You all have been hearing from me a lot this week so I thought I would let you gain another perspective! Here is a post from our Program Director, Alex Leggett!
“Honduras was good!” As true as that statement is, it does not begin to describe everything that occurred this week.
This week was a week of flexibility, joy, stretching, and learning, all amidst the confusion which a language barrier inevitably causes. As we arrived, the joyful and fun aspects of doing Christian camping in Honduras were instantly apparent, as well as was the language barrier. The whole staff, Hondurans and Americans alike, laughed and spoke a broken language of gestures and half-words. Of course, the silly part of the language barrier was lessened as campers got on property.
Most of the campers came from intense lives, lives in which their view of God is mangled and torn. However, although this was made clear from the short words of briefing we received from the Honduran staff, all Pine Cove staff could verbalize to these teenagers were words and short phrases like “hola,” “baño,” and “por favor,” none of which help communicate deep, spiritual concepts. Most of the initial interactions with campers consisted of “¡hola!” and a relatively vacant smile, as nobody truly had the capacity to communicate on the level we desired to.
For the duration of camp, I found myself in the position of the helper to Lidia, the program director. Our communication level was much higher, because we both are able to be at least relatively conversational in the language of the other. However, our ability to communicate put us also in the position of on-stage translators for each other. This job was definitely fun(ny) at times. It did, though, have its downfalls. For example, any time any sort of Pine Cove activity was to be introduced, my task was to explain, half-sentence by half-sentence, the game, passing off the megaphone every couple of words in order that the Spanish speakers and English speakers alike could understand and participate. A few times, I attempted to use my four semesters of Spanish to explain. This strategy had about a fifty-fifty success rate; half the time, there was complete understanding, and the other half of the time, a camper or counselor would shout a request that I ought to just stick to having a translator. When either strategy worked, though, it was highly rewarding.
All the campers and counselors loved being silly, so as soon as I raised my eyebrows and asked, “¿todos entendemos?” (“We all understand?”), the entire group would let out a drawn-out “¡ahhhhh!” of understanding and start shouting things in Spanish like “of course!” Naturally, Lidia and I laughed every time.
Although communication was difficult (as is expected on a trip to a foreign country with a different language), its fruits were incredibly rewarding, and I learned a lot specifically from the language barrier. Sometimes, especially near the beginning of the week, attempting to talk was simultaneously frustrating and hilarious. However, by the end of the week, it was easy to see that the counselors had experiences much more than a week long game of Spanglish Charades. The amount of love that these middle school and high school students had for their English speaking counselors was overwhelming, and the Pine Cove team reciprocated this beautiful, no-translation-needed love. This was made apparent in the (almost literal) flood of tears streaming from the eyes of kids and counselors alike during the three hour goodbye session. The love of Christ transcends languages beautifully, powerfully, and unconditionally, and it is an incredible thing to witness.
The translation escapades of Lidia and I also taught me something about talking to the Lord. First of all, unlike myself, God does not struggle to present things in a way that people understand. He is not slowed by languages. Secondly, listening to Him is so, so important. He can’t tell us what he needs to tell us if we refuse to turn our faces to Him and hear him. As Lidia and I translated, it was easy to see that the people who had the most trouble understanding were those who were turned around talking to others. Even if their conversations were about what we were currently explaining, ultimately, understanding was hindered when focus was interrupted. Although comparing mine and Lidia’s explanation of a ridiculous game like Ants and Anthills to God’s presentation of anything at all to us feels silly, the applications can’t be missed. I can sometimes tend to forget to listen to God while asking him questions. How silly of me. If I just stayed there at His feet, listening to Him, his full reveal of His plans for me would be made apparent in the perfect timeline.
God teaches wonderful things. Sometimes he teaches you while you’re in Honduras on a stage with a megaphone struggling through verb conjugations while a hundred people watch you, and all you can do is just chuckle at His faithfulness.
Today we are going to the market to shop and then the beach! Can’t wait to tell you guys all about it!