“Sorry, a little I speak Hungarian. American, I am. Hungarian I am learning. Slowly. I would like a cinnamon snail, please. Thank you.”
This phrase will usually set me (Chadwick) on a pretty good path for the day. I know just enough Hungarian to explain why I don’t know Hungarian and order a few fresh baked goods from the bakery across the street. Usually, it’s all I could say anyways because in the morning there’s a line and everyone wants to get things moving into the rest of their day. But sometimes we go to the bakery around 2pm.
At 2pm, the bakery is empty except the one worker and several racks of lonesome pastries, begging me to take them home. One time I went in there with our girls and discovered it’s the perfect time to have a more relaxed conversation learning experience. We stumbled through some new phrases, wherein I explained we lived in the apartments nearby. Her name was Susie (American version), and she was gracious enough to stumble with us through some introductions. She smiled when she heard we were connected to serving the church, and seemed thankful to have met.
This week we continue our Hungarian tutoring sessions. We learned how to count to 100, and the numbers on main Hungarian forint amounts. We were also taught a short prayer. It’s humbling to have such a limited vocabulary, and we look forward to increasing our ability to communicate.
One of the challenges as a follower of Christ is that suddenly we speak an entirely different language. As citizens of the Kingdom of New Creation, the ways we speak are Love, grace, forgiveness, Life, and well – the fruit of the Spirit. But this is not the native language we were born speaking. We will stumble through lessons in translation. This is also not often the language of the world around us. We will need to find moments and people that are receptive and gracious enough to help us take steps forward in our learning.
This is one of the many reasons I love the Church, and being part of a local church. It is the largest “LSL” (Love as a Second Language – although that’s not entirely true, because it was/is our first foundational language.) class. We cannot learn to speak the language of New Creation on our own or spending all of our days in places where the language isn’t spoken. Trying to learn Hungarian in the US, when we were surrounded by everyone speaking English – was nowhere near as helpful as being immersed here. But when we surround ourselves with others who are learning the language as well and spend time purposefully developing our proficiency (by the power of the Holy Spirit), we have the hope that we may become like native speakers.
On this trajectory, we can do so much more than order cinnamon snails. We can transform the world – & the diverse humanity that will someday be united by that same language – as Love is revealed completely in Jesus Christ. It has begun…