Accidental blasphemy, language learning, and an introduction to one of our students.

Dear Friends and Family,

So teaching in another language certainly increases one's chances of turning into a heretic. While I generally feel pretty good about the progress I am making linguistically, I definitely still have 'colorful' moments. My favorite slip-up this month was when, instead of calling Jesus a 'healer', I accidentally called him a 'witch doctor'.  Classy, eh?

I am currently feeling the pressure of a convergence between my teaching load and my other responsibilities (writing, fund-raising, and whatnot). One spiritual benefit of this is that it has brought to the fore the fact that I have been able to be very self-centered in my work these past several years. During the doctorate and post-doctorate, most of my time could be invested in me: my calling to the mission field, my education, my writing, etc. Now it is coming to settle on me that it is time for me to be centering (a lot more of) my attention on my students, on the people I came here to serve. To be honest, it's a little bit of a hard pill to swallow some days, when I miss my freedom! But the students are incredibly gracious with my clunky Spanish and are certainly rolling with the punches academically, so that is helping me get over myself!

We would love for you to get to know some of the students we're serving here in Colombia and to have the opportunity to hear about what kind of difference your support is making in their lives. So we're kicking off a new monthly tradition of including a student profile (see below). I hope you enjoy putting faces and personal stories to the abstract ideas of our ministry...I know I have!   

Peace be with you all,

Christopher, Michelle, Judah, Asher, and Zoe Hays

From Michelle

While there is so much to be thankful for, our continued cultural transition can be humbling and very tiring at times. Some days I feel encouraged that my Spanish is improving only to have a small child correct my awkward language later in the day. As I get to know more people here, I am increasingly aware of all that I have to learn, not just about living in a new culture but also about my faith. I have been moved to tears listening to two women in particular tell stories of their families' deep dependence on God and of God's protection and provision for them in times of extreme need. Some of the things they have experienced are hard for me to even comprehend, yet both of these women stood before me full of hope and took the time to encourage me and remind me of God's truths. If you think of me, I would appreciate prayer for continued language learning, adjusting to life in a big city, and finding my role in life and ministry here.

Featured Student

Harold Zurita Medrano is one of my (Chris') students and my weight-lifting partner. He's 44 years old, father of Daniel (age 6) and Keren (age 3), and husband of Dorildy. After a rather dramatic conversion experience, Harold dedicated his life to the Church, and was a pastor in his native Cartagena (on the Caribbean coast of Colombia) for 10 years before coming to Medellín ִin 2012 to study at FUSBC. He says that for years it was his dream to come study here, and that when he finishes his degree, he will return to Cartagena in order to resume pastoral ministry and help train the many pastors in his denomination who don't have the opportunity to experience seminary education. In addition to studying full time, Harold also teaches a regular class in Medellín's prison as part of the Bible Institute the seminary runs with inmates, helping transform their lives within the walls and preparing them for new starts and for Christian ministry on the outside. Harold is a brilliant example of the multiplying impact of theological education and a flat-out inspiring guy.  
Judah on an outing with his dad, exploring Cerro El Volador, a large hill of protected green space within the city.

Praise God!

  • That the boys are enjoying school and making friends.
  • Asher was pushed up to the first grade in his school, in spite of the fact that his age put him in the 'Transition' year. We were really worried that Asher would be bored effectively repeating kindergarden, so this is a huge blessing.
  • That Christopher's Spanish is coming along and proving sufficient for the task at hand (however much it still is exhausting!)

Please Pray

  • For wisdom in a research project that Christopher is working with here in the seminary. It is on the subject of internally displaced persons in Colombia (see here for an introduction). The issue is a huge one for Colombia, and we want to be good stewards of this research project, and generate ways to translate our findings from paper into action. 
  • For the development of some close friends for Michelle and Christopher. 
  • For the final 10% of our monthly support to come in. 
  • For spiritual energy. Both Michelle and Christopher feel pretty spiritually depleted. Getting up at 4:30am every day may have something to do with it. But we'd love a boost to counter some of the (totally normal) cultural fatigue!
Colombians are a very affectionate people in general, but even more so with babies. Zoe is basking in all the attention she gets at school drop-offs and pick-ups, soaking up the choruses of her fan club: "¡Ay, qué hermosa!" and "Ay, qué linda!"
Copyright © 2014 Christopher and Michelle Hays, United World Mission, All rights reserved.
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