Celebrating Life Events- A Wedding for Vietnamese Friends

Events in life are milestone markers that help us remember the past and celebrate special moments. Last Saturday was a wonderful example of such celebrations when I went to a wedding at a Vietnamese church here in Lincoln.

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me with the newly married couple

It was such a blessing to attend the wedding of two precious friends from Vietnam. The bride, my friend Tram, came here in August 2009. I met her during her first week in America along with her brothers and parents. She came to my weekend groups to improve her English. One of my greatest joys was being able to help her with scholarship applications, go to New Student Enrollment at the university here, and to see her begin college.

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with her parents

One of those memories that always brings a smile to my face is when they were in high school and were first dating. I figured it out but was sworn to secrecy. šŸ™‚

Tai is good man and I am confident they will have a great future together. It was a wedding that I absolutely did not want to miss.

Such events bring up memories for me. The reception was definitely a walk down memory lane for me. I saw many of my former students there and relished knowing how much they have accomplished. Knowing they will have a better life than I have brings me joy.

Among my friends there, 3 are in Pharmacy school, 1 got her Masters degree in Architecture, 1 is in Nursing school, and the bride got her MBA and CPA and the groom graduated from the university and is working in IT.

The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was fun. It was a moment that I left feeling that perhaps God has indeed used me for his purposes.

 

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We Are Being Watched, But Nothing to be Paranoid About

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We are constantly being watched. Eyes are always on us observing what we do. I do not mean in a Orwellian 1984 big brother kind of way.Ā  I am also not talking about a dog watching us when there is food around. I am referring to people around us taking note of what kind of people we are, our actions, and how we treat people.

One evening several years ago, I was standing by the door of the building my evening ESL classes were in at the time. It was in early April, so the sun was already setting. A few Vietnamese students in another class walked up to the door and I greeted them in Vietnamese. A young woman asked me if I was from Vietnam. I told her yes, which I am not, but I often use humor, and she looked at me with a bit of curiosity in her eyes.

That evening during break time, she came up to me and said, “I hear you help people. Will you help me?”

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I found out that after our lighthearted exchange by the front door, she asked other students from Vietnam who I am. They told her, “he is the teacher that helps people”, so she came to ask me for help. What did she want?

She wanted to go to college, but no one in her family had ever gone to college before. I invited her to join my free weekend groups at my church and that began a three year journey for her of preparing for, beginning and graduating from community college. She is married now and lives in Florida with her husband and three kids. She studied Office Accounting at the community college and now she takes care of the bookkeeping for the small business she and her husband own.

Jesus spoke of knowing what kind of tree it is by the fruit it produces. He also taught his followers, “by this everyone will know you are my disciples that you love one another.” Others watch us and we are not aware. That is what Jesus was getting at. How we live our lives, show his love, and connect with people are what others are taking note of.

That question many years ago stuck with me and taught me a valuable lesson.

Have you been asked a question that made an impression?

Thank you for reading today. Hope your day is blessed šŸ™‚

Engagement Party for a Special Friend Reminds me of how God Answered an Outburst in Prayer.

Saturday afternoon I was blessed to share a special life moment with some friends at an engagement party for a young couple from Vietnam. It was a significant moment for me to be able to be there and join in on the celebration. I was glad to share in the joy of the moment, yet it was a moment that represents more than the party itself.

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One late spring day in 2007 God answered an outburst of mine in a wonderful way. When I say outburst, it was one of those times of feeling exasperated with God over the way my life had gone up to that point.

But let me backtrack a bit. In 1998 after having been through a three ordeal with my health and then transferring to a Christian university in Omaha I prayed. The reality set in of missing basically ten years of my life at a time in life when people normally get married and start a family. So I prayed about that it would be great to meet someone to get married but if I didn’t I would still live for Jesus and share him with others.

So one day in 2007 I was having a melt down with God and had one of those outbursts perhaps we all do at times and yelled at God saying-“You don’t care about my life. Here I am with no kids, no family.”

