October, 2017 – Elvira

October, 2017 – Elvira

Several years ago when I was teaching music at Central High School in Providence, RI, as usual per any day I headed to the main office to pick up my mail.  In the teacher’s mail boxes would be stuffed certainly plenty of notices and important information, but also a fair share of ‘junk mail’ which promptly went into the waste basket.  One day, however, one of the unsolicited fillers seemed to catch my eye, and I even took time to read it.

On this sheet of paper was a plea from the school department’s volunteer program to hold a class in the summer with the non-English speaking parents of our students in order to help them come to know the language more fluently.  I was a music teacher – a musician.  What would I possibly know about helping someone grasp a new language?  As I was about to toss the information into the trash, I found myself reading it again.  And then, for some inexplicable reason was overcome with the urge to respond.   I looked for the number, called immediately, and explained to the person on the other end of the phone who I was and where and what I was teaching in the Providence Public School System.  I just knew that when I told her I was a music teacher that she would politely thank me for calling and that would be the end of our conversation.  To my surprise, this person was extremely happy that I had called and asked if I could attend an orientation program in a couple of weeks.

My plans for the summer were to lie on the beach, do activities with my teen-age sons, and visit family in Maine.  I was looking forward to the physical and mental rest from the classroom.  But to my surprise, I got increasingly more excited every day about this new venture.  No pay.  It was a volunteer position, but I was excited!  The orientation program was a big help – it gave this nubie non-language teacher lots of ideas.  It truly was a help.  I spent the next two weeks organizing materials, learning how to present the English language – to whomever it would be that I would be teaching, felt fairly assured of what I was doing, and finally found myself in an elementary school room in South Providence sitting in a little kid’s chair!  Soon there were seven Hispanic moms sitting on the other side of the short-curved desk also sitting in little kids’ chairs.  With the language barrier, it took nearly a half hour to register each lady.  But there was one lady who knew the English language a bit better than the others.  Her name was Elvira.

In orientation, we were encouraged to work/teach for an hour and a half – take a break – and then finish out the last ninety minutes in teaching/learning.  However, this was such a wonderful, lively group of ladies who were so eager to learn that I completely forgot to watch the clock.  Finally, after two and a half hours, we all were completely mentally exhausted.  Feeling like I needed to use up the time though, I pushed all materials aside and said, “Let’s just talk”.  Having not planned for this, I thought to myself, ‘Now we’re all Moms – so we all have something in common’.  And out of my mouth flew the question, “What is the most important thing to you in your life?”  Immediately I thought, if they asked of me the same question at the end, I knew what I would have to tell them.

As expected, all of the ladies responded to my question that the most important thing in their lives was their kids and their families.  I loved it!  And also – as expected – they asked the same question back of me.  I paused for just a second, looked at these precious ladies – and said ‘in love’, “The most important thing to me in my life is my relationship with Jesus Christ.”  And they looked back at me half smiling and not knowing quite what to think.  Except for Elvira.  She slapped her hand on the table and said, “Why didn’t I say that?!  I just knew it . . . !”

Well, it was time to go home.  I told the ladies I would walk them to the outside door.  But Elvira said, “Could I wait here for you here in the classroom and talk to you when you return”?  For sure.  And when I returned to the room, there was Elvira standing – waiting for me with tears running down her cheeks.  She simply said, “I know God has sent you to me”.

We met the next week to get to know each other – and for me to see what her particular need was.  I told her that I would be leaving for Maine in a few days, but when the schools re-opened in September, I would contact her and we could begin a Bible Study.  For that whole school year, I met with this beautiful Hispanic lady, originally a design worker from the Dominican Republic, once a week in her home.  I found a church for her to grow in the Lord and worship with other Christians.  About two weeks into our Bible Study, she asked Christ to come into her life – and she did grow and grow throughout the year.

She was ready to be on her own with getting in touch occasionally – or, so I thought.  Not so.  She called far too often with the simplest little questions that I knew she knew the answer, but apparently needed assurance.  A year and a half after our Bible Study ended, she called what I felt was just one too many times.  I was frustrated!  But, this was all she wanted to tell me.  Her fourteen year-old daughter had just accepted Jesus as her Savior and would be baptized within a couple of weeks.  All I could think of was – what if I hadn’t answered that phone call?  That was one of the best calls I had ever gotten.  I rejoiced!  I rejoiced with Elvira!  Shortly after that, the calls got less frequent.  Elvira was a maturing Christian.

Scrolling back to the top  — what if I had thrown that plea from the school department into the trash?  What if I had ignored the urge from the Holy Spirit to partake in the program to help the moms of our students do better with the English language?  Thank You, Lord for not letting me do so.  Thank You, Lord that because of answering Your plea, Elvira accepted Christ as her Savior – and then her daughter – and who knows how many others by now?

Truly, it pays to ‘be instant in season, and out of season’!  –  II Timothy 4.2