Happy Birthday, Thomas, From Nicaragua

It’s my son’s 12th birthday today. I was in Nicaragua for his 9th birthday, doing some leadership training. “Do you have any children?” they asked. “Yes,” I said. “Two boys. Thomas is turning 9 tomorrow.” And then I heard a lot of chattering about “sus hijos,” and I was pleased that they thought so much about it, but I had work to do, so I returned to the task at hand.

The next day: Que sorpresa! They sang a happy birthday song to him, knowing that I could get it uploaded to him by that evening. At first I thought they were going to sing “Feliz Cumpleaños,” which is what all good Grade 9 Spanish language students learn, but they didn’t. Well, they did, but it’s nothing like you can imagine until you’ve heard it. There was a moment when I wasn’t sure what paradise I had come into. It was a kind of ecstasy of love that electrified and healed. For those of you who have an ear for a proper Spanish accent, I do not, and for my own pronunciation I offer you mis más sinceras disculpas. Take a listen:

Some notes:

  • I was there at their request.
  • It was not a mission trip.
  • They paid me to be there. I watched them do it, each individual, with cash, every day, for two sessions per day for ten days.
  • Suyapa Beach is a magnificent place to rest and relax during that all-important free weekend.
  • They apply what I teach them, for better and for worse, all around. That is, I learn, and they learn. My learning is far easier than theirs. Describing it requires a lengthy post, mostly involving family relationships.
  • I got sick. Look: I get sick when I visit Michigan, so it was a given that I was going to get sick visiting the tropics. At one point I convinced myself that I was going to perish of a tropical fever, but they took care of me, and I had the distinct impression they liked that they could take care of me.
  • A little bragging: after my first time down there they have requested me by name, that I come to them to teach them, cycling through new students once every three or four years. We have a mutual respect–love–for each other.

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