It’s a bit of a strange scenario, to be aware of your own need for a kick in the pants. If I know I’m in need of motivation, then why can’t I motivate myself? I’m not sure why the scenario occurs but it does. More often than I’d like to admit.
Anyways, I’ve been in need of a kick in the pants in language learning. I think I’ve said this before, but it’s hard. For me, it’s really hard. The language itself, not so hard. Juba Arabic is a pigin form of the classical Arabic spoken up north (a bit like Creole is to French as far as I understand) so it’s simplified, and the crazy swirly script is not a part of the equation either, which is definitely in my favor - the use of the roman alphabet alone is a huge bonus in the learning process. The grammar is pretty simple. The pronunciation is pretty simple...none of this tonal nonsense like Moru (the local tribal language which is even more daunting to me). But the learning process? Way hard.
Give me a concrete task and I’m good to go. No problem. Give me a defined role and I’m golden. As a nurse, I approach a sick person and my role is clearly defined - we’re both aware that the sick person is sick and that I’m supposed to help them. I can approach just about anybody in that context and say almost anything without hesitation. But put me in a party setting where I’m just supposed to talk to people? Forget it. Maybe they’ll like me, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll think I’m dumb, maybe they won’t. Maybe I won’t have anything to say, maybe they won’t either. Language learning is kinda like the party scenario...you’re just supposed to go and talk to people. You’re just supposed to try out your new vocabulary. So, not only are you just supposed to talk to people but you’re just supposed to talk about things like colors and numbers and parts of the body and sewing and riding a bike. It’s murderous. I feel totally inept. Somebody laughs a bit (which is totally legit - I probably sound like a two year old trying to string words together) and I melt into a worthless mess.
So, maybe you're getting a better sense for the need of a good kick in the pants. What do you do if you're me and you need a kick in the language learning pants? You move to town where you're surrounded by language more often for larger portions of the day without having to try so hard to create the scenarios - they just happen as you go about your day. So, Tuesday, I did just that. I moved to town. That involves moving off our team compound which is a bit outside of town, and onto the Episcopal Church of Sudan guesthouse compound in the center of Mundri town - the same compound where Scott and Andrew live - both of whom are speaking/learning Arabic.
It all came about pretty quickly, moving from a crack pot idea to reality in a week. That's the thing about Africa. Some things take twice as long as in the western world, and some things happen way faster than you'd ever imagine. I packed up my trunk and my bike and got a ride down to town and moved into my home away from home away from home :)
So far, it's been a great week. There's much more arabic around, I'm slowly by slowly becoming more and more bold in using the little bit that I have, and everyday learn a few more new words. Scott is Mr. Hospitality and Andrew is Mr. I-want-to-learn-everything, so there are visitors in and out on/off throughout the day and evening and there's a lot of Arabic being spoken and a lot being learned. And they've been very kind to let a girl enter their mostly boy world - looking out for me when there are drunken men around and suffering for Jesus by eating the food I cook and bake ;) )They're quite the cooks/bakers as well, I must say.)
SO, put me in the midst of language instead of me having to seek it out, force me into the position of having to use it more often whether I'm confident or not, and there you have it - a kick in the pants. So far so good. And a huge thanks to Scott and Andrew who have been really kind and conscious of encouraging me to learn more, hear more, speak more...friends as teachers work pretty well :) So, with 4 days under my belt, and an initial commitment of a week long trial run, things are looking good.
So, if you're of the praying variety, please do pray that God would use this time for His glory. Pray that I would be faithful to learn and to practice and that I wouldn't be too much of an inconvenience :)
A few shots of the new digs:
|inside my tukul #1|
|inside my tukul #2 (note: when bed not cluttered with my junk = a place for a visitor - read teammate from the team compound - to come and stay for a night or two :)|