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Then God answered. He dropped a group of teens from Vietnam into my life who needed help with English and preparing for college. That is a story for another day. It was a wonderful nine years of young people moving on to college and new ones coming into my life, of sharing life with them, helping them with English, mentoring them in preparing for college and having a lot of fun.

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When the moments come to share in special events with them, it a a huge blessing for me. Today was extra special for me because the engagement party was for Anh the youngest one of the many Vietnamese kids God brought into my life. I met her when she was a shy 15 year old who would giggle and laugh when I joked with her. She came to my Saturday morning group for a few years with her older brother. She blossomed and now is in college. She will graduate next year.

It was meaningful to see her family and the family of her fiance because I know most of them. It was the highlight of my week. Sharing life with people is something I treasure. It was fun to see that I could still get Anh to smile and laugh when I shared my idea for her wedding of having her and her fiance parachute in. Most of all it meant a lot to me to see her smile and her fiance and family smile.

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Prayer- Thank you Jesus for this VAN

My little white car needed a lot of repairs and I was worried what would happen if it broke down. I do not make a lot of money, partly because I give away so many hours helping people who have little money. Private tutors can make a lot more money than I do, but my ministry is for people who many times have never heard about Jesus and some live in adverse circumstances. I was starting to think about the possibility that maybe it was time to end my ministry so I could make more money. To be honest, I was very discouraged. I asked people to pray for me regarding this issue. The past summer I kept wondering if my car would die and my ministry would be over.

Matt at church and Van 004Then on evening I received a message that a van had been found and I could pick it up the next day. I had thought it might be an old van and maybe I could drive it only on Sundays so it would last. I was SO SURPRISED!! A 2006 Chrysler Town and Country in good condition. It was a HUGE encouragement. In the Bible it says “delight yourselves in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart”. The key is to delight ourselves in Jesus. When we do that, our desires change to be what Jesus desires for us and others. I had prayed for new cars before but usually for ME and not thinking so much about how it could used for serving Jesus. For a long time a vehicle was something I took care of from my own ability. When I wasyounger, I wanted a sports car or an SUV. I never thought about getting a van let alone want one.

I think God does have a sense of humor. I am a single man with no children or family. What would I need a van for? I never wanted one before. Then about a year ago I began to think about how a van would be very useful in my ministry. I asked others to pray for me. Then one evening on September 25th I picked up my van from Jesus. I was stunned and could barely remember to say thank you.

If you are praying for something could I encourage you to pray for the Lord to help you to see what His desire for you is and pray for that? Try it and see what happens. Feel free to let me know in the comment section. First thing is to not pray from selfishness but to pray from a heart that wants to serve Jesus.

Prayer- God led me to help Vietnamese friends after my father’s funeral

In April 2009 my father died after a prolonged illness. He was 76 years old. I had spent a lot of time with him when he would go into the hospital off and on for about a year. I spent a lot of time with him the weekend he died and was in Hospice care. I was with him when he died and was very busy the week after with funeral preparations. The week after the funeral I prayed about what next because suddenly I had more free time. At my church we had a musical Hope Rising which Gina Boe the worship leader at our church had written. There is a song ‘life goes on’. That song was in my spirit as I drove to be with my father and as I sat with him while he died and the weeks after. It is mostly about how this life is not all there is, but there is an eternity with Jesus. It is also about how we need to live on.

Football party at Julie's 055ESL Ministry 001I prayed about what to do and felt led to stop by the apartment of a Vietnamese family I knew. I had taught the mother and her brother. I met their children. Soon after her daughter began to come to my classes at church. Her niece also began to come. This led to my Saturday afternoon reading class growing to 14 Vietnamese young people coming for help with their English and me being able to share the love of Jesus with them. I have had the privilege of praying with the daughter and the niece. I have also had the great privilege of helping the daughter in her preparations for college.

If we come to God in our difficult times for guidance, he can do wonderful things. Life does go on for those who leave us in death, but it also goes on for those of us who are here, and if we give the time we have here to Jesus, He will do wonderful things.