Birthdays for Lily Cunningham (in May), and Shawn Markie, the club recorder, (June 24) were noted by Bostic, and Markie was presented with gifts and cards as the club members sang “Happy Birthday.”
After the group recited the Pledge of Allegiance, Bostic read the Scripture John 14:20-21 and commented: “We all have a habit I know of going down the roads or up the roads and we see so many things on the side of the road, birds, trees ... we get in the habit of it and pay no mind to it. And you know, that is the same way that we do our Lord I’m afraid.” She continued, “Sometimes you know, we just get in a habit, maybe a habit of reading the Bible and you know we just read it and maybe we just ignore it, we’re not even really paying the mind to it. We need to get back on track and when we see these things we need to pay attention to them.”
Bettie Marlowe, staff writer from the Cleveland Daily Banner, introduced Shanna Weekes, Spanish translator for The Church of God and secretary at the church’s general headquarters. Marlowe explained Shanna does missionary work for the church and has traveled abroad and ministers stateside as well. Also, she is a small group leader, a Sunday school teacher and outreach coordinator at The Church of God, Southside.
Weekes began by saying there have been a lot of things in her life that led up to where she is right now, and “I am grateful for the opportunity to be here to reflect with you today on some of my travels in the work of missions.”
She told how she came to learn to speak Spanish fluently. “Even as a little girl, from as early as age 10, I can remember having a desire to learn Spanish and at that time I really didn’t understand why I felt such a strong leaning toward learning the Spanish language, but at that time I was also a piano student.
“My piano teacher was a great inspiration to me, because she was married to a native Spanish speaker and she herself was fluent in Spanish, and I was always fascinated just to hear her talk and to listen how she can have a conversation in a completely different language and it always intrigued me how she got to know it,” Shanna said.
Weekes said she took piano lessons for about eight months, then her teacher moved to Paraguay in South America. She said that when she was in high school, she took Spanish classes in all four years. And later, Weekes went to college, earning a bachelor’s in accounting. But while in college, she took an elective class in Spanish to help boost her GPA.
Weekes said she’s learned it’s one thing to grasp a language from studying books, but the real key to fluency in another language is immersion and interacting with native speakers of that language, because one can develop an ear to hear what is spoken, which is very instrumental in understanding and communicating effectively.
She graduated in 1995, but it was eight years before she had the opportunity to use Spanish productively. She said she became acquainted with a friend who had moved to this country from Honduras, and Weekes was asked by her new friend if she was willing to teach her how to drive, so the time she spent teaching this native speaker from Honduras how to drive gave her the opportunity to practice her Spanish. Later, she said, there came another opportunity in a friendship and relationship, which prompted her to begin her fluency in Spanish.
Weekes referred to a Bible verse as a Romans 8:28 situation, which reads, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” She said, “That is definitely something that the Lord was working for my good, somehow, someway I didn’t understand it at the time, but from that friendship and that relationship, I was able to develop fluency in Spanish, and I’m really grateful.”
Weekes said in 2002, before she had done any traveling, she had a desire to obtain a passport, but it was five years before she was given the opportunity to take her first trip outside the United States — to Costa Rica. Since then, Weekes said she has been on five additional trips. She says she, her co-workers and her pastor, E. Roger Ammons, who spoke at the February United club meeting, have traveled on many missionary trips to other countries in the last seven years.
And she gives God the credit for the opportunity to go on these missionary trips, starting with Costa Rica. She went there to be the Spanish interpreter for the church convention, because one of the other translators normally sent e had to be in another country at the same time.
“I did not realize at the time that it was going to be the beginning of many adventures to come. It certainly was,” she said.
Weekes’ second trip was to Nicaragua in November 2011, and her third trip came in April 2013, when she went to Peru. She emphasized the reason for going on that trip was it was an official missions trip to that country. The first three days she and her group were there they conducted a revival and a workshop and attended a national convention. She said the trip to Peru was one of her most important, because it was a missions trip. She got to participate in the missions part as well as the interpreting part of this trip.
“For the most part I just go as an interpreter, which I love to do, I really do, I genuinely enjoy that, but I really enjoy it when I can actually be a part of spreading the gospel as well, actively spreading the gospel, interacting with local people and just sharing the love of God.”
Her fourth trip was to Honduras for a ladies retreat in July 2013. She pointed out: “I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but the very first trip I took was 2007. The next trip I took was not until 2011, then all of a sudden in 2013, there were two trips in the same year and I really believe, honestly, the Lord’s timing is perfect.”
She added, “There’s just some things that bear witness and you can’t deny it’s God’s moving you in this area.” She told of her trip as a camper to Honduras to youth camp with about 230 people in attendance.
A week later, she hopped on the plane for Chile to be an interpreter at their national convention there.
During her talk, the speaker passed around her tablet with photos of her travels.
Weekes concluded by saying, “As far as the future is concerned, right now I don’t have a trip planned, but of course, I’m very well aware that God has called me to do this. It’s an open road — I just want to go wherever he wants me to go and do whatever he wants me to do. And I want to mean that from the heart, because doing this has been a great blessing to my life. It really, really has enabled me to see how God can take somebody with an accounting degree — that has nothing to do at all with going anywhere outside the United States — and completely change my plans. I just want to encourage you that it’s never too late ... basically I feel like I’ve kind of been thrown in the middle of a career change, so to speak, as a 36-year-old. Again, I count it a privilege, because I know in my heart, this is what I really, finally, genuinely want to be doing. I just want to be open to fulfill God’s plans for my life.”
Bostic showed a picture made with shells and sand on a background in the shape of the country of Haiti framed with bamboo, which she gave to the guest speaker to be presented to E. Roger Ammons, who had spoken about Haiti at the United Club earlier.
Weekes offered gave the closing prayer. Shane Braizer, a guest, won the door prize, compliments of Steve Robinson of Cleveland Plywood. The second prize was won by Weekes.
Others attending were Kent Gunderson, Barbara Tucker, Juanita Poteet, Martha Ledford and Alexander Delk; and visitors Sonya Willhoit, Shelia Quinn and Shane Brazier.
The next meeting will be July 28 at the Golden Corral at 11:30 a.m. Visitors are welcome.
For more information on the United Club, contact Bostic at 479-9207; Charles or Joanie Lupo at 478-5766; or Markie at 476-5426.