In the spring of 1982 we left for a short time away making the long drive to Europe again. We spent time in Germany and in the US, visiting our friends.
By the time we returned in the fall, Josh had turned seven and was ready to begin school with Dan and Nancy’s two children. A teacher from Connecticut had come to teach our kids for two years.
We also moved down the hill to a more central place so it was easier to get around. Our new apartment was located at the end of a bus line, had a small corner grocery, a green grocer and a butcher on our block, and one block further was a large once-a-week vegetable market.
There was also a large dirt yard behind our building with garages along the back wall. It was a great place for the boys to play and get to know the local children. An older boy who lived across the street became a good friend and visited us often.
We put Nat into the German school Kindergarten so he could solidify his grasp of German. When picking him up one day, I chatted with the father of another child. He asked me where I worked. When I told him that I was out of work at the moment, he suggested I apply to an English medium university in town from which he had graduated. “They always need teachers,” he said.
It would be good to have a job so I could fit into a positive pigeon holes that society had for people. I remembered the lawyer’s pessimistic prediction that I’d never get another work and residence permit, but after praying about it and talking it over with Barbara, I decided to put in an application at the university anyway. And after several months, I was hired.
This time the school did all the work for the residence permit so I didn’t have to exit the country. When my permit finally arrived, Barbara pointed out that it had the same number I’d had before being expelled! The lawyer was wrong. God overrules the ways of men!
This teaching position remained my job for the next five years; it ended only when I was falsely accused to doing something wrong (I was eventually acquitted).
While I was happy to have a work place, the boys were not too happy about it, because our residence permit ended the need for exit trips to Cyprus for new visas!
One nice benefit of my new job was that there was a service bus for us university teachers leaving from right near our house. I began to use the forty-five minute ride as part of my prayer time. So in one sense my new job actually gave me more focused time on my most important work!
That first year of teaching was challenging. Budget problems at the school meant there was no heat in the classrooms, so we all kept our coats, hats, scarfs and gloves on. I began bringing a hot water bottle with me and wore it under my coat for added warmth.
I was assigned a class of twenty-five students per semester and had them for four classes each morning. This was excellent for developing relationships. I was not allowed to speak about politics or religion in my teaching, which was fine, but every day I wrote a proverb in English on the board, most of which were from a “Middle Eastern philosopher” whose name I never mentioned: King Solomon. My students diligently wrote these down in their notebooks, unknowingly imbibing biblical truth.
Each semester we had discussions on love, on marriage, on purity. During these interactions, I would write 1 Corinthians 13 on the board and we would discuss it. One day after class a girl asked me, “Mr. W, where do I find a man that can love like that?” Sadly, I had to answer that I didn’t know–because there were so few followers of Jesus.
Some of the students called it “stupid love” because it did nothing to protect self and its honor. Such love was way outside their cultural norm. Later, however, several students told me I was the only adult that talked with them about marriage, including the positive role of sex, and they were thankful for my input.
Picture: the boys playing on the back dirt yard with friends.