Overcoming the Language Barrier

To begin with, I don’t speak Spanish. So, when the opportunity to go to a Honduran orphanage first came up for discussion at SWO in 2004, I was intimidated right off the bat. To help with the obvious language barrier, our staff took a class TOGETHER to work on our conversational Spanish skills. In short, I did not learn very much. I remember asking God to bridge the language gap and communicate His love through me however He wanted.

I am a singer/songwriter, as many of you readers may already know. So, of course I was eager to share songs with the girls at the orphanage as we hung out in the afternoons. I bounced from yard to yard singing my songs and laughing loud with the girls. We have had the privilege to participate in the worship services at Orphanage Emmanuel. Brody or Kahuna would speak, using an interpreter. The children are eager to sing songs in English, so it was easy for me to lead the music time during those services (Spencer always played too) without singing songs in Spanish.

The first day I pulled out my guitar, those kids made me sing everywhere. So, every day, I would sing. I sang to the girls at the laundry house. I sang for the girls who worked making bread. I sang to little girls playing on the playground. Whoever asked me to sing, I would. It was all I could give. It did not cross my mind that they may not understand the words I was singing. I just trusted that God would encourage them through the songs and that they would hear how much God loved them.

Maridith and I singing Dirt Girl Songs on the Honduran Christian Radio Station in 2006

There were no "boom" stands... we had to be creative

In 2006,the last year I was able to go to Honduras, a girl pulled me aside and said to me, “Translate… su canción!” By then, I had learned enough Spanish to say that I did not know how to translate the song properly. She asked again, as if I were being shy or something. Then, I noticed a girl with a notebook and a pen. I asked her if I could use her paper. As she handed me the paper and pen we all three took a seat at a picnic style table under the pavilion. For an hour we drew pictures back and forth explaining to one another the lyrics to Blood and Mud (listen here). She knew enough English and I knew enough Spanish to laugh at one another’s drawings, fight over the pen when we were on the right track and in the end, she began to cry. I did not need to ask her why she was crying. I was fighting back tears myself. I just hugged her and we sat for a while. I think she understood the song for the first time. She wanted to keep the paper. I wish now that I had taken a photo of it and put it in a frame! But, that was probably one of the Top 10 moments in sharing The Gospel with anyone in my life.

My family will be coming with me this year as we return to Orphanage Emanuel with Snowbird. I could share a ton of stories about my visits to Honduras, but this one in particular sums up how important this trip has become to me. Please pray that we have unique opportunities like this to share the Gospel and encourage our young brothers and sisters who work so hard at the orphanage.


4 thoughts on “Overcoming the Language Barrier

  1. I love these stories, Amy! And I love that you’re serving in Honduras because that’s where my mother’s family is from. I’m looking forward to seeing it again through your eyes once you return!

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