Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Six weeks ago I took on a new class of English students.

Or more accurately, they took on a new teacher.

For the first time in my life, I have my name on a door.  In Chinese.
As usual, I was pretty nervous about this. Partly because this was the Advanced Class. Partly because I was taking over from another teacher with whom they would already have gelled. And partly because despite having taught English for a couple of years now, I still felt like a complete fraud who isn’t up to the job.

As usual, my fears were misplaced. I prayed, gritted my teeth, went in early, and got to meet each of them one at a time as they arrived. I’m always much better at meeting people one at a time.

The following six weeks settled into what I had hoped for – for three hours each weekday morning we would all show up, share a lot of laughs in English, and then go away again hopefully going over the fun in our heads and unwittingly revising what we’d learnt.

A good plan, and of course not on any level what I had set out to do.

My daily plan was simple – pray that God would write the entire lesson like some meticulously poured-over script, and then trust like Hell (if you’ll excuse the expression) that enough words would somehow be spoken in the classroom to fill up three entire hours.

Where all the words, and the fun, came from, well, ask the philosophers.

I’m surely not going to take ownership of the class’ success – I don’t think God would like that. I could hardly expect him to keep helping me so much if I went around saying that, now could I?

Anyway, just to underline my incompetence, on Tuesday lunchtime I got lost.

I’d finshed the class and caught the bus to Pakuranga Plaza to finally spend the Westfield gift-vouchers that my friends at Joy Puppet Theatre gave me last Christmas, and which with a 12-month validity would expire that day. I never even looked at the number on the bus (57), and after we’d suddenly turned-off the beaten track and gone flying down Bucklands Beach Road, I discovered that the next bus-stop was in fact some distance away. So I eventually got off and decided to take a "short cut". Ha ha. Well it's always nice to explore.

I happened upon the still amusingly-named Pigeon Moutain, climbed it, failed to locate Stockade Hill from the top, prayed again, and then rolled down some of it, because I could.

Eerie, Down Under
When I eventually arrived at Pakuranga Plaza, I discovered the joys of Bramptins - an English shop, selling English food. For English people. Weetabix, Shreddies, Pop-Tarts that sort of thing. Unheard of in underprivilidged New Zealand, and yet here they all were, like old friends, at vastly inflated prices. (comparatively speaking – they go for fairly similar prices back in the more expensive UK)

On the less virtual motherland-side, they had a local kiwi radio station on – I think they should stream Capital off the internet, but that’s just me.

Anyway, I treated myself to some Frosted Shreddies and Horlicks Lite, neither of which I want to start on until February next year.

Back at school the next morning I found myself teaching my class a few Christmas carols to sing at the school Christmas party next week. Pretty soon I was getting gigs of my own – asked by the other teachers to come in and teach their classes to sing too. Yesterday I suddenly found myself effectively teaching music to a class of thirty-eight asian students. And again, I seemed to skid through and wing it by making them laugh. Hopefully with me.

But again I attribute it to that prayer thing. Those desperate words that I start muttering by the tree at the bus-stop, and try to finish thinking about by the time I’m entering reception. Among other things I say “I know you love these people, and I believe that you want to teach them English, and you seem to want to do that through me, so I just want to get out of the way and let you do it.”

No, not the words, the intention, the belief, the faith, the trying-to-let-go, argh, all of those things, or none of them. Or some. I don’t know how it all works, if at all. But I do believe that God’s the one who comes through each day.

I don’t believe that prayer is a science, which requires us to mix one part words with two of faith. I’m not even prepared to boil answered prayer down to something pat like “Of course, it’s all about putting God first you know.” I really don’t think there is a rule. That’s why to the rest of the world it looks so ‘random.’

I mean that's the definition of random, isn’t it? No discernable order. If God does exist and act, then randomness would logically be what we call the way he does things. If he doesn’t, then God would be the idea we’ve come up with to explain what causes randomness.

Anyway, the last term has gone well, and I blame God. This morning we had our final lesson together, so here are some random pictures we took recently of some of my students and myself:

Ben, Steve, Kevin, Barry and Annie
Me and Kevin
And I think I’ve been learning through them too.


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