Posted by: Matt Norton | October 25, 2008

Every Opportunity

Here at Jeff Street we have four guys that aren’t native English speakers. All of them speak Spanish and their knowledge of English varies widely. Some can barely carry on a conversation while one can go into Louisville on his own and be fine to interact with others. To me, that fact means opportunity. I love languages. I have studied French and Spanish and plan to major in Romance Languages at DePauw University. From the very beginning of the program I had thoughts of somehow helping them to improve their English and thus helping them to better acclimate to this country. Since then God has blessed me with numerous opportunities to help them, witness to them, and learn from them.
Recently, I have been spending time with Pedro, the one who has come to me for help with English most frequently. He and I have been getting together about four or five days a week to work on his English. In this time, we have developed a good friendship. I should mention that he speaks English fairly well, but before we started lessons he rarely talked to anyone besides the other Spanish speakers. He kept to himself and seldom smiled. When I first saw him I didn’t dare introduce myself because I was afraid he might burn a hole through me with his eyes. I noticed that once we started working together and others and I have complimented him for his English and his improvement, his attitude and demeanor have changed. Now, he has more confidence. He will wave to Kerry and I and tell us about how he is and what his son is up to. (which if you ask him he loves very dearly and would do anything for) He smiles now and seems joyful. It brings a smile to my face now to see him because he is so jovial and friendly. God is really working in his life and I praise God.
Today, I had one more of the many memorable moments with Pedro. Earlier in the week it was his birthday. He had told me about 10 days earlier but as is unfortunately my habit I forgot until he told me again the day of. After I found out that I had forgotten I decided I was going to do something better than just say Happy Birthday. Since I like to cook and bake I made him a cake. When it was ready I went and got him. He came up to the apartment and I cut him a piece. My friend Joe had already been there so I cut him a piece too. The three of us sat eating cake and when Pedro finished instead of leaving, which he would have done when I first met him. He stayed to chat. We talked for some time but as we were winding down Pedro seemed like he had something important to say. He started out by telling us that in his home country everyone said that the United States was nothing but bad. He said that he heard that people wouldn’t treat him right and all sorts of negative things, but he ended with this. He said to Joe, I have lived with you for a while now and you have done nothing but show me love and kindness. He looked at me and he said I have not known you very long and you made me a cake for my Birthday. What they say about the US is not true as far as I’m concerned.
I praise God for that encounter with Pedro today. I do not use that story as anything to build Joe or I up, but to give glory to God for changing a negative view to a positive one. God has started to transform a life. He has begun to start the reconciliation between nations through love shown on a one on one basis. God is teaching me how much the smallest thing to one could mean the world to another. When God gives me opportunities I continually miss them or ignore them but it is my prayer that I may be able to let the Holy Spirit filled with God’s love work through me more and more. I pray that we, as the Body of Jesus Christ, take every opportunity to show Christ’s love to His creation. God is good all the time! I love all of you!

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