Friday, October 2, 2009
I mentioned in an earlier blog that I would share the details leading up to my current job- teaching English in Brazil. Here is my story:
Our friend, Josh, approached me the first week we were in Brazil and told me there was an opportunity for me to teach English for the staff at CTMDT (The local Missionary College). He told me to consider it and to be praying about it. The next day, one of the students, Fernanda, asked me if I would spend a couple of hours a week teaching her English. Fernanda was my first student. Little did I know what lay ahead for me!
I spent the next month taking an intense training course on Islam led by Josh and three other Professors(which I still intend to write about one of these days!). I helped Fernanda with her English when I could fit it in; between school, studying, and spending time with my family. The course finished up in August and this is when the opportunities to teach English began to surface.
Students started to approach me on a daily basis, asking me to teach them English. At the time, I was still unsure as to whether or not I wanted to teach English. Afterall, I did not come to Brazil prepared to teach English, and I had never thought of myself as a teacher. My background is in Tourism which is just slightly different than being an English Teacher! I have spent the past ten years as a stay at home mom, and have just recently been considering what I would like to do with my time now that my children will all be in school full time when we get back to the United States.
I have spent the past year contemplating what type of career I would like to pursue during this second half of my life. I know that I do not want to go back into Tourism. My heart has always been to help women in the following areas: Spiritually, mentally, physically. I know that many women suffer from low self esteem, as well as struggle with body image problems. Women have so many responsibilities that I think we often neglect our own health. Seventeen years ago I had a vision of being a counselor. At the time I was newly married and working in the Tourism Industry and struggling with my own "self esteem issues". A few years later I had children and started my career as a stay at home mom. I say "career" because being a stay at home mom is a LOT of work and should get more respect from the world than it does. A LOT more. O.K., I will get off my soap box now...
My dream from seventeen years ago resurfaced this year as I was researching jobs that would fit my lifestyle and personality. I began to research Master's Programs in Counseling and my plan has been to enroll in a Master's Program when I get back to the United States. Now enters a new opportunity-Teaching English in Brazil!
I started to teach English to the staff at CTMDT twice a week. This felt manageable and I was enjoying myself. Word got out quickly, however, and pretty soon not only were the staff and students asking me to teach them English, but other members of the community as well! I was sitting at home one night and I had a vision: I pictured five round tables with bright umbrellas in my yard and students learning Conversational English at my house. I believed this vision was from God, so after a couple of weeks of brainstorming and praying, I made an announcement at a CTMDT church service. I had no idea the response that I was going to have for my English Classes! After the service I was surrounded by students wanting to sign up for class at my house. By the time I went home I had fifty students signed up. I went home that night in a daze, wondering what on earth I was getting myself into! I felt totally overwhelmed. I promptly emailed my Teacher friends and asked for their advice (thanks guys) which has helped me tremendously.
The next couple of weeks were eye opening to me. I could not go anywhere without someone asking to sign up for my classes. Before I knew it I had over seventy students and I was starting to feel panicky! Every day I had students, neighbors, community members stopping by my house or approaching me in town to ask me about English. It was at this time that I realized the enormous desire and necessity to learn English. I had no idea how important the learning or our language is to other cultures. This knowledge has led me to an education that I never would have foreseen for myself.
I felt so nervous and unprepared to teach these students English, and yet here I was thrust into an opportunity that was not of my own making. I struggled for many days with wondering how I was going to handle all of the pressure. I knew that this opportunity was placed in my path for a reason and that God had ordained it. I knew that the vision I had come from Him. I knew that Philippians 4:13 says "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." I knew suddenly that this is what he had planned for me in Brazil all along. This was my ministry. Marko has been very supportive and has helped me so much as I have prepared for this new mission in my life. I could not do this without his support.
I decided that if I was going to teach English I wanted to do a good job. I got online and enrolled in a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course. I am currently working through 120 hours of classwork in order to get a certificate of completion from TEFL. This certification will allow me to get a job teaching English anywhere in the world. I am working through the course while teaching my English classes by the seat of my pants! I am learning so much every day. For example, did you know that 50% of the worlds business is in English and 80% of the internet is in English? I am in awe of what the Lord is doing in my life. I love my students! They are amazing. They are so appreciative and they pray for me after every class. I am settling into a routine and am feeling less overwhelmed. I started out with nine English classes which was too much. I am down to seven classes and I have about fifty students which feels more manageable.
I am not sure where this journey will take me, but I do know that in Psalm 138:8 it says that "The Lord will fulfill His Purpose for me." I am trusting this verse and if it means I am going to spend the second half of my life as an English Teacher, then so be it. My dream would be to continue with my plans to become a counselor and combine counseling with teaching somehow, but as the bible says in Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." I believe that teaching English in Brazil is a small "step" towards what the Lord has for my future.
I know this blog was really long. Thank you for keeping up on our adventures here in Brazil and for your prayers. We miss you all terribly. Enjoy these pictures of some of my students!