Language study is almost a right of passage for missionaries world wide. Some take a period of time to study in a country before departing for their field. Some attempt to study "en vivo" living and learning from the people surrounding them without any formal education. And other enter school and study in a traditional setting. The common ground is the somewhat obvious, that we must all learn the language of the people with whom we hope to speak. Many I am sure have prayed for the miraculous gift to speak, the thought has enter our minds on several occasions. God can and has empowered people supernaturally in this way. But, what we seem to be learning constantly here is that; there is value in the struggle, value in the moment where Gods has placed you.
So, where has God placed us. We have taken the language school route; Tim is currently in his second session. The school we are attending will has six modules. Each module is a very intense 20 days of study (m-f). In Tim's current module each day has new vocab list of at least 20 words, and at least 3 different sentence structures to learn. After a day of school we together practice our thai while working on building relationships on our street. We humorously fumble through our language often realizeing we have not been saying what we thought we were! The other day I thought I was say "don't go" but I as really saying "rowwing" yes like the boat; both are phonetically pronounced "mai pai" but with different tones!!! In the evenings we contiunue to run through vocabulary and sentence structure once the girls have gone to sleep.
As much work as this is everyday brings its reward. These rewards are being able to have a short conversation with the women we get dinner from every night, or our recent short exchange of words with the beggars on the street. More than anything we are really greatful for the opportunity to study and learn since we know this is truly equiping us!
The study of language can have so many analogies; the image of being lost in forest, or a maze come to mind. Both of these capture the blind feeling we have as we try to peice our way through the fog of a foreign language. However what comes most clearly to mind is the comparison made by Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages. For those not familiar he essentially outlines the idea that each of our spouses have a love language and unless we learn to speak it we can not truely communicate love to them.
Learning Thai for us feels like learning the literal love language of the thai people. Word Made Flesh as a community strives for incarnational ministry. We seek to demonstrate our desire to love and live with the Thai people, to actively express love, to show our commitment and value of them by embracing thier culture, their lives. How better to demonstrate this than to strive and labor to learn thier language.
We really want to thankyou for standing by us with prayer and support as we make our way through these crucial days of language study. These months will pass as quickly as they came and we will be entering decisions about ministry and where to put our time; we really ask that you would even now begin praying for Gods directions in the choices we will be making.
Thankyouwith so much love from Bangkok Amy and the Family.