So yesterday in Phnom Penh, I almost got run over by a moto, saw a man sitting in a hammock hung between a tree on the sidewalk and his car, bought a ton of souvenirs, visited the Mekong river, and sang Zambian songs as an American in the Russian Market in Cambodia. Which was all good fun, and part of the adventure of this trip…
But I have a confession to make.
I haven’t really been all that excited about teaching English. Really at all. I knew it was with Bible stories, but we hadn’t seen the curriculum, I didn’t feel capable or prepared at all, and I wasn’t entirely sure how much good it would do in spreading the gospel (especially because we begin here at creation and don’t even get to Jesus until the 3rd book of the curriculum). I was here and planning on still doing the work, of course, because I knew that God specifically sent me here… but I wasn’t feeling super useful in the kingdom by coming. I knew in my head God was going to use me, but I really was pretty unsure about the whole thing. The very first time I had really been excited about it was in the LA airport getting ready to fly to Taipei, talking about what I had read in Velvet Elvis and how I get to go and tell the story of the God who is evident all around Cambodia already.
So, orientation yesterday. We sit down with these giant 3-ring binders Julie had given us, and she opens hers along with the WEI (World English Institute) books that we would be teaching from. She begins to explain that she has created this curriculum specifically for the Khmer people, to address the things that they believe and areas that are especially important for them to understand… and I get SO EXCITED.
It’s amazing! She has pulled out prophecies and promises of God, and, through the continuation of the course, shows how God fulfills these promises, how Jesus fulfills prophecies, and where everything is found in the Bible… I seriously asked her to email it to me because I want to go through this curriculum. Julie also took the 10 plagues of Egypt and showed how they prove that God has power over the river spirits (turning the water into blood), the moon and sun gods (when all of Egypt was under darkness), etc., and many more Khmer-specific ideas. It was so cool to see all of these stories I had heard all my life, and see what they can mean in different cultures, and how broad of an audience the Word can address if we just take the time to see it!
Then, it got even better.
Julie was speaking to us about our students, and the process of teaching, and began to mention how these students really want to learn how to pronounce their words correctly, and told us how instead of focusing on multiple sounds, we should just pick a sound, such as /s/, to work on for a few class periods, and then another, on and on. Working on sounds! Then she mentioned that we should go slow and think of it like if we were teaching a first-grader.
For those of you who don’t know, I am a speech-pathology major at school, and had my first client, a second-grade girl, last semester. God was preparing me for this trip long before I even understood what I would be doing! As soon as Julie said the first-grader thing, everything clicked, and I had no more doubts. God has paved the way for me to be able to do his kingdom work–I didn’t have to try and prepare myself, because he understood so much more than I did what I needed to be capable of. And then he set it up so I would be.
But wait, there’s more.
I was sitting in our room last night with Alley and Ann, and all of a sudden it hit me. None of us knew each other before this trip. We didn’t orchestrate who was going to be coming based on friendships or anything else… God just put us all here. Ann is an education major, I’m a speech pathology major, and Alley is an English major. And we are here teaching Khmer students how to speak and correctly pronounce English. Oh hey, God. Weston is going to be a teacher as well, and Coach Ragsdale already is… God picked this team specifically for his work. And I believe with all my heart he picked our students specifically as well.
I can wait to go see Elephants, I can wait to tour Angkor Wat… But I literally can’t wait til I start class tomorrow.