Wednesday, January 14, 2009
My Spanish is "Muy Mal"
I am still "decompressing" from the mission trip last week to Jamaica. It was a good trip - no one got really sick, no one was injured, and our work went well. More importantly, we developed the relationships needed between each other, as well as the native Jamaican people - which is what connecting people to Jesus Christ is all about.
It was a different trip for me, in that I could speak English. You don't know how important that is for me....because you see, I am HORRIBLE at Spanish. Just horrible.
On my first trip to Guatemala in 2004, I spoke NO Spanish...well, not quite true. I could say "please" and "thank-you" - but that was about it. Wait - I knew the word "caliente" meant "hot", and I picked up from listening to others on that trip that "Soy" meant "I am". So, in front of a group of 20 pre-teen Guatemalan girls one day, I thought I would show off my "smartness" and said, "Soy caliente." It WAS hot out that day, for goodness sake!
You should have seen the looks on those girls' faces...I knew in a second that I had obviously said something taboo! They all begin to giggle and blush. I found out much later that you should not say "soy caliente" to indicate you're hot - temperature wise - but only if you're hot...to trot, that is. Oops. Who knew.
I came back from that trip, determined to learn the language so I could communicate more with the people. I signed up at a local community college, and by the next summer, had 10 hours of Spanish under my belt. I'm feeling pretty confident.
I've learned to not feel confident. That's what gets me into trouble every time. Here are just a few mistakes I've made:
1. I was trying to compliment a family with regards to their very large pig. I wanted to say, "You have a very fat pig." Well, it somehow came out as, "You are a fat pig". Imagine the look on the woman's face when I said that. Oops.
2. I was trying to tell a waiter in a restaurant that my friend wasn't hungry, which in Spanish, would be similar to, "She doesn't have hunger." Well, the words "hunger" and "man" in Spanish are VERY similar...so, I guess I ended up saying, "She doesn't have a man." Oops - imagine my embarrassment. The waiter looked like he was ready to volunteer and step up to help my friend out, poor thing.
I've had a few other mistakes...but I don't let it stop me from at least attempting to use my Spanish on trips. I tell people to just have fun with it - what's the worst that can happen?
Well - I guess the woman's husband could have shot me for calling his wife a fat pig...and I guess my girlfriend could have ended up with a Guatemalan boyfriend - I don't think her husband would have appreciated that...so perhaps you SHOULD be careful with what you say! My son says I speak "Caveman Spanish" - maybe I should just grunt on my next trip?!
Be sure to do YOUR part today to save the world - one day at a time, one action at a time. Learn a new language so you can communicate with others - but take it from me - be careful!