10 Reasons Americans Should Learn Spanish

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Before I start rattling off the reasons, you should know that more people speak Spanish than English. Spanish is the second most-widely spoken language in the world (after Mandarin Chinese).

So, here are 10 reasons you should learn it!

I’ll start with the obvious…

#1 More job options – One time I translated for a man at the doctor’s office, and I was offered a job on the spot. Spanish is gold!! This leads me to…

#2 Higher paying jobs – Not only will you have more job options, you might get paid more than your co-workers.

#3 More friends – As the quote goes, “to have another language is to possess a second soul.” There are over 400 million native Spanish speakers in the world and over 30 million are living in the U.S. So many friend possibilities!!

#4 Travel made simple – You’ll be able to visit the 22 Spanish-speaking countries with no problem! Read a menu, follow street signs, talk to locals…

#5 Expand your library – Imagine the great music and great books you can add to your library once you understand Spanish!

#6 Finally understand what they’re saying about you – Spanish may not help you at the nail salon, but it will help you other places… you know you’re curious. Spoiler alert: they’re probably not talking about you in the first place.

#7 Tell your own secrets – Going along with #6, you can now say things in Spanish that strictly English speakers won’t know!

#8 Help others – It is so rewarding to help an immigrant. Just yesterday I calmed down a six-year-old after he had an accident in his pants at school. Was he in trouble? What about his clothes? Someone had to explain and stop the tears.

#9 Connect with a sponsor child – This one is special to me. I sponsor a child in Bolivia, and how sweet it is to send and receive letters in Spanish!

#10 Break the stereotype – “What do you call someone that speaks three languages?” “Trilingual” “Two languages?” “Bilingual” “One language?” “American” We have to admit this is accurate for most. Break the stereotype. Be one of the few who see the importance of learning another language!

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Pinterest Lied to Me

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I was scrolling through Pinterest at 1am when I saw the quote, “True happiness is not out there. True happiness lies within you.” It sure sounds beautiful, but it is a lie. I don’t know about you, but I fail a lot. I say things when I should really hold my tongue. I do things without thinking. I have regrets. If I relied on myself for happiness, I would be severely disappointed.

The quote should read “true joy lies within Jesus.” He is perfect. He will never leave us, disappoint us, or fail us.

Don’t believe the lies of Pinterest, social media, & the world; don’t believe that you alone can make yourself happy. Don’t settle for temporary happiness — seek the everlasting joy that only comes from Jesus.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

The Reverse Culture Shock That is to Come

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Leaving Spain was hard before, and it’s not going to be much easier this time. I don’t know if or when I’ll ever be back. But then again, I thought the same thing two years ago, and here I am.

Since I only have one week left, I’m already thinking about the reverse culture shock that is to come.

In one week I’ll be in the States, where everyone has a goal-mindset instead of a relationship-mindset. Punctuality will be important, and I won’t be receiving kisses on the cheek by everyone in the room. I won’t be taking any siestas, and I won’t be going out for tapas with my friends at 10pm… Instead, I’ll be adjusting to eating four hours earlier and trying not to miss solomillo al whisky.

But…I won’t be throwing up salmorejo because my stomach can’t handle it (sorry…TMI). I’ll be driving instead of walking ten miles per day, and I’ll be using a dryer instead of a clothesline. I’ll be eating Chick-fil-A because I miss it so much. I’ll be wearing Nike shorts and a T-shirt because it’s socially acceptable, and I won’t be sweating because it won’t be 105 degrees.

See, there’s pros and cons to each, but they both feel like home. I think God created me this way. He instilled in me a passion for travel, language, culture, and most importantly – people. This means never becoming complacent. It means loving and serving everywhere He leads me and finding the good that every culture brings.

What Ministry is NOT

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I think God is teaching me what ministry is by teaching me what it’s NOT.

 

It is not comfortable.

It is not predictable.

It is not easy.

 

It does not yield instant results.

 

It is not limited to one place;

it is not limited to time

because God cannot be limited by either.

 

So, the bottom line: you can’t be a missionary if you can’t rely on Him alone, and you can’t be a missionary if you can’t get out of your comfort zone.

What to Expect and What NOT to Expect When Traveling to Greece

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I wish I had known some of these things before I went to Greece, so I hope they can help you before you travel to the beautiful country! My tips are based on visits to Athens, Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini.

