Como esta Ud.?

Last week I was privileged to work with Language Plus, an intensive Spanish in course that YLM in conjunction with the Lutheran Hispanic Missionary Institute (LHMI) held for the first time. I learned that the word for guinea pig in Spanish is "conejo de India" (Indian rabbit). Seventeen people came from around the country to learn espanol with a Lutheran spin. We asked the instructors, who were contracted from a local language institute called Language Plus, Inc., to gear the curriculum towards people interested in Hispanic ministry, and each evening featured a related presentation put on by LHMI. Knowing you can go to any of like 20 countries and learn Spanish, I think that was a big part of what gave our intensive experience an edge over other programs. The rest of the days were filled with a 3-hour morning block of instruction, a 2-hour afternoon session or field trip, study/free time, and Rita's authentic Mexican cooking. Someone told me once that eating the food someplace helps you learn the language, and I think there may be some truth in it.

My role in all of this was pretty front and center. I was part of the 3-member planning committee, and out of all of us I wound up having the most interaction with the students, both in person last week and via e-mail/phone calls during the registration process. It was hard work thinking through all kinds of details and trying to make a good impression, but it was a joy to be a part of and I have to say I am proud of the end result. I sat in on a few of the classes on Monday to see what they were like and make sure the professors didn't need anything, but quickly realized I was NOT going to sit through 25 hours of stuff I already knew. The rest of the week I took them on field trips and out for some relaxation in the evenings, ate meals with them, and made myself available for study time. One day I sat with this pastor from FL for almost the whole time and worked on pronunciation by reading a children's Illustrated Dictionary. I had way too much fun checking Spanish children's books out from the library by the way. Another day I helped the same pastor read through Salmo 23, and I also answered a ton of questions. I have never wanted to use my Spanish degree to teach, but I always kind of looked forward to helping others learn the inner workings of a beautiful language that I had to learn just like they were and have grown to love. I even learned a neat tidbit about adjectives that kind of function as nouns, but I won't go into detail. We are already talking about offering the course again next year, maybe more than once, and I would totally love to help pull it off again. I also hope that some of the same students come back and hopefully test into a higher level than this year, because they were wonderful to meet and spend time getting to know. I am trying to get some of them to come back and bring servant events! My home congregation, St. Paul's-Des Peres, MO, was well-represented between me, a church member that I kind of knew named Laura, and a guy who grew up there and whose parents still attend but who is now a pastor in CO. There were LOTS of pastors in one place when the whole group got together! Here is what my week looked like:

We had 3 class blocks--1 section of Principiante Alto (High Beginner) and 2 sections of Principiante (Beginner). This photo is the Principiante Alto class.

The Principante classes...

There was a strong emphasis on conversation...the students had to practice repeating everything they were taught again and again.

Wednesday's field trip was to Ranch Market, where they all had to walk around asking people where things were, how to say things in Spanish, and how much things cost. Before heading out to take a few pictures, I tried a strawberry tamal, which I had never heard of until Tuesday but was soooo yummy. They had pineapple too.

Joel, me, Twyla, and Pancho (Frank).

We had a fiesta on Friday...I told them they had to be able to read the cake before they could eat it.

Language Plus gave each student a certificate, and YLM/LHMI did too, later on that night!

Group pic + YLM/LHMI staff + Language Plus instructors.

Susannah and Frank from Atlanta, GA, right before we left for the airport. I think the Spanish is going to their heads...

"Spread the Gospel at all times. If necessary use words." and "They don't care to know until they know you care." became the catch phrases for the week. Our hope in all of this was that everyone would take what they learned, go home, practice, and hopefully somehow use it to share the saving love of Jesus Christ with Spanish speakers wherever they're from. One cool thing that happened before they even left was on Friday afternoon, as we were leaving the Mercado Mayapan, which had been our field trip for that day. One of the instructors, Steve, had driven separately and was saying good-bye to everyone, and as he shook my hand he said he might see me at church sometime. He mentioned that he had been looking for a church, so of course I told him he was welcome anytime. Who would have thought??? Pray that he will indeed come, and that he will find what he's searching for in San Pablo.

Back to servant events this week, the last one until October. The Canada group is splitting into 3 groups: I'm pretty sure Chris is going to have me on the Sparks house crew, except I do have to either stay back altogether or leave early one day for a post-Language Plus recap meeting.

Until next time, blessings!


tchrchill said…
What an awesome thing the intensive turned out to be. Thanks for all your hard work on it. I hope there will be several every year, filled with more people who want to share God's love with Spanish speakers.

I really enjoyed being there and seeing it unfold. NICE PEOPLE!