A Lesson Outside of the Classroom
The weatherman said snow was coming. It should reach us between 6 and 8 pm. Another said between 8 and 10 pm. English Classes begin at 7 pm. After two years in a row of snow beginning to fall during class time and then getting stuck in it, I decided to cancel classes and be on the safe side. I tried to call every student (which is no small feat since we have almost 100 students!) to tell them class was canceled. Just in case, I posted a sign on the outside door in English and Spanish alerting everyone that there would be no classes that night.
So at 6:30 I packed up to leave. As I approached the outside door, I saw someone looking through the window. The closer I got, I saw two other smaller heads bobbing up and down. I recognized the Hispanic woman as one of our students, Juanita. Her two elementary age children were with her and another child was tucked inside a stroller and topped with several blankets. When I opened the door she looked confused. She had not received my message that classes were canceled, so I explained it to her. She was obviously disappointed.
I looked around and did not see a car. Her son said they had walked. Instantly I offered to take them home in my car. Although she hesitated, Juanita finally nodded and followed me to my car. We loaded the stroller into my trunk and strapped the kids into the back seat. We chatted as we traveled. Juanita asked about our church. I could tell she knew very little about it, so I told her about us. She asked why we taught free English Classes. This is always my favorite part! I told her we did it to share the love of Jesus with our community. She was silent and I could tell she was thinking about what I had said.
As we drove, I was very aware of the darkness surrounding us. I noticed the side streets we traveled and the railroad tracks we had to cross. I noticed the cars speeding by. As we approached the trailer subdivision where they lived I thought of how far we had already traveled. Then we drove another half mile to their home.
As I pulled into their driveway I asked Juanita if she walked to class every week. Yes, her husband worked, so every Monday and Wednesday night she packed her baby into the stroller, bundled up her other two, and walked to class to learn English. “I need to learn English,” she simply stated.
After inviting them to worship with us on Sunday, I helped everyone out and said I would see them Wednesday night at English Class. I apologized again that they had to walk to class when there was no class. Everyone smiled and said it was o.k. I offered to find a ride for them in the future, but they said they did not need that. They could walk.
As I drove away I realized this family walked almost two miles each way twice a week. In the dark. In the cold. To learn English.
The snow never came that night. It was o.k. I believe I had a divine appointment that night. It was a reminder of the importance of what we do. And why we do it. That night I was the student, and it was humbling, indeed.