Sunday, August 20, 2006

Muchas gracias por todo

One of the coolest things in the world is going to another country and forcing yourself to speak the language. You may think you know nothing about Bulgarian or Urdu, but if you want to eat, wash your hands, or buy a pretty scarf, you'd better learn quickly. I'm always amazed at how quickly the words come--and how awful I can make them sound.

Just last year, I got lost in a small suburb outside Paris. My French was, and is, tres pathetic. I was due in a meeting, and there I was, wandering unfamiliar streets. Bonjour, I greeted all the nannies with their young charges, hoping one would immediately recognize my bad accent and offer to speak English, but non. Finally I happened upon some construction workers, and blurted out something along the lines of Bonjour, je suis un petit poulet, desole.

In English, that would be Hello, I'm a little chicken, forgive me.

But that was good enough. The Frenchmen took me by the hands, looked at the address on the card, and led me to the door. Merci, merci, I said. And they beamed.

Wherever I go, the ability to say hello, please, thank you, goodbye, and I'd like one of those please, not to mention chocolate, has opened doors, worked miracles, and made cold faces warm up. Learning more pays off in a big way--but those basics will carry you far.

Even in this country, where English is the unofficial official language, it can be an act of kindness and grace to welcome someone in words they understand, or to say thank you to someone who is still learning to navigate the English dictionary. It doesn't make us any less American--and in fact, it shows what is good about our country.

So for those of you who studied Spanish, whether you learned from Sesame Street or a classroom, or whether it was your mother's tongue or your boyfriend's, share a phrase or two with Amy and Sahara so they can do more than smile at the people who are helping to light their way in Houston.

We're back at the RMDH!

Sahara made it through round two with flying colors. She was released from the hospital this afternoon, and she's sleeping soundly now. If the pattern from last time holds true, she'll be exhausted for the next couple of days and won't feel like doing much of anything.

One of the evil mouth sores (like a fever blister on the inside) has reared its ugly head already, so it's becoming really hard for her to eat again. I'm glad she bulked up on burgers and fries the last couple of days. I made a total of four trips up the street to St. Luke's Hospital (home of the fabulous McDonald's).

No doctor's appointments booked until Thursday, according to the latest schedule we were given today. The scheduling system is so cool...eliminates the need to write down appointments and other important information. I know she'll have some physical therapy coming up again soon, so that will be added at some point.

As soon as she's up to it, she will attend classes here at the RMDH.

Teachers, I need help! I need to know a really good book that will help me learn some useful Spanish in a hurry. Perhaps "Spanish for Dummies?" LOL. There are some exceptionally sweet people here that I communicate with mostly in smiles, but want to do more.

Right now, I can best describe my grasp of the language like this: "I learned all of the Spanish I know at El Torero." (Everyone in Cape knows what I mean...LOL!)

Sahara misses her friends terribly. Missing the start of school has been so hard on her. She can't wait to get home and see everyone again.Shannon went home yesterday, but will be coming back down on Friday. Thank you to all of our friends and neighbors who are taking care of him and making sure he eats! He hasn't done a lot of that in the last month. Keeping him busy is a very good thing.

I can't say it enough...THANK YOU to everyone who continues to send such creative, beautiful, THOUGHTFUL gifts and cards!!! We will need a suitcase to transport all of them home - and yes, we are keeping them ALL!

Special thanks to my wonderful coworkers at SEMO - you guys ROCK and you know who you are. I'm away from the print shop at the busiest time of year, and they are holding down the fort and keeping me from worrying about anything. I love and miss you guys. No one on the planet has better coworkers than I do.

(Nine hundred suckers...Charlie and Jane, you two are hilarious!!!!) Jan: thank you, thank you! She loves everything!!!

Well, time's up on the ol' RMDH computer. All is well here in Houston for now. Our love to everyone who takes the time to read the blog each day. Thank you for your continued posts, prayers and thoughts!!!