Just over a year. That’s how long it’s been since I stepped off the plane, finally having permission to return to My Country, after 1003 nights out of the country since my planned return in 2018. And though it hasn’t always been easy, it’s still so wonderful to be back for however long God has for me here this time!
Here are some of the many highlights of this last year:
- Connecting with the My People community here in the city. My People here in the city are getting to know me, too – whenever I go for a walk, it seems like someone (or multiple people) greets me in My Language, though I often have no idea who they are!
- Getting to see My People as they come in from the village.
- Supporting my host dad (in the village) and his family as his little sister was hospitalized and died from tongue cancer earlier this year.
- My language ability has grown in leaps and bounds. I still have a long ways to go, but I’ve made a lot of progress.
- We’ve had 24 days of alphabet party – enough to create an alphabet; figure out how to spell lots of compound words and derived words and crazy pronouns, as well as make a first and second try on how to deal with tone; write our first story in the language and our first book (a counting book – see the picture above); etc. I still have lots of questions for us to grapple with in upcoming alphabet parties, but I never would have imagined how far we’d be at this point in time. God is amazing!
- Like I said above, we have our first story and our first little book in the language, not to mention an alphabet chart and a 929 word dictionary!
- The alphabet is approved by the chief of the whole people group and many village chiefs who were at that meeting with him. (That meeting was even able to take place without my direct involvement!) And the alphabet was also approved by the educated elite of My People who live in the capital. (That was a prayer request last time I wrote to you. Thanks for praying – it went really well!)
- I’ve been able to attend multiple weddings with My People here in the city, as well as multiple funerals and new baby parties. The last wedding was especially fun since I’m starting to get to know people better and am better able to carry on conversations. It was fun to see people I hadn’t seen in years (from a village), others that I had only talked to on the phone, and others that I enjoy hanging out with.
- I was able to attend a workshop in Kenya on developing orthographies in African languages – super helpful, and perfect timing!
- I’ve also enjoyed spending time with people from my church here in the city, whether it’s celebrating engagements, teaching literacy, just being there day-to-day, or whatever.
As you can see, it’s been a fun and amazing year as God continues to fling doors open. Pray that I’ll have the stamina, energy, and joy to continue to walk through them while they’re open, and that the little steps I’m taking today will ultimately lead to His Name being made known among My People.