In the spring of 2018, Barbara Foxhall quit her job and took a leap of faith. She used her gifts to start an English as a Second Language program at St. John the Divine. What she didn't know is that she would be changing lives for God in Christ. This is the story of how Estela Conejo and Olina Xu have been touched by God and St. John the Divine.

Estela

My life changed in different ways. Now if people speak English, I understand and I feel very good. I feel comfortable. Second, I can talk to my boss in English. I understand when they talk to me, and I can explain if I need something. I have more opportunities to work. Many doors opened. I like to speak English – I love this language!

I have children. Two of them are in college. I want to help my son. He is in college and he has to pay. When you speak English, you can work in different jobs. You have more opportunity. I have a little baby that is 11 years old. I can help her do her homework, and I understand when she asks me some questions. Another reason to study English is that I live in the United States and this is the first language, so I need to speak English.

I went to be volunteer in the Guild shop once a week or twice a week, or sometimes every two weeks. I'm very happy to do that because I want to help them, too. And I feel comfortable when I stay there. The people are very lovely, too.

I would pray to God to work in this church! I love to stay here with these people. I feel peace in this church. These people are very friendly and lovely and I like to stay between them. Maybe in the future I can work here!

I want to say thank you for providing us this school. I'm very happy and I want to say thank you and thank you for the teachers. I think that they have many things to do in their house and in their life, but I want to say thank you because they want to put this time for us. And they do their best. And thank you for this church. Thank you for this opportunity.



Olina

My ESL class is so wonderful — everyone loves it. We learn English, and we also learn something about love. We share stories.

We all have our own dream or goal. Some of them are moms. Some of them looking for jobs. Some of them, maybe the grandma learns English for a family or for looking for a job. I’m so glad some of them didn’t come because they find a job! They went to work! And some of them, they have better English to talk with their kids. That’s really important for us. So we’re working hard. And our teachers, Barbara and Sarah, they’re working hard too.

Our teachers not only teach us English, they invited us to their home to watch a movie. The movie was about God. We talked about the movie and we learned more about God, and love, and faith. The volunteers come from 12:00 to 1:00. They spend their lunch time with us, and they share stories, and we talk more. The English is better, and we learn something about U.S. culture.

I come to ESL class, and the church service on Sunday. I was baptized here, and I took the Alpha class. We learned about God and the Bible. I bring my daughter. She goes to Sunday school because when I was young, I went to church with my grandparents. I don’t understand all the things, but it’s always like something in my heart – like a light. I want my daughter to go the same way, so I bring her here. She always asks me, “Mom, when is Sunday?” Two of my classmates heard my daughter’s story and they wanted their kids to come to church.

There are Bible classes. One is by Charlie [Holt] and another one is by Ida [Glaser], and the other one is by Mr. Reagan [Cocke]. It has inspired me. I feel really good, like a butterfly, because at the end of class, he said, “Maybe you’ll make something for this project to explain what you think.”

This morning, one of our classmates, her husband died. We had a service at St. John. It’s really important for her. She feels so warm because she has a community in church. Everyone here is like sunshine on their face and light in their eyes. It’s my honor to be a part of this big family with God!

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