A couple of weeks ago, 2 young women from our church came and asked me if I would meet with them to help them practice their English. There was a third one who was interested in that as well. They said they could come to my apartment whenever it was convenient for me. I was really honored to be asked about this. I think the transition to life here with a family has taken me a lot longer than I expected. The routine jobs of daily life (grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc.) are much more complicated with a toddler! I feel like only recently have I begun to feel more comfortable in the daily routines. At this point, I try not to think too much about how everything will change again with the new little one!
At any rate, we had our second meeting together last night (Monday). Each of the women knows English fairly well but they all feel somewhat insecure in their level of speaking. What they asked was for time just to speak in English and get more practice in order to feel more confident. The great thing about this proposal is that it requires limited preparation on my side! I think my knowledge of Russian also helps because I know what kinds of things are more difficult to translate from one language to another. The biggest benefit for me is getting some time to get to know people in our church more deeply. I struggle to have more than a minute or two conversation on Sundays in between chasing Stevie around, yet it is can be difficult to get out in the evenings to other events. I am also much more comfortable in conversation with a few people than in a larger group.
Our first meeting we just introduced ourselves. It was interesting to hear how God brought each of them to Himself. Both of the women who were at the first meeting are involved with ministry in a nearby orphanage. They have other jobs, but they do this in their free time. One reason they are looking to improve their English skills is to be able to communicate their vision of ministry well to English speakers they meet.
We decided that I would choose a theme each week and email them so they could think about it beforehand if they had time. For our second meeting, I posed a question that I read in the book Give Them Grace, by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. The question I posed was, “Is there or should there be any difference between the way a Christian parents and the way a loving Muslim or atheist parents? If so, what?” Although neither of the women is married or has children, I think this is still something interesting and relevant for them to consider. We had an interesting conversation last night and I look forward to our future meetings!
I’m planning to choose themes that are not only weighty like the one we discussed last night, but also ones that are fun and light. We may even watch a TV show or portion of a movie and discuss it. Do you have any ideas for future discussions? If so, please leave a comment!