Spanish Escapades

You can turn anything that happens to you into a positive.

I became unemployed in January, and it is my daily intention to feel blessed during this season of my life. Fortunately, my wife is gainfully employed (which is a blessing), otherwise it may be harder to feel blessed during this period of unemployment … and I expect to receive an unemployment check sometime soon (which would be another blessing), otherwise I might have to work harder at feeling blessed during this time. (That last sentence was probably a run-on sentence, but I actually like to throw those in there now and then … the Apostle Paul is credited with some serious run-on sentences in the New Testament, one of his statements in Greek might translate to multiple paragraphs in English).

Regardless of what challenge you may be experiencing at this very moment, you can view it as a positive, you can find a way to believe that it is the best thing that could have happened to you. Turn that bitter lemon into sweet lemonade.

I feel particularly blessed at this time to have opportunities to learn Spanish that I would not now have with my prior work schedule. In fact, I am filling my calendar up with as many Spanish learning opportunities that I can.

On Tuesday night starting at 6:30 PM, I participate in a Spanish conversation club that is entirely in Spanish. Sólo en español. We say things like, “I go to store Saturday, last, buy apples, I drive my car, store …” The Spanish is not too impressive, but hey – it’s a start.

Thursdays from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM, I am an English tutor to Spanish immigrants. Since my two students (soon to be three) actually speak less English than I speak Spanish, this is a great opportunity to work on developing my Spanish conversational skills. And I have to do a lot of improvising in order to communicate. For example, today my students asked me what I do for work. Hmmm, I didn’t know how to explain in Spanish how I suddenly became unemployed … so I thought for a moment, and then said in Spanish, “One day I was an employee, but the next day I was not an employee … now I am looking for work.” They understood, and in fact replied saying that several of their Latino friends are also looking for work.

On Fridays I meet with Camilo from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM, he is from Columbia and he tutors me in Spanish. How I met Camilo is a great story, and I’m happy to tell you about it. My wife and I are connected to “Potluck around the Planet,” which is a monthly meal organized by our friend Valerie that brings together international students. One day Valerie sent an email out to everyone saying that a new student from Columbia needs a bed and various other household items. Well it just so happens that I had for sale on eBay at that very moment a futon bed that we were selling to make room for an office in our second bedroom. So I emailed Valerie and asked her to ask the new student from Columbia if he would be willing to trade Spanish lessons for a bed. Bingo! Camilo is a very bright guy, he just began his PhD program, and he is an excellent tutor. For what it cost for a good language tutor, he probably has already paid for the bed, but we have become friends and he is happy to continue helping me.

Saturdays I meet with Jorge from 8:00 AM to 10:30 AM, and how I met Jorge is another great story. I had been using the Rosetta Stone program, but I felt I needed a tutor to get to the next level in Spanish. However, when you are not working, it is wise to watch your spending … and language tutors can be expensive. So, I posted an ad on Craigslist.com saying something like, “I will teach you English if you will teach me Spanish.” Jorge saw my ad and replied. Jorge and his wife are from Mexico, and for the last 3 years his wife has been teaching in the “Spanish Immersion” program at one of the elementary schools in Utah. Jorge wanted to improve his English, so we meet on Saturdays so that he has the opportunity to speak and listen to a native English speaker … and Jorge is also a very bright guy, very knowledgeable about the Spanish language, and he is an excellent tutor to me. As an added benefit, me and my wife have become good friends with Jorge and his wife, we meet whenever we can to enjoy a meal together, and I have also played squash a few times with Jorge – and a skiing/snowboarding adventure is next!

Occasionally I will go to a Spanish Mass on Sundays, and at other times during the week I am working through Rosetta Stone, studying verbs, and doing whatever I can to keep moving in the direction of fluency in Spanish. Language learning is a great way to keep the mind active as you grow older, I highly recommend it.

So these are some of my Spanish Escapades, please let me know if you can think of anything else I might try.

One last thing … it seems that I am busier than I have ever been in spite of the fact that I am unemployed, I am not sure how that happens. And at this very moment I am blogging way past my bedtime, so I must say “hasta luego” and “Dios te bendiga.”

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