First off, I am not proud that as educated as I am that I am only uni-lingual. I took three years of Spanish between sophomore year of high school and college. I understand the language and I can even read it, but I speak it horribly. This is because I don’t practice. It’s ironic that I live in a
country state where the language is strongly influenced by Spanish because its residents and visitors speak Spanish, yet I do not practice.
I also do not speak creole. I have been approached by people attempting to communicate with me in the dialect several times (I guess I look like I could be Haitian????) but I stare like a dog trying to understand someone.
Anyway, we had a two year old boy come into the shelter. It was explained that he didn’t understand English. Oh boy, this was going to be hard. Toddlers don’t always speak clearly to begin with, and now we have one that speaks and understands a different language than the majority of the staff, Lord help us! Well come to find out, this little one had a fractured arm, burns, and scratches on his body. I was so angry when he came in! How could anyone do this? Really? Especially after spending time with this little guy. All he did was laugh and smile. I kid you not, he looked just like Tyler Perry when he laughed!
I am so thankful for God’s protection over his life and for giving him such a resiliency because he was such a lovable little guy. The simplest things could make him laugh. And when he laughed he would say things in creole that I didn’t understand, but I could tell he was trying to communicate with me. When feeding him I noticed he was having a hard time. I don’t know if he was naturally left handed (this was the arm that was fractured) or if his right wrist (the one with burns) also had something additional wrong because he couldn’t really hold utensils to feed himself. He gave it a good try and he had such a good attitude. While he ate I said words to him in English like banana, macaroni, yogurt, food, yummy, and all done. He would parrot them back to me at first, but I think by the end of his stay he was understanding some.
There were times when we would sit in the play room and watch movies and I would hold up a stuffed dog to ask if he wanted to play with it, but without saying anything. Sometimes he would shake his head to say ‘no,’ but that would quickly change when I would imitate a puppy that attacked him with the tickles. He laughed heartily at that. What was most gratifying was his interacting with our volunteers. Of course they fell in love with him, but I could here him speaking to them in English. Of course they were all one word phrases. He was laughing and playing, which was most of the interactions he had with staff. This did not seem like a little boy who had been hurt by a trusted adult.
I see a lot of fear in the eyes of the little ones that come in because the person that supposedly loved them more than anything hurt them emotionally and physically. Betrayal. What I saw in this little one’s eye is love; the willingness to accept love from others and give love back. Despite me not being able to speak the language he was born into the world knowing, the love that connected us through Christ broke barriers and boundaries that normally are frustrating to overcome. Language is important, and the way in which we use it to communicate dictates a lot of our emotions and actions. I praise God that he allowed me and others to communicate with this little fellow in a way that needed no spoken utterances. Love. The love of God transcends and conquers all things.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39.