Skip to main content

Moses Stuttered and My Spanish Sucks

Reformed Eve is a daughter of God, which makes her royalty - no matter what the world throws at her. She straightens her crown quite often.

Meet My Terrible Spanish. Hola!

I'm going to be honest. I was born in Panama, Central America. I am Panamanian-American with dual citizenship, and my Spanish sucks. My Spanish is really bad. I guess I used to be embarrassed by it. Actually, I was insulted because of my really bad Spanish. I'll give you a little story about that.

She Deserved Better Than Me

I used to be a medication adherence technician for a pharmaceutical company. My job was to call elderly people at their homes and make sure that they were adhering to medication schedules as prescribed, and I was to assist them as a liaison between their pharmacist or doctor. For most of my life, I have considered myself bilingual, even though I know my Spanish is really choppy. So I called a woman, and her husband answered. This is what he told me.

“There is no way I'm letting you speak to my wife. I am an educated person and your Spanish sounds like complete trash. I will not allow her to listen to such a horrible version of my language. She deserves better than that. Find someone who speaks real Spanish and have them call me.”

And then he hung up on me.

I tried to act cool after the ordeal, but I was actually really hurt and embarrassed. I almost felt too embarrassed to continue saying that I was bilingual. I was really marked by this experience, even though I tried not to let it be so influential to me.

Fish Out of Water

If you're wondering why my Spanish is kind of strange on my Podcast, Reformed Eve, and if you're wondering why I have such a weird accent, I'll explain to you. (And don't worry I will be taking this to a Biblical aspect in a minute, but I thought you should understand where I'm coming from first.)

As mentioned, I was born in Panama, in Central America, and left there when I was about three years old. I was raised listening to mostly Spanish family members, and I was taught a bit of English from some of my aunts. Due to my dad's job, we moved to Germany. When I was in Germany, I lived there for about 8 to 9 years and, to be honest, there were not that many Hispanics there. My dad was in the Army, and we spent time around children that were speaking English or German. We moved again. We were head to Texas. Before we left for Texas, my dad demanded that we start speaking English and stop speaking Spanish. My dad told my brother and myself that, in the United States, people will treat us poorly for being Hispanic. He said that we needed to assimilate to Caucasian culture as much as possible. He mentioned that we needed to make good grades, so therefore, we could only speak English. I was about 10 or 11 years old, so I was traumatized about moving to a place where people potentially hated my existence just for being Hispanic.

When we moved to Texas, since it's so close to Mexico, most of the Hispanics here speak Mexican. Some speak traditional Mexican, but most speak a very different type of Spanish that's called Spanglish. An example is this: Instead of saying the word “trapiar”, they will they might say “mapear”, which is a mix between the Spanish word for “mop”, and the word for “mop” in English. So anyways, Spanglish is mostly spoken here in Texas. Maybe you’ll start to understand the Identity Crisis of trying to Speak Spanish well enough to please everyone.

I went to Panama a few years ago. And even though I am Panamanian-American, and even though I was born in Panama, I felt like a fish out of water in my country of origin. When I spoke Spanish, people would kind of look at me in a strange way. Some people lovingly made fun of me. But, I was there, trying, moving forward, regardless of what anyone said. I remember how someone asked me how to say “ferrocarril” which loosely translates as being a train or locomotive. I can't say it correctly. It's a little embarrassing sometimes, but I can't let it get me down. And as you can probably tell, I have a really hard time with my “R” sounds, and they come out sounding like an “L”.

Scroll to Continue

Moses Has Entered the Building

At first I was asking myself, “Should I even make a podcast in Spanish? Should I even make a podcast at all?” I read an interview with a woman minister where she said that she felt her calling was to help others through Christ. She said that if she showed up on Judgment Day, and was asked how she spent her time, she would not feel guilty, because she spent her time helping others and promoting God's word. Then, I thought about myself. How am I promoting God's Word? What am I doing to show people that Jesus Lives? To be honest with you, except for once in a while talking to people about Jesus, or my faith, and wearing a sterling silver cross, I wasn't really doing much. I honestly did not feel prepared for doing a podcast in Spanish, but the thought was alive in my mind. So here I am, sharing God’s word, in a Podcast, in a Spanish that not even my mother could love. (She is hard to please, anyway.) Regardless, I wanted to tie this into the Bible by talking about Moses, someone who felt that he was too inadequate to get the job done right.

Not Quite The "Scat Man", But Close

(If you don't know who the "Scat Man" is, he's a singer who suffered from severe stuttering, but yet went on to have a successful music career.)

Let's look at the Moses verse in the Bible. In Exodus 4: 10 - 13, it says: “And Moses said unto the Lord, oh my Lord, I am not eloquent, but I am slow of speech, and of slow tongue.” The literal translation of the Hebrew text of these last two words is closer to "heavy of mouth and heavy of lips". This can be interpreted as stuttering, while others may translate this as a speech impediment. Maybe Moses could not produce all the normal range of sounds with his tongue and lips. The point is this: he had a problem with the way he sounded when he talked. Therefore, he did not think he was good enough to say the words that God wanted him to share. Moses's speech impediment in Exodus probably came from his bloodline, or maybe because he spoke several languages, or maybe because he visited and lived in several places. Either way, he had a problem that he was self-conscious about.

Power and Love Over Fear

When it comes to Spanish, or communication in general, I feel like Moses. I'm not really super excellent at organizing my thoughts, my Spanish is weird, and I’m kind of shy. But the answer that the Lord gave Moses is what surprised me the most. The Lord said to Moses, “Who has made man's mouth, or who maketh the dumb, the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be thy mouth, and teach thee what Thou shalt say. “

So what God is telling me is this. Spread my word, regardless of what you think about your Spanish abilities. God provided the means for Moses to communicate in Exodus. If you feel like you're too shy, or you're too dumb, or you're too "anything bad", remember 2nd Timothy 1: 7. It says “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Fear can be overcome. We just have to stop making excuses, and just try, even if it looks like a complete mess in the process.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Reformed Eve


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 04, 2020:

What a fun article. Speaking should be about understanding and we do well to remember that. Many speak English very poorly here yet I understand what they write and that is good enough.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 03, 2020:

Eve, I think your Spanish will improve over time and it is okay where you are at right now. Mu daughter-in-law takes Spanish lessons all the time as they are missionaries who travel to the Dominican Republic. My son's Spanish is quite good but hers still needs some work I guess. I don't see anything wrong with doing the Podcast the wa you ar as you have lived all over the world. I would tink any laguage would take some extra work in your case. I wish the best for you.

Related Articles