It’s kinda hard to believe how a little over one month ago, I was getting ready to fly to Mexico. This year was my first time going to Mexico, let alone, my first non local missions trip… which was definitely outside of my comfort zone. But I think through the one and a half weeks I was down there, it was a good push for me, and I was able to grow… a lot.
Before the actual trip, I was worried a little bit about the language barrier was going to affect me. But I knew there were translators there so I was not too worried about not being able to speak to the people in Mexico.
While we were down there, we had house visitations. I really enjoyed the house visitations because there were translators there to help us communicate with the residents. And to my surprise, the residents were very open and willing to share their story and any problems they were facing with us. With the translators we were able to give a word of encouragement to them.
During the night services, one of the memorable moments was during worship. there would be times when a familiar English worship song is sung in Spanish in which i don’t know the lyrics to. despite the change in language, the meaning is still the same form the minimal Spanish words that i could pick up. in the midst of the song, i would be able to hear a mix of people sing a mix of both Spanish and English it amazed me how regardless of the difference in language, we were still able to praise the same God.
So back to the language barrier, I knew I could speak a little bit of Spanish, but the Spanish I knew were textbook conversation, not vocabulary to actually converse with them and definitely not talk about God. Although it was on my mind I didn’t really bother me that much since I knew there were going to people down there to help us translate. So I didn’t really think about it a whole lot until going to the villages.
At the villages, we would walk around and invite the kids to come for our service, and there were people who taught us how to invite them in Spanish.
Then during the face painting time with the kids we would ask them what they want for face painting, and I knew how to ask what do you want, que quieres? things like airplanes, star, heart, simple vocabulary that I learned. and they could answer back and I would understand them and I thought alright things are okay, the language barrier isn’t a prominent issue.
But then when it was time for the crafts and I got in a circle with the kids. I started out by asking simple questions I knew such as what’s your name or how old are you… simple things like that. And they would reply to me with simple one or two word answer. When we started working on the crafts, some of the children sat there with a somewhat puzzled face. So I asked them if they needed help and they nodded. But some of the children I talked to replied quickly, I could only catch a few words. I had no idea what they said and could only smile and nod. I guessed that they needed help with the craft. in which I didn’t really know how to explain to them. I would only try to speak broken Spanish and use hand motions and gestures, and even though I don’t think they quite understood what I said, we could still communicate.
I was kind of disappointed because I wasn’t able to get to know the kids on a deeper level, or know more about them let alone, communicate with them. But I was later reminded that it really didn’t matter whether I was able to talk to them or get to know them, but as long as they had fun and got the message through the missionaries down in Mexico, that was enough. And like the worship songs, despite the difference in language, we are still serving and praising the same God.
How does one Spanish? I don’t know. How do you hold a conversation in Spanish? :o