• Claire Talbott
Posted in Mission
Claire Talbott recently wrote a post for Agua Viva about her experience on our trip this summer. We wanted to pass it along to encourage you.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9).
In the past, I had worked with children from the Philippines at my local rescue mission. If there was one thing I knew how to do, it was to teach and minister to children, provided we spoke the same language. At recess on the first day at Agua Viva, it hit me that I didn’t speak Spanish; there are only so many ways you can use “buenos días” in a conversation. I counted to 10 with one group of children. They found this entertaining, and one little boy began to lecture me on counting to 100. When I fumbled my words, he didn’t look very impressed with my pronunciation.
I began to wonder; if I couldn’t even count to 20 in their language, how could I point them to Christ? Despite my efforts, I couldn’t share the basics of a Bible story or the gospel in Spanish—I had nothing. After the lecture on counting to 100, I started speaking with three small girls. One of them understood English, so we began exchanging questions such as: “How old are you?” “What is your favorite fruit?” “Do you have a pet?” She translated everything for her friends that they couldn’t understand. Eventually we ran out of questions to exchange, and they ran off to play. The conversation seemed stilted at best.
In the afternoons we taught English, but I doubted my technique. Was I pushing too hard? Was I challenging them enough? Were they just humoring the American who could only speak one language? What difference can one afternoon of English practice make? Everything I had always relied on to minister to children was stripped away. “What’s the point?” I wondered as the week progressed. The same little girls came back to talk with me at recess the next day, but the boy had abandoned his lessons regarding how to count in Spanish. Although we recycled the same questions from the previous day, they didn’t seem to mind. We even tested out a few new ones like, “What are your hobbies?” On the last day, one of the little girls asked her friend how to say something in English. Then shyly, she handed me a picture and said, “For you.” Everything I used to serve had been stripped away, but as I held that picture, I saw that God can use even our weakest attempts. At least one little girl had felt seen and valued by my stumbling attempts at conversation.
In the afternoon, in English classes, I saw students who had been reserved the day before gain confidence as they practiced English again. As I praised their hard work (they were brilliant!) they beamed, their shyness slipping away. Although we didn’t speak the same language, I could still encourage them and show them love through a smile and praise.
Although I’m not enough, God is. I don’t know how God will use my small offerings of obedience, but I know that He uses every planted seed to accomplish His purposes.