Monday, December 03, 2007


Learning Spanish In Singapore

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Michelle and I were monolingual and not the best examples of proficiency in languages. We were unable to muster a decent conversation in our mother tongues. And so the idea of learning a new language, Spanish, a language we had never heard before, was very intimidating.

We were not gifted in languages. And so our hunt for language preparation began in Singapore. Some sense of Spanish, no matter how minimal, would help us before our arrival in Bolivia.

The existing courses were in a secular setting and expensive. I prayed for provision. Lo and behold the Lord answered in a week. Calvary Charismatic Centre, situated in New World, Jalan Bersah, sent a brochure which outlined, for the first time, a course in Spanish! I was of course thrilled.

We were staying in Tampines; the thought of changing buses and the long journey to Jalan Bersah was going to be a tiring affair. We decided to register for the course anyway.

One week before the beginning of the course, the Singapore Bus Service (SBS) started a new air conditioned service, no. 65, which took us from Tampines to Calvary Charismatic's door step! It was as if the Lord was urging us on to move ahead in faith!

Our instructor, Ruth Balch, taught us simple choruses and helped us with our pronunciation. I bought a thin black leather bound Spanish Bible from her. I remember the excitement of looking at words I had never seen before and the sense of being overwhelmed by the impending task of learning to preach and teach in a language other than English.

Compared to the 6 month inculturation/language course we took in Bolivia, the one in Singapore was a drop in the ocean. But in terms of faith building, the experience of God's provision of the course and the bus service were life changing. He does take care of the small things in our lives.

In retrospect, and this is a real irony: our inability to be proficient in our mother tongues pushed us to learn another language. We would probably be serving in ethnic based hokkien and tamil speaking congregations if we were effectively bilingual. The Lord's ways are mysterious.

Our decision to go was opening doors and removing obstacles, slowly but surely.

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