One of the most frustrating things about getting settled on the mission field is the language barrier. As we have worked toward renting a home, buying appliances and furniture, having things turned on and everything else there is to do, we have had to rely on others for help simply to speak.
Church is frustrating as well. We are attending a church that is already established here in La Paz while we are in language school and it can be very challenging to try and communicate. It is also difficult not understanding any of the service. It makes me miss our home church even more. I wish learning a new language was something we could all do overnight but unfortunately it, like many other things, takes time.
We have seen the importance of
concentrating solely on Spanish our first year here and we have been very glad that we listened to the advice of other missionaries. While we will attend a church that is already established we will not become involved in that ministry until we are able to move to Oruro and begin a new church there. How can you plant churches and reach people if you can not even speak with them?
One thing we have found however, as we learn to speak is that everyone understands a smile. As the scripture says, weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. There are many ways to show compassion and love without speaking a word at all. So as we attend language school and practice speaking when we can we will also be sharing Christ's love in other more wordless ways.
A fellow missionary wife from another country shared this with me after a veteran missionary shared it with her and it blessed me deeply. “Dear heart, you are a career missionary, you are in this for the rest of your earthly life. You will not have everything and will not understand everything at first, but each day of learning, perseverance, doing what you can, will bring you one day closer to understanding the language and culture. One day you will suddenly realize you just understood and replied without consciously thinking about it! God called you to share the Gospel but that is not always with your mouth. Until God gives you that gift be His hands, feet, arms and let His love shine from your eyes and smile.”