ACTS 16:9,10: And during the night a vision appeared to Paul: a certain Mac‧e‧do′ni‧an man was standing and entreating him and saying: “Step over into Mac‧e‧do′ni‧a and help us.” Now as soon as he had seen the vision, we sought to go forth into Mac‧e‧do′ni‧a, drawing the conclusion that God had summoned us to declare the good news to them.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hermano Ventana

   I have often fancied my last name Windham, as an elegant, regal name. I imagine that there was at one time some royal rich dude-The Earl of Windham perhaps- who left England and sailed for the new world; landing in Alabama where many generations later my father would be born. By this reasoning I further imagined that back in merry old England there is a Windham Estate, long abandoned and waiting for an heir (me) to claim it. My visions of  "Windham Royalty" have been reduced these past few weeks.
   It seems as though when we have introduced ourselves to the Spanish brothers rather than hearing "Windham"(say wind-um- the h is silent) they were hearing "window". So for a while now I have been "Brother Window". ( I am fairly sure there is no window estate) Things reached a crescendo on Tuesday morning during the meeting for field service. Hermano Blanca was organizing car groups and he asked my name saying he had forgotten. I reminded him of my last name and he said : "Hermano Window". I kindly corrected him "Wind-um" and added "no ventana", ventana being the Spanish word for window. All of a sudden there were several friends saying out loud : "ooh, wind-um; no window, no ventana". This went on for about a full minute during the meeting for service. Afterwards, several friends came over and were like : "wind-um, si?" Needless to say at this point I'm thinking that I should have kept quiet and continued as Ventana, but things calmed down and now I can rightfully reclaim "my estate".
   Our first month in the new congregation is coming to an end and NO we still can't speak Spanish(well). One of the big frustrations has been giving what I call baby comments at the meeting-you know like "Jehova"-and feeling quite proud to have pronounced it properly. The experience is humbling but the friends here are super supportive. Many are immigrants to the U.S. and had to learn English as adults. They have been relating their personal experiences to us and encouraging us to stick with it and reassuring us that this can be done. One piece of advice that has been constant is that they all said watching tv and listening to radio helped them learn English. My Spanish hasn't improved much but I am up to date on Muchachitas Como Tu,  Caso Cerrado, and El Gordo y La Flaca  :-)
   We have had some ups and downs during this time. As mentioned comments are limited. The meetings are a challenge at times. It is quite frustrating to sit through a whole talk and not understand anything that was said. There are those moments though when you listen to the speaker and it just clicks! For now they are few but as the weeks have passed are getting more frequent. I am also appreciating that the way that different friends speak can have an affect on your understanding. We have a multitude of countries represented in the congregation and each has a slightly different accent and some different terms they may use that is unique to them. Then there are the ones I call The Fast Talkers. Imagine the scene- an auctioneer at the podium "five do I hear ten? Sold to the man in green!"-  Yeah now try to follow as someone speaks that quickly and you get the idea. This has stressed to us the importance of our pace and pronunciation- we want to be easily understood so even from now we practice speaking clearly and correctly.
  We have enjoyed the ministry here though it is a little different from the English congregation. The number of homes that are Spanish speaking are few in comparison to English. You may only have a house or two on a street to call on so the territory is much more vast than we are used to. Street witnessing is a big part as well. Last Saturday morning there was a group of 20 who went out at 7am. I joined them and was promptly thrown into the fire so to speak. I assumed someone would help me but no, the brother said "we go one at a time, you can do talk to those guys there". So here I wander over to the truck with the landscaping crew and first words out of my mouth? "Do you guys speak Spanish?" Duh! Yes they do-you don't- just offer them the magazines-I said to myself! I prayed all the way over to the truck and managed not to fumble the brief presentation thanks to Jehovah.
   All things considered this has been a good start to our time here. We are receiving a lot of help from the friends. Many know of our plans and have had only positive words of encouragement for us. We are enjoying the warmth of the Spanish culture as well. The friends are very welcoming. It is considered good manners to speak to everyone at the meetings, say a greeting, hugs and kisses, shake hands, etc. It makes it hard to leave quickly  but you can never get enough love you know. 
   Well, that's just a brief update from our first month. Jehovah willing we will enjoy many more as we press on to our goal of serving as needgreaters in the near future. :-)   

Monday, September 19, 2011

All Good Things Must Come To An End(?)

   I have been a bit philosophical lately, thinking about commonly accepted ideas and looking at them critically, challenging them if you will. Take for example the above statement. Most people are familiar with it, perhaps even uttering it once or twice. Why though do we accept it? Who was the first person to say this and why? Were they having a particularly tough day at the time, indeed what led them to feel that if something is good it won't last?
   I began to think about this after our recent district convention (no, I didn't take any pamphlets from the protesters outside). As mentioned earlier our family has recently changed to the Spanish congregation. Our recent convention was the last time we would be with the friends from Lake Mary for a while. So I guess you might say we were back on the emotional roller-coaster again: joyous to sad and back to joyous again.
   We thoroughly enjoyed the convention program. Having our convention in September, we had heard bits and pieces from about it from others in the months prior. Finally getting to go, we were not disappointed! What a great program! Reminders about seeking the kingdom first, our conduct as subjects of the kingdom, the final talk on Sunday and the dramas, oh the dramas! Yes, I am not ashamed to say my eyes got a little moist during Saturday's drama. We left feeling refreshed and spiritually well fed.
   So why the sadness? I guess the realization that this was truly "the end". We were no longer part of Lake Mary congregation, time to move forward. To make matters worse, the Sunday drama was performed by a number of friends from Lake Mary congregation. So there we are sitting in the audience watching friends we have known for years perform and thinking "we not going to see so-and-so". At the end of the convention, we sat in the car in the parking lot, not wanting to leave-it was a very quiet ride home.
   Things picked up midweek as we started attending the Spanish meetings though. As expected we were warmly welcomed and we "jumped right in" going in service with all our post it notes, dictionary and index cards with our presentation; was even able to make a comment during Sunday WT study. We have found a lot of encouragement from several friends in the congregation who also are not native Spanish speakers but have made the transition. It gives me hope, which right now is something I need. Nothing quite as frustrating as sitting through a talk and missing major portions of it, or everyone laughing at something funny that was said, but not understanding what's going on. Oh well, I guess Rome was not built in a day- hey wait a minute- isn't that another one of those "wise sayings"!
   So, after a week of emotional ups and downs and a new start in a new congregation what conclusion have I drawn? "All good things must come to an end". Whomever was the first person to utter this statement must not have been a servant of Jehovah. Why do I say that? Well I take our experience. Yes, we are missing our friends in Lake Mary already. We had a "good thing" there for ten years now. However we are now in Longwood Spanish and it is as if we have already been there for years, it's very familiar in a good way. I think also about the joys that await us when we finally get to DR, good things as well. Not to mention our hope as servants of Jehovah: life eternal in a paradise serving our loving heavenly father surrounded by brothers and sisters who love us. Everlasting life- now that's a good thing that will never end! "All good things must come to an end". Really, I think not.