This morning I had the pleasure & privilege of speaking with a man I really respect, Howard Norton, who is the current president of the Baxter Institute here in Tegucigalpa. He has lived a long life of faith, serving as a missionary for many years in Brazil, and preaching and teaching at the university level in the U.S. Now that he and his wife, Jane, are serving here in Honduras, they are adding a third language to their repertoire. To me (especially now that I’m experiencing the struggles of learning a new language), this task they have joyfully chosen to take on is truly impressive.
During our chat Howard said something great: “Learning a language is humiliating.” He is so right!! Standing in front of a native Honduran, knowing my mumblings and mutterings make me sound like a 3-year-old, is stressful, tiring, and often embarrassing! And while I’m so grateful for the seemingly endless patience of the Hondurans that we’re around (they really support any effort we make to speak Spanish), it has been so frustrating to know what I want to say to someone and not be able to say it.
But the gift in this ‘humiliation’ is that I need to be humbled! I need to be reminded that I don’t have it all figured out. And I need to be in a place where I have to rely on God and on the people He’s put in my life. When I finished school there was a big part of me that believed I wouldn’t have much more to learn in my life. And now, thankfully, God is showing me that it would be a sad, sad existence to stop learning and challenging myself. Not only because my brain would get bored and my life would be a yawn, but also because my faith needs exercise.
Having said all that, I must also say that being in the midst of the learning-spurt is very difficult. At the end of a bad-Spanish-day (sort of like a bad-hair-day, just your brain & tongue don’t function well together), I find myself yearning for an easy day, a day when I know how to do what I need to do.
But today (thank you, God!) I’m encouraged by Howard and Jane, who, in their late seventies, are still continuing to seek after God’s next challenge for their lives. Truly inspirational!