Hi friends, it has been a while, here is the latest, (in a nutshell)
- 📍 I’ve been back on the island since the end of August
- 👫🧍♂️ 3 new team members arrived
- 📄 We all got places to live 🏠 and applied for residence.
- 💻 I’ve been taking more language classes with the school online.
- 📖 Our team has been running a small English club and house church. Relationships with students and locals are developing through these meetings.
- 🧍♀️🧍♀️ I’ve made local friends close to where I live. One is a believer the other is not. I’m learning cultural and language nuances from them. I’m also able to talk about Him in English until I can share with people more deeply in the language (the reason I continue to learn).
If you didn’t know this island isn’t recognized as a country. So there are not a lot of stores and companies you can find as in other countries. Product selection is limited and expensive—this has led to a couple of trips into the south at the foot border to load up my backpack! I’ve brought back cutlery, bedding, and some other dishes. Thankfully all our places came mostly furnished.
When I’ve had the opportunity to drive, it’s been on the left side of the road, with streets sometimes narrowing quite drastically. Most of the time I’m catching a “Van.” These vans drive up and down the roads, labeled with the neighbourhoods they go to. You have to stand along one of the roads they drive on and wait for one to come by. When the van comes, they’ll honk (which is a form of greeting here), stop for you to get on, and then you just let them know when you want off.
I’m living in a neighbourhood (surrounded by the language I’m studying), close to some team members but more on the edge of town. A hard part about learning the language here is if people speak English, they don’t always let you struggle with the language to communicate. My apartment’s maintenance man doesn’t speak English so when my heater didn’t work and I didn’t know how to load my water meter (it’s prepaid here), I’ve had to use my new language skills and it’s been great.
Before I came here, my experience with learning language was some French classes until grade 10, learning a few phrases when I traveled to South America and Africa, and a brief attempt to learn Korean and their alphabet. When I didn’t keep up with it after my trip or class, I lost the majority of it.
After this year of:
- using language apps
- being in the culture and around native speakers
- navigating changes (resulting in some learning gaps)
- consistently taking lessons with tutors and a language school
- gaining a base vocabulary and grammar structure
I’m starting to reap the benefits and see more improvement. The complexity of thinking backward, while remembering vocabulary, and the right suffixes to add and pronounce it all correctly still boggles my mind. Thinking about some of the grammar as if it were math has helped. But some things that felt impossible in the beginning I do now without a second thought. This gives me hope that whatever language “mountain” I am tackling now will eventually come easily with work and time.
Wow, I’ve been here (in this region) for a year now!
Time has felt both slow and fast. I put up a little Christmas tree at the beginning of November, to remind myself it wasn’t still August!
One thing I’ve learned this year is just how complicated getting a residence in a foreign country can be, but know He leads us well and opens doors. While I have submitted my application, I still have a few steps ahead of me and have to wait for the result. I’m hoping to have an answer for residency by mid-February. Prayers for this are so welcome!
Prayer is huge to the work that is done here, the people we meet, and opportunities to share or see the local body grow. I’m going to start sending shorter prayer requests via WhatsApp, in addition to these monthly (ish) newsletters. If you would like to get these send me a message via email on my profile page (click on my name below). I’ll send them through a broadcast, so they’ll appear as individual messages, not group messages. You will need to have my number saved as a contact in your phone to receive these.
If all goes well with residency, I’ll be here for about a year. This island has been a great spot to land after visa rejections, start language, hop in and out of the mainland, and to receive more team members.
As a team, we are looking ahead to see if God is leading us somewhere else long term, so far the pivot has been intended to be a transitional/temporary one. It remains unknown if being able to stay will be an option down the road, so we are looking at other places with similar language. While this still feels far away, a year can go by quickly, so we are asking God and praying into it now.
- Residency approval for myself and 3 other team members
- Long-term direction for our team
- Continued language retention and growth in speaking more fully
- Relationships with students and locals to grow in depth and bear fruit
Thank you, I am over here because of your support and prayers!