A Pentecost Blog, I know it’s kind of cliché. Dianne and I are in a foreign land, learning a new language but here’s a funny short story. We went to Bible Study last Miercoles (Wednesday) and one reading was Acts Chapt 2: 1-11 (Pentecost Story). Alfredo, facilitates bible study by asking members what they think. Normally he has Dianne or I read a text in Spanish or English to help us become part of the group. Not this week, this week he asked other people questions they answered and then he looked at me and said "que mas Tomas"? (what more, is the direct translation but in this usage it’s “what else”) Gulp, OMG I don’t even know what the other people said, what am I supposed to say so I blurted out “Yo pienso, necesito el Espiritu Santo tambien”, I think I need the Holy Spirit also”. I was relieved when everyone laughed because at least they understood me and if you want to be part of a Bible Study Group, you can be scholarly but I think funny is better.
All kidding aside we do need the Holy Spirit to help us with Espanol. I know we get help every day from our Creator, just waking up healthy is gift enough, Dianne and I know this. On some days we just feel plain old stupido (stupid). It’s tough not knowing a language when we want to say and understand so much but you can’t rush it. It takes time, practice, more time and more practice. I can speak Espanol enough to communicate to a point but understanding it when it is spoken to me is a totally different story, I freeze up. Dianne on the other hand doesn’t speak it as well as me but she picks up on what they say to us, go figure. Thank God we have each other.
Tonight is our 1st ESL (English as a second language) with the adults and jovenes (youth) of the community. Our Schedule is Tuesday &Thursdays 6 PM with adults and youth. Wednesday & Viernes (Friday) 1 PM with the K-3 children. We’re expecting at least 10 or more in the older group and probably at least that many in the younger group. Everyone is very enthusiastic about learning English knowing the opportunities it will provide them. We are excited as well because now we’ll be interacting with many more of the community. At the immersion school we attended one of the teachers reminded us, “we are all learning, we are all teaching”. That will be our motto here in El Maizal.
Our method of teaching will be to introduce common words and phrases in the beginning, while also reciting and writing vocabulary for them to write down and study. We’ll also have constant review that will require the usage of the English the students learned. We’ll do this until we can have very simple talks about our community and our interests in English. It’s how the immersion school did it and it makes sense to us. From there you keep expanding the vocabulary, introduce verb conjugation, proper grammar, better pronunciation, the alphabet and it all builds on itself. While in class, little to no Espanol will be allowed. All the while they will be learning how to help us learn more Espanol. It tends to be a lot of fun because as teachers we’ll need to act out words, draw pictures and do whatever we have to in order to answer their questions without using Espanol.
The real benefit won’t be any of us learning a language, although I know we all will. The benefit will be that we’ll have to learn how to work together in order to learn. It’ll be different cultures, different languages and different backgrounds coming together. Can’t you just hear from Heaven that rushing mighty wind filling our classroom where we sit. (For those not up on the Pentecost story see Acts Chap. 2 verse 2).
I want to finish by sharing a brief conversation I had with Bishop Barahona last year when Dianne and I were still wondering if this was our call. I expressed to the Obispo (Bishop) our concern that we don’t know the language. He said to me “Tom, many people speak the same language but they don’t communicate, just communicate the best you can and with God’s help it will be fine”, he was right. We struggle mightily but we communicate and we wouldn’t want to serve God any other way, any other place or speak any other language.
Tomas y Dianna