1. Learning Spanish – On Friday, a few past Ventaneros came to stay with us. At first I was super intimidated to be around all of these people who have already done a year of Ventana and who know what they are doing down here. They had relationships built, spoke Spanish like pros, and knew more about the program than I did. Then I realized that instead of being intimidating they were encouraging. They had also started the year not speaking any Spanish and now they speak it almost fluently and they have strong friendships with people down here despite starting out with no Spanish. I realized there is hope for me!
2. Playing Soccer – Saturday night after college group one of the guys came up to me who tends to not like gringos and who I felt I have not connected much with. He asked if I wanted to play soccer with them. Me! Stephanie Johnson! The gringa girl who hasn’t played soccer for ten years and who kicked him in the ankle the last time we played! So of course I went (Robbie came too) and I wasn’t half bad compared to all the locals. I received a lot of compliments about my defensive skills and whether they were just being nice or thought I really was good, for a gringa, my spirits were boosted. I bonded with a lot of the guys that night and they have asked me to play with them again. They also were amazing and took the time to explain the different rules of indoor soccer which means there are no offsides! Whoo hoo!
3. New Fancy Restaurant – Yesterday, Doug (our director) invited me to dinner with his family to celebrate Micah’s first place win at his race in Ensenada. Who knew his legs were so fast! A group from Kenya even invited him to come train with them and he is only ten! It was a proud moment for Doug and Carrie and I was blessed to be integrated into their family for that moment. Besides, the food was incredible. We went to San Antonio to a place called “Ochenta Pizza.” It was strait out of the Temecula wine country except it had an even better view and it was cheap. (Family, we will be eating there when you come down. You will love it, especially Amanda and Kenny.) It was lovely to eat without having to clean dishes or cook and it was refreshing to have some of the things I have missed this month: green olives, feta cheese, iced tea, woodfire pizza, and garlic bread. Oh and I forgot to mention that we saw a proposal at the restaurant! Check witnessing strangers getting engaged at a restaurant off of my bucket list! It was really cool to see two random people be so happy.
4. Worshipping con dos Lenguas – Last night was like icing on the cake. I knew that music was a quick way to reach the heart of the locals but I was really made aware of that last night. One of the girls that we hang out with a lot, who doesn’t speak or understand English, asked me to play the guitar. So I got it out and we worshipped in Spanish and English all while talking about music and singing correctly and a lot of other things I didn’t think I could communicate. It was so much fun. Then Caleb and Israel (the soccer guy) came back form pizza and we talked about the difference between Spanish chords (they use a roman numeral system based off of the scales) and my chords (letters). We talked about guitars and strings and all sorts of things while singing. I might join the worship team soon but I need to practice a little bit first with my Spanish and the new songs that they sing. Long anecdote short, I felt like a lot of bonding was done over my attempts to speak Spanish and our mutual love for music.
Gracias a Dios por música y fútbol y nuevo restaurants!