Roberto is the unfortunate recipient of my first major Spanish goof-up. On our first scouting trip to Nicaragua, we used all of the Spanish we could muster in order to practice and build relationships. Unfortunately, bronchitis smashed my health the entire trip. Drowned in constant nausea and fever, I leaned heavily on Temp-Mom Lori Schafer to feed me Tylenol and food.
At one meeting with local ministers and their wives, I fired up the Spanish engines and let loose on Roberto. All went well until he asked me how I liked being married. It went like this:
Roberto: “Hi, Scott.”
Scott: “Hi, Roberto.”
Roberto: “How do you like being married [casada]?”
Scott: Did he just ask how I liked being tired [cansada]? He must know that I’ve been sick. “Oh, it’s terrible. I’ve been taking medicine for it, but sometimes I just need to lie down because of the nausea. What I really need to do is see a doctor. I can’t wait until we get back to the States so I can get rid of this thing…”
Roberto: With confusion. “Huh???”
Carl Most (missionary): “Scott, he asked you how you liked being married, not how you liked being sick.”
Scott: Feeling more nauseous than usual. “Oh…”
The very last night of our scouting trip, “the gang” (see above) piled into Carl Most’s van and sped off to meet a real gang! On the way we picked up Nixon, one of the gang members who recently came to the Lord. His story is quite amazing. He came to Christ after loosing a leg in a knife fight. Though he only has one leg now, he walks with the Lord more than he ever did before.
When we arrived, the other gang members were surprisingly warm to Nixon. They were his human crutches, they cleared a path for him, got a chair for him, and generally took care of him. We were warmly welcomed as well, but we hardly noticed because of our nervousness. Lori’s eyes rivaled most coconuts as she (and we) took it all in: knife scars, tough looks, ragged clothes, slick hair, and everywhere the sense of desperate poverty mixed with youthful strength. They were clearly devoted to one another. We, by comparison, were dressed business casual; our cell phones hanging off of our belts, our hair well kempt, our best defense being to threaten a lawsuit.
Eric sized up the situation pretty well and advised us: “Just act natural.”
We chuckled at the suggestion.
“Natural? Are you crazy? I’m one step away from death if this situation explodes!” Soon, however, women and children joined us, and we all enjoyed a night of Spanish-Christian-Rap videos, lemonade, crackers, and a preaching on true inner peace.