I burst through the door of my parents’ home with dirty laundry, a backpack filled with books, and much on my mind. I had just successfully finished my first year of college, and while my clothes were washing, my parents and I began to unpack all I had been learning.
Yet as my mouth spoke, my thoughts kept halting. I did not know how to translate all that my brain was processing in English into Spanish, the language we spoke at home. I had been inundated with new vocabulary, theories, and worldviews that had changed my life. But all the instruction that had shaped me had been done in English. All the conversations I wanted to tell them about took place in English.
I could see my parents struggling to understand—not because they lacked curiosity, but because I was not making much sense. I was attempting to translate things I was still trying to understand. We tried again and again over meal times and car rides. I felt defeated, sad, and frustrated.
I come from a family of pastors. Our dinner tables have always been filled with conversations around books or articles we have read since we last saw each other. As a young person I learned to recognize names like Justo Gonzalez, Ruth Padilla DeBorst, Elsa Tamez, Sergio Franco, Juan Driver and many more, and I was raised with an abundance of resources written in Spanish by Latin American theologians, historians, pastors, and educators. Yet I discovered in college that those were names few of my professors recognized when I spoke up in the classroom.
After a year of reading, learning and reflecting, I was excited to introduce to my parents the ideas I had been exploring in college. I craved conversation with them, so that they would help me further organize my thoughts and integrate the richness found in Latin American thought with the new voices I had been introduced to. Eventually, we figured out how to do this. But I wished for a better way.
The beauty of bilingual
Over the years, I’ve always been pleased when I’ve run across a resource that I could also find in Spanish, so that I could pass it on to my family. Resources offered in both languages would facilitate rich conversations at my dinner table. Along with my grandparents, we’d parse out the cultural assumptions made on both sides and discuss what the theological ideas meant for us as we pastored Latinas and Latinos—fellow sojourners caught in the middle of two cultures, languages, and worldviews. The Latina church—both immigrant following generations—has much to teach and offer the larger church in the United States. We are a church facing unique challenges as it considers how it can disciple the next generation of Jesus-followers.
I am so excited to introduce to you Creciendo Juntos (Growing Young). For the past year, we have been working with translators who represent the variety of the Spanish lexicon, and a team of leaders and pastors from Mexico to Colombia, to make the research findings in Growing Young available in Spanish. We’ve all read and edited the book with our own unique lenses to make sure the final product would include as little regionalism possible (although I am sure you may catch some).
My hope is that Creciendo Juntos will be a conversation tool for Spanish-speaking church pastors trying to discern next steps at their very own dinner tables. My prayer is that as you engage with the research findings in Spanish, you would begin the process of discerning how your local church can indeed grow young.
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