I recently gave some advice to a friend from language school who is about to do what we did five months ago - move to a new country and begin to plant (finally) deep roots. When you make as much of an effort to learn a language as we did in Costa Rica, you like to think that your language learning will continue on the same plane once you arrive at your final destination. After my second year of language study, my Spanish level will be double what it was after my first year, right? This was a really exciting thought for us at the end of our year in Costa Rica, where we felt like we had great teachers and learned well.
Enter daily life in Uruguay. When we left Costa Rica, we left behind a maid that kept our house clean, the laundry done, the dishes washed, the beds made, etc. We left behind an excellent language school and 20 hours a week of instruction. Perhaps most importantly, we left behind the ladies who took care of our kids, speaking a lot of Spanish to them, for 25 hours a week. Did we really think we'd be able to do the work of all of those people? Plus jump into life in Montevideo?? Oh, and we had a baby in Costa Rica, so now the little people outnumber us 2 to 1.
So it didn't take too long for daily life to overwhelm me. And for me to figure out that my interaction in Spanish was going to be drastically lower this year than last year. It's kind of depressing to almost be able to feel your amazing (!?!) Spanish skills seeping away.
When you constantly have the feeling that there are at least four or five things you could be doing, it is freeing to know your first assignment. God has repeatedly confirmed my first assignment here. They are 7, 4, 2, and 9 months old, currently. They like to watch movies, read books, and play Pet Shops (yes, even Micah). They say cuter things than any other kids in the world. They're high maintenance, yes, but they're also high reward. And I am one part of their world that hasn't changed (well, too much anyway).
Is my Spanish floundering? Perhaps (we do go to tutoring twice a week and have other interaction in Spanish). Are there usually undone dishes and laundry? Yes. Are there always parts (all?) of the house that need to be cleaned? Definitely. Are there things I would love to go do that I just can't do right now? Yes.
Is it worth it?
It's worth it to see light in their eyes, joy on their faces, and safety in their sleep. It's worth it to see them learning to adapt to the newness without being overloaded.
Here's the advice I gave my friend from language school:
yourself LOTS of time. You and your family will be under a high stress
load (though you won't always feel like it), and it's okay to let your
energy go toward surviving (thriving?!?) as a person, a couple, and a
family. Keep your language expectations low and your awareness of His
presence high and you'll be fine."
Giving that advice helped me look back over the last five months and be renewed in my assignment.
We're here for the long-haul. The language will come. The most important thing I can do is be in His Presence, listening, resting, watching His face, reading His cues, being His Friend.
"You are my friends if you do what I command." - John 15:14