So many thoughts now. Nothing profound at the moment, still processing the last 6 weeks at language school. Overall, it was a great experience.
We stayed at Riverside Campsite, in a little stone “banda” at the top of a mountain, just outside of a village in the middle of Tanzania. The cottages and dining hall and game room and playground are all located alongside the Little Ruaha River, where the kids (and adults!) could swim and fish and climb rocks. Supposedly there is a hippo in those parts, but we never saw him….
I loved getting up early every morning, having to put on a sweater, and hiking down the 118 steps to the bottom of the hill to get to breakfast. I loved having coffee with our fellow language students, all waking up our brains together for another day of learning. I loved doing homeschool with my friend Shannon and her girls. I didn’t mind washing all our clothes by hand all that much, but can’t say the clothes got all that clean. I loved seeing my boys get creative with nature, find a thousand uses for a stick, learn to pull thorns from their feet, help collect firewood for our campfires. I loved playing volleyball, where a team of 5 people might represent 5 different cultures. I loved going to church made of completely of people like us- English-speakers who loved Jesus and are working in Africa. It was like I BELONGED.
So what difference did it make? Why go learn MORE Swahili when we can get by with English? And why did we have to go to another country to learn it?
Language learning is hard work, takes focus and intentionality, and makes you seem childlike while you wrap your mouth around new sounds. It’s SO much better to do that somewhere else than the place where you work. As to the WHY, we want to speak the local language because it means we CARE enough to invest in WHO they are so they don’t have to work so hard to communicate with us. There are so many barriers to forming relationships out here- language, culture, unspoken rules, food, customs. We are trying to break down those barriers so we can LOVE these people, and show them the LOVE of Jesus. It’s that simple.