At the beginning of the year I set some goals for 2017. One of the big ones was to start an English school at my house. God put the idea on my heart towards the end of 2016 as a way to get to know and serve the kids in my neighborhood. Then, a friend (from kind of my neighborhood) asked if I would be willing/able to teach her kids English and I was like, “Wow God! That was way easier than I thought it would be!” So in late September I started an English class at my house. I started with three students, invited the younger boy who lives with me, and now have nine students coming to my house every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon to learn English.
With just three or four students in the beginning I started giving class at my dining room table. This proved to be not ideal because when I get home from teaching first graders all day, I don’t want to teach – I want to be at home doing at home things (like reading and watching Netflix) – so my enthusiasm and energy level was always low and lame. When the class grew by one family (three kids and a mom), the dining room because even less ideal, so we moved class out to the garage/driveway (it’s like a garage, but with just a huge opening instead of a door).
Because the garage isn’t enclosed, we can’t leave anything out there without it getting stolen. Someone once stole my tennis shoes off the front porch, so this is a very real concern. So every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon Ricardo* and I drag seven chairs from all over the house out to the garage. We also carry out my computer, the projector, a table for the projector, paper, pencils, a whiteboard, whiteboard markers, books with which to prop up the projector, crayons, and various other supplies. Inevitably I forget to carry some of these things out before class starts, and have to send a student in looking for pencils or the whiteboard in the middle of the lesson.
A few days ago when one of the moms came to pick up her kids from English class she said, “My daughter said she doesn’t want to go to regular school anymore. She just wants to come to your class.”
I want to give her a real classroom to come to. With her own chair and a place where she can write and draw and color and learn and explore. I want my English students to have everything they need to learn well – like a table to write on and comfortable chair to sit in and enough scissors for everyone to cut all at one time! And I want all of those supplies to not get stolen. But I need help.
In order to give my precious students a real classroom, and in order to fully obey God’s command to have an English class at my house, I need to enclose the front of my house.
A man who works at a Christian school here in town but also does ironwork just left about a half hour ago. He measured and we discussed the best options for my wonky driveway. The whole job – materials and labor – is going to cost $38,000 pesos. That is $792 U.S. and almost two whole months of my teacher’s salary.
I have asked for money in the past out of selfishness and laziness and a sense of entitlement. I promise you that this time, the request comes from God. I know how awesome it is to be a part of something that could change a kid’s life and I’m inviting you to do that and to be that. Not one of the seven kids and two adults who come to my English class so far is a Christian or comes from a Christian home. So not only do I have the chance to teach them English, which greatly improves their chances of getting a good job, but I also have the chance to show them the love of Jesus through loving on them and giving them a fun and safe and organized and pretty place to learn in. I want to be a safe place to these kids and their hardworking mamas, but I can’t be that alone.
Would you consider being apart of what God is doing in these kids’ lives? Of what God is allowing me to be a part of in their lives? If you are willing and able to contribute, you can send donations to my PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I promise to use every penny and peso towards enclosing the front of my house and any leftover money donated will go towards purchasing tables and chairs and classroom supplies.
I am constantly humbled by the reality that God has chosen me to do work here in my neighborhood of La Joya. It is a privilege and a joy to be a part of these families’ lives and to be able to serve them in this way. Please, please think carefully and critically about how you can be a part of it.
*Ricardo’s mom works at the hostel I managed. She moved to Jarabacoa from Samana last year with her two sons. We have lived together ever since they moved here. They are adorable and a huge blessing to me.
**Just to be up front – the students do pay for the English class. All nine students pay less than $100 U.S. total per month to be there. I am not teaching this class to make money, but to offer a service. However, in order preserve dignity, I do charge a small fee.