Life in our New Village

 
by Stacey
Well it has been almost a month since we moved into our new house and we gradually moving from the “survival / getting set-up” mode to the “language / culture acquisition” mode. I must say that we are ever so happy to see the “just trying to make it” phase fade off into the background and are thrilled to begin to spend our days in concentrated study.

So how is it?

Thankful
Overall, I would say that we are just really thankful. We are thankful to have a home that is not a source of frustration and stress but instead is a comfortable place where we can study and be together as a family. We are thankful for the beautiful palm trees, the sounds of exotic animals and the women wearing brightly colored clothing carrying what they just bought at the market on their heads. I am thankful for all the neighborhood kids that come over wanting to play soccer with one of their flip-flops on our front porch and run around in the dirt with our kids. We are thankful for the opportunities we have to read to them French story-book Bibles as we pray they are understanding something. There are also few things I enjoy more than sitting with ladies in the village watching them cook and learning some vocabulary words from them. I love to see their eyes light up when I pronounce one of their words correctly. The only thing that rivals that joy is the joy of acquiring and analyzing a new language (Dave says I am a nerd). I am so thankful to get to spend time with my husband debating over which sound we think we heard in our language session and trying to determine what in the world a particular tone could be.
In addition to these joys, Dave and I both have started teaching at our church. The other night I was teaching at a woman’s prayer meeting giving an introduction to the attributes of God when I was interrupted by a loud baby goat wandering through the living room. I can honestly say I have never been interrupted by a baby goat in the States – there are so many things here that just crack me up. All in all we are thankful to be here and delight in many aspects of this life that the Lord has given us.
But only the Beginning
However, we just have so much to learn and sometimes it is a bit overwhelming. I had thought that making friends would be easier seeing that this culture is relatively warm and outgoing. I am beginning to wonder our region might be an exception to that. Our pastor recently explained to us that since we are a “higher class” (since we are white…blah) the relational ball is in our court and that it is our responsibility to initiate and pursue relationships. This is just plain hard. It is like expecting a child who does not yet know how to speak or care of themselves to go strike up a conversation with the clerk at the supermarket. It feels like an uphill battle.
Also communication is hard. We are learning Bakoum through our second language, French. So far it has been going fine, thanks to the Lord, but it is nonetheless mentally exhausting. And like I mentioned we are teaching at our church, which is an honor, but it is hard for us to teach in French and we wonder if more than a handful of people in the congregation can understand anything but Bakoum.

How are the Kids?

When we first moved in, I told Makyra to go use the restroom then come to dinner. A few minutes later I found her wandering around NOT doing what I asked her to do. When I asked her why she was not using the restroom, she looked at me baffled and said “Where is it mom?” I do not know if it was more pitiful that she did not know where it was (after being in our house for a couple days) or the fact that she was standing right in front of it. All that to say, the transition to our new neighborhood has not been a super easy one for the kids.
Another concern for us is that we now see a resistance in them to speaking French (except Kaden). This hesitancy seemed to happen overnight and we are praying that this is a phase that will pass as speaking French and/or Bakoum is crucial for their relationships here. As we mentioned before, we had put them into a French preschool only later to pull them out (they were speaking French with no problem then). This last week we decided to try a different school in the community two days a week (in addition to home-schooling them and having a French tutor come over twice a week). So far the kids love the school…that is everyone but Elias…
Kaden and Boris
Elias is staying home with Dave and me as he continues to need a lot of discipline and instruction sometimes it seems on a minute-by-minute basis (which is not what he would get in a class of 60 children, 1 teacher, and a couple stray dogs). Oh we love this child dearly and at the same time are amazed at how little fruit we see in our labors. Please pray for him on every level: rebellion to authority, deliberate acts of hatred and destruction, and oh the screaming. We have great hope in our Lord and yet are sometimes discouraged in the day in day out parenting. I will say however that he LOVES life here which is a blessing (who does not love mud and chickens?)
Makyra and her kitten friends
As for Kaden, he continues to mature day-by-day and even spends hours with our friend Boris working with him in his corn fields (I am praying he will grow up to be like Boris). Kaden has lots of friends in the neighborhood and continues to have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. He also asked me the other day why I did not wear my blue earrings. When I told him I did not have anything that matched them, he said he would go buy me a shirt, but only if he could take the earrings to make sure he got the right shade (who is this kid?).
Makyra is never seen without a kitten in her arms. Djandja and Sprinkles have brought that girl hours upon hours of entertainment and joy. Makyra is truly our only easy-going child. She is cool with going to school. She is cool with staying home. Whatever. However, I often have to encourage her to keep on task during homeschool because she’s so mesmerized by the dust particles in the air (it’s like glitter mom!)
Zoey continues to be at the same time the most intense person on the planet who constantly needs to be told to calm down and a source of happiness and joy. She is our little helper and would rather do dishes and build shelves with us than play with her brothers and sisters. She is a pleasure.

The Project Advances

Our first ever language committee meeting will be held on March 14th. Representatives from every village will be there including many government officials (over 100 invitations were sent out). We will write another post with more information and specific ways to pray soon.  





Me learning body parts in Bakoum




Sprinkles





Reading to the neighborhood kids




Cute neighborhood kids playing with blocks




Half the neighborhood showed up to watch Dave do Kyra’s hair






Our market

 

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Author: Stacey Hare

Stacey is a wife, mom, linguist, and Bible translator. Right now she is working on the writing system for the Kwakum including how to mark tone. Literacy among the Kwakum is already beginning and translation is scheduled to begin in September 2019!

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