12 December 2013

Greetings from Yei

I have arrived safe and sound in Yei, South Sudan. The guest house where I am staying has been very accommodating and even has an internet cafe with decent speed. Praise the Lord for safety and for a dozen answered prayers about logistics and details along the way.
As of yesterday, Jenny and I have completed our formal language school training. Jenny commented at the beginning of the week, "Now begins the difficult part." One of the advantages of classroom-oriented training is that the student is paying the teacher for the external discipline and accountability for progress in the language. Daily exercises and regular testing become an enforced routine. The challenge of the coming months will be to continue to grow in our fluency through practice even when we don't have to be in class each morning demonstrating that progress.
We've covered a good deal of grammar in the last few months, and that's another advantage to the classroom. Often native speakers think little about the mechanics of their language. For instance, why do American English speakers say, "big, fat liar," but not "fat, big liar"? Uncountable repetition has given us an ear for what sounds right. From here out, our language study will focus mainly on learning from fluent speakers who have an ear for Swahili whether or not they can explain the grammar. Jenny and I are thankful for the opportunity to study some of the mechanics beforehand. Hopefully this will result in less frustration in the coming months.
On my way into South Sudan this morning, I've enjoyed a number of first-time experiences. Today was the first time for me to be alone on the plane with the pilot. It's also the first time the pilot has prayed with me before the flight! Also this was my first flight taking off from an unpaved airstrip. (See view from my seat below.)
Here are a few prayer requests on my mind at the moment.
Please pray for continued safety in travel and for open hearts and minds as I teach through Romans.
Pray for logistics in getting our container through customs. We just received notice that it has cleared the Arabian peninsula, so it's close, but often there's more of a challenge in unloading it than there is in getting it to Kenya.
Pray that the good news of Christ would reign in our hearts this Christmas season.
Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer!

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