“No entiendo español,” and for you non-Spanish speaking crowd, “I don’t understand Spanish.” This is probably the most used phrase in our lives right now. It seems like if we’re not saying it, we’re thinking, and if we’re not thinking about it, we’re daydreaming about the words we would like to say to the generation that built the tower of Babel. There are times where it can be fun, tackling the adventure of trying to decipher a sentence and times where all you can do is laugh because you feel like a group of five-year-old’s, with your hands in your armpits and flapping your elbows trying to communicate about a chicken. There are times you just want to sit down and cry because of the loneliness of not being able to communicate and bond well with those around you, and times when you’re just not quite sure how you feel, maybe lost, embarrassed, goofy, tired, or many other emotions all jumbled into one big badly communicated mess. People here are very loving and forgiving as we stumble through our learning curve.
One of the common phrases here for saying, “see you tomorrow,” is, “Hasta mañana,”. One evening while leaving a group of friends here at the base to head down to our house, I confidently looked at them and with the best non-English accent that I could muster said, “Hasta manzana.” To which snickers and laughter broke out from the group and I instantly realized my mishap and laughed along with them. I had told them that I would, “See you apple” with confidence, and hopefully without an English accent.
There have been many other little times like that, but probably my favorite was with two of the men here at the base who are more on the masculine side. One of them is a grounds keeper and general handy man named Carlos. He’s short and clearly has some muscle from working with physical labor, day after day. It’s easy to make him smile, and the one English phrase he knows, “Thank you very much,” is said with a thick Spanish accent, a grin with a missing tooth, and sometimes out of context. The other gentlemen’s name is Amiel, and he’s a contract worker who has been hired to build a lifestyle center here on the base. While I haven’t interacted with Amiel as much as Carlos, he smiles easily and will always greet you with a handshake that’s got many calluses. These two guys are often together working on projects and often when I’m walking by will yell out, “¡Mi amigo!” (My friend!), and smile to greet me. One day, I was working on changing out the fuel tank bladder on the Cessna and I heard a motorcar driving past, which is basically a motorcycle with a two wheeled buggy as the back, and are very popular here. I glanced up and saw Carlos and Amiel puttering along about twenty feet away. They hadn’t noticed me yet, and I wanted to yell out a greeting and share a smile as they drove past. “¡Mi amor!” I called out, choking as the words left my mouth. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me… Instead of calling out, “My friend!” I had called out, “My love!” Three shades of red later, and vowing to never speak Spanish again (okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration), I tried to hide behind the thin wing of the Cessna. To my joy and surprise, neither Carlos nor Amiel had seemed to hear me over the whine of the motorcar’s engine, and so I continued to work, pretending like it never happened. And of course, as the motorcar pulled to a stop, and they glanced up and saw me, I was greeted with two smiles and a chorus of, “¡Mi amigo!”
I’m sure that there are MANY more Spanish mishaps to come, and they will bring smiles, embarrassment, and learning. As I have processed the many mistakes that have come it has brought to mind Proverb 24:16, “For though the righteous fall seven times, they will rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” Spanish will come, but I’ll probably fall more than seven times before it does. It has also made me think about how amazing it is that God has communicated with mankind in a way that we can understand. God could have come in His full glory, majesty, and power, He had every right to step into our world and overwhelm us by His righteousness, but He didn’t. God loved His rebellious, ungracious, unthankful, selfish, creation so much that He risked everything to be able to communicate a picture so precious to us, that we would want to love Him. A picture so beautiful that we would want to surrender our lives to Him, follow wherever He leads, and share that image so that others can get a glimpse of who He is. God took the time to communicate to us in a language that we can understand, what a beautiful God we serve.
Well, the painting is finally finished (as hard as that is to believe!) as well as some of the other details in our little lake house, and so I have been freed to focus on the two aircraft. As I mentioned, I changed the fuel tank bladder on the Cessna 182 and have been trying to get an engine monitoring system installed on the Lake Amphibian 250. Work is slow, as I’m still learning where tools and supplies are, but will get smoother as time goes on. I have also been doing some flying with Eben when there is weight and space. Jess just recently finished teaching Amy for this school year and will pick back up after summer break. She is looking forward to having a summer break to be able to actually prepare for teaching Amy this next school year. Her ear infections seem to have cleared up, praise the Lord! And for the reptilian lovers our there, I had the joy of catching a small boa constrictor that was here on the base! I wanted to keep it as a pet but was given an ultimatum from Jessica. Needless to say, I chose keeping my wife over a snake. We are slowly learning Spanish, and people here on the base have been lovingly guiding us along that path. Thank you so much for your love, prayers, and support, we truly need and appreciate them!