For mother and daughter, Marla and Cait, developing friendships with people from other cultures and backgrounds is a passion they share, so they began volunteering in our English as a Second Language program.
For mother and daughter, Marla and Cait, developing friendships with people from other cultures and backgrounds is a passion they share. They share a deep knowledge and responsibility knowing that God has called us to serve our neighbors who are different from us. As a result of this love and passion, they began serving in our English as a Second Language program in January of 2023.
Marla first heard of World Relief while living in Turkey as a missionary in the 1990’s. During her time living in Turkey, they experienced a devastating earthquake. Together with her husband and ministry team, they partnered with World Relief to assist in disaster relief and aid for the victims of this devastating event. They were able to help with disaster efforts for several years before eventually moving back to the U.S.
After being in the U.S. for some time, Marla knew she was ready to start serving again. Because of her familiarity with our international work, she knew World Relief would be a great opportunity. However, what spurred her on was her daughter’s decision to begin serving with World Relief North Texas.
Cait, Marla’s daughter, has had a different journey than her mother’s. Growing up in Turkey she was surrounded by friends of different cultures, religions, and backgrounds, which has served to give her a deep love for all people. As an adult, Cait found herself living in Sacramento, California with her husband and two young children. In Sacramento, a close friend of Cait’s volunteered with World Relief Sacramento where “she would share her experiences with me and I could relate and was drawn to her work. I really resonated with the mission and the heart of helping others that I heard about World Relief.” Cait then moved to Texas and decided it was time for her to get involved because of her passion to come alongside and empower others.
Where Passion and Action Meet
Marla and Cait decided to volunteer in World Relief North Texas’s ESL program together. Both of them expressed different ways that they relate to and love the work they are involved in. For Marla, she feels from her time living in Turkey as though she can empathize with the different struggles a refugee experiences when being resettled to a new country. For Cait, it is from her own personal experience of growing up in Turkey and having Iraqi refugee neighbors in California. Her neighbors did not know English, and she saw how hard communicating was for them. “I thought, it must be so limiting to be somewhere and not be able to communicate, be independent, be confident, and to build friendships.” This is where her heart for volunteering with ESL began.
Both have used their personal life experiences to relate to the newcomers they serve in different ways, and it has transformed them. “I love learning about those who come to ESL class and about their lives.”
For Marla, she has enjoyed the blessing of getting to be with the students who come to ESL. “It is easy and fun for me to be with people of other cultures and develop friendships with them, and I see that they are growing and improving in their English.” To see these men and women taking steps to learn English and acclimate to a completely new culture is brave and empowering. Marla shared that “to take those first steps with them is very encouraging.”
For Cait, serving with ESL has caused her to reflect deeply on what it really means to be the body Christ. To be the body of Christ means doing what He calls us to do in our respective places and to do what he calls of us in Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” For her “It is very humbling to get to know their stories and how strong they have to be.”
For most of us, we have never had to live anything like what they have had to live through. And yet they still show up and do what they have to do to survive and thrive in this country. “It is so important as the body of Christ to come alongside those who have been and are going through trials,” Cait shares.
The Why Behind Volunteer
Serving in ESL has even challenged Marla and Cait to exercise empathy and compassion in many ways. It is a mission for them to constantly communicate with their students that they care for them. It especially gives the women “a sense of being encouraged and supported by a teacher,” which might be something they have never experienced before.
Even among the challenges of language barriers, having to be adaptable, and deal with outside distraction, they choose to volunteer. They volunteer “to do something that is bigger than myself, that is outside of myself, and that’s allowing Christ to exercise his heart for people through me” says Marla. Marla recognizes that she becomes a stronger and better person when she is serving. She believes it is important to be a role model for her kids and grandkids through serving refugee neighbors.
It is allowing “Christ to show up instead of being sufficient ourselves in our own comfortable spaces” shares Cait. “It’s challenge, growth, and beauty.” It is especially beautiful that this mother and daughter are able to serve and empower others in Jesus’ name, together. “It’s super cool I get to do it with my daughter.” What a large impact they are making to generations of their own family members, and those reading their story.
If you have an interest in empowering people and assisting with a fundamental need, join Cait and Marla, and serve with our ESL team!