Here in Haiti, there are many reasons for an American to feel frustrated.
When I brush my teeth, I have to remember to use bottled water instead of the faucet. I’m not allowed to put any toilet paper in the toilet. At night, the electricity if cut off. I have very limited access to the internet. And bugs! There are a lot of annoying bugs.
But so far, I think I am adapting very well… except for one thing. And that one thing frustrates me to no end. The language barrier.
Even as a teenager, I dreamed of international travel. I wanted to play professional basketball in Spain. (Hey, the WNBA hasn’t always existed!) I had foreign exchange student friends in Argentina. I even considered vacationing on a Caribbean beach in Mexico. I never knew if my dreams would be a reality, but I found myself drawn to Hispanic cultures. I went as far as minoring in Spanish when I was in college. I was fluent enough in the language to communicate comfortably.
Several years later, I started to become interested in missions. I had a lot of friends who were traveling to places like Nicaragua, Mexico, and Brazil. The more I learned, the more I felt pulled into mission work.
Jump ahead to today. I can’t help but laugh. God has such a sense of humor! The one place that He sends me to do His work is a country that speaks its own language. Yes, I’m on an island called Hispaniola… shared by a country, the Dominican Republic, that speaks Spanish. But I’m in Haiti. Haitian Creole is nothing like Spanish. It actually is very similar to French. So, aside from an occasional hello, thank you, excuse me, and goodbye, I am literally at a loss for words.
Ginny has raised her daughter to be bilingual, so it has been very easy for me to interact with her. The two foster girls only speak Creole, though. I want to interact with the teens but am struggling to figure out how.
Fortunately, God has raised His children to be bilingual too. Everyone has the ability to love. These teens haven’t experienced much of that in their short lives… that is, until they moved in with Ginny. While I am here visiting, I need to push beyond the frustrating language barrier and communicate with smiles, laughter, and hugs.
It took me traveling to an island where I couldn’t understand the language to realize that there are frustrating language barriers even in America. Many people in the United States have a hard time communicating with each other. Although we speak the same language, we are often too busy to share a smile with others. We allow our bad days to strip us of laughter, and we let bitterness prevent us from caring for our own. No matter where we live or how we speak, let’s not forget to always communicate with the only universal language… love.