Sunday started out like most other Sundays. We woke up, we ate breakfast and got ready for church. Sometimes Sundays can be some of our hardest days, so I was mentally trying to prepare myself. Although we love our church and are SO thankful for how they have taken us in and loved us, it can still be really challenging. Challenging to use all our brain power to understand the worship, the prayers, the announcements and the preaching. Challenging to keep 3 kids still and quiet, especially when they are understanding even less than we are. Challenging to sit through kids church with a stubborn 3 year old who is constantly testing boundaries.
After we were all ready, out the door we went and climbed into the bajaji. We drove down our dusty, bumpy street and then hit the main road where we were able to catch a nice breeze. We arrived at church, surprised at the fact that we were actually early! We got settled in our seats and the service started. We struggled to understand the music. We struggled the hear the recent announcements. I sat there watching my Tanzanian brothers and sisters in Christ as they worshiped our awesome God, but most of the time I had no clue what they were saying. Then there was a skit. Everyone was laughing except us. We didn’t know what was going on. How could it be that we were so lost?
Learning a new language can be so confusing. There are some days when I totally feel like I am are tracking with things. Days where I can talk for hours. And then there are days like Sunday, where everything feels brand new again. And after a year and a half that can be discouraging.
So, when the kids left for children’s church we all slipped out. At this point I usually go with the kids and Chandler stays in the service, but today was different. We just felt defeated. We talked over whether we should stick it out or just leave early. We came to the consensus that staying would just be to please people and that we would only continue to feel worse and worse.
I wanted to quickly walk to the road without making eye contact with anyone, embarrassed that we were leaving, but of course, we ran into Mama Niko, the wife of our host family. I just wanted to say we had to leave early, but Chandler was more honest. He explained that we were feeling discouraged because of our lack of understanding. Mama Niko was so kind and said that she would be praying for us. I knew she would, and for that I was so thankful.
We decided to go to the beach. Some missionaries we know have an awesome beach house that they rent out as a ministry to missionaries. We called them and because there were no current guests, we were free to go for the day. We knew that seeing God’s vast creation would be like balm to our cracked souls. We grabbed bathing suits and stuff to make a picnic lunch and off we went.
On our way to the beach somehow we started talking with the kids about worship and how some people worship the One True God and how others worship other gods or things like statues. Selah looked up to me and said, “That’s why we’re here!” and I said, “Yes, that is why were are here!” She responded with, “Well, why aren’t we telling people?”
We went on to explain that that is the reason we are working so hard to learn Swahili. But boy did that bring things back into focus for me. It is amazing how God used our 6 year old Selah to remind of us something so HUGE! There is a need here and language is our bridge to that very great need. That is why we need to keep pressing on. That is why we are on this crazy roller coaster where some days we are up and others, down. It’s not about us and our comfort, but rather about Jesus and His glory among the Nations. This all will be worth it!
Thank you for your prayers as we keep pressing forward with our language learning!
Together Making Him Known,
Jamie (for the Sharpes)
Jeni Mills says
These blogs are so good!! For me worshiping in English was one of the things i missed most. You’re not alone, Sharpes! Thank you for sharing your struggles along with your accomplishments. You’ve accomplished so much in your time there and I’ll pray for more days where you understand more and are encouraged by what you can know and also share. We love you!!!
I know how you feel, one day I can feel like I’m doing so well in the language and the next day feel like I can barely say or understand anything. But God is faithful!
Aunt Janet says
I am in awe of your honest emotions. Selah is definitely there to win souls but to help you both through the tough times. Is there a Rosetta Stone language classs for Swahili that you can use while in the states. Can’t wait to learn what this precious new child will get.
Maybe sometime during your time in the states we will get to see each other.