Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Disappearing

Island boats
It shouldn’t surprise us anymore. It has happened several times, with different types of people. One day they are here on Clove Island, involved in different activities, perhaps even working a job. Then the next day, they are just gone. Eventually we find out that they have gone over to the French island illegally in one of the many clandestine boats that leave Clove Island regularly.

Islanders never advertise their travel plans until they are absolutely sure that the plans are going to happen. Pulling the money together and getting visas to travel is an uncertain business for most islanders and they don’t want the bad luck of telling people ahead of time or the shame of having to tell people that their plans/dreams didn’t work out.

Going over to the French island illegally is never a sure thing. So you almost never hear about it in advance. So many things can go wrong. The boat drivers can decide not to go at the last minute because of weather or because of an increased immigration police presence. People can be captured immediately and sent right back to Clove Island the same day. Then there are all the tragic stories of islanders dying in the attempted crossing, lost at sea by going in overloaded boats, in dangerous conditions, in the dark of night with no lifejackets.

It caught me a little by surprise when our pregnant neighbor (we’ll call her Twama here) called me over and in a whispering voice told me, “I’m traveling tomorrow at dawn. I’m going to the French Island to give birth.” As foreigners we’re often seen as more trustworthy and perhaps less judging, but it was clear that she didn’t want anyone else to overhear our conversation. I was concerned, not only is she over 8 months pregnant, but it was clear that she would be traveling with her 2 year old and her 5 year old as well. I expressed my concerns about it being dangerous, but she assured me that she wasn’t going on a dangerous one (which is usually code for passengers paying a lot of money to be in a boat that isn’t overcrowded and/or that has a back-up motor). I asked if the kids would have life jackets and she said they would, though she may have just been telling me what I wanted to hear. I prayed for her and said goodbye.
Our English Club

Later the next day, we heard the telltale yells of Twama’s 2 year old son. There were other people around when I greeted her with surprise, so all she said was “Tomorrow!” Something must have delayed her trip.

The next day all was quiet at their house. It seemed like they had really gone. Then in the afternoon, we overheard their voices once again. Twama called me over and spoke in whispers again (still not willing that anyone else know her plans). They had left at midnight and traveled to the other side of the island and waited at a beach with others for hours. Finally it was time to get in the boat and she was shocked to see 20 people waiting to get into the one boat. Everyone was encouraging her to get in, but she refused. It just wasn’t safe. So she came home instead with her two little ones.

We were proud of Twama for her decision. But who knows when our next island friend will just disappear off to the French Island.

Egg Hunt-- Island-style
PRAYERS ANSWERED
Our English Club went well with around 20 islanders gathered in our living room, hearing the story behind Easter. Each day at school seems easier with our son. He’s already counting down the days to summer vacation, but most of his anxiety is gone.  There has been some progress in Ma Imani’s family’s conflict but no reconciliation yet. Megan has gotten to talk to various members of the family about the letting go of anger, what real forgiveness and reconciliation looks like— we keep praying for the final breakthrough in everyone’s hearts.


PRAYERS REQUESTED
Our neighbor Twama was having labor pains yesterday and had us urgently calling family members for her (she was at home alone with her little kids with no phone credit. The doctor thought it was too early and was trying to get the contractions to stop. They left for the doctor’s clinic last night. Pray for a safe delivery for Twama (whether it is happening now or in a couple weeks) and for a healthy baby. We’re in the middle of an island holiday (we’ll probably write about it next week) This coming weekend, Megan and our daughter have the opportunity to go to the big island to support and see our colleagues over there. Pray for safe travels, no motion sickness for our daughter (flying there but boating back), and an encouraging time all around. Pray for our continuing testimony to our island friends and neighbors and for wisdom in what relationships to focus our time. Continue to pray for Ma Imani’s family and for wisdom for Megan as different parties seem to want to use her as a mediator in this complicated family drama. We’ve having a variety of minor health ailments— colds, a short tummy bug, skin infections, pink eye, earraches… Pray for our health.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Doing Our Part

The men getting ready to work
The sounds of the gathering crowd begins early, especially for a Sunday. It’s right at our front stoop. The men and older boys in the center, talking, pointing and pacing around. Along the edge are the women, chatting, laughing and handing out tea and bread to the men. It was the beginning of a community work day! Where a whole neighborhood comes together to get something done, each person doing their part.

