Learning Spanish…and How to be a Missionary

We are starting to learn past tense verbs in Spanish. This is really exciting. No really, it is. For one hour of your life try to speak only in present tense. It is very limiting.
Our Spanish is coming along. We are mastering the art of speaking like a four year old Costa Rican. The funny thing about learning Spanish is that our English is getting worse. It’s like the more we try to use Spanish the more we forget how to speak English. Before we came to Costa Rica we could at least speak one language (English) well. Now we speak two languages poorly.
We have learned that the important thing to this process is to be comfortable being laughed at. If you are uncomfortable sounding foolish you will never try, and if you never try you will never be corrected, and if you are never corrected you will never improve. The more you try and fail, the faster you improve. We were once told that in order to learn a language you must make 1 million mistakes…we are on our way.
We both used to be bosses back in the U.S.A. We managed people and made important decisions. At Erin’s work she literally made life and death choices. Now, we have been relegated to struggling with important phrases like, “There is no toilet paper in the bathroom.”, “I didn’t order the cow’s tongue.” And, “I’m sorry I spilled the bag of rice.” Our pride is gone…and that is a good thing. We regularly feel unintelligent, incompetent, frustrated and incapable…and that is a good thing. Our sense of importance and self-worth is gone…and that is a good thing.
Not only are we learning Spanish, we are also learning our proper role as missionaries. We are not important, wise or superior. We are poor, we are servants and we are learners…and that is a good thing. We are not the prize, we are only the vessels.