A Year Ago Today?

We just realized that a year ago today we were just surveying this tribe that we now live in… what a year!!

In the effort to learn the Ma language, Joey and I have both taken up new hobbies.  In researching the culture here, we follow a long detailed outline, part of which is a fun little category called “Art and Play”.  So we are getting some hands on experience in the “Play” aspect.  Would you believe that part of a missionaries job can be playing cards?  That’s right, Joey spent the day yesterday hanging out with the guys here and learning some of the card games they play.  It all goes in the culture file!!  Don’t you want to be a missionary now, too?  🙂

I have been praying about getting to know some of the ladies that I haven’t had much interaction with, and also about getting  lots of good exposure time hearing the people talking naturally in Ma (as opposed to the few sentences they tell me slowly so that I can understand..!)  Well, God has answered in some unique ways!  I have joined the Mibu Ladies Basketball Team.  Now, you aren’t going to see any scores in the newspaper, but for here, it is a fairly official type thing.  We play Saturday or Sunday (someone stops by to let me know) and there are three teams.  I am on the “Konci” (coun-si)team.  We play five on five, and they won’t start till we have a watch to time the games, a whistle for the ref, and two score keepers who have pen and paper.  Oh, and of course, someone has to locate a ball.  These ladies are GOOD!  The only reason I am any help to my team is that I am taller than everyone…lol.  It has been wonderful interaction with them, and person by person, I feel I am getting to know more and more ladies here.  The relationships are so important, and all the more so because when it’s time to teach the gospel, ladies who might not be interested, or who feel that it’s just a thing for the men, will show up to hear what their friends have to say.

The other unique opportunity has been in the form of cutting back bush with a bush knife.  Yes, it’s pretty scary to think of me chopping through the forest with a two foot blade, but believe it or not, I am getting fairly proficient.  As anyone who has really tried it (especially alongside a person who has been wielding a knife since age 2), there is an art to it.  Each week we go around to a different persons coffee garden (coffee is their cash crop) and clear the undergrowth from under the trees.  We work all morning and around noon or 1, whenever we finish, the family who owns the coffee garden feeds the entire group as payment.  It is a neat opportunity for me to act as part of the community we live in, and to give and not just take.  The interaction with the ladies is great, especially as it seems to be a favorite gossip time among them.  Not that I understand much of what is said yet, but I am catching words and hearing the natural flow of the language.  And I have only gotten in the way of someone’s swinging blade once, but her blade was (fortunatly)dull, and it didn’t cut me, only left me with a bruise!  Thank you for your prayers, I am sure they are keeping us alive.  🙂

Keep in touch!  It makes our day!
Love in Christ,
Joey and Brooke Tartaglia
Shiloh, Marietta, and Solomon