We’ve seen them all around the capital over the past several weekends. Mostly it is road projects. People are tired of waiting for the island government to put down new roads, so a neighborhood takes it upon themselves to gather the money together and once the money is collected the men of the neighborhood come and give their free labor to get the work done. On a big work day, the women do their part by gathering and cooking, so all the workers can eat well that day.

The work outside our house has been proceeding steadily. Little work crews of experienced builders have been doing a little more each weekend. First the supporting pillars were put down in the river bed and then all the supports to create a platform extending from the existing bridge and over the “river” (aka trashy gully). The final dream is for there to be a central celebration point for the neighborhood. It will start as a platform but we’re told that eventually it may be a two-story structure.

After weeks of preparations, this Sunday was the big day— mixing and laying the concrete for the whole base. Someone had gone around the neighborhood the previous week with a shiny wrapped box collecting money for everyone. We gave, shooting for a generous gift but not knowing how much people usually give to these things.

On Sunday morning, we headed down and greeted all the women taking advantage of the shade created by the overhang on our stoop. Someone had a camera and was video-taping people giving mini-speeches and prayers for the project. Someone called Tom over and he was asked to give an impromptu prayer of blessing on video for the work ahead (later we found out that his prayer might end up on the radio).
video

We look at the clock. We’re supposed to be leaving in less than an hour for our Easter holiday celebrations, but we’d love to participate in this community event. The women aren’t really cooking yet, but all of a sudden the last speech is made and all the men set to work. Tom makes the sudden decision to change into work clothes and join the men for as long as he can.

So many people have gathered that not everyone can work at once.  People are doing shifts.  Some are just sitting and watching, but the rest are working in three main groups.   There are the guys preparing and mixing the cement, sand, rocks and water; then there are the men pouring the mixture into buckets and then there is the bucket brigade.  Tom saw a place to jump into the bucket brigade and was soon passing one heavy, messy bucket of slushy cement after another.  They worked fast and bucket after bucket came sloshing along.  Tom worked for about 15 minutes before someone stepped in to relieve him.  (They probably thought the white guy had had enough, but considering that it was time to leave for the Easter celebration, it turned out to be impeccable timing.) 
Back to local island school!

15 minutes might not seem like much but it was important.  Showing up to events and participating shows that you are part of the community.  Time together is a must on the islands.  Our Easter obligations meant we missed the big free lunch (which was too bad), but our absence was noted.  Some rice, fish and sauce were all held back for us.  We had earned it, you see.  We had done our part.

PRAYERS ANSWERED
We had a good time celebrating the holiday on Sunday. He is risen! One week of local school is finished and the second week has begun— each day has seemed a little easier for our son. He’s still not excited about going, but there aren’t tears anymore and he seems less nervous. These gradual improvements are answers to prayer! Our second English club had 23 people! We’re excited to see some many islanders in our home, including a number of women (usually it is almost all men).

PRAYERS REQUESTED
Ma Imani’s family (which we are very close with) are embroiled in a family conflict that now has the police and courts involved. Pray that there would be reconciliation in the family and that Ma Imani and her mother could be lights in this dark situation and effective peace-makers. We are hoping to discuss Easter this Wednesday night at our English Club— pray it goes well!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Two Truths and a LIe

Look at those bean plants grow.
We had our first English Club this past week.  This is a club for high level English speakers.  They come to our house one evening a week to practice their English.  For an hour and a half we may play games, have discussions, listen to songs, watch videos, or do something else which will help these
English speakers keep their English strong.  Now our only condition for coming to the English club is that people have enough English that they can follow and participate in whatever we may be doing.  Some weeks the group is all very advanced speakers, other times it can go down to low-intermediate. We try to plan activities that can be flexible depending on the group, sometimes we’re surprised by how well the group catches on, other times we’re surprised by how they don’t catch on….

This week we played the ice-breaker game of “Two Truths and a Lie”.  It’s fairly simple: players take turn making three statements—two of which are true and one which is a lie.  The other players then try to guess which statement is a lie. For example:

    1. We live on a tropical island.
    2. The beaches here are white, sandy, and pristine.
    3. We usually walk by the ocean on our way to the market.

Which statement is false?  (The second one. The beaches here are often black sand, rocky and covered in garbage.)

So the idea is for students to get to know something interesting about one another while playing a fun game, but somewhere along the line there was an understanding gap.  They didn’t seem to get the point of the game. It became clear with the first student.

“Okay, I’ll go,” he said. “Number 1: I am an English student. Number 2: I am the president of the country.  Number 3: I live on Clove island.”  Everyone laughed! 

