One of my fondest memories of Danielle's childhood was watching her take her first steps. We had noticed she was getting more and more active so we bought a camcorder to record the special moment. Then one day Suzanne, my Mom and I were excitedly watching and cheering for her as she took her first few steps on her tippy-toes before dropping to the floor. Undeterred, she got right back up and took a few more wobbly strides before falling again. I am so proud of her now since she has mastered this skill :-)
I got to thinking about this whole learning to walk and baby steps metaphor of late. As I have mentioned in some earlier posts "the conquest" of the Spanish language is taking a little bit longer than I thought it would. For me, learning the language has been like learning to walk all over again; a slow process with lots of stumbles but I keep picking myself up and trying to push forward.
One of those stumbles was attending our first Spanish language Special Assembly Day last month. To be honest I really did not learn ANYTHING. By the Baptism talk my brain was fried and I just shut down. It was so hard to try to keep up with the words. My head was tired from trying to translate and when I used the dictionary to look anything up, I would miss several sentences so that too set me back.
There are, as well, those times when I want to say a few phrases to someone in the Kingdom Hall and even though I have practiced, somehow when it comes time to actually talk, the words just do not come out correctly. Or they come out sounding very "anglo style" and not authentico. Or the times that the friends do talk to us, but get impatient and say their thought in English because we have taken too long to reply in Spanish ( please hold for translation).
For each of those "stumbles" however there always seems to be a little "pick-me-up" as well. For example after the session at the Special Assembly Day we got to talk to our C.O. and his wife for a few minutes. When he saw us he said: "I remember you, you are going to be needgreaters!" He then joked that I looked as though I were an overheated car with steam coming out of my ears. He and his wife were very encouraging and told us not to give up. His wife added that for her it took about 5 years to be entirely comfortable in Spanish, so definitely take a long term approach. We appreciated their comments, they are both Americans so for them Spanish is not their native tongue either. They reassured us that at the next assembly in Spring we would be able to understand more and would see how much progress we will have made by then.
We also got a boost when we were visited by our new "old friend", Jenn Hirt (see July 2011). She was in the States and came by for a few days to visit us. Jenn is brave! She took a real chance coming here as we were all battling a nasty cold/flu thing and were again feeling a little bit down. At the time we were beginning to doubt whether we could really do this or even if getting to D.R. was going to be possible for us. It was such a pleasure to have her visit at that time though. Jenn has such a positive outlook and gave us little push in the right direction to help us get our thoughts back in order. I find it to be interesting how someone can give you that "just right" word at that "just right" time. What another fine blessing we enjoy as servants of Jehovah!
Alas, there are THOSE MOMENTS. WHEN EVERYTHING SEEMS TO GO RIGHT. WHEN ALL YOUR WORDS, THOUGHTS, AND PRONUNCIATION BLEND TOGETHER TO FORM A COHERENT, WELL STATED SENTENCE OR THREE.
Perhaps you remember the old Karate Kid movie. When Daniel was ready to quit his lesson thinking that he was just doing work for Mr. Miyagi and not learning anything. Miyagi then has him go through all the moves he had learned ("wax on- wax off, paint fence Daniel-san") Lo and behold he wasn't just doing the chores but when put into practice he was learning Karate moves.
Not that I have such moves but I enjoyed such a moment a few weeks ago. One of my co-workers is from Cuba and is not very fluent in English. He also is active in his church singing in choir and such. Recently his mother had passed away and I had not seen him as he was away on bereavement leave. On this particular day I saw him in the warehouse and went over to express my condolences. He began to talk about how much he missed her but he knew she was "with Jesus". We then got into a nice discussion about the resurrection; I was able to quote him some verses from 1 Corinthians 15 and Revelation 21. He thanked me for sharing those thought with him and when I looked up we had been talking for about 10 MINUTES! OH YEAH AND IT WAS ALL IN SPANISH!! Okay maybe 80% kinda like a Spanglish but you get the picture. It was a baby step in the right direction and I thanked Jehovah that if only for a moment I was able to glorify him then.
THOSE MOMENTS, are the ones give me hope for the future. Yes it seems as though we are now in an uphill climb, but others have passed this way before and so can we-at least that's what I keep telling myself. The friends in the congregation have been extremely supportive, "cheering us on", commending us when we make a comment or read a verse. Most of all, we are keep asking for of Jehovah's blessing. We know that with his backing and the blessing of his spirit and continued effort on our part nosotros hablaremos Espanol bien muy pronto!