Learning about taxis

We are finishing up our first 6 weeks of class. The purpose of these first 6 weeks has primarily been to introduce us to the sounds of Tagalog and teach us commonly used nouns, verbs and adjectives. We estimate that we know about 900 words now but most of them we only recognize when we hear. We aren’t able to manufacture many of them on our own yet.
This picture was taken during one of our classes recently. We were learning what to say in Tagalog when giving directions to a taxi driver. This is a basic skill that we’ve been able to use regularly. Most taxi drivers speak some limited English but it is best to be able to throw a little Tagalog in there to help clarify where we want them to take us. We take a taxi to and from church on Sundays, home from the mall when we have a lot of parcels to carry, or when it seems unwise to take more public transportation (i.e. nightfall, when we are dressed up, etc.).

Training Update

It has been awhile since I’ve posted an update about our training. It is hard to believe, but we are almost finished! Our graduation is on Saturday, May 30th.

The last few weeks have been spent writing cultural papers on the village simulation class we were involved in. Right now we are having a four day refresher on Church Planting. Our trainers who taught us all last year are taking turns bringing the big picture of what this is all about to the forefront of our minds once more before we all part ways.

In the next two weeks we will be making ministry presentations to our classmates. It will be good practice for future use and will also be a chance to experience all the nervousness involved in doing such things!

It has been such a joy and privilege to spend these last two years here at the training center. I feel so blessed to have met so many precious people who have impacted my life in incredible ways.

Tae-bo and bow-ties

I’m procrastinating and pulling my hair out trying to make a story from two English syllables for our literacy course.

We’re making the first two pages of a primer just so we can learn what its like to struggle through the process. And I am struggling.

This is what my page looks like:

tɑⁱ boᵘ
boᵘ tɑⁱ
oᵘ boᵘ. ɑⁱ tɑⁱ.
tɑⁱboᵘ oᵘ boᵘtɑⁱ.

tu si
bibɑbebo bu

Anyway, you get the drift. The first little section says,
“Tae-bo. Bow-tie. Oboe. I tie. Tae-bo oh bow-tie.”

That doesn’t really sound like a story to me.

Technical Technicalities

Right now we’re in them middle of Tech Tips II. Last year we learned a lot about solar panels, water purification, batteries and other technical things. This year we’ve focused on electricity, alternative power sources, hydrodynamics, and lightening protection amongst other things. The first few days we talked a lot about electricity: transformers, inverters, surge suppressors, etc. I’m in way over my head. I just look at the stuff and wonder if it comes in pink.

On Friday we got to go on a little field trip down to the shop where we learned how to adjust the regulator on a propane stove. Stuff like this will be handy to know when we are living far afield, but Dennis and I both know that we will definitely need more techy help when we actually move into a tribal area.

Here we have Dennis using a manometer to gauge how much propane is entering the stove.

There I am with my hand on a giant screwdriver. I was twisting the regulator valve open and shut until it was at just the right amount. Do you see the guy in the gray jacket? He’s our teacher, and he’s laughing because when I wasn’t looking he screwed the regulator valve way open and the force of the gas spurted water out of the manometer when Dennis turned on the burner.

Just so you don’t think we’re crazy, I’ve included this picture of burner flames. The front one is a nicely regulated propane flame. It is blue with just a hint of yellow on the tips of the flames. All the individual flames are nicely shaped and spaced. You didn’t know that there was an art to a nice flame? I didn’t either. The back flame in the picture is a natural gas flame on a poorly regulated burner (I think). See how the flames are crazy-wild and they are half blue, half orange? That is the kind of flame that will scorch and blacken the bottoms of all your pans. I’m thinking we had lots of that kind of flame in Jungle Camp.

Read, Kid, Read

Here’s our little Squeaky and the book she read to me today. She is doing really well with her reading! Something has just clicked for her in the last few months, and she is able to put letter sounds together much more easily than just a few months ago. I grabbed a few easy reader books from the library yesterday along with their normal allotment of twelve picture books. She was excited and so were we!

Squeaky was also useful this past week in our translation course. Our big assignment for the past two weeks was to work through Mark 1-2 in groups. We had to struggle through translation issues and produce an English translation of Mark 2:1-12 for a select audience. Dennis and I were in different groups, but both our groups decided to make a translation for lower elementary aged children. Dennis read his group’s translation to Squeaky to gauge her comprehension level. It went right over her head, but at 4 she technically isn’t in the target audience yet.

Learning about Languages (and a video)

Today is our final class of Structures of Communication. For nearly the last week we’ve been working on what our teachers fondly called “the works”. Basically, we’re taking a language and breaking it down to its ittiest little parts and figuring out where everything fits in. It was pretty detailed and time consuming, and Dennis and I were both up really late last night trying to figure things out.

It was a nice reminder of the complexity of God. It also reminded me of the orderliness of God, Who has designed each language around a basic set of rules. All languages follow rules, so if you figure those rules out you can figure out the language.
I can remember asking my Dad about languages when I was young and just starting to realize how many there are out there. I couldn’t believe that not all languages would have 26 letters in their alphabet. I remember being very overwhelmed when he told me that some languages have a lot more letters and some had less. It all seemed so arbitrary and unpredictable at the time. I’ve since learned that while it is true that languages are all formed different, they are definitely not arbitrary (except for English, maybe…:) ).
You can tell we’ve been thinking about languages a lot, at the very beginning of this video you can hear Dennis saying, “Imagine a language where you had to have a finger in your mouth…” after Button spent awhile trying to articulate around her finger.


We’ve had some mild days and Button took advantage of the melty, packy snow by making a snowman.

These two crack me up. They are listening to our ipod together, connected by a dual headphone jack… They were dancing all over the place until I worried that the ipod would suffer some damage and put a stop to all their fun. 😦

Goodbyes are hard to do…

Yesterday was our final day of the Hungarian practicum. We’ve been working very hard over the past two months and now have over 200 words in our vocabulary! But more than that, we also have two new friends. Elmer and Olga were a delight. Elmer entertained us with story after story from his amazing store of knowledge that he’s gained over the years. Olga’s dry sense of humor had us laughing so hard we cried. It was so exciting to see our friendship develop over the two months. At first I was all nervous and on my best behavior around them. As we got to know them we all loosened up a little bit and while I didn’t display my worst behavior it is fair to say that we were all able to be very real with one another. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to work with them, and since they live here in town I think they can probably expect to see us knocking at their door quite a bit for the next 5 months.