June 12, 2008
Last weekend I taught a two day seminar for our TESL program. Students taking their TESL (certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language) take several one credit seminars that focus on specific topics. The course I teach regularly is called Curriculum and Materials, in which we study theory and practical application of designing and following curriculum as well as choosing and using textbooks and creating our own motivating materials for the classroom. I enjoy this class because it is a good opportunity to re-evaluate my own teaching practice but even more because of the diverse group of students it attracts - retired teachers from the school system, new teachers entering the school system, volunteers in church-based ESL classes, tutors, administrators, young people planning to travel and teach, international students planning to have an impact on their first country's education -- all people with passion for God's big family across the globe. I enjoy hearing their experiences and stories, and for the 10 hours we spend together, we have the chance to contribute something to one another.
Also on the weekend, my son, Nicholas, came with me to visit with our Karen friends. It turned into a full neighborhood sports day on the front lawn of the apartment complex. Since the rain had paused (briefly, notes my pessimistic spirit), Nicholas invited his friend, Htoo Gay Ray, to play soccer outside. News spreads quickly in the Karen culture, and soon we were joined by Karen boys of all ages and then by other boys who lived in nearby apartments. Girls came by on bikes and rollerblades to watch and smile and wave. We all noticed a young crow sitting in the grass below its tree. It was quivering in fright (or was it anger towards the well-meaning mother who pushed it out of the nest?) As soon as anyone approached the bird, the adults above set off the alarm, cawing and swooping, nearly touching my head in their efforts to protect the baby. This poor little bird, seemingly so insignificant, attracted people to come out onto their balconies and drew people in from the street to take a look. So what started as a simple stop to say hello to our friends became a buzz of multicultural community activity. "Isn't this a metaphor for our lives?" I thought. We may come with one expectation and find that God takes it in a totally unpredicted direction. We may feel like we are nothing, just another young crow among the millions just like us. But God has plans for us beyond our knowledge, and even when we are weak, shivering, fearful, maybe BECAUSE we are, God steps in. All of creation points to Him.