“Can you teach English to my wife?” I heard a voice behind me say while I was picking out veggies at the open-air market in our neighborhood in Chile. I turned around to an enthusiastic stranger who said, “My wife needs to learn English, and I think you’re the one to teach her.” I was baffled and told him that I’m not an English teacher, but he didn’t relent, so I reluctantly scribbled my phone number on a scrap of paper and handed it to him.
The next morning, I awoke to my cell phone ringing. A soft voice greeted me and asked when we could start classes. I was still baffled but agreed to meet the woman in question, who happened to live only a few blocks from my house.
I had been a teacher for over 35 years, but I’d left the profession a couple of years earlier, telling people that I was tired and retired—meaning that although I loved to teach, I didn’t feel that I had the stamina to do classroom teaching anymore.
But my new student was the best student any teacher could hope for, and though I hadn’t taught ESL (English as a second language), it wasn’t hard to find books and teaching materials. We had weekly classes for two years. Then, for the next three years, I also taught her children! They’re a lovely Christian family and we found much in common. As opportunities came up, I did other tutoring jobs as well and eventually took some courses to hone my skills and become a certified ESL teacher.
This showed me that I still love to teach! Maybe I’m not up to the hustle and bustle of dealing with a whole classroom, but I really enjoy tutoring. I love planning classes, and I’m thrilled when my students make progress. So what started as a stranger’s voice in the outdoor market turned into a whole new profession for me.
Finally, the day came that the family had been waiting for all those years—the dad’s company transferred him to Canada. We all recognized that God had made our paths cross to prepare them for their new country. They’re thrilled to use the language that they faithfully studied all these years and often send me photos. And I’m grateful that, though I’m officially at retirement age, I have a whole new profession and plenty of job opportunities. I love the unexpected turns and surprises of life, and I can see God’s hand as He engineers these situations and events.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”—Isaiah 30:21 NIV
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.—Proverbs 16:9