Navigating the Learning Curve

Anytime you start something new, there’s always a learning curve to overcome. It happens when you learn to drive, start a new job, move to a new city, learn to speak a new language, begin playing an instrument, and even when you upgrade to a new cell phone, computer, or other technological device. Many of these things have been a part of my adjustment to life in the islands, and these last couple weeks have felt a bit like exam week. Granted, I haven’t been staying up late nights studying or living off of coffee, but I have faced a couple tests, and I have another big one coming up this Sunday.

In addition to learning Portuguese, I’ve also been trying to learn how to play the guitar since I’ve been here (key phrase: “trying to learn”). I’ve always admired people who could play the guitar, and that admiration has definitely grown exponentially over the last few months. For someone who considers herself to have pretty good hand, eye coordination, I have found it incredibly difficult to strum properly and play chords simultaneously.  This challenge has turned into a test for me because this week I began playing a couple of the songs while the kids sang along during the music portion of our clubs. So far I wouldn’t call it a complete disaster, but let’s just say I’m thankful that we’re called to “make a joyful NOISE unto the Lord!”

Another test I’ve been dealing with is learning to drive a manual transmission. First of all, let me just say “THANK YOU” to whoever invented the automatic transmission and “I’m sorry” to anyone who had to learn to drive for the very first time with a manual. I’ve been driving an automatic transmission car (and loving it) for 12 years. Who knew adding a clutch could be so intimidating! However, after lots of paperwork and several hours of instructional driving time with Pastor Art (who was both gracious and patient with me), I am the proud owner and semi-confident driver of my own little red, 5-speed manual transmission Nissan! Navigating these narrow European roads is challenging, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it. 

The big test that is still to come will happen this Sunday when I teach Sunday school and Junior Church at ABC for all the kids, both American and Portuguese! I’ll have a helper who is fluent in both English and Portuguese, but the teaching part is up to me. I’m more than a little nervous, but I’m also kind of excited. I really have no idea how it’s going to turn out. I’m sure I will make some mistakes and learn something new in the process.  My main goal is to teach them about Jesus and help them have fun while they learn, without creating total, bi-lingual chaos! Thankfully, it’s not about my abilities but about God working in the lives of these kids. I’ll let you know how it goes…
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