Monday, June 28, 2010

Un año y medio

A year and a half - that's exactly how long I've been living in El Salvador. Good time for an assessment. When I came here at the end of December, 2008, I thought I'd be fluent in Spanish at the end of a year. Alas, I still get the verb forms mixed up, I can misunderstand what someone's trying to tell me, and I'm sometimes misunderstood. I'm still a learner of this beautiful language, and the learning happens more slowly than I wish it did. I can and do carry on conversations, handle business, and even write formal letters in Spanish: I just wish it was elegant Spanish. Helps to remember that I don't expect immigrants to the United States to be fluent in English after a year and half!

On the other hand: I can zip around Suchitoto, San Salvador, and all the areas in between with ease. I know the locations of hospitals, government centers, historical sites, shopping centers, crafts markets, villages; I can do business with a variety of government authorities without sweating any more than is natural in this climate. I know all the thousand and one steps necessary to set up our mission clinics.

Best of all, I have friends here, people I care about who care about me, friends who come to dinner and invite me to their homes, friends who can give me good advice about how to live wisely here. I even have a thriving godson. And always, I'm aware of the community of my Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, present here in the house through Margaret Jane and present in prayer and mail and e-mail messages. I'm sustained by the PeaceHealth community, by Kathy Garcia and our grand volunteers. And I'm sustained by the work, as worth the while as anything I've ever done, of connecting our PeaceHealth and CSJP volunteers with the Salvadoran people that I have come to love.

And the Spanish....well it gets a little better daily. And slowly. Primero Dios.

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