Sunday, September 18, 2011


Two years ago, my family was asked to start attending a local, tiny, Spanish-speaking, congregation.  And now our time there is up.

I have so many things from the last little bit that I want to get written down, but I need to get this written down first before I go too far and forget!

I have absolutely LOVED being in the Spanish branch, for so many reasons.

The women.  Oh, the women.  They are strong, talkative, loving, and almost lazily laid back.  When a sister answers a question in class (no hand raising here!) you can trust that she will talk, and talk, and talk.  She has an opinion, and by the time she's done, she will have taught her own mini lesson.  These women LOVE children, and children love them.  The five and six year olds still lay with their heads in their mother's or grandma's laps.  A woman named M, an abuela (grandma), declared that Wonder Boy was HER baby- as soon as he was old enough to be let out of my arms, she would rock him all through Sacrament meeting and most of Sunday school if I let her.  When I was holding him, she's sit behind me and make buzzing and clicking noises to get his attention and smiles.  The first thing she'd say to me every week was "Donde esta mi bebe?"  (Where is my baby?)  Our last Sunday there, she cried...because she wouldn't see my baby anymore!

The women aren't alone in loving children, the men...I've never seen anything like it.  An entire congregation of doting men.  (Granted, our normal attendance was 30-50, so "entire congregation" is not as ambitious a term as it may seem.)

I've loved being useful and appreciated.  Before I was called into the branch, they had a rotating roster of organists on call for services, and every week was an exciting waiting game to see if they'd remember to come and help.  In a lot of areas, pianists and organists are easy to come by, and it was nice to be truly, truly needed.

On a completely self-absorbed note, it was nice to have my voice appreciated :)  If pianists are easy to find in most congregations, singers are busting out of the woodwork.  For the first time in 5 years, I was ASKED to sing.  *beam*

I've loved the challenge of the language.  I'm not great at Spanish, but I'm better than I was two years ago!

I've learned that when I couldn't understand what someone was saying to me, I didn't need them to switch to English (most of the time.)  I needed them to speak each word clearly...with a big pause in between while my brain processed it.  I'll have to remember that next time I'm speaking with someone who's learning English!

I learned that "Why don't they just learn English, they're in America!" is an incredibly ignorant thing to say.  Remember our Spanish abuela?  She cleans houses every day, and spends nearly every evening in English classes.  She would have Ernie check her pronunciation on words over and over, trying to get them right.  Her mouth simply can't do it, and the words just don't stick in her head.

I never felt lonely in the branch.  Even though hardly anyone spoke to me most days, it was OK....because they couldn't.  You know?  There was never any falseness with these people.  If they complimented me, they meant it.  If they didn't talk to me, it's because they had nothing to say. Smiles and waves and hellos were enough, we weren't ever ignored.  We also made some good friends in the branch, who were friends in and out of those halls, and I'm going to miss them!

There were a few older women in the branch, and they were treated like queens.  There was always someone to hold their arms as they walked slowly down the hallways.  When they came into a room, there were always cheek to cheek kisses for them from the other women.

I learned that radishes are awesome on tacos.

I learned that there are a LOT of Spanish-speaking countries, and they all have different vocabularies and accents.  They also have established rivalries, apparently.

I learned that there are a handful of spanish-only hymns that aren't in my regular hymn book, and I really like them!

The branch was an incredible resource for missionary work, I watched so many families embrace the gospel and change their lives.

I'm a bit nervous to head back to our "home ward" today.  I'm not sure why, we have friends there, and it's ENGLISH speaking, and it's just like every ward I've ever attended.  It's been fun being challenged, I guess.  And I'm anxious about being an object of attention, from people wondering what it was like in the Branch and welcoming us back.  Isn't that silly, but there it is!

As soon as I can get my act together, I'll have updates about a recent family trip, shop updates, baby milestones, and everything fun!



Ticia said...

I learned from my mission trips in high school that words that are acceptable and common in one Spanish speaking country can be a horribly offensive slang in another.

Alexandra said...

This is exactly why I cherish my memories of living in Latin America(ages 12-18)! I miss it quite a bit. Life is "tranquilo" and yes, things take three times as long to get done, but people value each other and know how to enjoy life.

I'm so glad you've had a good experience reaching people there. Your abuela sounds wonderful. I think I'D cry leaving HER behind. :)

Bobbi Lewin said...

I've learned over the years that being surrounded by "la gente" is one of the very best places to be:)

Beautiful post!

Teresa said...

Sounds just like what I would say if we were leaving our Branch- Dan is a counselor in the branch and I play the piano.....but I don't know near enough spanish.
Thanks for your's like you took them from my head.
Enjoy your next calling whatever it may be. =)