Este Fin de Semana

K… I wrote this like 2 weeks ago and was trying to translate it into Spanish. It was taking WAY too long, so I decided to just post it…

My ever present vice didn’t abandon me last night: I didn’t embrace responsibility and sleep at a reasonable time. I stayed up very late watching movies. Unfortunately this weekend pattern means I often miss my weekly church gathering. Morning services present a difficult adjustment for me. I love my new church community, but weekends are my time to relax and catch up on sleep too (I take “day of rest” quite literally :)). I’ve never been a morning person. It takes my brain a few hours to function at normal capacity. Without divine intervention I’m not spiritually sensitive in the mornings. My deepest and most transformational thoughts and actions typically take place beyond noon or late at night. I admit I’m a grumpy zombie in the mornings!

I missed the chance to connect with my Colossae family this morning. My only consolation was wonderful sleep! I woke up not wishing to miss out on fellowship entirely and looked forward to meet new friends at Iglesia El Buen Pastor. Their service time of 5:30 gives me the glorious ability prepare mentally and spiritually. I arrived over an hour early and watched the musical praise team practice and joined in their prayer time. The skill level of the musicians during practice struck me. They have so much energy, skill, and ethnic flavor!

I discern already that Pastor Rubén Castro is a man of prayer, a strength I highly respect. He welcomed me as soon as he saw me sitting in the back. I was welcomed by many others as well. Pastor Rubén graciously introduced me during the service and told the story of my desire to learn Spanish and imminent visit to Peru. There were a number of first time visitors, and we all got a cool gift. I am humbled by their warm welcome and felt accepted as part of the family. Any fears I had are gone, and I look forward to pursuing this relationship unhindered. I can’t wait to see my Spanish speaking brothers and sisters again next week. If you are looking for a Spanish speaking church family to visit in Beaverton, I highly recommend Iglesia El Buen Pastor.

“You can’t help but dance because it’s so festive!”

I loved singing in Spanish. There’s something special about worship music in Central and South American countries. The style and tempo are addictive, and the people generally sing with more energy and passion. I have difficulty with self-awareness regarding expressive worship when I look around and see no one moving or appearing passionate. I don’t want to stand out. It’s so much easier to be free and less self-conscious when others set a precedent of freedom and expression.

Ironically I am less distracted and more focused when singing and hearing prayers in other languages than in English. Isn’t that weird?! Even though I don’t understand all that’s being said, I feel more connected with the Spirit of the words. I was powerfully moved by every aspect of the gathering today.

My understanding of Spanish is very limited. I probably understand a quarter of spoken words at full speed from speakers on the stage, which isn’t always enough to derive the meaning of whole sentences. I wanted to share basic conversations in Spanish with those around me, but failed miserably today. I understood maybe half or two-thirds of what people said to me (I don’t feel too bad, since I’ve never studied Spanish). I couldn’t summon responses quickly and was glad that many people knew English. Otherwise my awkward silence and stumbling wasn’t stifling. I refuse to get too comfortable and will focus on learning some conversational phrases.

Several people offered me their translation service via an audio device – a very welcoming and progressive service. I politely declined because I want to wrestle with Spanish. It would be hard to pull words out of the Spanish while my ears are drowned out with English. Even the translator admitted this processing is difficult, and he’s perfectly fluent! It’s better to sacrifice what I might receive from the message for a time until I am proficient in listening and thinking in Spanish. Hopefully I’ll be able to quickly learn some conversational phrases so I don’t rely too much on the proficiency of people’s English. I’m not looking for accommodation!

Portuguese responses kept coming to mind today. At least twice I caught myself saying, “Obrigado” instead of “Muchas Gracias” and mixed up “Mucho Gusto” with “Muchas Gracias”. Ha, ridiculously bad! I’m pretty sure I can’t learn and retain multiple languages. When I learn a third language, the second quickly fades away. Sometimes even my English seems to fade, as if my brain’s database has a limited number of records!

I remember almost zero French from high school. When I tried to recall the French, I spoke it using Portuguese pronunciation rules. The same will probably happen as I learn Spanish. I predict my Portuguese knowledge will soon be a distant memory. I envy people with enhanced or natural ability to learn multiple languages. I enjoy connecting with other cultures, but I have no special linguistic ability.

I translated this blog post into Spanish just for practice. I could have pasted the whole thing into Google Translate, but then I’d learn nothing. I welcome your corrections to my poor translation. My original English text is included in case my Spanish is so bad that you can’t tell what I’m trying to say! I primarily employ a word-for-word translation using a dictionary and verb conjugation book. I don’t know enough Spanish to replace whole phrases with more communicative thought-for-thought equivalents.

Situación de Vida

I’m not going to write anything lengthy or profound tonight. Straight to the basics.

My lease is up in about 5 weeks, and I’m planning something unique. I want to learn Spanish, particularly so I can speak to people in Peru if and when I visit my sister’s family there.

I want to rent a room from a Hispanic family near my work. I will contact at least one Spanish speaking church in the area to develop a relationship and to begin my search for housemates hopefully with their help.

I believe God is the creative One who gave me this idea, so I assume He will provide according to His plan. I would never think of such a cool idea by myself! It’s like an immersion exchange program in another country, but right in this neighborhood! I can’t wait! (though there will be challenges – I need those!) I need to find some very patient people. It’s kind of a weird thing to ask of total strangers. It is cool being part of the Church… I know there are brothers and sisters in every tribe and tongue, and I have every desire to treat them the same as those who share my name, blood and language. Hopefully I can find someone to welcome this weirdo American dude.

This is beyond my ability to accomplish. I have ideas on where to look, but only God can arrange it well. Please pray for me.