One of my favorite activities here in Nampula is teaching a martial arts class at a local Christian orphanage. I had already been teaching classes to the expat community when one of the leaders of the orphanage asked me if I would consider teaching there as well. Before the first class, I was a little anxious about teaching such a large group of boys and girls ranging in age from 5 to 20 years old. The Portuguese words for “roundhouse kick” and “fighting stance” were not words I had picked up during language learning! Could I adequately communicate the level of respect and responsibility that is required when learning a martial art to ensure they would not hurt each other practicing when I wasn’t around?
After my first class, I realized I had nothing to be nervous about. These kids are family and take care of each other. I teach the class in an ugly mix of Portuguese, English, and Korean (the language of the style I teach), relying much on demonstration and help from the kids to fill in the gaps where my vocabulary is lacking. Although we train barefoot in a dirt yard without uniforms or belts, several of the kids have been taking their training pretty seriously. Recently 12 students took the test for gold belt (faixa amarela). While I don’t have belts to give them, I was able to give them certificates signifying they had met the requirements for that level.
Like many MAF missionaries who are pilots, mechanics, and teachers using their God-given skills to bring Him glory, God is using my hobby and passion to encourage a group of kids … one kick and punch at a time.