“Si me dieras el si!”
Loosely translated this means, “If only she would say yes”. This is the only sentence I learned in my four quarters of Spanish other than, “Donde es el bano?” (Where is the bathroom), and “Yo quiero mas cervasas.” (I need more beer). The latter two, I must admit, were closely connected as part of my college days. The former, however, proved to have much greater importance as it was a sentence I learned while attempting to woo my future bride into marrying me.
Fortunately God in His infinite wisdom convinced my bride to say yes because He knew I needed lots of help staying close to Him. He also knew she needed to be challenged by my foolish ideas.
In addition to my wife, I have also learned much from God through, more than 30 years of toiling in the soil, making sure the grounds and greens at the golf course were in good shape. Recently, I have seen evidence of this as He used my new amigos and fellow workers to teach me and them more about Him and His ways.
I didn’t pay attention in Spanish class but I sure wish I had. I have a desire to communicate with those I work with not just to say, “Be sure and cut the greens on a 10/2 direction,” (referring to the position of those numbers on a clock in relation to the position of the golf green), or, “Watch out, the chainsaw is slipping from the limb toward your head.” By the time my brain comes up with that translation my amigo is comatose and gushing blood and has been transported to the emergency room for an overnight stay for observation.
In fact, it won’t be until I meet him at the hospital the following morning that I will have worked out the translation. There, I proudly announce the warning I should have given the previous day, “Seguir, la motosierra es deslizamiento de la extremidad hacia su cabeza.”
It is difficult trying to communicate a good Christian witness to my fellow workers when we speak different languages and come from different cultures; but I am trying. I have found one way to do this is through first speaking with my actions. For example, they will often ask if I can help them finish raking bunkers or help them move over the weekend. My answer is always, ‘No problem,” a phrase I picked up in Jamaica on our honeymoon.
They picked up on this and I soon found they would ride by me in their golf carts and yell, “No problem!” Sometimes, when I am tired, and having a difficult time pushing a fertilizer spreader or spraying greens for insects in a chemical suit, in the 100 degree heat of the day, they drive by and yell, “No problem,” and laugh hysterically. Not exactly what you might want to hear; but I am finding that God has arranged it so I could spend one on one time with nearly every one of my new friends.
When I need someone to assist me with the spraying, one of them will work alongside me – a captive audience for my communication efforts – while his buddies point and laughingly shout, “No problem!” During our time working together day I would try to learn from them and they would attempt to learn from me. We would see a turtle and I would point and shrug. “Tortuga” my friend would say.
Animals, work and family were easy enough but soon we would move to more complex ideas, concepts and thoughts. On those rare 70 degree low humidity days when the sun rose among the clouds as if God were showing off, we would both look appreciatively at it and reply in unison, “Gracias Dios por un hermoso dia” (Thank you God for a beautiful day).
We would enjoy our days together despite the hard work. Inevitably though, the questions would come. Things like “Why does God allow evil?” “If God is sovereign why are we responsible?” And my favorite, “What is the Trinity?”
Understanding the concept behind the Triune God is one thing. Explaining its mysteries to someone is something else entirely. Doing it with two people who know 50 words in common with only moments at a time for discussion is, in a word, difficult.
Like me, you have probably found that communication can be hard even in the best of situations. Language and culture can certainly become obstacles to overcome; however, we can find common ground to work from.
When the economy began to sour and housing dried up the chants of “No problem!” continued but when layoffs began, unemployment rose, and as the dollar devalued, raises stopped. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the oil flowed into the gulf and onto our beaches. Suddenly, I found these same guys were looking to me for answers. It was time for a new form of encouragement.
It wasn’t enough to be there to help, to support, to talk through problems, encouragement was needed. Real people needed real encouragement because times were tough. Those words came one day through Hispanic friend who spoke the most English – the one who asked the Trinity question.
He realized it is not enough to just say, no problem, because there are many problems. Even if we are working through them, they are still with us everyday waiting to be tackled. He somehow understood not only what I was saying, but more importantly, what I meant. “No te preocupes!” he said. “You have no worries”, he added in translation.
He hit the nail on the head. Those three words moved our conversation from merely talking about things to actually doing something about them. Why is it so different you ask?
No worries, conveys the message that regardless of the problems – and there are many today in your life and mine – I choose to give them to God. It means that I won’t worry about tomorrow because He holds tomorrow and He is in control of my life and all of my problems.
Are there things I could worry about? Certainly, just watch the news for five minutes and any thinking person can find plenty to worry about. Times are looking pretty grim and they appear to be getting worse. But I choose not to spend my time, effort and energy worrying about; rather, I choose to focus on what God has for me to do today: sharing with you, my friends, my amigos, “No te preocupes!” You have no worries except those you choose to hold onto.
No matter what language we speak or what culture we are part of, we can put our faith in Him, knowing that each day He will take care of our needs. He promises He will. Even when problems come, we can live without worries. As the Apostle Peter wrote, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
Now, that’s good news!