Hello sweet friends,
Today was our first official day of work in the camps. We were up pretty late last night preparing for our time over the next two weeks. Our main work is teaching English to refugees in various camps across Malta.
We were all in the same camp this morning teaching English one-on-one. The boys were in one room and the girls in another, while a couple of the girls babysat the sweet little children of our students.
I was anticipating that the students would have at least a basic understanding of English, and we would just teach them new vocabulary, American slang, and some conversational phrases perhaps. All with the hope that through our conversation we would have the opportunity to share the gospel with them. Some of the students were at that level and neat relationships began, but others unfortunately were not.
I was super discouraged today by the lack of understanding that my student had. It truly would not have been much different if I had walked into a village in Somalia and tried to communicate with a woman there. The only English she knew was “A, B, C, D.” She guessed pretty much every other letter to be E or X. She could repeat anything I said, but she didn’t know what any of it meant. I would say, “You are Ruhia.” She would repeat, “You are Ruhia.” “No, I am Yenni (foreigners always default Jennifer to Yenni, not matter how many times I sound out “Jennifer”.. I figured I’d save the struggle), you are Ruhia.” “I am Yenni, you are Ruhia.” was her retort. See what I mean? It was just frustrating because she genuinely doesn’t know anything and she can’t do anything about it.
Ruhia is from Somali and has been in Malta for about 5 months. She has a six month old son who was born on the boat on her way here.
When refugees arrive they are placed in a closed camp (detention center) while they defend their reason for being here. You are allowed to seek refuge in another country from a war torn country or if you are suffering from religious persecution. Aka: you can’t leave just because you “want a better life.” When they arrive here they have to prove that they have a valid reason for being in Malta. They are also fingerprinted upon arrival. If they end up somewhere else they are sent back to Malta (or wherever they were fingerprinted).
It is so difficult to attempt to teach someone with no common foundation of language at all. I wish so badly I that could learn Somali overnight. I wish I was a better communicator.
I desperately want the opportunity to tell her about Jesus and the beautiful hope that I have in Him. I want her to understand Him and experience His love and right now none of that is possible. One of my teammates was sweet to remind me that she IS seeing Jesus through my patience and love. That will have to be enough for now.
I humbly ask that you would pray against the spirit of discouragement that fights to overpower my joy. Please pray that I will be content loving on these women by teaching them the alphabet and how to say their names. Please pray that I would have patience and trust. (I am quite certain that the Lord is preparing me for a time in life where I will need to display a mighty amount of trust and faith in Him. Just about every lesson in my life right now is focused on learning to trust Him without answers. I’m anxious to see what He is preparing me for.)
I wish I could express in words how deeply grateful and thankful I am for you prayers. They mean SO much to me.
Much love and only in the power of my precious Savior,