Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass- it is about learning to dance in the rain.

Monday, November 24, 2008

In class last night we were asked to make a timeline of our personal bilinguality. It occurred to me later that the first time I taught a class in Spanish, I could barely speak. It was a Sunday School class in the jungle city of Santo Domingo de los Colorados. There had been no class for the littlest ones, only for older kids. So I decided to start a class for pre-school. I probably had a few first graders as well.

First, the church met in a storefront building that opened by a metal pull-up door (garage style) right onto the main street of town. The older children met out back in the patio area.

The only place for the young ones was a dark room off to the side that was intended as an office, if the space ever became a store. It was tiny, lit by only one 40-watt bulb. The walls were concrete block, unpainted. The floors were unfinished cement.

In this dank, dim prison-like room, I added a straw mat for the floor. I also purchased some small plastic toys, cars and other vehicles mostly along with a few other odds and ends all of which made the “Happy Meal” type toy look like something from FAO Schwartz. And like every good Sunday School teacher, I always brought cookies.

Word got around through the neighborhood that if you came to listen to the story there would be toys to play with and cookies to eat. So in addition to my own two boys and a couple of little ones of the church members, the neighborhood little ones began showing up. They were dusty and bedraggled, but arrived ready to sit and listen long enough to get a cookie and play for awhile

All week I would struggle with the lesson, looking up words in Spanish that I would need. When it was Israel and the wall of Jerico, I could not remember the word “muro,” so I ended up using “pared” – which is an inside wall. Really “muralla” would have been better for a wall around the city. And those are the things that I remember. The errors I KNEW I made. Lord knows what I really said.

But as they sat there for a few minutes with their little eyes wide open listening to this crazy gringa woman who let them play with toys and eat cookies, I realize that it wasn’t what I SAID that reached them. I so badly wanted them to remember that Jesus loves them.

And now, looking back 35 years, I wonder. Did any of it take? Did they get it? What do they remember about the crazy gringa woman who gave them cookies, let them play with toys and talked bad Spanish? Is that all? Or do they sometimes realize that there is a God who loves them and wants to relate personally? All I can do is wonder.


His Girl said...

such a sweet story.... and what a cool chica you are :)

Ballerina Girl said...

I am sure they remember you and in my opinion, they probably remember what you taught them too!

truth said...

I'm sure they remember. What a blessing it will be to see them in heaven one day, at least some of them. Those seeds that were planted, I'm sure were watered and have grown.

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Oh, I am certain they remember you. I'm thankful to have "met" you, PJ. You provide a much-needed influence on my life as I read about how you give yourself, your time and talents and skills, to our country's children, especially disadvantaged children and parents. You are one special woman, indeed. Blessings on you and your family this Thanksgiving!

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