Being in Class with John Cropsey

(by Eric)

Classes are in full swing.  Our team is dispersed through three of the five classes here (no one in the most advanced classes), and I have been slotted in a class of eight, with Alyssa and John.  And I am thankful for this, and I will tell you why.

In our language training course in Colorado, they would say: "No one will ever speak French the way that you will speak French."  This was certainly true of John in Kenya with Swahili, having coined the popular exclamation "Hapana Sana!", which literally means "Very No!"  It doesn't exist in the language, but the Kenyans loved it.

What about French?  Well, if there is a difficult pronunciation, John will not stop until he gets it, though he may have his head in his hands after his fifth attempt.  And he will often stretch his currently limited vocab in order to make a joke for the moment.  And from what I've seen, his methods work.  It's the brazenness of an effective language learner.


Our teacher was telling us the difference between "etudiant" ("student" in masculine form) and "etudiante" ("student" in feminine form).  She uses me as an example.  If I were to say "Je suis etudiante", then people would look very strangely at me.  We all have a small laugh, and the point is made.  But then John comes in with his best accent blazing:  "Eric, tu es transvestit!"

And on it goes, with the whole class laughing every day, and no one more so than Alyssa and I, who are experiencing exactly what we thought we would be experiencing, going to class with John.

What is the effect of this on me?  It is primarily that the classroom has become a place where I am free to make my mistakes over and over again, in front of my colleagues and my instructor.  My pride (which I wrote about earlier) is not so loud here, because John's many antics and linguistic misadventures have changed the tone of the room.

This is significant to me.  We are a community of friends who believe that God has called us together.  People ask us how we created this community, and it's a bit of an awkward question, because it rather happened to us.  But if there was any idea that distinguished us, it was the willingness to take seriously the friendships that God has put in our lives.

And this is so often the way of it in life.  It is the everyday effect of such friendships that make all the difference in shaping and molding us into we are.  Here God pulls out his seemingly favorite tools and sanctifies.  Amazingly, he uses broken people with divided but free wills to get done exactly what he wants to get done.  There is no greater craftsmanship, and it is to his glory indeed.

I can see it here.  The effect of John's everyday presence in the classroom is what I need, and I see it as a gracious answer to my prayers and the prayers of you all in response to prior writings.  However, I doubt that it is happening just here.  Look at the everyday relationships of your life through this lens and trust enough to wonder how God might be using these relationships to work his will, to glorify his name.  And remember then that you have been put in their lives, as well.

"But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be."  - 1 Corinthians 12: 18

(Addendum:  The morning this posted, we had an assignment to write a mini-biography of a famous person for the class to guess.  I wrote 'en francais' something like: "I am English.  I wrote lots of mystery novels.  My favorite character was Hercule Poirot.  The UK made me a knight for my books."

It went off really awkwardly, and not even the teacher could understand what I was trying to say, and no one in the group knew that I was talking about Agatha Christie, even the British student.  So I was apologizing.  

John went next: "I was very tall with a black hat.  I was president during the war between the north and the south.  I maybe had Marfan's syndrome, but I was killed before the syndrome got me."  He then started trying to explain to our teacher the word "arachnodactyly".

I felt quite a bit better.)


Mrs. Wong said...

Oh, thank you for making me laugh out loud. And a most excellent spiritual application.

Uttz Family said...

You sharing the genders reminded me of our two long years in Latin. I know you'll end up rocking it with French since you kicked my butt in Latin! Glad you have some laughing moments too, since we lacked that a lot in Latin. Ahhh memories...love ya

Melanie said...

Fabulous post and brilliant spiritual application indeed.

DrsMyhre said...

Looks like DrsMyhre already commented, but from the other half . . love the humility and humor that will take John's team leadership far, and the grace that Eric has in recognizing and appreciating friendship. Tu es all great.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing!
merci beaucroupe