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Ser vs. Estar

November 16, 2017
By Sra. Garcia, CCHS Spanish Teacher

The following is a message shared by Sra. Garcia during Calvin's annual Thanksgiving preschool - 12th grade chapel.
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Mr. Kok asked me to speak briefly this morning about our purpose for being here today and the significance of giving to others.  As most of you know, I am the Spanish teacher here at Calvin and I think that the Spanish language has a much better expression for today of why God cares about this Food Drive that we do each year.  As beings created in the image of God, He truly cares about us in the depth of our being.

Many times as Christians we focus on our inner being, but God cares about our whole person and that is us as physical beings, as well. Spanish has two verbs that mean, "to be", ser and estar, something that we practice at length in Spanish classes.  Ser refers more to who we truly are as person, the personality and characteristics that make us our own unique being (like being a generous and loving person, or rather being a selfish person that does not care about sharing with others). On the other hand, Estar refers to our physical and mental state or being at a particular time (like if we are hungry or cold).  

It is easy to be caught up into thinking God cares more about our ser than our estar, but the truth is that He cares deeply about both our ser and estar beings at all times.  In John 6, we read about the gathering of the 5,000 at the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus asked his disciples where they would find bread for the people and the disciples responded that it would take a whole year’s wages to buy bread for the whole crowd.Then, Andrew suggests that there is a boy with 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish, but they wondered what good that would do.  As we know from having read this account many times, Jesus blessed the food and it was multiplied enough to feed the whole crowd with leftovers to spare.  Jesus understood the importance of the people’s physical needs at that moment; they could not say, “Está bien.” when they were so hungry. They not only needed the food of Jesus’ teaching for their souls which addressed the ser of their being, but they needed their physical needs to be met, too.  As we finish up our annual Food Drive, we are following Jesus’ example of contributing food for the physical and present needs of others less fortunate than ourselves.  My prayer today for these gifts that we are giving is that Jesus will multiply them in the lives of others to bless them in both the ser and estar of who they are.  

Many of you know that I grew up as a missionary kid in Panama.  To close, I’m going to tell you a short story, related to me by my Mom, about one of the many times my family was in need of groceries in the lean months.  

“During our first year in Panama we rented a house in Chame where we were in Spanish Study and near our school base where our kids went to school. During those years/decades it was not uncommon for missionaries to go to the field with less than 100% funding.  We were at about 65%.  This can  be risky as we never knew what funds would be coming in from month to month. As we studied Spanish we spent most of our day getting to know our neighbors and practicing what little Spanish we knew with them while learning more from them.  To the Panamanians we were very rich.  We had a place to live which had a tile floor, windows and doors AND we had food to each three times a day. So it was not uncommon for those that visited us to ask us for some of our food.  They particularly liked anything with sugar, meat, and vegetables. They always prefaced their request with, " You have so much, you can easily share a little with me."  Which we always did. One month our voucher/check came in with only $30.00. It was our first time of truly trusting the Lord to provide.  We had stashed enough for rent from previous months, but we did not have enough for groceries. We just prayed Lord let us trust you to  provide.....and he did.  It was harvest time for a lot of the gardens.  In that month those neighbors to whom I had given food came with yuca, name, cabbage, fruits other than the ever abundant mangos, porotos (beans) and rice. We even got a couple of chicken and some shrimp.  We did not starve physically or spiritually.  God blessed us through that with great friendships that last until today.”

As a recipient of God’s blessings for my own physical needs being met in a time of need, I can personally attest to the importance of what we are doing today.