Meet Alfredo. Alfredo is 26 years old and is the worship leader at the church where we served in our clinic. My parting memory of Alfredo was him mouthing the word "wimp" to me as all 40 or so of us stood in a circle on our last day and said our final goodbyes through my tears.
My first conversation with Alfredo began with me struggling through a few sorry attempts at questions in Spanish. Unaware of my own insecurity while trying to make small talk, I must've been starring at the floor while chatting because out of nowhere he said to me "don't look down when we speak, look at me". Wow. 1) I didn't know this guy could speak English (and now I feel really silly) and 2)okay, noted. His English voice was soft and somewhat confident and soon became the voice I looked for when I needed help speaking to someone or just wanted to chat to someone outside of our group. Alfredo, aka...Nicaboo, as a few of us called him due to his attractiveness (sorry ladies, he's married;), became a team favorite and friend.
Learning from Alfredo while also helping him practice his English allowed me to see just how badly some of our new friends in Nicaragua want to learn English. He shared with me that he has wanted to speak our language since he was a child. He said that after watching American movies, he would go in front of the mirror and rapidly rattle off gibberish and pretend he was speaking English fluently. His desire to learn sparked something inside of me and I hope one day to be able to write a full email to him in Spanish or to actually be able to converse on my own next August when I return.
Not only did Nicaboo become a friend, but he also became a communication bridge for our worship leader who was able to learn a worship song in Spanish and sing along with their church's team during their prayer service Thursday evening. I knew Alfredo could sing as I had listened to him sing a couple of lyrics to me out of his English workbook, but I didn't know at what capacity this man could sing. When the music started Thursday evening and while he was seated humbly behind his keyboard that the church had saved up for, yet again tears streamed down my face. His voice was rich and passionate and you could tell that he sang from a place that only the Lord could have led him too. I couldn't understand the lyrics but I knew they were beautiful and heartfelt. I was inspired yet again by our new friends in Loma Linda and wondered if I'd ever met people as joyful, humble, and passionate again.
Although I miss Nicaboo, and our other friends in Loma Linda, I pray for them all the time. I pray that the Lord will continue to work in Alfredo's life and that one day maybe we'll be blessed enough to have him and his wife in Mt. Pleasant, where he can stand again, on the same stage with our worship leader and sing to our God, their God, in both of our own languages.