Friday, November 02, 2007


Learning another language is not always fun or easy, but it is interesting! Spanish is an easy language, linguistically speaking, to learn. It is a phonetic language where, unlike in English, the phonetic rules rarely have exceptions. Grammatically, it is ordered and organized around the verbs, so once you learn the forms, you just begin to add vocabulary and work on accents. The hardest part is of course the subjunctive forms of the verbs. Arrggghh!!!!

I, of course, did not appreciate this aspect of the Spanish language until much later when I would need to learn the Ye'kwana language. The Ye'kwana language is everything the Spanish language is not. Add to that the fact you have no language instructors or anyone around you who even know what a verb is. The grammar is different in that the nouns are possessed and the language is built around the nouns. I used to say that the nouns were possessed alright, DEMON possessed!!!

But back to squirrels... When we first arrived in Venezuela, my husband took the pastorate of Iglesia Bautista la Santa Biblia and immediately had to begin preparing sermons for 4 messages a week. He spoke Spanish fairly well , but still had to put a lot of time and effort into sermon preparation.

One Sunday he stood to deliver the sermon to the congregation. His sermon was well thought out, very well developed, easy three point outline to follow along with good illustrations to emphasize his points. The subject matter of the sermon was "Pride".

For 30 minutes he delivered his sermon on "Pride". He railed on the congregation to search out "pride' where ever it might be found in our lives. God abhors "Pride" and there is no place for "pride" in the christian's life. As I said, it was a challenging message.

The problem was that the congregation was not responsive. Actually, they were responding, but not appropriately! Many people were grinning ear to ear. Others were obviously trying not to laugh out loud. Some chose to look down at their feet for the entire sermon, with their shoulders shaking with silent mirth! The youth of the congregation were outright laughing.

After the service, my husband was disheartened with the spirit of the congregation. He told me he knew he had been led to speak against "Pride" and did not understand the problem with the people. I had to tell him... for 30 minutes he had orated not against "Pride" ( the Spanish word is "Orgullo") but rather against "Squirrels"!!! ( the Spanish word is "Ardilla)

The mental pictures were quite funny! Christians hunting out squirrels and killing them! God hating squirrels! No room for squirrels in the christian's life! A real riot !!!!

The following week my husband did not want to preach!! He was embarrassed about the sermon of the week before, however, being the Pastor, he had to swallow his "squirrels" and preach any way!


jennifer said...

Oh I must laugh!!! I will forever in my mind think squirrels for pride!

In my quest to pick up Spanish I have used inappropriate words also...and although people try to be kind, you can see on their faces the laughter!!

So although I am not a master of the language, I have learned to look for the signs that I have said the word or phrase incorrectly!!

Miss ya, but look forward to your trip!!

Susan said...

This had me rolling!!! LOL My brother-in-law has had similar experiences in Mexico, learning the Spanish language. I think once he asked for a "beach" for his son, thinking he was asking for a shirt. And there was something about a chicken chest - I think he had a cold in his chest and it translated to a chicken in his chest? Since all I speak is English, and southern English at that, I may have the stories all wrong, but they are definitely funny.

Brenda said...

Oh. . don't get me started. I used to write my kids with dads mistake of the week, because they were so funny. Its what keeps us humble.

I was with your girl today. Abbie made quite the impression at the beauty shop. I am sure you are anxious to see them all.

CaraqueƱa said...

Now you can always tell Clint, "Now don't be squirrely!" lol That is hilarious! I wish I could have been there...weren't you just heehawing too?

Rancher said...

Squirrels, thems good eat’n. Funny story, I’m sure if I think about it I’ve been in similar circumstance but without anyone to clue me in. I don’t think I’ll think about it. I learned Spanish, forgot it, learned it again, and forgot it again. When I need to know it again I'll learn just enough for my needs. Thank God it's so easy!

Jane said...

What a GREAT story....I loved it. I know I will think of it every time I am in Venezuela!

Amanda said...

It just hurts to read something like that!

Rebecca said...

LOL! I LOVE IT! Those squirles will get you every time. It reminds me of when we first came to Germany and I was trying out my fledgling German. I learned after some strange looks and about 2 weeks that I had been telling complete stangers good naked instead of good night. It's a slight varient in the pronunciation but what a difference!

Pat said...


I am soo glad he overcame the humiliation and resumed his messages!!

Bet those Indians never let him forget it!!

redneck preacher said...

