It’s amazing how 7 weeks can feel like a lifetime and just a few days both at the same time. A lot has happened in our new world here and we have seen how God has been gracious in it all. We are so thankful for your prayers. “We couldn’t be here without you” is a true statement and we see that very clearly these days.
Let’s recap a few of the highlights of our 7 weeks here. The first 2 weeks were a total self-quarantine where we relied on our new coworkers to bring us everything we needed (they served us very well). That had its challenging aspects—like sending our grocery lists blindly, without knowing what items are actually available in local stores. At the same time, it was rather nice to be able to recuperate from jet lag, etc without the pressure of getting out into the community to begin relationship building and language study. Our restrictions loosened once the formal quarantine finished, but only to about the same level that most of you have been experiencing. We can go out for groceries now as well as some walks around our new neighborhood (which has been so helpful for Moriah!).
Week #3 saw us beginning our official language and culture study. But just how is that accomplished when you aren’t supposed to closely interact with your new neighbors or anyone that is a native speaker of the language and culture you want to learn? To find out, check out the ‘Bonus Reading’ section ↓ below. ↓
On the family front, we’re adjusting well. We enjoy getting to work together to learn this language and also appreciate all the extra family time! Although Moriah is adjusting fine, the transition definitely affected her; that—mixed with teething and new foods—certainly brought its challenges. She is improving though and learning so many skills (walking, animal sounds, new words, eating vegetables, etc.). We are so privileged to be her parents.
Although life feels a bit like a big parenthesis right now, we’ve been able to establish a routine in this temporary normal and the weeks are zipping by as we stuff our brains with new vocabulary and marvel as Moriah grows before our eyes!
Over the last week or so I have been encouraged in my study of 2 Peter. 2 Peter 1:3-5 says:
“As we know Jesus better, His divine power gives us everything we need for living a Godly life. He has called us to receive His own glory and goodness! And by that same mighty power He has given us all His rich and wonderful promises… So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better…” (NLT)
It goes on to show a progression all the way from applying those promises to “becoming productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (vs. 8) I want that! To be a useful tool for God to use however He sees fit. So, I think I should start by understanding and applying His promises to my life like vs. 5 says. One of the places I thought to look first was in Ephesians 1-2 where many of the truths and promises about us as believers are laid out. Interestingly, almost every truth in that passage is linked to Jesus. As one of our pastors has recently been mentioning: the promises of God are linked to a person—Jesus Christ. Wow! We are blessed beyond measure…
- That we haven’t gotten sick!
- That we have been able to settle in well.
- That we are able to study a good amount in the midst of the cirumstances.
- For God’s grace in all the details, teaching us, and comforting us.
- For our health and strength.
- For sharp minds to learn this language and that we would be able to devote more time to our studies while not neglecting family.
- For our relationships with our neighbors to grow strong.
- For our growth in Christ and trust in Him.
BONUS READING – Language Learning
Thanks to God’s grace and the help of our leadership and coworkers here we have been making a lot of progress despite the social distancing challenges. Under normal circumstances we would be following a general guide for our culture and language study. It would describe what we should focus on learning and how to go about it, but the details would be left up to us. Ideally we would be learning vocabulary from locals, getting involved in cultural community activities, and building relationships with neighbors (so: immersing ourselves in human interaction!). In our case however, we have been provided with specific daily lessons complete with a flashcard app that we can do at home. (The app has each word or phrase recorded by a local speaker, spelled out, and paired with a corresponding picture.) We study our new words each day and review old ones systematically.
We are also thankful to be able to meet with a bilingual local speaker in our home once a week! Spending those few hours learning from our new friend is so helpful and we have the opportunity to ask questions about daily life here, as well as record what we call “practical expressions” (simple phrases that help us get around, i.e. “How are you?” or “How much does that cost?”). This time is invaluable to learning language well and we are very thankful to get a little time with an expert in this language and culture. It’s a process both complicated and simple. Even a toddler can learn a language and culture, right? By God’s grace, with time and discipline we’re confident that we can too.