It’s been wayyyyy too long since our last blog update and there is much to tell. To keep this to a reasonable length, let’s do short and sweet updates on various aspects of life here in Africa. 3-Word Updates, to be exact…well, 3 words and then some more for a better explanation :).
Daily Life: Keep on Learning.
Since our move, our schedules and lives have changed quite a bit. John leaves early to brave the overcrowded bus for his commute to the office, where he continues to learn Swahili 4-5 days a week. I stay home with the boys where we spend most mornings homeschooling. On 3 afternoons a week, my language teacher comes to do a language session with me while the boys are being watched by their “Dada,” a sweet teenage girl we hired to allow me to continue learning Swahili and to get the boys more exposure to the language as well. Other afternoons/weekends are spent going to the local markets for groceries, visiting our host family or neighbors, going to church, and just living life. Each day presents new opportunities to LEARN about ourselves, about the language, and about the culture.
Below are some pictures from Elias’ birthday party recently, which was definitely a cultural learning experience!
Baby: 25 Weeks Already?!?
I’m over halfway through the pregnancy and time seems to fly as fast as the belly is growing! It’s always a joy to feel the baby move and now share that joy with two older brothers who are fascinated by this life that’s already part of our family. The baby (and we really don’t know if it’s a boy or girl) is healthy and growing just as it should. I am receiving prenatal care through a German midwife who works in the city and the plan is to deliver at a hospital here in Dar Es Salaam. Judah still wants twin girls to keep our family symmetrical; Elias is convinced it is a brother (because on the ultrasound picture, the baby doesn’t have long hair. Duh.) whom he wants to name either Turtle or Lincoln (after a friend and after Abraham Lincoln).
Homeschooling: Routines, Reading & Reality
It truly has been a joy to have the boys home with me after experiencing the “sending-them-to-preschool” life for over 6 months. It’s definitely challenging. And tiring. And very humbling. But aren’t all things that are worth doing in life?!? We’re in our second term of homeschooling (we do a 6-week on and 1-week off schedule) and have gotten into a routine that works for us. We read good books. We learn some Swahili. We color in flags and draw on the world map. We chart the date and the weather (which doesn’t change much here). We draw pictures into our journals. We read some more. We play games. We listen to good music and look at beautiful pieces of art. We practice letter sounds. We make a mess and spill all the colored pencils daily. We talk about obedience and practice what it looks like. We laugh, we learn, we whine, we have meltdowns, we complain, we repent, we make peace. Because that’s just keeping it real.
Swahili: Pole Pole, please.
“Pole pole” can be translated as “slowly” and that’s what we’re asking a lot these days. “Could you say it again more slowly?” 8 months into our language study, we are now able to hold a conversation, get around town, and express what we want to communicate (although it might take a while). And we can understand quite a bit as long as our conversation partner is willing to go “pole pole”! As soon as they take off in their fast (read: normal speed) Swahili, we can get pretty lost. It is encouraging to think of the progress we have made in language study; yet, it is humbling to think how much more there is left to learn.
The Boys: Life As Goldfish.
Despite the challenges of living in another culture, in a new environment, and like a goldfish in a glass bowl (by being the only white kids around for miles), we are so grateful that they are, truly, thriving. They are starting to form some friendships and are understanding and speaking more Swahili every week. They are learning and asking profound questions about God and the world. They are forming a beautiful brotherly bond (not without the daily arguments and squabbles, of course) that is precious to witness.
Challenges: Grace by Grace.
There are the daily challenges of the heat (pregnancy + African heat = lots of sweating), the occasional power outages, the torrential rains, the mosquitoes, or the limited availability of groceries. But what’s more challenging is to continually learn how to grow into useful instruments in the Lord’s hands in this context. How do we communicate clearly without speaking the language well? How do we host neighbors when hosting looks so different here? How do we help our children to build friendships with kids who are so different from themselves? And how do we do the Lord’s work each day in the trenches of laborious language study and daily life? Step by step. Day by day. Grace by grace.