Saturday, September 09, 2006

CPE report: Spanish on the MP3

I can't believe it has been over a week since I've written. Where did the week go? To early morning pre-surgery prayers, and to cleaning before my m-i-l came for an over night, and to Algebra tutoring with manBoy, and to learning a little Spanish in the middle of all that.

I learned at 4 pm on Wednesday that I would be doing pre-surgery prayer rounds at 6 am on Thursday. Mild panic. This would be my first solo run, and when I had gone with someone else before, they knew how to speak Spanish and prayed with the Spanish speaking patients. In this hospital there are many patients who speak only Spanish. So here I was with 14 hours to prepare, and my toilets in need of cleaning.

I gathered my resources, a cheat sheet prepared by the pastoral care office and some help from a fellow resident who's native tongue is Spanish. I brought it all home and decided that I could learn enough to introduce myself in Spanish and offer to pray the "Our Father" (Lord's Prayer) in English while the patient prayed in Spanish.

Next, I went to my neighbor who is from Mexico and had him help with my script and record it into my MP3 player. After showering him with gratitude, I returned home ready to learn. I tucked the MP3 player on my belt, put the earbuds in my ears, set the player on repeat and set off to clean. By the end of the evening with some practice with manBoy, I was able to speak those few simple sentences.

I'm glad to report that each of the Spanish speaking patients I prayed with seem to appreciate my efforts to communicate with and pray for them. I readily showed them my 3"x5" notecard with the sum total of my Spanish written on it. They didn't seem to mind if I had to take a peek when I forgot what came next. The blending of the two languages as we prayed was beautiful. Each of those prayers was truly a holy moment for all involved.

Tonight, I shadow the on-call chaplain and in one week I do a solo on-call. I'll appreciate all of your prayers.

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