Gifts of God for the People of God: English as a Second Language
Back in January this year I took a leap of faith and volunteered to teach for the ESL classes. I say, ‘leap of faith’ because I’m not a teacher by profession nor am I fluent in any foreign languages. It was with much trepidation that I attended the training session. Sheryl Rajbhandari from Heartfelt Tidbits guided us through the teaching methods – starting dialogue, flash cards, games, books, worksheets – so it all sounded reassuring.
Our first session was rather intimidating as all the teachers and students met in one room. We soon found out there were many nationalities represented: Mexico, Jordan, Syria, Nicaragua, Peru. Names like Nema, Ibtisam, Maher, Mohammed, Valentina, Lima. How can this work? Some spoke very little English and needed an interpreter while others have been in our country a while and just needed to practice reading and conversation. What have I gotten into Lord? Susan and Michael Goldberg are the organizers and quickly realized we needed to breakdown into small groups by learning levels. What a relief! Now I was working with 2 or 3 people and we settled into a good rhythm with lesson plans.
Not all of us are teachers: some are drivers who provide transportation to LCR, some watch the children while the parents are in class. Not all students are adults: some are school age children who need help with their homework that their parents cannot provide.
Our students are so thankful! They arrive every week with smiles on their faces and say, ‘thank you’ multiple times at the end of each class. I’m learning about their stories – how they left their families thousands of miles away for a better life here in America. Would I have had that courage to leave everything I knew and a family I loved to go to a foreign land, perhaps not knowing anyone, perhaps not knowing English, perhaps nowhere to live, perhaps no employment? These are the brave immigrants we’re helping and they are so grateful for the acceptance our Church is offering. It’s given me a renewed appreciation for the life I’ve lived and I can better understand their desire to be here. This is truly a witness to the LCR Covenant!
As Christ did not turn away from anyone in need, we will reach out, without hesitation, to serve others and witness to our faith in daily life.
About the Author: Eileen Wegner is a member of Lutheran Church of the Resurrection where she serves as a volunteer in the English as a Second Language classes and has been singing in the Adult Choir for many years.
About LCR: Lutheran Church of the Resurrection is a vibrant and welcoming community of faith and a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.