By Laura McCarley
March 16, 2021
I obviously have a knack for speaking Spanish. I had no idea how integral it would become to my mission trip life when I decided to major in it, but it has definitely opened many doors for me to serve over the years.
Like we tell all of our mission teams, “Love and smiles are universal. So is playing with kids.”
Basically, you do the best you can.
There’s a benefit, though, specific to Ciudad.
It’s important to understand before I explain the next part that the goal of Ciudad de Angeles is to mentor productive Christian Mexican citizens who can give back to their own community. There is no plan to “rescue” anyone or “Americanize” them or “bring them home” with us. My personal goal since starting to visit as a college student is to show the love of God, but also the life of a Christian- single, married, with children- to these people I love. Keep that in mind with the next part.
Cozumel was an intentional location and one of the many benefits is that it is a tourist island; there are many jobs where speaking English is not only beneficial, but required. The angels learn English at school for many years, but mission teams invested several years in giving specific English classes to help authentically prepare them for their work force. And how funny was it to watch the reactions/pronunciation practice when a Minnesota team would follow an Alabama team or vice versa!
This exposure to English really helps the kids to be a little more conversational, even to the least Spanish speaking team members/sponsors. While it definitely adds to the experience to speak their language, you can get by without it. Also, teams bring translators, and sponsor families get access to a translator when visiting. Typically, a common post trip response is the desire to learn/improve one’s Spanish skills.
Don’t let a language barrier stop you from changing a kid’s life. You’ll be shocked at how changed *your* life becomes!
**At the time of this picture, I spent many of my Spanish conversations encouraging Beto to be his best, follow directions, obey his house parents, etc. But he often formed incredible bonds with my teammates who didn’t speak Spanish, but were willing to run, play, and lift him up!