Along with language study, I was teaching English several nights a week. This was tiring and demanding, but necessary to have a resident permit. The school gave me some training, and combining that with my experience in Alaska, I was able to do a credible job.
My students were all adults seeking to improve their English, mostly for advancement at work. Having paid for the classes, they were motivated and engaged in the learning process. They wanted conversation practice, and that made the class time go quickly.
One night, classes were called off because there had been a bombing of the school during the day. After the explosion, the director of the school went to his office and found a great shard of glass stuck right into his desk chair. If he hadn’t been out of his office at the time, he certainly would have been killed. These were uncertain times.
Terrorists weren’t the only danger. After class one evening I said to Barbara, “There is good looking woman lawyer in my class. She sits right in the front row and looks at me lovingly. Tonight I noticed that her eye shadow matches the green color of her eyes.”
That got Barbara’s attention. I suggested that she come to class with me the next night, and she was very much in agreement. When my lawyer student saw what a fine, elegant wife I had, she gave up and moved to the back row for the rest of the semester.
This was the first of a long series of female students and teachers who showed an interest in me. This was not because I’m suave and handsome, but because I have an American passport! If a woman could snag me, I’d literally be her passport out of a difficult and dangerous country.
These women were all attractive and intelligent, so it was a thrill to have them signal a desire for a personal relationship with me and there was a temptation to play along.
However, rejecting this and following the leading of the Spirit instead, I would immediately tell Barbara about it. Secret desire and titillation is powerful but confessing this temptation to the proper person takes away a lot of its strength.
I am thankful for a wife who is secure enough in Christ to listen to my struggles and help me. After telling Barbara about it, I would take her with me to class and that always broke the focus of my “pursuer.”
Along with language study and English teaching, we were put right into ministry with John. This actually proved to be of benefit linguistically, as it forced us to put into practice what we were learning.
John had an English language meeting on Sundays in his home for workers who wanted to worship together. We were thankful for this, attended every Sunday and soaked in the fellowship.
Most of the dozen workers in the city when we arrived had been there for ten years or more, and during our first year, many of them were forced by the government to leave. This was usually accomplished by a refusal to renew their work contracts.
We were the first of a new wave of workers that came in at the beginning of the 80’s. It was our privilege to build on the long, hard and often frustrating work of these pioneers.
In the early 60s, OM had started an annual conference for their workers. There they had organized a correspondence course to find people interested in spiritual truth as well as a literature committee to translate Christian books into the local language. They also set up a Bible translation committee. The only available Bible was very outdated, old enough so that most young people could not understand it, and a fresh translation
Later in the 60’s, when workers from other organizations began to come into the country, they were also invited to OM’s annual conference and were given the privilege of being in on the decisions concerning the three committees’ work. This open-armed, inclusive attitude laid a foundation of unity and cooperation that continued on for years, one of the few countries that had such harmony among different groups of workers.
An additional encouragement for unity came from the fact that there were so few of us. With so little fellowship possibilities, the normal points of contention among workers shrank in importance. The unity was wonderful.
What other woman could compete with Barbara!