Jesus the Other Sun
Walking Along the Lighted Path…
After I left the United Arab Emirates, the last of seven foreign countries in which I lived and taught English, I planned to become a speaker. I wanted to share the knowledge of the different cultures that I’d gleaned over the years. I loved cross-cultural communication, and I believed it was a natural outgrowth from my years of teaching abroad. Living in the Middle East brought together a culmination of cultures in one location. I was extremely blessed to live in the midst of this multicultural, multilingual base. One day I decided I’d rather teach about culture than English.
With my speaking goal in mind, I gathered clothing, pottery, whatever I could carry that could exemplify a culture that I wanted to speak about. My target was to bridge any misconceptions people in the west had toward those from the Middle and Far East, Latin America and Africa. For years, I’d been doing the opposite, trying to bridge the misconceptions that other cultures had of the west.
Shortly after I came back to the US, I was asked to speak at a pre-school / day care center. I was so excited!
One little boy shocked me when he asked me this question: “Do all Egyptians carry guns?”
That was not something I expected to hear from a four-year-old boy. When he raised his hand, I imagined that he would ask me about the pyramids or pharaoh, but that wasn’t the case. It kind of broke my heart that children pick up these negative impressions so early in life. From parents? The media? I realized then that God had placed me in the perfect position to educate him and the other children about how kind and good the Egyptian people I knew and lived among really were.
Though I was certain that was the right plan for me, I ended up writing about my travels instead of speaking about them. Then I started teaching a cross-cultural college course on the Far East and took on teaching some classes in Spanish. That, along with coping with vision and hearing loss, set those plans on hold until I got my life back in order. When I finished my book, Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith, I realized that I had also stepped out as an advocate for those with hearing and vision loss. I had the same speaking goals as I had earlier. I wanted to bridge gaps in understanding and move past prejudice and preconceived notions.
I’m learning that being an author goes hand in hand with speaking and educating so it’s not a completely new arena.
Probably the biggest challenge for me will be hearing all the questions my audience might have for me afterward.
But, again, I know that God would not place me in a situation without a solution and He will work out those details.
So, it’s only now that I’m actually taking on the role I envisioned for myself ten years earlier. I have to so much to share about the world–the way a distinct group of people think and believe, what they value, how they express their sense of family and what their history is. I haven’t gotten any requests for talks on other countries but I’m ready when they come.
What I’m starting out with is my faith and how God has worked through my various situations to show that He is faithful to me and loves me. I have given two talks on this. Now, I’m starting to move into new areas:
On February 12, I will be speaking to a mixed group of authors about being a vision-impaired author and what it was like to write and publish Mobility Matters. On March 13, I will speak to a group of senior citizens on macular degeneration, offering tips and sharing my story. On March 24, I will be delivering a class on “Awakening the Senses,” to another group 50+ years. I’m so grateful for the opportunities to share what I’ve overcome and to encourage others.
I don’t know what type of speaking engagements God has in store for me at this juncture of my life but I’m really looking forward to finding out. I can speak to both Christian and secular and civic groups, not only about faith and vision loss but also about getting involved in your community, making a difference, animal rescue, loss of all types. If you’re curious and would like to find out more about what I love to talk about, you can find a list of my topics here.
Change is exciting; branching out in new directions is also motivating. I love connecting with others and sharing insights from my experiences. I would also appreciate your prayers as I take this new step and trust God to provide outlets for me to speak, sell my books and break through barriers.
What new plans are you making in your life today? It may not be a career change but moving in any new direction is always challenging, exciting, maybe a little (or a lot!) frightening. If we focus on what we can bring to the table, it will be rewarding. We may never know until we try it!