Saturday, June 7, 2014

No Hablo Español...

Without question, the most challenging aspect of moving to San José, Costa Rica has been the language. We came with essentially zero Spanish knowledge. Even though I've felt pretty good about my progression since we've arrived, there are moments when I wonder if I will ever really grasp the language. I had one of those moments on Friday night.

No comprendo.

I have connected very well with my church Dimensión Cristiana and with the people there. In fact, most of my tico friends are from that church. And I love having the opportunity to attend the Friday night small group for jóvenes called Huellas (25+). When my friend Ben and I arrived on Friday night, everyone was in a circle and they had just begun going around and having everyone share something God did in their lives during the past week.

As people were sharing, I couldn't help but feel inadequate because I could only understand bits and pieces of what was being said. This is generally the case for me in group settings or when someone's preaching (if I can't ask for clarification). I understand the overall topic and gist of what's being said, but miss much of the substance. It made me feel less capable to share. A part of me didn't want to have a turn. But another part of me did want to.

No sé la idioma.

When I was given the opportunity, I began with the following qualifier:
Esto es muy difícil para mi, porque no hablo español. (This is very difficult for me, because I don't speak Spanish.)
I then went on to share for around 5 minutes or so...all in Spanish. I even said, "No sé la idioma." ("I don't know the language.") twice during my time of sharing. Sharing, which as I mentioned was all in Spanish. Sharing, which was being understood by all the Spanish-speakers in the room. Sharing, which dealt with how God gave me three opportunities to share my faith (to a small extent) with Spanish-speakers in Spanish during the past week.

(For the record, I was incorrect as "idioma" is masculine and I should have said "el idioma" but I am far from perfect.)


I was so encouraged by my friends, especially after the small group had concluded. A number of people encouraged me by telling me that my Spanish is good. My friend Adrián was the one who pointed out the comical irony of my multiple references to not speaking the the language...along with the entirety of my sharing. In hindsight I have come a long way. Yes, I know that I still have a long way to go (probably a lifetime) but I have also come so far. And to deny that would be to deny God's favor in allowing me to come a long way.

That encouragement was continued today when my taxi driver commented on my Spanish. I didn't fish for any of these compliments. But I really did need them. I needed to know that I am making progress.

The message within the message.

While I was sharing on Friday night, a thought hit me that I hadn't thought of previously. I needed the Holy Spirit's guidance just as much when sharing my faith in English as I do now in Spanish. It's just that since language is a weakness for me now, it's easier to recognize. I think I really needed to hear that.

Through God's strength, I will continue to grow in my ability to communicate in Spanish. It's hard to believe at times now because I know where I'm at. But looking at where He's already taken me in 5 months, I am reminded that He is able!