I clearly remember holding my grandma’s hand and walking into the DOULOS ship. I remember being in awe of their book fair and I remember her buying me my very first book. It was the story of Hansel and Gretel and I was just four years old. I was hooked onto reading from then on.
My grandparents used to buy me tons of books and I enjoyed reading from a very young age. My mother would find me with my nose stuck in an Enid Blyton adventure or a book from the Anne of Green Gables series. Oh, how I loved those books (I still do)! How I enjoyed getting home from school and relaxing with a story book. When most kids my age were out playing catch with their friends, I was happily sprawled out on the bed with a book in hand far away in some imaginary land which the book talked about. I read extensively through school and college. I still prefer reading to watching TV or surfing the net. My all time favourites have been missionary biographies. I loved reading about their life, their commitment, their families, their struggles and joys and the way they literally changed the world.
This summer I read a lot. I didn’t enjoy what I read but I learnt a lot from what I read. I took a course called TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). It was a 5 week intensive with tons of reading everyday. By the end of the course I was a certified ESL (English as Second Language) teacher. I had signed up to intern at the institute where I took the course. Little did I realise that my internship would also involve teaching other adults to read. And what an amazing experience that has been!
I have a class of eight students. All of them adults. Most of them are from Afghanistan, with little or no English background. I have a student from India and one from Angola. Recently I had prepared a one hour reading lesson plan. I had planned to read the passage out to them, then get them to read it a couple of times and then I had activities planned around that passage which they read.
I felt pretty sure that my students would be able to read. It was an easy passage, with simple sentences and the level was for 7-9 year olds. But it took my students 40 minutes to read that passage. My lesson plan went out the window. But I didn’t care. I didn’t care that we were not able to do all those cool activities I had planned. I just went from one group to another and from student to student, helping them form those words they saw on the paper. I was ecstatic when they read each line and understood the meaning. I was overjoyed when they crawled through that passage without giving up. I loved their spirit. Then I realised it would be equally difficult for me if I was trying to read something in Dari or Portuguese (which is what my students speak).
I also realised that I was helping my students in a very tangible way. I was teaching them to do something that I loved to do. I was teaching them to read and thereby assimilate knowledge and process it and respond in appropriate ways. This was simply brilliant. Not because I was teaching them but that they were learning this awesome skill.
So this summer that started out with me having to read tons of books which I didn’t like, finally ended with me helping someone else to learn the skill of reading. Very often I don’t get to see God’s big picture for my life. I don’t understand the puzzle He’s putting together. I don’t see Him working behind the scenes. But sometimes in retrospect, I’m able to see why I took a particular course or why I decided a certain way. And when I catch a glimpse of that big picture I’m amazed that He would use me to be His hands and feet in helping someone else.