For the last month or so we had been making frequent jokes with our Tigak friends about the impending “TEST” that was coming up for us in our language study. We were able to make our friends laugh as we jokingly talked up being “terrified” of how we would do when our Culture & Language Acquisition (CLA) consultant Chris made the trip here to our island for another check. Although they were jokes, it was a good way to remind our friends of the important focus of our time these days learning their heart language!
It had been nearly six months since our last check, so we were due for an evaluation. One thing we learned in training, and also something that Chris has reiterated over and over again is that the check is not a test in the sense that we are being graded and should be nervous. It is simply a way to evaluate our progress to help give constructive feedback for how we should proceed in our language and culture studies; it is for our benefit. It is to help us.
Of course, we still felt the pressure to perform! We need to make progress in order to one day reach our goal of speaking the language and understanding the Tigak culture in a way that we can communicate God’s Word clearly as we pursue evangelism, discipleship and the whole of our church planting efforts, all done in their heart language. So there is some pressure, but its not from our consultant- its from ourselves!
In any case, Chris was up for about four days while he took turns with each of us engaging in different activities to help determine where we are at in both our language abilities and cultural understanding.
In order to help Chris know where we are at (since he does not know the Tigak language), we each had one of our Tigak language helpers present who could relate to Chris the specifics of what we had said using the shared trade language we all know. This worked out very well. My language helper, Francis, eagerly came and assisted in my check, which was great for me because I was so comfortable with him. He did a great job, and I really felt like with him I was able to clearly demonstrate where I was at.
After the check was over and the “results were in” we did have the temptation to be discouraged about a few things but we have chosen to focus on the many reasons we have to be ENCOURAGED! Our partner Aimee has been doing language study the longest and she is doing very well! She showed much improvement since her last check and we are proud of her hard work and are praising the Lord along with her for that. Beth has been doing language study for the least amount of time and is still in the beginning of language learning. It has been a challenge for her to get a good system down and reliable helpers as she fulfills her full time job as wife & mom. She has finally found one language helper who has been able to help her one day a week for the last month and a half and has recently found two others! She is very encouraged by looking forward to having language help at least three days a week now and Chris was able to offer advice and positive feedback to her for the progress she has made so far and with her plan to continue her learning.
As for me, I had not progressed as much as I thought I had in the language, or at least as I had wanted to, which was a bit discouraging. But one thing is for sure, I have made progress and I am learning this language! I am confident that I was able to show Chris clearly where I was at, and therefore, his conclusions were accurate, which is the most important thing. Even though it can be discouraging, the most important thing at this point for our sake and the sake of the Tigak church, is to have a true understanding of where we are at in our language study.
This job of learning a new language and culture from scratch is a gigantic task. To be honest, it has required much more discipline from me than anything else I have ever had to do in my life. Support raising to come overseas required discipline. Learning the trade language required discipline. However, this task with it evaluations every six months, and other than that there is no one standing over your shoulder every day, demands a deeper level of dependance on Christ and straight up rubber-meets-the-road daily discipline. It is requiring a more thorough management of my time like never before, especially with all the distractions that accompany village life and maintenance issues on our house (which we’ve had more of lately).
As difficult as it is, we are driven by the hope that one day we will be able to converse freely with out friends here, share the gospel with our unbelieving friends, and encourage and equip our believing brothers and sisters in Christ, so that together we can see the Tigak church brought to maturity. Thank you, Lord, for allowing us the privilege of serving You here in Papua New Guinea!
Please continue to pray for us to get this language! 🙂
“Him we proclaim warning everyone and teaching everyone with al wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with al his energy that he powerfully works within me.” -Colossians 1:28-29