Friday afternoon I headed out to a wedding prep (don’t worry pictures and a post on the wedding will follow). These events are some of my favorite with the women, because the women of the two churches gather all together and we sit and talk while working on food prep. It is such a good time to fellowship and is often where I see the women of our church laugh the most. As I was sitting there working and hearing the conversation going on, suddenly a light bulb went on in my head. The realization stuck me that not all this conversation was happening in French and I was understanding! True whenever it switched to Wolof I wasn’t understanding the details of it and was only understanding the general flow of conversation, but I was not completely shut out! I can’t tell you how good this felt. After months of Wolof study I was finally seeing a difference outside of session. People even tried asking me questions in Wolof and I was able to respond. It is true that at this point my speaking is less encouraging as it takes me a while to form a sentence, but even that I knew what they were asking was a great step in the right direction.
One of the way people talk about entering into a new culture is being stuck behind a wall of noise. I really like this illustration as it shows a little of how it feels. We are constantly shut out of parts of life because as soon as the language switches to one we don’t know we have no idea what is going on. As our Wolof study began we were just chipping away at the wall, but it takes a while until you have a hole large enough to get a peek inside. Our hole is now big enough to peek inside and see the world and boy does that feel good. I understood that the ladies who were cooking were mad because one of the kids had broken the window at the school that day, I understood that there was not enough meat for the ceremony and they were trying to figure out what to do, I heard the discussion of whether it would be better to use plates or bowls at the wedding, I knew when the rice was done and that I was cutting my turnips too big at the beginning – there were so many small peeks inside that I used to be completely shut out off. Yes there is still a long way to go and I am still overwhelmed by the amount of work that it will take to get there. But…. Praise God for small steps in the right direction! Praise God for walls that are breaking down allowing us inside a world that needs to see Him!