Friday, 21 August 2020
Hello to everyone who is being kind enough to read my rantings! I didn’t think I would make my deadline today, as the battery has gone in my mouse and I wasn’t sure whether I had a replacement – but God is good!
I talked to you about China last week – an interesting experience, but with some drawbacks. This week, I have another story of my English teaching, but this was a lot nearer to home, doing my training in the south of England - Bournemouth, in fact.
The gap between China and Bournemouth was about six years and a lot had happened in that time but the main event was, of course, my becoming a Christian. After my experiences in China, I knew I wanted to return to teaching abroad but had vowed to make my next posting in Europe, as I had concluded that I wasn’t cut out for long-haul travel. I needed to be able to see my friends and family at regular intervals, too. I had thoroughly enjoyed teaching adults, who were keen and eager to learn; teaching children was not for me. I also wanted to retrain, as my previous certificate was only good for teaching in English First schools, the company who had trained me. It was not an internationally recognised certificate and I had chosen this option partly because it had cost me a lot less to do. The certificate I wanted would entail four weeks’ intensive training and was very expensive so I had to work for some time to save the funds for this.
After I became a Christian, I was determined to teach in a Christian language school and so decided to retrain at the only Christian training school in England, ITN in Bournemouth, now closed, sadly. I applied for a course in March 2015 but was told that the last course they were running would be in October 2014. I was waiting until I could afford it and was rather dismayed by this but, with the help of a loan from my sister, I managed to finance it. The course almost didn’t run, as the minimum number of students had not enrolled but the school prayed for more students and the minimum of six was reached, including me.
I had to go to the school in Bournemouth for two weeks, while staying with a Christian family. I then came home for five weeks and returned to Bournemouth for a further two weeks. The workload was tremendous! There was loads of homework, assignments and tests, and I didn’t know what had hit me. The other five women on the course were very supportive and we got on very well. My tutors were marvellous and had endless patience, and the first two weeks flew by. I was fortunate enough to stay with a lovely family, and discovered Bournemouth and Christchurch, beautiful places I hadn’t seen before.
During the five weeks at home, I carried on working in my temporary secretarial job, while studying online and completing my other assignments. Looking back, I don’t really know how I got through it all but, of course, I had the Lord looking after me. One of my major assignments was to record an interview with a Thai lady who attended my church at that time, while analysing all the speech patterns. I also had to watch recordings of teaching sessions and answer questions on these. There was so much to learn!
My final two weeks in Bournemouth were high-pressure and extremely stressful. We had so many boxes to tick before we could be awarded the precious certificate but, on my last day, we were delighted to learn that we had all passed. I had the coveted Cambridge Trinity certificate and now nothing could stop me – I was going to fly! 😀
While I was at the school, I had enquired about possible openings at schools in Europe. I quite fancied Spain or Turkey, these being countries I had visited, where there was lots of work for English teachers. I did some research but found, to my dismay, that all the Christian vacancies in Europe seemed to be asking for voluntary teachers at least, and a substantial monthly donation at most. I was not in a position to consider these, as I needed to receive some payment and also have my living quarters included for free. There were several paid vacancies in Asia and Africa, but I did not want to venture so far afield.
I prayed about this and actually gave the Lord a list of my requirements, including a Christian school in Europe, with accommodation and some pay! I laughed to myself as I did so, thinking, “yes, right” but our loving God did come up with the goods!
While I was at the training school, one of my tutors told me that she and another tutor at the school had taught in a Christian language school in Poland, and she gave me the details of the school. Poland? This had never crossed my mind. I had never been there, knew nothing about it and it wasn’t Spain or Turkey or Greece but still..
I made my enquiries to the school in Poland and guess what? I ended up working there for two years, but not before I had worked in Brighton for a summer.
God is indeed good. Ask and ye shall receive. I'm not saying He will grant your every wish - He's not a genie! But he knows you better than you know yourself and He knows what is good for you. He always has your best interests at heart.
Enjoy your weekend. Stay safe and keep well.
Ann x ❤
Friday, 14 August 2020
Hello again. Here we are, enjoying yet another stunningly beautiful day, looking forward to another weekend of sunshine. To be honest, this weather is a little too hot for me – I have never had much tolerance for heat – but I’m sure I will miss it when the summer inevitably comes to an end.
Well, as I previously told you, my life changed radically after I became a Christian. But it wasn’t a sudden change – more gradual, as the years progressed. About four years before I became a Christian, I had trained to teach English as a Foreign Language at a school in Manchester, and had subsequently gone to China to work in a language school in Yiwu, a small market town in the south west. It was a massive culture shock for me! This town was a real backwater and the locals didn’t take kindly to a middle-aged English lady in their midst. I remember trying to buy some ginger from a market stall, only to be told, “Go home, Whitey – we don’t want your money!” Oh ….