That sounds like a plethora of family stories.
“Don’t get your squirrel up.”
“It’s your squirrel that won’t let play house with your sister.”
“Oh Dad, look at the squirrel of lions.”
“Pride is climbing the tree.”
“Let’s go to the park and feed our pride.”

It’s enough to keep a dad’s squirrel in check.


marina said...

Hi, Rita I found your blog on, an american living in mexico. I am marina mexican american living in Texas, I was reading your blog to my husband about the squirles and how your husband had to sallow them we had a good laugh too funny.
Spainsh was my first lanuage until I was 8 then I learn english,my grandparents where from mexico my parents are americans both always spoke to us in spainsh. Sounds like you are living a wonderful like travling all around the world Venezuala,,WOW,, spainsh is very diferent over there, I saw your quote about Jerusalem I will bless whose who who bless you and pray for Jerusalem.our pastor is very potical about the peace of Jerusalem his name is John Hagee you may of herd of him he even has a night to honer Jerusalem.His wife is mexican american too. and she can speake spainsh,anyway I just want to stop and say hello and to thank you for being missionaries,and letting me see venezuala through your eyes I know I will never see it. But I can dream I am travling when I see your pictures.Blessing, marina

marina said...

Hi, Rita I loved your blog and the squirles that was so funny. and thank you for letting me see a different country through your eyes I know I will never travel there.But it looks so wonderful you have a bless life.Blessing marina

Always On Watch said...

Language bloopers are funny.

I'm sure that the congregation understood what you're husband was saying, though.

About the subjunctive in Spanish....It's not as bad as Latin! Sheesh!

Kimberly said...

LOL!!!! That would defenitely be a hard act to follow!

Harry said...

Your husband may have been right. Some of those squirrels can be pretty darn sneaky. Personally, I don't trust them.

Pam said...

This is my all time fave of Clint's experience with the language. Oh except one more tops it off---the story about the new church sign!! LOL

nanc said...



my husband has many hispanic
workers and is quite proficient
in his communication with them.

one time i got the english to
spanish dictionary out and asked
him to repeat a particular
sentence in spanish and he could
dazzle his guys with it.

after a few times of repeating it,
he asked what it meant - i
responded, "i'm going to the mall
for a new purse."

we laughed!

great story you have here.

o.t. - have you heard about the
milk rationing in miracaibo?

farmer has a video up on the subject. fyi.

Tori said...

Oh how funny, I sure enjoyed reading that one!

Farmer John said...

I know the exact squirrel you're talking about!

Bar Kochba said...

Funny! I hope that squirrel-hatred didn't discourage them from the more positive parts of Christianity.

Gayle said...

LOL! I am not any better than your husband with foreign languages. In fact, I'm probably a lot worse! While living in Germany while hubby was stationed there I attempted to learn German and did manage to get away with light conversation. While ordering candy in a store one day and asked how much I wanted, I conveyed what I thought was the amount, and everyone burst into laughter. I related the conversation to my German instructor and he laughed too! I asked him to please tell me what I had said and he said it translated to me needing to go to the bathroom, only not in a nice way. It seems I had used the right words but the inflection was wrong.

I don't think I'll try to take up Spanish! :)

Ashley said...


"Squirrels cometh before a fall..." niiiice. I can imagine the conviction contrived from that! ROTFL

I never heard this story until now! That's great!

Webutante said...

Very cute story!

Michael said...

That was very funny. Thanks for sharing. We can always use a good laugh.

Yankee Doodle said...

Now that is funny!

The Merry Widow said...

Little squirrels have BIG teeth!
JM, that was a hoot, I(and my 2)are no good at languages, I flunked French and almost flunked Spanish. My late picked up German and Japanese in the army...go figure!
Tell Yek'wana Man that the squirrels will save you from pride! LOL!


Julie's Jewels said...

Spanish an easy language?? Well...for most it might be but it sure wasn't for me. I failed that class and went to German class to get my foreign language credit. Maybe I should have just had a better teacher or something...LOL!!

groovyoldlady said...

Happily, I can picture God smiling through the whole sermon too.

Shane Vander Hart said...

Hey, just wanted to let you know that I moved my blog to

Let me know what you think of the new layout, etc.

Thanks! Shane (Caffeinated Thoughts)

Jungle Mom said...

Peggy, LOL!!! I am glad you did not take his advice!!!

CKHB said...

Oh, it's like various mistranslations Kingsolver writes about in the Poisonwood Bible! There could be "the Squirrel Bible"...