“Number 2!” said the students.  “With a big smile the first contestant said, “You are right.  I’m not the president.”  At this point I thought it wise to step in and explain the game more carefully.

“So, we want to say things that will make it difficult for people to figure out which one is the lie.”  Everyone nodded their heads.  I gave an example to show them what I meant.  It was not an easy one.  They were not sure which was the right answer.  Many people guessed wrong.  “Okay,”  I thought.  “Now they’re catching on.” 

The black sand trashy beach by our house
“I’ll go.” said another student. “Number 1: When I was a boy I went hunting.”  He began.
“Okay, ‘when you were a boy you went hunting,” we repeated, “Good! And your next statement?” I asked.
“I’m not finished.  Number 1:  When I was a boy I went hunting with my father.  I shoot [sic] a guinea fowl.  (We had to pause here to explain to the class what a guinea fowl is since we don’t have them on Clove Island.)  “When I was a boy I go hunting with my father.  I shoot a guinea fowl but when it falls—a rabbit.  When it falls—it’s a rabbit.  Okay. I shoot a guinea fowl.  When it falls—it’s a rabbit.  Okay!  Now, number 2: I am from Clove Island.  Number 3: I’m not married.”

“The first one!  The first one!”  Everyone responded with big smiles and laughter.  “Yes!” said the story teller.  “I shoot a guinea fowl and —a rabbit falls!  This cannot happen!  It is not true!”  His apparent pride was obvious.  Apparently, this was a really good lie.  Very tricky!

“Okay, me next.” says another student with excitement.  Everyone is really enjoying the game now.  “Number 1:  When I was a baby I could fly like a bird…”

Another student, “When I was first learning English, I talked to the trees and they answered me.”

We could only shake our heads at these ridiculous answers, but according to the other participants, these were some of the best answers!  So did the game fail?  In a sense maybe. From our perspective, they never really got the point.  But reflecting on it later, we’ve come to see that the problem was not one of language but one of culture.  Creativity is rarely taught in island schools.  Thinking creatively is not a highly valued island skill.  Yet, when given the opportunity, islanders appreciate creativity.  They like a good story or a good joke.  So when we gave them an opportunity to think creatively—they ran with it!  No one cared much about tricking the others or saying something that would be hard to guess.  It was much more fun to say something fantastic—something creative.  Everyone will appreciate that.  And so they did!

Tomorrow night we will have club again.  When holidays are near we usually try to talk about them.  Will our discussion of Easter go well?  It may not go as we plan it, but I’m sure it will be interesting.  It nearly always is!

PRAYERS ANSWERED
The kids started local school yesterday.  Our daughter was excited but our son was very nervous to go back.  There were tears and a lot of prayers said, but in the end, the first day went pretty well.    Since having a good day, good teachers, and kind classmates is not a given here, we see it as a real answer to prayer.  We hope our son will see it that way too.  Tom’s first classes have gone well and it seems like a good schedule.  He is happy to be teaching again and the great interactions he gets with students.  Tom is also happy for the opportunity he had this past week to share with a family, to read the book together and to encourage their family gatherings.  The language work and the training of the new language worker is going well.  We are also thankful for how well our newest teammate is transitioning to life and the spirit she brings to our team.


PRAYERS REQUESTED
Keep praying for the kids school days as they have many days ahead— pray especially for our son who is still really anxious about being in local school.  We are still in search of a proper office space.  Pray that the language project and training would continue to go well.  Pray for all our new classes and relationships with students and administrators.  Pray for our relationships with neighbors and for more families to gather together to study.  Pray for our future teammates who are in the process of raising the necessary support and those who may not know yet that they are meant to join our team.  We are hoping that 4 more members will join us in the next year!

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Stolen Day

Celebrating our son's 7th birthday
One of the questions we often get from people wondering about island life goes something like this,”What does an ordinary day look like on the islands?”  And we usually respond with our normal schedule of homeschool, classes, and visits.  But just as typical as an ordinary day is what we might call a “stolen day.” 

“What is a stolen day?” you’re wondering?  Let me give you an example.

It’s 8:30am.  I’m getting ready to go out and run some errands.  The team is coming at noon for lunch and then some discussion.  I’m getting ready to head out when my landlord comes to the door.   He’s with a young man in dirty work clothes carrying a power drill.  “We’re here to install the shelves.”  They say.  “Oh, okay.” I reply.  My morning has just been stolen.

