I’m chewing on a bit of fat tonight and I want to spit it out before I go to sleep.
(FYI – This post was initially started last Saturday)
It ended up being a beautiful day. I wanted to get out of the house so badly that I was willing to drive up a mountain to a birthday party that only 2 of my children wanted to attend, all with the high possibility of cold, dark rain showers. I must have been pretty desperate but I am SO GRATEFUL I went.
GingerSnap decided to stay home, something I think every teenager needs from time to time (in wisdom), while El Gringo met up with some friends at the City Mall. As for Curly Cook, Joy Boy and myself, we enjoyed a WONDERFUL birthday party at a gorgeous park called “Bosque de la hoja,” which translates to “Leaf Forest” and that it was!!!!!
I just sat back and enjoyed watching the beautiful family that had invited us to their son’s 7th birthday spending precious time with each other. My eyes sparkled as I watched an uncle play with his young nephew. This uncle is married but they have not yet been given the opportunity to have their own children, something I feel they both would be fabulous at. This scene got me thinking . . . “Isn’t it strange how what we want or what we would be good at we are not always given, but sometimes what we are given is what we may feel weakest doing?”
That thought lingered in my mind and has stayed with me all day, especially after a rather powerful conversation I ended up having with someone at the birthday party.
This conversation happened as people were settling down. Everyone had been fed, the piñata had been broken open, treat bags and cake distributed, as well as presents unwrapped. People were starting to relax while their children played on the green, grassy field. My dear friend called me over to come closer to the group so I could enjoy a view of her first granddaughter. She is so precious.
As we sat, a conversation was immediately started. When two different cultures are wanting to talk, direct questions seem to be the easiest way for them to communicate. But more times than not, most of those questions come in the form of digging into knowing more about the less pro-dominant of the two cultures, which would be questions for me to answer. I don’t blame them, they are curious how I live in their country, they want to know. So, it doesn’t surprise me when these conversations begin. What does surprise me is how often I find people bothered with how long I have lived in Costa Rica, yet I DO NOT SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE!!!
But today, the questions were being asked differently to me. This time, my friend was actually truly concerned for my welfare and I could feel it So when she asked about my language abilities, as well as those of my children (another typical question I get asked), she followed up her question with a comparison of her imagining herself living in the United States and how she could not allow herself to NOT learn the dominant language.
Why is it that if someone else can’t do something, people automatically assume that that person just hasn’t tried, or isn’t trying hard enough? I guess that is what happens when we judge or play God.
Instead of getting upset, or just resorting to telling them what I felt they wanted to hear, I felt myself receive an increase of courage and an extra measure of understanding from the Holy Ghost to explain “my side” of things. I had many listening hears, as well as many who understand English, although they themselves do not like to speak it publicly. So I knew that my words could be repeated. Thus I was very careful and deliberate in what I shared.
I explained to my friend that I too had wondered for the first 2 years “Why?” my language abilities hadn’t improved, nor showed any signs of improving. I prayed constantly about this concern, until one day I felt my Father in Heaven ask me, “Why did I send you to Costa Rica?”
My friend was listening, so I explained that I moved to Costa Rica first for MY FAMILY!! I knew that I needed to help my family become the best people that they could be, while they were still living in our home.
I also knew that they were going to need ALL the help I could give them, because moving to a foreign place is almost nearly impossible to succeed at. But I knew that with my help, and reaching out for constant help from the Lord, it could be possible.
I also moved here to support my husband and strengthen our marriage. I knew he would need all the help, support, encouragement (almost daily) and tons of love in the form of service, patience, hope and FAITH that I could give to him.
But NOT ONCE was I EVER TOLD that I NEEDED to learn Spanish in order to do ALL these things I was being called to do.
On top of all of that I “thought” I was getting myself into, I was being called to literally change my life. I gave up ALL that had been familiar to me, along with MANY of my MOST PRECIOUS gifts, talents and blessings, in order to obey what I felt the Lord had called me to do – which was to move to Costa Rica to raise my family. This choice has cost me dearly, and still does, but am I complaining that others are not giving up as much as me?
Because I SEE that others have had to sacrifice too in order to fulfill what their Father in Heaven has asked them to do. I understand that it has taken years and years of dedicated, hard work to learn a foreign language, only to have foreigners move to their country and “expect” them to speak it with them. I understand that foreigners are coming into their lands, their communities, their neighborhoods, their churches and DEMANDING that they change and act differently than they have ever known, being told that they are wrong or “bad people” for not being like the foreigners.
I also understand what it feels like to be “different” and not liked, unless one gives of them self first, again and again and again.
But it is in our “different work” that the Lord has called each of us to do that makes our lives so beautifully wonderful. For in “my work” I am helping others to feel safe sharing their English with someone who won’t laugh at them, correct them (unless they ask for clarification), or belittle them for just trying to speak with me. In my work, people can find a true friend, someone who WILL HELP THEM if they say they will and WILL show up on time (or around 10 minutes late – I’m still working on that one and it is hard when this part of the world runs on “Pura Vida time”). And in my work, people will find a safe place to call home for as long as they need, a listening ear and hopefully a GREAT conversation.
So, if your English gift and talent is required, as my work is to be your friend and to share light and truth with you, than don’t you find it a fair sacrifice of work? I think so. Although my work may be different, or even strange to you, I don’t have to know a language to move to where the Lord wants me to serve. This is HIS WORLD, not man’s. All I need to succeed is faith in Christ. I am learning that I will always be okay if I seek to have HIM by my side, for He does EXACTLY what He promised He would do in D&C 84:88
And whoso areceiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go bbefore your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my cSpirit shall be in your hearts, and mine dangels round about you, to bear you up.
I don’t know how much my friend understood today but I do know that she stopped the conversation, as soon as I shared my truth with her. I know she felt something because I watched her as she clasped her hands and took a deep breath. She then shared how she couldn’t do that, but that it was okay. She loved and respected me. And then she let it go.
I was so proud of my friend for NOT JUDGING my situation, from her perspective, anymore. She loved me enough to let it go and just let it be. She is an AMAZING woman and I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to stand in a holy place for myself. I am proud of the woman I have become and still have yet to be. I do understand more and more Spanish every day but I still am unable to communicate easily. But that is okay.
Because through these weaknesses, GREAT THINGS can come to pass.
Like miracles, lessons that change people forever, and the building of faith in God. I know the Lord has work for me to do and He would like to work through me. So although I am a bit terrified of my new calling at church, Stake Primary President, I trust that my deaf ears will hear the words that I need most – the words from Christ himself. And that my mute tongue will be blessed to say what TRULY needs to be said and communicated to the heart and mind, more than to another’s ears.
This is my hope and my peace – and my chewed piece of fat that I can finally spit out because it has lost it’s savor.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Thanks for listening, (and thank you Diane!!!)