I cannot believe I’ve been here a month. Not only has the last 4 weeks flown by but each day seems to as well. My days look something like this.
Get up around 7am.
Sweep my house.
Do any dishes left over from the night before that didn’t get done before bugs appeared.
Water my garden.
Do my devotions.
And by 10am I’m usually tackling the other random things that fill my days.
Clothes washing (at least 2x a week).
Making food for lunch/dinner or baking.
Reviewing/writing down new words I want to learn.
Having made-up conversations in my head in Mabaan, which aids in more words I want to learn.
Going out and visiting! (A multiple hour experience)
1 day a week, Sabbath.
If I’ve gone out (which is usually 5-6 days a week) I try to be home by 6:30. This gives me time to warm up my dinner, eat, water my garden and shower before the bugs come. I’m usually crawling into bed somewhere between 8-9:30pm to spend some time responding to emails, updating Facebook, and catching up with family and friends via texting. Most nights I’m passed out from pure exhaustion by 10:30pm ready to give my mind and body a break before the sun rises and the busyness begins again.
In the midst of the days flying by, when I’m out visiting I catch myself often thinking, “God I can’t believe I get to do this.” As relationships continue to blossom and I connect with more and more Mabaan women in the area, I find myself wanting to be out, pushing my mind and mouth beyond what they think they can handle and stretch myself way out of my comfort zone. When I’m out I very rarely have the time to think through what I want to say before I say it. I think this has helped me so much in growing my vocabulary because I’m not keeping myself in this box of only trying to communicate what I want with the few words I know. I just start talking and then I pause and hope I can do the motion or say a similar word to get the one I’m looking for. So far this method has proved rather successful.
One of my favorite things at this point is the look on people’s faces when I tell them in Mabaan "I don’t hear Arabic but I hear a little Mabaan." I get this look of, “you are learning my language?!” These moments happen often as I run into new people and it has kept me sooooo encouraged!
I’m also finding the best language helpers to be those who speak no English. You would think it would be helpful to have someone who can understand a little but somehow my brain knows that person can understand English and it becomes so lazy! I catch myself saying, an English word followed by, “A gena te tuk Mabaan? - this is called what in Mabaan?” too much versus doing an action or pointing to something or talking about someone doing something all in Mabaan to try to get the word I want. Maybe the words don’t stick as much because my brain isn’t making as many connections but whatever it is, I love language learning with those who know no English. With that said, I love spending time with the young women and often they do speak a few words of English. But it is so limited that it really doesn’t hinder the learning process of Mabaan and they all seem so eager for me to learn.
A few of the women I’ve connected with. I hope to add pictures to all these names soon.
Umjima #2 J
All of these women, with the exception of one, live within a 5 minute walk from my compound. I am so blessed by these young women and their willingness to let me into their lives and culture. Each one contributes something uniquely special that who ever I go and visit with, I leave with a grin that is hard to hide and a heart feeling so loved!
Learning a mother tongue is definitely hard. Mabaan has a lot of sounds that are starting to seem more normal to hear, but I still find some hard to pronounce.
A few of my other struggles have been:
showing up and finding the women not home
the market which is only Arabic and I know none
trying to find a rhythm in a non-consistent place
stopping myself at night from wanting to keep studying
not feeling guilty when I don’t get out of the house until 3pm
the lack of fruits and vegetables
With all that said, it really has been a great first month here. I’ve gotten to do, be apart of, and learn so much! I take my struggles to the Lord each morning and He always gives me just enough grace to walk through whatever He plans each day. Can’t wait to see what He has in store in the coming days!