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. :-)