Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"God, You made even a Donkey talk."

"God, You made even a Donkey talk." I found myself mumbling in my pre-dawn prayers.
I think it’s safe to say that language learning consumes much of my thoughts these days. At all times my brain's processing rate is set on "High". No matter how foreign sounding the conversation, I watch and listen as if I understand. I am constantly on the lookout for familiar words or patterns. I am no language genius and learning French feels like climbing Mt. Everest.

French is not the only language that swirls around me. One time, Morning Worship at the hospital was given in French, translated into Nangere and then translated into Arabic. At home with my African family my ears are filled with Mood-dung (To those who have been here before and know better: pardon my many misspellings. I'm only sounding them out.) I ventured to learn "Hello" and "Thank you" in Mood-dung, but the rest sounds crazy-hard. If you want to say "tree" in my family's language, just make a sound which is a combination of little kids playing with cars and a horse snorting.

So far my comprehension of French results in a comical string of disjointed words. For example this morning at nurses meeting there was a big discussion, but what I understood amounted to:

Presentation...Three Problems!...Wait please...Rochelle (my hospital name)...Emergency Room, Pediatrics, Laboratory...Not here!...It's sad...Any questions? Thank you!

Very meaningful, I'm telling you. If I don't lose my sense of humor it is amusing.

I get genuinely excited when I understand a complete concept or sentence even if it may be only 3 words long. Following Olen and Danae on rounds has proved to be the most helpful language learning tool. I learn a lot of medical stuff to boot. In one day of tagging along with Olen I picked up some useful things like: "Lay down," "Turn over," "Every 8 hours," "Have you eaten? Have you drunk water?" etc.

Some days I feel like I've learned a lot. Others days I feel like I've lost ground. Just when I'm ready to despair of ever learning, God sends some encouragement.

This whole process has revealed my lack of patience. After a week I want to be fluent and am tempted to question my calling if I'm not. I have much to learn in these 5 months and not all of it is French. In the grand scheme of things, learning the lesson of patience and perseverance is more important than getting an "A" in French 101.

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