“For I am the Lord, I change not.” Malachi 3:6
“…He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Hebrews 13:5-6
This past year has been a whirlwind of change for me during my first year of retirement from nursing. In the midst of all the changes, God was my solid Rock, the only One who never changes. The Lord laid a desire on my heart to try and learn Spanish so I could minister to Spanish speaking people here in the USA and in other countries. I knew some survival Spanish from my travels and took one semester of Spanish at the local college many years ago. I have wanted to be fluent in another language for many years, so God gave me peace about selling my home in New England, getting rid of most of my belongings, and putting the rest in a storage container while I went to full-time language school in the USA near the Mexican border. I made some progress there, but the extreme heat exhausted me. My professors suggested I would make more progress through immersion.
So the end of December, I moved to Central America to attend another language school. I enjoyed the school there and was doing well learning Spanish, but I found the culture challenging. The home stay with a family was not acceptable, so I moved to a tiny studio apartment after ten days. Several students were robbed at gunpoint near my apartment, and another student was stabbed in the park in front of his children last year. Thankfully, none of them were seriously injured, but it took an emotional toll on them. Sadly, the drug cartels are taking over Central America as they have most of Mexico.
After seven months of full-time language school which consisted of 4 hours of class every morning and 2 to 4 hours of homework every evening, I was so exhausted that I could no longer concentrate. I also felt very isolated since I had to lock myself behind iron window bars and gates with electric razor wire every evening from dusk to dawn. I had to walk to and from school with my pepper spray in my hand in case I was attacked by people or stray dogs. After praying and talking with the school counselors, God gave me peace that it was time to return to the USA.
I have now resettled in the southern USA, unpacked my container, and am getting settled in a lovely rental home. I hope to resume my Spanish studies with a tutor in a few weeks. I have met a number of native Spanish speakers at several churches I have visited and enjoyed chatting with them in Spanish.
I now realize that there are degrees of “fluency”. One missionary who lived in Panama for five years said, “You never really become fluent.” I wish I was further along than I am with Spanish, but I have to realize that I have age working against me. My brain just doesn’t function quite as quickly or remember new words as readily as when I was younger. One teacher told me that your vocal cords are set at the age of 12, so it’s extremely difficult so sound like a native speaker if you learn a language after that. For any of you who are parents of young children, I definitely recommend having them learn another language at a young age. The first opportunity I had to learn another language was when I was a freshman in high school, 15 years old, which is way too late to begin in my opinion. I’m thankful that the public schools in the USA now often offer foreign languages in elementary school. For any of you who desire to learn a language as an adult, download the fun free app called Duolingo. They have over 15 languages available there and use games to help you learn.
So I have unpacked my journals and am getting my office organized. I plan to resume writing about the final 18 years of my nursing career next week. Thank you for your patience as I repeated the early part of my blog while I was busy in school. I will close with a few photos from the past year.