Friday, November 15, 2013


Greetings from Guatemala! After so much preparation and planning it’s hard to believe we’re actually here. Our flights and connections worked flawlessly and we arrived with all our baggage (four large containers), cleared customs, and were met at the arrival gate by our friend Omar Chan, who with some ingenuity and some creativity managed to get us, our baggage, and himself into his Volkswagen for the trip to Antigua. At the home of Amada and Omar we were warmly welcomed by the whole family, reconnecting after so much time since orientation. What a great way to re-enter this country we’ve grown to love and feel called to serve! The next day, after a hearty breakfast and re-shuffling of our possessions, we left excess baggage with Amanda and Omar, and were shuttled off to meet the micro bus that would take us to Xela for our language school experience.

Once on our way, the only consistent conversations we’ve had in English have been with each other (and that’s primarily because we don’t want to mess up each other’s learning experience by speaking incorrectly to each other in Spanish). We are now what one would say ‘Immersed’ in the Spanish language. We live in a home with a wonderful Spanish speaking woman who is patient and helpful with our communications. Our orientation at school, introduction to our teachers (We each have our own private language tutors) and our lessons since, have been in Spanish. After three days, I have to say that it appears to be a very effective, if not frustrating at times, method for leaning a new language.
Now that we’re immersed, we’ve had a chance to reflect on this method of learning and living, and how we respond to it. Before leaving, we worked with a computer program that teaches Spanish by immersion. No explanations in English, simply photos and words spoken or written for us to match up or speak or write as appropriate. We found this method effective as well. However, spending an hour a day (at most) “immersed” can hardly be thought of as true immersion. Now that we’ve had a taste of the effectiveness of true immersion, I can’t help but wonder how we can ‘immerse’ ourselves in the things that are important to us. Even in the midst of our busy lives of family, work, church, friends and ‘self-care’, I wonder what we would come up with when we ask ourselves, “What are the things in which I should immerse myself regardless of my present activity?” We know, now that we’ve had a chance to think about it, not only are we immersed in the Spanish language, we are immersed in the love, support, and prayers of our friends and those alongside us in this ministry.
Blessings all!
Richard and Debbie

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