I have been so discouraged and frustrated recently with Spanish, and in my pursuit of purpose, was tempted multiple times to give up on the whole thing. I had signed up several weeks ago to go to a nearby town and translate for their parent-teacher conferences at the elementary school. The town is extremely small, and most of the employment comes from the large factory. The school population has gone from 2% Hispanic to almost 44% in the past 10 years. They have new students coming in monthly who neither read or write, and who speak no English.
I was both excited and scared at the prospect of this opportunity to go and translate. My prayer the past few days was that the Lord would make it an encouraging, motivating experience and that I would be reminded of why I chose Spanish in the first place. As I drove there I just had this feeling of anticipation in my heart. I could sense the Spirit was with me and I was excited to see what He would do.
When I got there I found out that I was the only student coming until later on that afternoon. So....I was the only translator there! At first I was regretting coming early but later on when the rest of my group got there most of them weren't able to translate at all because the conferences were over and there were too many of them. The Lord had saved the afternoon for me to be refreshed and encouraged.
I spent the afternoon explaining report cards, projects, and progress to Hispanic parents. There were many who probably got more out of their limited knowledge of English than they ever would my broken Spanish. But there were some who stared at the teachers with blank stares until I translated what was being said. Their beaming faces when being told that their child was excelling, reading, and speaking in English was priceless. The Lord was using me as a bridge to bring news of hope to them.
I got to speak with many teachers and ESL workers as well about bilingual education and the situation in this particular town. It was fascinating, challenging, and saddening as well. Definitely gave me some other options for potential jobs someday.
One particular family was so friendly. The dad spoke absolutely no English. His 2 kids did all the translating for him, but he was so delighted to discover that I could speak to him. He told me over and over again how I would know spanish "muy pronto" (very soon). He was not phased at all by my atrocious grammar or vocabulary but just desired to talk and tell me his story. This is my one of my favorite parts about knowing Spanish. Over the years the Lord has used it so many times to connect with people. I love how using words I can get to know someone, hear their story, look into their heart. It was beautiful and such an encouragement.
I don't know why....but I really just love these people. I melt at any baby or child, but seriously I don't think there's anything more precious than a little brown-skinned baby with the soft black hair...or the sweet toddlers whose hair sticks straight up (all the boys in Guatemala have the cutest sticky-uppy hair) :) A little boy came toddling into the ESL room while I was waiting for a conference and I could barely resist picking him and kissing his sweet face. He smiled SO big and waved at me and trotted right into the room. Mr. Curious.
I wrote a short poem while I was waiting for conferences to start. I sat in a room by myself and and while I was nervous to see what the afternoon would hold I was just overwhelmed by God and His faithfulness that He took me to Guatemala, brought me here and given me the opportunity to talk with these precious people yet having this excitement that this is SO NOT ABOUT ME. I just got so excited to see His kingdom come through the lives of His children. His goodness and power working through my minimal Spanish, through aspiring musicians, through nurses in training, through future businessmen. He so graciously gave me this eternal perspective that I was just blown away. Those lies of purposelessness have been battled by TRUTH.
The Big Picture
You're doing something far beyond I can see
This work and this story going far beyond me
You're turning a little girls love into something great
A tiny golden flame to a burning blaze
I don't know exactly what you want me to do
I'm not really sure when, where, or who
But your hand is so strong on me I can feel
Your presence a power, your peace is a shield.
I'm excited right now to see all that you'll do,
It's a comfort to know all I need is to trust in You.
So, I have no more of an idea of what I'll actually end up doing with my Spanish, if anything. But the Lord's goodness has washed over me, refreshing my heart that was tired and discouraged. Praise His name!