On Monday, July 15th, my family and I will depart for Cartagena, Colombia. We will spend four weeks there: me spending two intense weeks working on my conversational Spanish and two weeks playing -- my family spending all their time playing.
My partner Mark and I made raising our children to be bilingual a priority in our parenting. We both were convinced that knowing more than one language broadened one's cultural horizons. Since Spanish was readily available to us in North Carolina, we took advantage of the opportunity. My older children have had Spanish in their ears from a very young age. From Spanish immersion in pre-school to dual language education, they have learned to read and write in two languages. Mark and I felt blessed that our children were able to continue in their dual-language learning when we moved here.
Because cross cultural intelligence is as important to us as knowing more than one language, we travel with our children to places where they not only have to use their Spanish, but also must engage a different culture.
Every other year, we travel outside of the Continental U.S., and we all get to learn what it is like to be a stranger in a strange land. My children adapt quickly. Their young, elastic brains absorb so much more easily than my aging one. But the experience is good for me as well. I stumble and bumble my way around, but I try hard to find ways to connect with people.
I reveal my vocation only when I'm asked, and I am always surprised about how much people want to talk about God. They are so eager to hear about my church and my faith-practice that they are willing to endure my horrible Spanish (talking eschatology is hard enough in English). I have come to treasure these conversations and I hope that my travels this summer will increase my capacity to have more.
My immersion experiences teach me so much about the world I live in and the God I serve, and I hope that by the Spirit's grace, they make me a better disciple and a better human being.