"The indescribable feeling of holding my first book in my hands..."
Yesterday (Oct 14, 2020) I received the first copy of my first book, and there are no words to express how I felt. I spent probably twenty minutes revisiting the stories that once were just part of my imagination.
And perhaps you can think: "What is a big deal in writing a book?"
Well, for me, writing a book in English (my second language) is a huge deal. Why?
Because I always was the worst student in English!
So, allow me to share a little bit of my story with you:
When I was in grade four, my dad received an invitation to work as a pastor in another town, and it was the first big move we did as a family. We were very excited about the new house, the new city, and the new school. My dad's new job didn't pay much, but there were some great benefits, such as my sister and I received a scholarship to study in a private Christian school. Indeed it was a great opportunity; however, I remember when the English teacher entered the room: Her words were unknown to me. It was my first experience with someone speaking in English with me, and I have to confess that it was traumatizing. My friends couldn't avoid laughing at me once they realized how lost I was there.
The bad experience became a trauma, but I didn't allow that to defeat me! It became my goal to learn English and to prove to myself that I could do that!
Word by word, listening, reading, and practicing, little by little, I began to enjoy the new language. My family had to move again, and this time there was no scholarship or private English classes anymore. Back to public school, in a time when learning on the internet wasn't a reality, I felt like going back to square zero. Learning English was once again a distant reality for me; nevertheless, a dream never abandoned. Life continued, and a while later, another opportunity came along. A contest to earn an English course scholarship for the best essay. I knew it had to be mine. I did my best, and even though I believe I won it because most of the other students didn't even do it, I resumed to study English. I was placed in a class where once again, I was the worst student. Everyone my age could speak but me. But I didn't give up. I registered for an international program to become a Youth American Ambassador, which I didn't get accepted (my English wasn't good enough).
After high school, working full time, going to college, and doing ministry took over all my time. For four years, English wasn't an option. But once I finished it, I used some savings to make my first international trip. With a group of friends and family, we went to New York and Miami in 2012. What an experience! Of course, it was incredible to travel abroad for the first time, but it also allowed me to realize that I couldn't communicate in English yet. My communication level was limited to ask things like, "where is the bathroom?" and "how much is it?" I went back home, determined to study once again.
I moved to another town to live on my own for the first time. I was working and studying in a Bible school seminar during that time. And it was there, in 2013, that a calling to serve as a missionary came. My first thought was: "I must go where I can communicate." So, I began to look for places where I could serve speaking Portuguese or English. God directed me to a project in Texas called PAIS. I moved to Texas, and once again, I couldn't speak English. People from all over the globe would come to serve, and I felt unprepared for the task. But I was enjoying the experience of serving and helping. After six months, my friend and youth pastor invited me to lead a team. I had to do a test. Oh well, the test was in English. I wouldn't be able to use my hands or pointing objects whenever I wanted to describe something. "don't panic, Lucas, you got this!" As you can guess, I didn't pass the test (but it was for 1 point.) The leaders recognized that English was a struggle for me, and they let me try it again. And the second time, I did it! I needed 80, and I got 81. Great!
But now, I was the leader of five people, an American, two Germans, and a British girl. All fluent in English. But you probably heard that quote: "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called." I was sure the unqualified one. After one year, I could speak English, not 100%, but I could.
Back in Brazil, I started to teach my friends what I learned, and it began my new job, an ESL teacher. An invitation to teach in a local school came, and to take the job, I had to go back to school to get the papers. And I did.
Lots of studies, dedication, and it was never easy. But with God's grace, I was able to communicate better and better.
In 2018 I moved to Canada to work as a youth pastor in the city of Victoria. And it was here that this project came true.
For me, it is a tremendous joy. This book is proof that dreams do come true.