Saturday, February 2, 2013

Espanol, a beautiful challenge!

           My journey in learning Spanish has been one with many confusions, celebrations, and something similar to a child learning their first language. I used to get told on a regular basis “no entiendes” (you don’t understand) or “tu tarea es a apprender espanol” (your homework is to learn Spanish).  Day by day and word by word for over the past 4 months I have acquired quite a good vocabulary of Spanish, well Hogar Spanish that is. One of the first few days one of the girls offered to help me. She took note cards from the biblioteca (library) and quizzed me on some vocabulary.  The girls also often correct my Spanish and especially my pronunciation which I truly appreciate and is rather humbling. Sometimes I even catch their mistakes which reinforces my own learning.
When it comes to the sisters the head sister started very slow and patiently with me including one day (a month later) when she asked my site partner to ask me how I want doing and didn’t believe it when I responded with “bien!” Another day she came into the dining room and asked if there was queso (cheese) on the table. I quickly responded with “Si, esta aqui” (yes, It’s here). She was very impressed with my knowledge of the world queso (a word which I’m pretty sure most Americans even know) and proceeded to tell the other sisters about it. But all I can do is smile and appreciate the acknowledgement.
The director of the Hogar when I first arrived (another sister) has also been tracking my Spanish ability, but a little more accurately. I still rememeber the first time I was able to tell her what I did on one of my days off. I had gone to a feria (festival), celebrated someone’s birthday, and then returned to the Hogar. The surprise on her face when I said more than that I had a good day was impeccable. She probably told that story to the sisters at least two or three times at meals that week. After that she was proud of me and decided to test me and show me off. She did this by quizzing me at meals by asking me what I had don’t that day/morning. As simple as that sounds when you only know present tense plus fui (I went) is quite a test, which only multiplies when you have 10 religious sisters waiting for your response. But, I always seemed to get something out of my mouth. One of these days I learned a Spanish distinction. As far as I’ve always been concerned mañana tomorrow. You can imagine my confusion then when sister asked what I had done “en la mañana” that day. In my mind she was asking what I was going to do tomorrow, which wouldn’t have been that much different. By the end of the day though I learned that la mañana is actually the morning and has nothing to do with tomorrow.
Another funny habit they have here is to add –ita or –ito to any word they choose. Usually that would mean smaller version but I think they just like how it sounds. For example, rapidito (fast), ahorita (now), porfavorcita (please), galletitas (cookies), sillita (chair) and I’ve even heard esquinita (corner). Other times they use it as a type of affection or knickname such as mamita, which is what parents sometimes call their little girls.
                I have also been blessed with the chance to pray in Spanish. I started learning the prayers of the rosary with a good friend and other volunteer, Maggie  while I was at orientation. Not knowing Spanish I worried that praying in Spanish would be different and not as meaningful. But, I persisted knowing that is what I would be doing for the next year. Little by little I have come not only to memorize the prayers, at least many of them, but now I understand them, and they are not just words but prayers. It’s different but a way that I can connect with both the girls here, the sisters, and of course speak with my best friend and Father. A few times and hopefully soon more frequently I have had the chance to pray with the sisters in the mornings. It is liturgy of the hours which I have come to love as a form of daily prayer and I get a chance to do it with other which improves my feeling of community. Even better is that if they don’t have mass that day they have a communion service which gives me the chance to start the day with the Eucharist, the greatest gift of all! Without the love of Christ in my heart there is no way that I can share that love with the girls that I’m called to minister to every day.

Maria Auxiliadora de los Cristianos...ruega por nosotros
San Juan Bosco...ruega por nosotros; in honor of his feast day which was this past Thursday... "For you I study, for you I work, for you I live, for you I am ready even to give my life."

In the peace of Christ,


1 comment:

  1. Very impressive, Michelle--not only the Spanish, but also the love that you have for the Lord and for your girls, not to mention your ability to quote SJB! God bless you!