Mario the First and Mario the Second

Conversational English classes have resumed at the community center. We’re continuing with Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. There are other programs going on too. There is an English kids’ club Saturday afternoon at the same time as my conversational class. Cameron is helping once again and is carrying a greater responsibility with running the games and is gradually working his way into teaching the main lessons. Doing this will allow our co-worker, Tim O’Brien (director of the community center), the opportunity to spend time with the parents who stay and watch.

I met a man named Mario who came to the conversation class on Saturday. He returned last night and plans to come for all the English offerings we can give him. He is much better educated than most of the students we usually see. He has a university degree in Systems Management and has about 10 years of experience in the automotive industry and in finance. He concluded a job about a year ago and took most of this past year to travel to resorts in Mexico to relax and enjoy the scenery. He is 37 years old. He speaks English but at an intermediate level. He’s teaching himself through some CDs from Oxford. This helps him with learning English but he has pretty much exhausted what he can learn through them and he comes up with questions that a CD can’t answer. He needs a person who can answer them. I’m happy to be that person. I also am praying for opportunities to speak with him about a relationship with Christ. His girlfriend (Beatrice or “Beti” which is also Beth!) is also coming and she is studying with Tim’s grammar class.

So why did I write the title of the post as “Mario the First and Mario the Second”? As I asked him questions about himself, mainly to hear his English speaking, but also as a way to get to know him, I discovered that he’s been looking for work and he’s had some recent phone interviews. The main thing that he learned in these interviews is that his English isn’t quite good enough for these jobs. I also discovered that he’s been making a little money to get by while working for his father in a shop that makes keys. Hmmmm…that sounds familiar. I asked him his father’s name and was surprised to hear him say, “Mario.”

OF course, there’s nothing surprising in a man having his father’s name. What piqued my curiosity is that nearly 5 years ago we had an older man come and take a week of English classes with the only group of interns we’ve ever had here. His name was Mario. He owned a key-making shop and lived nearby. That Mario came for about a year to classes, mostly when an older missionary named John Buynitzky was living here and teaching some English classes. After John left for Dallas, Mario disappeared and we haven’t heard from him since then. Yes, this Mario is that Mario’s son! And that Mario actually recommended to his son (“this Mario”) to come by the community center to ask for help with his English.

What a neat connection. I told this Mario, Mario the Second, to tell that Mario, Mario the First, “hello” and that I’m sure John B. would love to hear from him, and I’d be happy to pass along a message to him. It’d be great if both Mario’s would attend the classes. We’d love to keep building these relationships with the key makers. That’s the “key” to unlocking the opportunities to share spiritual truths above and beyond this goofy language that is called “English.”

By the way, Cameron comes on Tuesdays too just to be of help as needed. Beth and Dayton came last night just in case Beth is needed. We may very well end up with needing their extra help as each week we’re seeing more students come and of varying levels of ability. Two teenage girls came last night for the first time. One (Wendy) was in my class and the other was in Tim’s class. Wendy will begin her final year of high school this fall, and has hopes to study medicine in order to become a doctor. She’s been taking English classes at the local Technological University we have in San Juan del Rio, but she finds that without a native English-speaker to hear and talk to, she can’t progress in her English skills that she feels will be important to her dreams of becoming a doctor. Wendy is also a student that we hope will learn not just English but will learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Pray with us for Mario, Mario, Beatrice, Wendy and her friend (I didn’t meet her or get her name yet) that they’ll benefit from the English classes and want to continue. Pray that we’ll be able to develop our friendships with them and that God will open up their hearts to a spiritual direction as they get to know us too.

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