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Fish Out of Water

Christine Guth likes to knit. Christine Guth wants to improve her Spanish.

So when Christine learned about Martha’s Gift, she decided to attend.

Martha’s Gift is a group of Spanish-speaking women who meet on Wednesdays at Vista Community Health Center. The women knit, sew, and crochet. They make blankets to give to the new babies born to patients of Vista and Maple City Health Care Centers. The name of the group is in honor of Martha Burger who made and donated baby blankets for many years.

Christine was well aware that she was barging in on a well-established circle of friends and was anxious that she might be seen as agua fiesta (a party pooper). But the women tried to communicate with Christine and were patient as she tried to respond.

“I kept attending even though I often felt like I was imposing,” Christine admitted. “I felt like a fish out of water because I couldn’t follow the rapid-fire conversation and because I couldn’t tell what they thought of this Anglo in their midst.”

But in addition to including Christine in their blanket making, the Spanish-speaking women included her as they celebrated birthdays and as they checked in with each other about life’s events.

During one of the check-in times, Christine told the group that she was facing surgery. Abby Cervantes, a pastor and the group’s convener, lead the group in prayer for Christine.

“A few days later, I found myself in a hospital room anxiously waiting for the surgery with my husband and a friend,” Christine said. “I have no other family in the area and my pastor was sick.”

Graciela, Christine, Abigail, and Aurelia

Graciela, Christine, Abigail, and Aurelia

Fully prepped for surgery and with a nurse already pushing her on a gurney towards the doorway, Christine was surprised when three of the women from Martha’s Gift burst into the room.

“It was like an eruption of happiness and love,” Christine said. “They brought roses and a card with notes from everyone. They flooded me with kisses and hugs. My feelings of worry were replaced by joy and affection.”

A few weeks later, Christine gingerly climbed the steps to the second floor of Vista’s big house. The bubbling Spanish and the music of laughter greeted her as she topped the stairs and stepped back into the place where she belongs.

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