Missionary Training

Before leaving for South Africa, we needed to take a month to prepare ourselves for the field.  We spent January getting training in the areas of language, culture, and longevity on the field.

The first two weeks we learned how to learn a new language. We discovered the flexibility of the human mouth and the plethora of sounds we can potentially make that exist outside the English language. We drilled in phonetics, training our tongues to make different sounds. We also played games….that’s right games to help us learn a new language. Ryan and I practiced these techniques with Hindi. Unfortunately, we only got 3 days of games so the best I can say in Hindi is “You drove the car to school”, “Hello”, “Thank you “ and “Wash your hands”. I’m amazed at how much we learned and how fast. Our language helper even taught me how to put on a sari. We are excited to try these techniques out once we move to South Africa. Even though everyone speaks English, we think it is important to learn a local language as well. When we get to South Africa, we will be learning Afrikaans. 

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The last two weeks we learned a lot about our values as Americans and how those may differ with cultures around the world. We learned that difference in not necessarily wrong it just might step on our toes. We participated in lots of fun activities such as an obstacle course to show us how difficult transition is. I felt like a contestant on the TV show “Wipe Out” when I went through it (even though I didn’t fall). We learned our own tendencies in dealing with conflict and stress which is vital when on the field.  The instructors challenged us to look at ourselves and see if we were truly spiritually vital. They asked the question, “If you were to go on the field right now with your spiritual disciplines that you practice now, would you survive?” I had to be honest and say “no.” I am excited to say that God has been taking me deeper in my faith because of this training. He continually shows me joys in even the worst of my days. We also learned importance of taking a day off, a Sabbath day. As Americans we enjoy busyness but a day of rest centered on God is critical.

            We lived with a group of about 30 other missionaries varying in age, marital status, organization, and place of service. These people created a wonderful community atmosphere. We shared joys, pain, thanksgivings, and frustrations about being a missionary. We developed friendships that we hope will last a long time. Ryan and I also got two couples addicted to the board game Ticket to Ride. J It was a great experience. Our excitement about leaving for South Africa grew, getting us ready for the adventure that God has for us.

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