First days of class

Dear Friends and Family,

I've just completed the second day of class, and am casting about for the right metaphor with which to describe how I feel about this initial exposure to teaching here. My first class went well and I had a ton of fun; the second one was rough, insofar as the brought my UK laptop cord to class instead of my US cord, with the unhappy result that my computer (and rather crucial PowerPoint) died after 5 minutes! If we were missionary baseball players, the fact that I'm batting .500 would be pretty good; of course, getting a 50% in an academic environment translates to an 'F'!  

The students here are tremendously kind and encouraging. It's already become clear how bright and tenacious many of them are, and I very much admire the sacrifices they are making to be here. Some of our students are in quite dire straits financially, such that eating three meals a day is out of reach for them. Many have left family behind (which is common in the US but hard for Latin American students, especially for those who are children of single mothers and feel an obligation to stay home to care for them). One of my students, who is also a young army vet, was robbed in his car just this week. But all of them are here with a clear sense of calling to the ministry of the church, and it's not a pious pretense when I say that I really do just wish that I were better equipped to teach them as they deserve.   

By the way, a week ago the post brought us a lovely gift: a calendar with pictures of a great many of you all. I was delighted by this surprise my sister planned for us, and am very glad to have you all adorning our wall. Thank you!

I'd better hurry back to work now. There are lots of lectures to write and translate, a new MA to begin planning, and I really need to find my US computer cord...

Peace be with you all,

Christopher, Michelle, Judah, Asher, and Zoe Hays

From Michelle

January is "back to school" time here in Medellin when vacation ends and normal schedules resume. Much to Judah's delight, Medellin seems to be an entire city of early risers. When we walk down the hill to school at 6:30 a.m. it feels that we must have been the last ones in the city to wake up. The roads are already absolutely jammed with buses, taxis and lots and lots of motorcycles all carrying people to school and work. Both Judah and Asher are making friends at school and coming home each afternoon with a handful of new Spanish words and phrases. Thanks to all of you who have been keeping them in prayer over the last couple of weeks! I have been continuing lessons with my Spanish language tutor and am feeling more confident in my ability to communicate. While I still make lots of mistakes, I am enjoying the fact that I can begin to build relationships with people now and navigate normal day-to-day interactions successfully in Spanish. 
Judah and Asher are both doing an impressive job at integrating into their new classes with only a little bit of Spanish knowledge. Judah's classmates really want to learn English from him and are constantly asking him questions about living in the United States and England. This morning when I dropped Judah off a flabbergasted boy asked him in Spanish, "Judah, can it actually be true that you have seen REAL snow?!" 
A view of one of the mountainside neighborhoods of Medellin to help you picture our city

Praise God!

  • For a reasonably smooth transition into school for the boys.
  • For a successful and smooth first day of lecturing for Christopher.
  • For the other missionary families in our agency that we've met here. There are some great people from UWM/LAM working here in Colombia (in the seminary, or planting churches in other regions, or caring for impoverished kids in the worst parts of the city). It's wonderful to see the different parts of the body of Christ working at their unique vocations, and we're excited to be a little part of that.
  • For the chance to be settled in our apartment and in my new office. It's great move into a place without knowing in advance when we'll move out!

Please Pray

  • For my development as a teacher and as a speaker of Spanish.
  • For God to bring us the remaining 10% of funding we need to stay on the field long-term.
  • This month our seminary president allowed me to help with a grant proposal, aiming to build our library a bit and to prepare for our MA program. Please pray that the proposal is successful. We'll hopefully hear the result of our application next month. 
  • For Michelle and I to develop some close friendships quickly. 
  • For wisdom about what local church to make our home. 
  • For the boys as they deal with the emotional challenges of learning Spanish.
We came across this iguana while visiting Medellin's botanical gardens with friends. The next day Asher described a dream he had in which we all got to ride giant iguanas with orange feet to the grocery store instead of taking taxis. 
Copyright © 2014 Christopher and Michelle Hays, United World Mission, All rights reserved.
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