As promised, here is my language school update.
We moved from Tenwek to Limuru on Saturday, June 14, which just happened to be our 11-year anniversary. After fueling the car, returning to Tenwek to retrieve a forgotten cell phone, and shopping for the first two-weeks of meals, we finally arrived to our temporary home at language school. We were greeted by some WGM ‘officials’ and the other 3 families who will be walking this journey alongside us. The landlord-ish person met us with keys and we felt like we were entering our very first home…Well, sort of.
The half-of-a-house that we were assigned looks much like a newlywed couple’s home. You know, the small, livable but not necessarily pretty kind. The we’re-living- on-love sort of home. (See Aaron’s blog if you don’t believe me.) It’s actually quite fine; it’s just not as nice as our apartment in Tenwek. The kitchen has almost no storage, there is no washing machine, the table sits at most 4 people, and there’s no hot water. The no hot water thing wouldn’t be so bad if we were in the part of Africa that actually felt like we lived on the equator. Limuru, especially now during winter, is quite cold. We’re wearing pants, socks, and layers of shirts. Plus, it’s dreary most days. Seeing the sun is a rare treat. Then, when we remember the 3 crazy boys plus the one on the way, the whole honeymoon feeling quickly vanishes.
We spent all of Sunday unpacking and organizing and going back to the store to get all the things we didn’t know we needed. (Who knew being a missionary could be so expensive?!?) After the busy day, we were feeling somewhat settled and kind of ready to begin the 2-month journey of learning a language.
Monday began as usual with breakfast and such. Then, we were off to school at 8:30. We all crowded into a room for morning devotionals, which were completely in Swahili. As if I wasn’t feeling enough apprehension, now I was sure that I was going to fail completely at ever understanding the language. The rest of the day was a little easier, as it was an orientation day. The teachers spoke in English as they explained the daily schedule and gave a little historical and cultural background. Whew! Day 1 wasn’t too bad!
Days 2-4 were hard-core. In those 2 ½ days of instruction (Wednesdays are half days), we learned how to introduce ourselves Kenyan style. This is exceedingly important here, especially if you intend to visit churches. Every church service provides a time for the visitors to stand up and introduce themselves, and they don’t just want “Hi. My name is Stephanie.” It needs to go more like this:
Jina langu ni Stephanie. Nimetoka Marekani, jimbo la Pennsylvania, mji wa Allentown. Ninekaa Tenwek. Nimeolwea. Mume wangu anaitwa Aaron. Nina watoto wanne. Mtoto wa kwanza anaitwa Noah ana miaka minane. Mtota wa pili anaitwa Jacob an miaka mitano. Mtoto wa tatu anaitwa Levi ana miaka mitatu. Mtoto wa nne anaitwa Hannah lakini alikufa. Mini ne mmisheni.
(Translation: My name is Stephanie. I’m from Allentown, Pennsylvania, America. I live at Tenwek. I am married. My husband’s name is Aaron. I have four children. The firstborn is named Noah and he is 8 years old. The second born is Jacob and he is 5 years old. The third born is Levi and he is 3 years old. The fourth born is Hannah but she has died. I am a missionary.)
In addition to this lengthy introduction that we had to memorize, we began learning about sentence formation and verb tenses and lots of vocabulary. Our heads were spinning! Fortunately, they took it easy on us on Friday and reviewed. We four families celebrated a successful first week with a communal pizza night. Lots of pizza, soda, chips, salad, and dessert helped us ease into the weekend.
We went on yet another shopping trip on Saturday. This time, it was mainly for school supplies and warm clothes, not for household stuff and groceries. Saturday was also my laundry day, so I ran down the hill to the one washing machine and then back up to my clotheslines. In between those loads of laundry, we organized our notes and tried our bests to decipher our homework.
This week was equally full. We started to meet with conversants for an hour after our normally scheduled classes. We learned about demonstratives, possessives, and of course more verbs, vocabulary and sentence structure. The boys are learning too. They have been taking turns praying in Swahili for our lunches. The boys play a Simon Says type game with Swahili commands, and they’re learning colors, body parts, numbers, days of the week, etc. It’s exciting to see them learn so much in such a short amount of time.
While their mornings are filled with Swahili school, the boys spend their afternoons doing English school (reading, math, grammar and such). Then, we put them to work around the house. They have been loving their chores! Noah’s favorite chore has been sweeping the house, while Jacob and Levi usually fight over washing the dishes. Whoever doesn’t win that fight usually gets to help me cook dinner. They also like to carry the trash down to the burn pile at the bottom of the hill, sweep the porch, and help Aaron bring in firewood.
Thank you so much for all your prayers. We feel them. I have been absorbing much more Swahili than I ever thought possible. Aaron is trying to keep up with me. 😉 And we both are trying to keep up with the boys!
Praises and Prayer Requests:
- Praise God for His faithfulness and grace! I totally accredit all my learning to His all-sufficient supply of all our needs! Please continue to pray for us – our minds, bodies and spirits.
- Praise God that Colleen is on her way! God supplied all her financial needs to get here to help us with the kiddos. Please pray for her travels, her adjustment to the time change and the huge change in elevation, and her patience to handle the kids here. (Thank you to all of you who faithfully donated to her trip!)
- Praise God for this healthy baby. While we’ll do a more thorough exam in a few weeks, he/she is looking perfectly healthy. I’m 20 weeks, and we think we know what we’re having. You’ll just have to wait a little longer…we want to verify before we share publicly. Pray for a very clear picture of the ‘right parts’ so that we can share the gender with confidence in a couple of weeks.
- Praise God for this language school and everybody who is working hard to make our experience safe and successful. From the teachers to the guys who bring us firewood to the security guards, everyone has been super helpful and accommodating. Pray blessings upon these people!
Romans 3:8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.
May our efforts here in language school allow us more and more privilege to reach the ‘gentiles’ among us! Thank you for your faithful prayers!