Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Breaking the Language Barrier

Our congregation at church is very culturally diverse.  There are people from all over the world there.  Spanish translators are in every class.

Last Sunday, a beautiful Brazilian woman stopped me in the hallway to talk with me.  Her daughters do not speak any English or Spanish, and they have been having a hard time.  According to their mother, they cried their first 5 days of school.  Can you imagine how hard it would be to have a foreign language swarming around you ALL the time with nobody speaking your native language?  I remember how difficult that feeling was for me to endure when I first started my mission in Bolivia.

This woman said, "I am in love with your son, Tyson.  We moved here 2 months ago from Brazil, and for the first 5 weeks nobody talked to my daughter until your son came."

She told me how Tyson took care of her daughter.  He helped her understand what was going on.  He tried hard to communicate with her.  He was her friend... her first friend.

As parents, we pray and plead for our children to feel loved and accepted.  When this mother spoke to me, I saw the look of gratitude and relief on her face that somebody had reached out to one of her suffering children.  That person, my son, did not need to speak the same language.  He only needed to show that he cared.

Many people feel worried to even attempt communication once they discover a language barrier.  We, as members of a worldwide community are so much more alike than we realize.  Many people assume that because there are so many differences, there must not be many similarities.  Therefore, hearts are never opened to potentially beautiful friendships.

Yes, there are cultural differences in the foods we eat, the clothes we wear, the accents and language with which we speak, and the jokes we tell.  I believe the cultural similarity of our common need to love and be loved supersedes all other cultural differences.

I'm so grateful that my little 9 year old understood this principle and was the one who stepped way out of his comfort zone to help another even though he himself was new to a congregation with many cultural and language differences.

I asked him what made him help her.  He said, "I just saw that nobody was talking to her, so I decided to."

It's really that simple!  He was breaking the language barrier through simple acts of love.  Thank you Tyson for your accepting and loving heart.