When 25% Isn’t Failing

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On October 10, Joey gave us our first language test. Our score? 25%. When I was a middle school teacher, scores like that usually did not bode well for my students. But in this case, our score was actually very good news. We’ve lived among the Ndo people for 7 months now, and we are currently a quarter of the way towards fluency in the Ndo language. Imagine a toddler asking: “Momma, you go?” That’s about where we are at! We have a simple vocabulary and a minimal grasp of the grammar, but we know enough to communicate the basics. For example, we can ask vital questions such as, “Kosimbi ndana yote?” which means: “Where is the toilet?” It’s not the most glorious stage of language learning, but it’s a good base to start from as we continue to pursue fluency.

Our test was comprised of four parts. The first is a basic grammar test where we take English sentences and translate them into the Ndo language. It checks to see if we know how to make a sentence a question or how to make a verb a command. Next, we have to listen to our language helpers tell us a story in Ndo about a time we did something together. We have to use our minimal knowledge of the language and context to comprehend 10 points from the story. After that, it is our turn to tell a story. During this test, our poor language helpers have to hear our broken Ndo and try to comprehend 10 points from our story. Of course, if they can’t it’s not their fault. And finally, we have to answer a series of questions about their culture to see if we are learning who these people are and not simply how they speak.

25% means we are a quarter of the way to knowing enough of the language and culture to begin to share stories and truth from the Bible. That is good news! Our next goal is to be at 50% fluency by March 2017. Pray that God would equip us with the energy and diligence needed to learn this language while loving and learning from these people.

A huge thank you to Joey, our director, for coming all the way out to our remote village to give us the test, fellowship with us, and offer us tons of encouragement! He has got to be one of the most optimistic people I know. And it is not an unfounded, wishful-thinking optimism, but one that is deeply founded in God’s sovereign power to accomplish His will. It was such a joy to have Joey and Daniel join us in our lonely post for a couple weeks.

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Two of the guys who have spent many hours helping me (Zach) learn the language.

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Cassidy in the hot seat and Florence and Joey test her comprehension of the language.

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Trying my hardest to tell a comprehensible story in Ndo while some of our language helpers listen in.

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