The last couple of weeks have brought many new experiences, as well as some unexpected detours. The most important, however, would have to be my brief return to the United States due to a family situation, for which continued prayers are most certainly appreciated! (Please note that the link leads to Facebook, and is only accessible if you are logged into the site. Sorry). This unexpected detour, however, still contained many lessons and brought some wonderful opportunities to continue practicing Spanish. Here are a few snapshots from the last couple of weeks, even though they are a bit different than the typical snapshots you might expect:
28 Junio 2016
I received a phone call from back home that led to my needing to return to the United States. The only reason why I mention this here is to thank everyone who supports seminarians and our way of life. Without your generous encouragement and support, particularly that of my home Diocese, I would not have been able to return home. So, thank you!
1 Julio 2016
I decided to try Uber on my own for the first time, and it was a great experience. My driver, Germán, was very talkative, which I much appreciated. This is what immersion is about: interacting with people, talking, and learning on the fly. I am sure there were probably several times when he could have laughed at my poor Spanish, but nonetheless he was incredibly patient with me and we had a great conversation. Please pray for him and his family: he works two jobs, washing windows and Uber, in order to support his mother and two brothers
Airports are wonderful places for people watching. On my way through security, there were many people who were estadounidenses as our flight was headed directly to Dallas without any other connections in Mexico. There was one young lady who was having a difficult time getting through security and the various checkpoints due to her lack of Spanish. Much to my surprise, I knew enough to help her and serve as a quasi-translator!
4 Julio 2016
After spending time with family, I returned to Mexico on the day we celebrated our independence. All of the flights were uneventful, although customs was…interesting. At the request of a seminarian brother, I brought back some SPAM from the United States. Well, I didn’t know how to say “canned meat”, so I told Mexican customs, “Tengo carne en mi mochilla.” Well, meat happens to be on their list of items that they check very carefully. Eventually, I was able to express to the customs agent what it was, and once he saw the two cans of SPAM he laughed and waved me through. A bit nerve-wracking, but you’d be surprised at all the creative ways you can use a language when you really really want to say something but don’t quite have the correct words.
I took Uber back to the seminary, and this driver had a bit of a surprise for me. We were having a good conversation, but about five minutes from the seminary, I noticed that all of her MP3s had English titles on the display. I asked her, “Tú hablas español?” Her response? “Yes, but when I learned you were here studying Spanish, I decided it would be good to give you more practice!” Needless to say, she received a 5 star rating on the app for that trip.
When I finally returned to the seminary, everyone was wrapping up a barbecue and watching Independence Day. Can’t think of a better way to spend a 4th of July evening.
7 Julio 2016
Today we finished one of our classes, “Hispanic Ministry in the United States in the 21st Century: Blessings and Challenges.” Taught by Sr. Guadalupe Ramirez, MCDP, this course covered the history of Hispanic immigration in the United States, as well as the current issues surrounding Hispanic ministry, helping to prepare us to work with Hispanics in our home dioceses back in the United States. Even though it lasted for only three weeks, the course was packed with information, and our professor delivered the material that demonstrated not only her expertise, but her deep faith as well. I will be taking her lessons with me and using them for years to come!
In the meantime, we return to our full schedule of 6-7 hours of language classes on Monday. Please keep us in prayer as we approach final exams, and then our month-long parish assignments.
Tomorrow, we will visit Puebla and the Great Pyramid of Cholula, and on Sunday we will visit the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in Teotihuacán. More pictures to come after this weekend. Until then, know that you all remain in our prayers. Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, ruega por nosotros!