Do NOT expect…

Toilet seats – Besides your hotel room, get used to going to the bathroom without a seat. Hey—at least you’ll be getting your hamstrings ready in case you have to use a squatty potty. Yes, I used one of those too and had to pay 50 cents for it!! In Greece, there are relatively no public bathrooms. Either you buy lunch or a drink at a café so you can use theirs or you pay half a euro to use a squatty potty at the bus station like I did. When you gotta go, you gotta go!

And while we’re on the topic of bathrooms, you cannot throw toilet paper in the toilets. This is a little thing I miss. Just be prepared so you don’t clog their toilets… that could get awkward.

And finally, remember “WC” is where you go when you gotta go! It stands for “water closet,” but if you’ve never been to Europe, you may be looking around for a “restroom” sign that doesn’t exist.

Wash cloths – As an American, I use a new wash cloth every morning to wash my face and for my showers, but in Europe, if you say “wash cloth” or “towel for the face,” you’ll get a funny look. Be sure to pack disposable ones or a loofa for Greece!

 

DO expect…

Crazy driving – It seems that everyone in Greece is in a hurry, and even my taxi driver admitted that Greeks are terrible drivers. The speed limit is merely a suggestion, motos weave in and out of traffic, and horns blare. What was most interesting was the driving in Crete. People drove in the emergency lane. They would only use the regular lane for passing. Something to keep in mind if you rent a car like we did!

To speak English – I was pleasantly surprised that just about every Greek I came into contact with knew English. Some of the older generation did not, but it was comforting to know that just around the corner someone else would. For directions, menus, and just common conversation, this was a blessing!

By the way, I think Greeks’ favorite saying is “No problem.” Even if there IS a problem, they will try to calm you by saying “no problem” in their charming accents. For me I think it actually worked!

Confusion with paying at a restaurant – Ok, this one I still haven’t figured out. How to pay, who to pay, when to pay, how much to pay… it’s not as easy as you may think. Sometimes several waiters come to your table rather than one, and they often don’t check on you once you get your food. So, when you’re ready to pay, just make eye contact with the waiter across the room and ask for the check.

As for tipping– this was something I researched before going, but I read many different things. In touristy areas, I believe tipping is expected, but it’s not as much as we’re used to in America. 10% is safe I would say!

Beautiful views – The views did not let me down! You will LOVE it. The islands are just as pretty as the photos and postcards make them out to be. Enjoy!

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The Real Reason I’m Going to Spain This Summer

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“The purposes of God not only include specific plans but also very specific timing” (Shirer 92). My story proves just that.

Let’s rewind to my freshman year at Campbellsville University. One night I heard about the mission trips Baptist Campus Ministries were offering, and I was determined to go on one. Since Spanish had been a gift and passion of mine for a while, Mexico seemed like the obvious choice–not to mention that going to a Spanish-speaking country was on my bucket list. Well…my mom was not very happy when I said Mexico; it was too dangerous. Still, that wasn’t enough to stop me. I started to pray. Since I was praying for God to bless my own plans instead of praying for His will to be done, it is no surprise that every door to Mexico closed right in my face. Why would God not want me to go? What could be wrong about going to serve Him in Mexico? Why has He given me this love for Spanish yet isn’t letting me use it? All of these questions would be answered later.

Now fast-forward just a few months later to a normal day in the library. A guy walks up to me while I’m studying. I don’t think we had talked more than once at this point, so you can be sure I was freaked out when he handed me a brochure and said, “God told me to give this to you.” There’s no way I was able to hide my expression in that moment. Is this what a Christian college is like? These people are crazy. But, then I saw the pictures on the brochure. Hispanic children. This caught my attention. How did he know? What is this? Rico told me about Project Transformation, an amazing organization based out of Dallas, TX that serves children and young adults. I went back to my dorm and looked up more information about PT. The opportunity to work a children’s day camp that summer seemed perfect for me. I applied, got accepted, and while PT serves a variety of children across the area, of course I ended up working at the church where 72 of 75 children were Mexican. God showed me that I didn’t have to go to Mexico to serve Him that summer. He had me right where He wanted me.

While in Dallas, each intern was supposed to speak at a church that supported PT—tell them how their prayers and donations are impacting lives, that sort of thing. Well, the church I was supposed to speak at cancelled on me, so I went with another intern to another church. She felt a little uneasy about speaking in front of everyone, so I was happy to help and excited to share my PT stories. Although I thought I wasn’t supposed to be at this church, God knew better. After speaking, a man walked up to me and gave me his business card for Camino Global. Honestly, it was meaningless at the time, but a while later, I got curious and Googled it. After the moment with Rico in the library, I didn’t believe in coincidences.