I had signed up for a year’s contract but only actually stayed for two months. The first month was amazing – the honeymoon period. I had gone over in October and the temperature was in the 90s. It was like a very hot summer here – pretty much the same as the weather we’re currently enjoying. I had a large apartment to myself and was given a huge welcome by the staff of the school, all very friendly and helpful. I was delighted to make many new friends, including a lovely girl from the Philippines, who was teaching at the school. I was also amazed and thrilled to find that a young man from my home town was a temporary member of the staff.
Because my degree is in Business, I was asked to teach business workshops to adults in the evenings and loved it. The students were eager to learn, friendly, and a pleasure to teach. There was a lovely bar, conveniently next door to the school, where we frazzled staff would collapse with a nice cold drink as the end of the working day. The school took us on a few ‘staff bonding’ outings to the mountains… So, what went wrong?
Well, my second month was the complete opposite to the first, in every way you could think of. To start with, it was decided that I should teach children at the weekends – both Saturdays and Sundays, all day. They were quite young children, dropped off by their parents, and they did not want to be there. Of course they didn’t! They wanted to play. I have never been good with children, never had the maternal urge and felt cheated, as I had gone to teach adults. I still kept my adults’ classes but my weekends were now taken up with these kiddie classes. I did my best to keep them interested and occupied, but I spent much of my time trying to prevent them climbing out of the windows, or breaking up fights and squabbles. I did have a Chinese teaching assistant to help, which was just as well, as their English was, of course, only elementary.
As well as this, some of my colleagues left, as they had only been on a summer contract. The weather changed, too – big-style! In China, apparently, they go from summer to winter, with no interim period. Literally, on the first day of November, I woke up to freezing temperatures and, to make matters worse, the heating at the school packed up! When I tackled the head of the school about it, she informed me that “School has no money!” The poor students were freezing, including the children, whose breath I could see clearly every time they opened their mouths to speak. As I don’t tolerate heat very well, neither do I like the cold, and a visit to the market resulted in my buying lots of leggings, thermals and jumpers. I emerged like the Michelin Man but I still couldn't get warm enough.
There were several other factors, which I won’t go into here. Suffice it to say that my brief love affair with China had come to an end. It was coming up to Christmas and I was homesick for my own country, my family and friends. About two days before Christmas, I arrived back in Manchester and spent a wonderful Christmas with my sister’s family. I didn’t teach English again for another seven and a half years and things were very different then. I will tell you about it next time. In the meantime, have a pleasant weekend and keep well and stay safe.
Remember, Jesus loves you. He loved you before you were even born. I always find that so mind-blowing! God bless.
If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please will you share it with your friends and family? Thanks.
Love, Ann x ❤
Friday, 7 August
Hello again. I must confess to feeling lazy today and nearly didn't write my blog for this week. The weather is hot and sticky, I've been cleaning and ironing and had convinced myself that it didn't matter if I waited til next week. Wrong! The Lord has been pecking my head, reminding me of my commitment.
Another reason for my reluctance was that last week had been the 'pinnacle' of my story, in that it told how I actually made my commitment to Christ. But, obviously, my story did go on and continues to go on and I have many more interesting tales to tell (well, interesting to me!) about the adventures that I have had as a Christian.
So, here I am. I have had some good feedback from readers and it gladdens my heart to know that my efforts are making a difference to some people. After all, that is the purpose of this blog - to spread the word of the Lord, and maybe even to persuade some to make the commitment that I made over nine years ago.
After my conversion, the next important event was my baptism, four months later. Naively, I had requested to be baptised on my first visit to church but clearly, as I found out later, baptism is a public sign of your commitment to Christ, and I had not been ready at the time, as I was not yet a Christian.
My baptism was arranged for June 2011 and I purchased a white 'smock' specially for the occasion. I have never looked good in white but it is a symbolic colour to wear. I later passed said smock on to Tracy, but that's another story! My sister and brother-in-law attended the event and I gave my testimony, the same story as I have told you. I love telling that story and never get tired of it. Every time I tell it to someone (and there have been many over the years), I get a renewed thrill of belonging to Jesus, and a warm glow of peace. To know I belong to Him is just amazing.
Don't get me wrong, though. Once you become a Christian, you don't automatically sprout virtual wings and a halo! Unfortunately, Christians do still sin, as this is the nature of mankind. We do receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, though, who guides us, prompts us and supports us. Some people call this a conscience, and some will say they are 'having their heads pecked' - this is why I am now sitting at my computer, instead of browsing through online cookery magazines, as I was when I 'decided' to do this instead...
Two months after my baptism, I became a member of my church, Bridgewater Baptist, Eccles, Salford http://www.bridgewaterbaptist.org.uk/
I was now a fully-fledged Christian! We are only small but friendly. Since lockdown, Pastor Andrew has been delivering services each Sunday at 2pm, along with Bible studies on Thursdays, at 7.30pm. You can find details of these services on the church Facebook page.
I hope you will join us. Andrew's teachings are interesting, timely and relevant.
In the meantime, as always, keep safe and stay well. Have a lovely weekend and remember that Jesus loves you.
Love, Ann x❤