To each of our friends and family. Thank you for your prayers and support.
We have officially been here for two months, and we have been hard at work learning the national language. We have uploaded into our brains over 1000 new words. Most days our minds have reached the point of exhaustion as far as learning is concerned. Next week we will begin the next step of stage one language learning. It is a small milestone, but we will be able to slow down a little bit, circle back, and practice speaking all of the words that we have learned.
Learning language is not as simple as just understanding the vocabulary, if anything that is the easy part of language learning. The grammar and sentence structure of each language can be vastly different. For instance in English when describing a dog there is a specific order in which we naturally layout our words:
“There were 3(number) big(size) brown(color) dogs (subject).”
In English, the subject is normally last, and the order of the adjectives is very specific.
If I were to say: “There were brown big 3 dogs,” it just wouldn’t sound right.
In the language we are learning the structure would be something like:
“There were 3 dogs brown big.”
We have learned a lot of words so far, but if I try to communicate in sentences I often get strange looks. Even though we have learned a lot of vocabulary we still need to practice those words in speaking.
We have begun to build relationships with people and that has been by far the most encouraging thing for me(Eric) to press on in learning the language so that I can communicate well with our new friends.
We have had some fun experiences and some interesting ones also. We ate some frog this past week and that was quite amusing although not as tasty as we were hopping for. Pun intended.
Joshua has been crawling everywhere and wanting to walk with help; He is growing up so fast. He is very popular among the people here. Almost everyday someone drives by our house and gives greetings to Joshua, sometimes from people we are pretty sure we have never met. Sometimes we get a little tired of being the popular attraction of the day though. Anytime we go out to town Joshua will be carried away by anyone who takes him from our arms. That can be a little stressful but we are learning to accept that that is normal here.
Celebrating Independence Day at our church
Life here has been stressful if only because it is different than what we are used to. If someone in our family gets sick it is difficult because going to the doctor is so different, and a good hospital is far away. Living so far from home brings a certain amount of stress as well as living 11 time zones apart from our families. Learning a new language takes more than 40 hours a week for both Cherie and I, and we often have headaches from the learning overload. We get laughed at a lot because we look different and we have the speaking capacity of about a two year old. We drove an hour away to eat out at a Wendy’s restaurant that was overpriced and it did not taste like the Wendy’s we know. Even though it can be difficult because it is not comfortable or familiar; I was reading in 2 Corinthians 1 and was reminded of Paul’s words:
8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, regarding the affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living. 9 Indeed we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from so great a risk of death, and he will deliver us. We have set our hope on him that he will deliver us yet again, 11 as you also join in helping us by prayer, so that many people may give thanks to God on our behalf for the gracious gift given to us through the help of many.
You might think that Wendy’s not tasting exactly right might fall short of what Paul was probably experiencing in the context of 2 Corinthians, and you would be absolutely right. The point is though that we have been in an environment that is tough for us and we are realizing our need to look to the Lord for encouragement, for strength, and for wisdom. When we get stressed out and angry, we realize pretty quickly our “not enough-ness,” Our trying to do everything in our own strength and wisdom. And we realize our need to look to God to get us through even with the everyday and mundane stuff like language sessions.
We cannot tell you how much we miss you all and covet your prayers for us while we are here. We have been listening to Pastor Chris’ sermons on Sundays and have really enjoyed feeling like we are still a part of our home church group even if we listen to them a week late 😉
Looking forward to seeing all of you once again.
-Eric and Cherie Daum
And now some pictures of our house:
We have been so blessed to have such a wonderful home while we are here!