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Two weeks ago, we had our first literacy meeting! It was very exciting for us to add a new and anticipated sphere to our work here. And the excitement didn’t stop with us; our friends here and representatives from other Ndo speaking villages who joined our meeting were excited to see us begin to work on writing and reading the Ndo language.

Jude took a picture of us preparing for the meeting during lunch one day.

Our meeting was the very first of many many to come. The goal of this meeting was to discuss what the alphabet for the Ndo language should be. While we were there to give direction, all decisions rested with the native Ndo speakers.

For those who are interested, here are some of the points we discussed:

  1. Ideally, we want to have one symbol (letter) for each sound of the language.
  2. These letters will NOT change how you speak the language.
  3. This alphabet does not belong to us missionaries, but to you.
  4. We cannot take all the same letters from the trade language because your language has different sounds.
  5. Using phonetic letters versus letters that are on a normal computer keyboard.

At the end of the meeting, we had a rough draft of an alphabet. It begins with A, B, D – there is no C in the language, hence the title above: “Now I Know My ABDs”.

We also gave an update about Matt at this meeting. And in this picture, Zach is showing everyone where the Mitchells, our new teammates, are coming from.

A side-bonus to this project was working with language helpers on something concrete. In our language learning, we are generally thinking up random questions and translating strings of unrelated sentences, so working with the goal of preparing for this meeting was refreshing.

Zach did the introduction, and I helped work through each letter. I spent a lot of time waiting for them to discuss and agree on each one.

Although we did come away with a preliminary alphabet, those at the meeting who are literate in the trade language will take this alphabet back to their villages and test it for accuracy (as well as discuss it with others). If changes need to be made, we will make them. But for now, people in our village can, with some consistency, begin to write their own stories down in their heart language. We are thankful to the Lord for the privilege of serving the Ndo people!

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