruption even though his disciples did. They were trying to stop the children from coming to Jesus, but Jesus said:

When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.