A Summer of Español and Lemon Pie

A Summer of Español and Lemon Pie

You didn’t hear from me last week… lo siento!

But my excuse is a great one.

Last week we were busy introducing some visitors, Jon’s sister and her friend, to life in Chile! It was absolutely wonderful to have family here for the Christmas season. We had a blast introducing them to our church family, making them try Chilean food, and touring them around to some beautiful sites. Stay tuned for a blogpost about their stay here, the thoughtful donations they brought for the church, and tons of pics!

Now that my apology is out of the way, I can share with you that…

It’s finally SUMMER!

My Caribbean soul is smiling thanks to the daily crystal blue skies and 80-90 degree weather. The downtown streets are lined with fruit venders from local farms, and the grape vines in our backyard are a couple weeks away from giving us Chilean-wine-worthy grapes. Yum!

So what are we up too this summer? Well, apart from eating as much fruit as possible, a major focus is improving our Spanish skills! Now that school is out for the summer, we have more time to dedicate to some intensive Spanish learning.

When we first arrived in Chile at the beginning of July, we were able to take two weeks of Spanish immersion classes in Santiago. Afterward, moving to our city of Linares was another special type of immersion. It is extremely rare to find English-speakers in our city so almost everything we do is completely in Spanish: grocery shopping, paying bills, visa paperwork, taking buses/taxis, church services, bible classes, and all conversations. Oh the number of entertaining and humbling stories we could share about our mistakes or confusing moments!

At first, simply living in a Spanish world was enough to completely tire us by the end of each day. When learning a language, it takes a while to get used to the rhythm and the slang. I would say it took me a good three months before I could really start to pull apart the mumble-jumble into separate words that made sense. I am no language expert but here is hopefully a good comparison for you to relate:

Imagine that you are learning English because you are moving to the USA. You study and study and feel like you have a good base knowledge of vocabulary and conversational phrases. Then, you move to inner-city Milwaukee and BOOM… you understand nothing. You are surrounded by seemingly really fast talkers and a type of slang filled with words or phrases that you have never heard before. 

Spanish, like all languages, changes according to the group of people speaking it. Chilean Spanish is a whole new world of words, idioms, and filler words like poh or ito. You might know that coffee in Spanish is cáfe, but then a Chilean asks you if you want a cáfecitopoh. I’m sorry. What? 

I think it is very safe to say that Jon and I have gone through a very clear set of steps in our language learning process. After those first extremely frustrating months when everything sounded like gibberish, we were then able to hold our own in regular conversations (at the cash register or ordering at a restaurant). Then things got even more fun when we could understand and participate in personal conversations about almost anything. I distinctly remember one day when I cracked a joke for the first time in Spanish. People understood me, they laughed, and I felt like a human again! Now, we are both in a place where we can hold our own in almost all situations. Man, it isn’t pretty or perfect, but we can communicate and that is good enough.

The beautiful thing is, even with the most basic Spanish skills, there have been countless opportunities to share our faith and church with those we meet, work with, and teach. Even with basic Spanish we have been able to encourage church members, participate in church activities, and even lead bible studies! Nothing is a barrier when the Holy Spirit is at work, even a different language. What a blessing it is to have confidence in His power and not our Spanish skills!

The more and more we can easily converse with others, the more opportunities there are to build relationships, encourage, and outreach. That is why we are so excited to dive into more Spanish this summer!

This week we started taking Spanish courses three times a week with our very own teammate Jenny Proeber. Don’t let her innocent sweet appearance fool you! We already have a Future Tense Project due next week!

 

But in all seriousness, Jenny is really pushing us with worksheets, interactive games, and conversational practice…and we couldn’t be more thankful! We are also working hard at speaking only Spanish with each other at home. Not easy but we’re excited to try!

We are also embracing the moment by meeting for classes at the local cafes downtown. This is partly to have a more professional setting than our houses and also partly in order to eat some delicious lemon pie.

IMG_20160112_154209 (1)

Learning Spanish isn’t as easy as pie, but it sure is more fun while eating one!

We are so thankful for the opportunities and resources God is opening up for us and are excited to use them as a means to serve Him and His kingdom. Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

2 thoughts on “A Summer of Español and Lemon Pie

    1. Thank you so much for your support. The work being done here has been fun and exciting. Our vacation bible school starts next week, prayers for the Holy Spirit to fill many children to be filled with the Holy Spirit are welcomed. God bless!

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