Four months into our transition and all goes well. One thing that has been a bit of a surprise to me is how little we actually get to converse in Spanish. In our typical week we only use Spanish at the meetings and in the ministry and even then, I would say that 90% of the friends in the congregation speak English to us. As is the case in many congregations, in the field we seem to have more NH than anything else. This has presented a challenge for us to try to improve on our ability to communicate in Spanish.A few weeks ago however I had one of those "ah-hah moments"- you know where the heavens part and a bright shining light beams upon you and a celestial voice points you in the right direction. We were finishing up service on a Saturday and we were in a strip mall where there is a Spanish store that serves hot lunches. We decided to get some to take home with us for lunch. So, after deciding what we wanted I went to the counter and ordered: " Me gustaria tener pernil y arroz blanco con habichuelas y maduros ; para llevar por favor." The fellow behind the counter smiled and had a very pleased look on his face. He asked me where I learned to speak Spanish and without really thinking about it I said "in school". We thanked him for our order, paid the cashier, speaking to her in Spanish too and proceeded to leave. All of this I did without thinking or hesitating in any way, it seemed to come naturally.
Then about two weeks ago at work I was making a delivery to an office where two women who appeared to be Latinas were working outside doing some landscaping. I thought to myself "I'll get some more practice in here" and so as I walked past them I said "Hola" to which they replied the same. I then asked them "Como Estan Hoy? "Bien!" they answered. It must have been something I said because they looked at each other for a split second as if to say "is this guy for real?" and then looking back at me they asked if I was Puertorriqueno? I (laughed inside) smiled and told them no, I was Americano, but that I was learning to speak Spanish. I told them many persons spoke it and if I was able to I could speak to them as well. They told me I was doing good. I thanked them and entered the building to go about my work.
It was just then that I had the aforementioned ah-hah moment. I thought to my self that was a golden opportunity to tell them I was studying to be a missionary and to give a brief witness. When I left the building they had moved on to somewhere else and I did not see them any more. That incident made me think about looking for opportunities to witness to people in Spanish; just as I have always done in my native tongue. I shouldn't think that I don't know enough or what if I don't understand- just rely on Jehovah and make the effort, he will do the rest. I mean after all what good is it to speak the language and only use it to order lunch? I want to speak Spanish to help people learn The Truth!!! Last Saturday having this point of view paid off.
In our complex there are some new homes being built. For about the past month we have had construction crews coming and going. We were returning from service and as we were driving past we noticed the workers seemed to be at lunch. I remarked we should go over and talk to them. To my surprise Danielle agreed to go with me. Well, now I was stuck I couldn't back out of it. So, after parking the car at the house we grabbed our bags and walked over to the site. We said a prayer on the way over and I was shaking. I wonder what was in the guys minds as they saw us dressed in our service clothes coming over to them? A few of them scattered (maybe we looked like Feds?) but about seven or eight guys were sitting and eating their lunch. I said a greeting and just began talking to the group. One or two really listened and Dani and I focused on talking to them; all in Spanish of course! We were both able to place magazines and tracts with a few of the workers and were quite thrilled when we left. One of the guys started reading his mag right away as he was eating his lunch. I thought to myself: why had we not done this before?
This has made me more determined to be prepared to witness informally. In the course of my workday I come across a lot of people who are Spanish speakers. Many times they may work in positions that I have simply overlooked them- landscapers, construction, janitors etc. As I think about it though, if I am willing to pick up and move to a foreign country to preach, why not show the same zeal now in reaching some who are here but may not be home when the brothers go house to house. Who knows if simply showing interest in, and identifying myself as a Witness may lead some to listen. Would it not be a privilege to plant a seed of truth in some one's heart?
So, with a renewed focus I keep tracts in Spanish on hand and try to initiate conversation in Spanish wherever I can. With Jehovah's blessing, it is my hope that the end result may indeed be that some of the seed land on fine soil and bear fruit.