On Friday I told the story of how I spent two years with my back turned on my God-given calling to be a teacher. True, it wasn’t totally within my control, as my wife was attending university in Tucson, AZ, and I couldn’t get a job teaching French. And God is good, for He used the entire time to help solidify in my mind that He wanted me to … Teach!
But how to get back into teaching French, when there wasn’t much need for French teachers in the United States?
God had this figured out as well…
As my wife neared the end of her post-graduate program, she began thinking about a job. One day in January, she happened to notice a bulletin board that she had never noticed before (And yes, we actually DID watch a physical board in those days…). Going over to investigate, she realized that there were job openings pinned to that board (And yes we ARE old enough to have been looking for jobs before the computer age…). She idly began scanning them, and one in particular caught her eye. It was for a Speech-Language Pathologist with something called the “Porcupine Health Unit”, in a place called “Timmins, Ontario”. Now, for my California-born wife, “Ontario” meant a city east of Los Angeles. When she would later look it up, however, she realized it wasn’t in California at all. In fact, it wasn’t even in the United States! It was in Canada!
Wait. Canada. Don’t they speak French in Canada? Aren’t French teachers at least able to finds jobs in that country?
We would learn that “Timmins, Ontario” was actually way up in the north in the eastern province of Ontario. Undaunted however, she applied for the position, and the Health Unit flew us out for an interview. It was mid-February, and while spring was beginning to show its head in Tucson, Timmins was still deep in the thralls of their coldest month with temperatures of -20 to -30 C. We were thrilled by the novelty of it all, however, and figuring winter was about over, we didn’t let it faze us. The interview was a breeze, and my wife was offered a job on the spot. Speech-Language Pathologists were in short supply in those days, especially in northern Canada, and the interview primarily was about convincing her she wanted to work for them!
They also put us up in the fanciest hotel in the town, they dined us and escorted us around the region, they rented us a car, they even set me up with an interview with the local public school board. Is any one surprised that French teachers were also in short supply in that northern town? Before we left, I also was offered a job!
The Health Unit set us up with a real estate agent, and they even contacted the local member of parliament about our immigration applications and offered to sponsor both of us through the immigration process.
Was this God calling me back into teaching? I mean, how did a note from such a far-away place end up on a bulletin board in Tucson, Arizona? And how was it that my wife just happened to look that day at the notices? It didn’t seem that God could be any clearer, and needless to say, we both accepted our job offers and begin preparing to move from the desert of the American southwest into the northlands of Canada.
One of the sad things I had to do before moving to Canada was to inform my clients that I would no longer be serving them. I took some of them out to dinner to make the announcements. Most of them were retired, and all of them were sad I would be leaving. It made me question my decision. Fortunately, it was already too late to put a stop to our move to Canada.
After telling my clients, I still had one more notable person to tell: My manager. The perfect opportunity would soon present itself. He invited me out for lunch. Excellent. I would pop the news at the end of our meal. What I didn’t know was that he had ulterior motives for inviting me for lunch. He began his spiel by telling me what a great Financial Planner I was, and then he offered to promote me to office manager. My mouth dropped open, and I gulped to keep from choking on my sandwich. “Well,” I said, “I am flattered by the offer, but I was just going to tell you that my wife and I are moving to Canada at the end of June, and, well, I wanted to hand in my resignation!”
Talk about God’s timing again! If we hadn’t already had all of our plans made to move to Canada, would I have been tempted to accept the promotion and stay on? I don’t know, but I’m happy God removed that temptation from me.
My wife and I loaded our things on a moving truck at the beginning of June, but since she wasn’t scheduled to begin work until the first of July and it would take 3-4 weeks for our things to arrive, we decided to camp for three weeks at her parents’ home in southern California. It was probably around 35 degrees C. in Tucson at that time, and only slightly cooler in California. We had only taken a few clothes with us, mostly shorts and T-shirts and sandals, and the rest of our clothing was on the moving truck. It was, after all, summer. We wouldn’t need anything else! You can imagine our dilemma when we arrived in Timmins at the end of June to find it was… 3 degrees C!
It didn’t daunt us at first, for I was so excited to be back in God’s will for my life. It was hard, however, to remain optimistic when we were having to borrow winter coats from people to stay warm, while the locals were all running around…in shorts and T-shirts! And of course, all the local people thought we were crazy. I don’t know how many times we were asked, “What in the world made you want to come from Tucson to…Timmins?!” After awhile we got tired of this question, so we started telling them that one day we had succumbed to heat stroke in Tucson, and when we woke up, we were in Timmins. At least it broke the intense seriousness of their question…
In all, it was a good move for us, and we thank God for bringing us to Canada. God’s Word says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). He has His ways of getting us back on track, and His timing is impeccable. I praise God that He went to such effort to get me back on track, and the entire experienced caused me to realize how important it is to rely on Him…for everything!
In His love,
(To view the entire “Lessons From the Classroom” devotional series, please click here.)