Camino Global is a Christian organization that works in Spanish-speaking countries around the world. They do short-term and long-term missions. They do preaching, teaching, and so much more. I was sold! I asked for more information about opportunities in Guatemala and Honduras. After study abroad, this is what I would do! I started putting aside money right away. I had no doubt that God wanted me to do ministry with Camino Global. So, the next summer, I requested more information and had my heart set. BUT my plans crumbled. Mom desperately needed a knee-replacement, and she needed me to help out. I was not leaving the country. While I wanted to be there for Mom, I didn’t understand God’s timing. How could I feel this strongly about something and be told “no” again? It had already been two years since I got that business card in Dallas. So, I told God the same thing. I prayed, I questioned, I even doubted Him.

I finally realized that a “no” that summer didn’t mean a “no” forever. Maybe the “no” was really just “wait.” I could still do it! Once I regained my faith, my cousin got engaged. I was thrilled for her, but I anxiously waited to hear the chosen date, because I knew I couldn’t be across the world on her big day! Once Sarah and Nick decided on July 22nd, I looked online again for opportunities. Would the dates work? Could this really happen? Then, I saw it. SEVILLA. The very first trip that popped up was Sevilla- the city I had lived in, studied in, and fallen in love with. I had never seen this opportunity before. I don’t even think it had been offered in past summers. Ok, but just because it’s Sevilla doesn’t mean I can do it. It could be only for pastors or something else. Nope. The job description was teaching English to children. WHAT. If you know me at all, there could be nothing more perfect. Ok, but now the dates. I was shaking at this point. I clicked, and I read that the last day of the internship was July 20th. Literally just in time for the rehearsal dinner on the 21st and the wedding on the 22nd!

In that moment at my kitchen table, everything came full circle. God doesn’t ask us to wait unless He sees fit for us to wait. He said “no” to Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras… because He knew about Sevilla! Why had I ever doubted Him? He is faithful again and again. I was accepted to the program and I start in just a couple weeks!

I hope you have been encouraged by my story. If you are waiting and praying for something, remember that He is faithful. If you desire His will, He won’t let you miss it. “The authority of His message will strike your inner man with such a blow that it will shake loose your old agenda and replace it with His new one” (Shirer 62).

                     Shirer, Priscilla. Discerning the voice of God. Nashville: LifeWay Press, 2006. Print.

The Problem with Avoiding Sadness

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The documentary The White Helmets has been on my watch list for months, but I put off watching it because I didn’t want to feel sad. I didn’t want to think anymore about the tragedies in Syria. I didn’t want to cry during the scenes in which someone wasn’t rescued in time. I didn’t want to feel guilty for lying on my couch while things like this are happening in the world. But I watched. And even as I watched, I was tempted to distract myself. I avoided fully immersing myself in the emotions that came along with the situation in Syria. I told myself I would follow up with a light-hearted show after the 41-minute documentary was over.

That’s when I realized it. We avoid sadness like the plague. In the 21st century, we don’t want to feel anything but happy. That’s normal – sadness isn’t of God. Grief and sorrow didn’t come into the world until Adam and Eve sinned. Sadness isn’t something we’re drawn to because it never was supposed to be.

But, while we are still on Earth, sadness is here. And we must feel it. Now, you need to know when I say sadness, I’m not talking about depression. Sadness is a more temporary state. Psychologists say that sadness and other negative emotions motivate us more than positive emotions. “Sadness… operates like a mild alarm signal, triggering more effort and motivation to deal with a challenge in our environment” (Forgas).

I can think of plenty of times sadness has motivated me. Sadness is the reason I learned Spanish. My heart broke for new immigrants who didn’t know anyone and who couldn’t speak English. Sadness is the reason I raised money for an orphanage in Guatemala. I heard the news of a riot, a fire, and lives lost. So, with the help of Baptist Campus Ministries, hundreds of dollars were sent to help the victims. Sadness is the reason I pray and the reason I want to teach. I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this: sadness motivates.

Sadness is not what we should fear, because it leads to empathy and action. What we should fear is becoming numb– becoming numb and oblivious. If I hadn’t watched The White Helmets because I didn’t want to feel sad, I wouldn’t have prayed for Syria that night. If I avoided reading the news article about the orphanage in Guatemala because I didn’t want to feel sad, I wouldn’t have raised money for the cause. Sadness is beneficial. Feel it. Embrace it. Act on it.

“…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,…” Ecclesiastes 3:4

 

 

Forgas, Joseph P. “Four Ways Sadness May Be Good for You.” Greater Good. N.p., 4 June 2014. Web. 17 May 2017.