Did we know they were going to fix the kitchen shelves? Yes.  Did we know when they were going to do that…well they had been telling us for two weeks that it would get done “tomorrow”.  Today was the day.  Surprise!  For the next 3 hours I was busy helping these men move things around in the kitchen, drill holes in the wall, supply various tools they didn’t have or forgot to bring, and generally help with the installation of the shelves.  That lunch plan with the team—yeah, that had to be pushed back by about an hour.  So much for running errands.  That would have to be another day.  On the other hand, I got some quality time in with my landlord.

Another example…
It’s 8:00 in the morning.  There’s a whole day ahead and a whole lot of homeschool to do.  Just then a lady stops by for a visit. She stays for an hour.  A bit of homeschool might get done during this time, but it’s hard to carry on a conversation and teach at the same time.  Finally she leaves but right behind her is another neighbor.  She wants to talk about her troubles and needs my full attention.  After her another neighbor shows up.  Her son is sick.  She’s brought him along.  We’ll do what we can for him and send them home with some medicine or some money or the advice to go see a doctor.  Suddenly it’s lunchtime.  I guess homeschool will go into the afternoon today.  Those plans for the afternoon?  Oh well.  Another stolen day.  But then again, I visited with a friend, comforted someone in her troubles, and helped someone in need.  Not such a bad day after all.

More birthday fun at the beach
These are just two examples: sometimes it’s a funeral; sometimes it’s a wedding or an English exam or a ceremony that they forgot to tell us about until the day of; sometimes it’s an endless stream of visitors; sometimes its one persistent visitor or a desperate English student.  We never know who or what it will be exactly, but we can count on these regular interruptions—this regular stealing of our day.  And yet, as we throw our plans it begs the question… are our plans so important?  In fact, maybe stolen is the wrong way to think about it.  All that is being stolen from us are our plans.  What we are being given, time and again, is an unexpected opportunity for relationship.  So maybe we shouldn’t talk about “stolen days” but “relational days”.

“So, what’s an ordinary day like on the islands?”  Well, there are ordinary days and then there are relational days…and both are good.

PRAYERS ANSWERED
Both pregnant women gave birth to baby boys! Our neighbor (who was very anxious about her delivery and who had asked us to pray multiple times) had a quick delivery and credited God and our prayers for it! Tom’s sister also had her baby— our kids are very excited to have a new baby cousin!  Our older son turned 7 years old this week, we are so thankful for him and all the ways he is growing and learning! He asked and we had a “pirate adventure” in celebration of his big day. Our younger son was very sick this week, but we are very thankful that he has since recovered! Our former teammate and good friend was visiting for a few days and checking-in on the language project— we were very thankful to have her and to hear that her meetings had gone well.



PRAYERS REQUESTED
We’ve narrowed our search for an office space to a few neighborhoods— pray that the right location with the right landlord would be available and that we’d learn about it soon. There are two new people joining the language work— pray for good time of training for them and good working relationships and unity all around. Pray for a man that recently left that work, for healed relationships and for the quick return of the work computer he was using. Continue to pray for our new teammate as she settles into life, language and relationships on Clove Island. We gave ourselves a month to settle in but now that it is April, we are diving back into more commitments and responsibilities— pray that we find a good balance of all the things we want to do and should be doing.


Monday, March 27, 2017

A Good Spouse

An island groom and bride
“I need to find a good wife.”  One of my friends says to me as we sit and talk on the veranda.  I smile because he is actually the third or fourth person this week to say the same thing to me.  Apparently a good wife is hard to find.  It’s hard to find someone trustworthy and loyal, someone who will cook and clean and take care of the children, someone who will not be jealous all the time, someone who will be respectful, someone with a good family and preferably a rich family.  Not surprisingly, a wife like this is not easy to find.

That is how I’ve come to find myself repeating the same advice I was once given a long time ago.  It was as applicable back then in the States as is it is here on the islands now.  “When I was a university student,” I told each of my friends in turn, “a wise teacher came and spoke to us about finding a wife.”

“Many of you are hoping to find a good wife.”  He said.  “Some of you have even been praying earnestly, asking God to send you the right girl who will make a great wife, and that is fine and good.  But,” he said, “how many of you have prayed and asked God to make you a good husband?”  A good wife wants a good husband and a good husband helps make a good wife.  So maybe you need to spend less time praying for a good wife and more time asking God to make you into the man who will be a good husband.”

All of my friends in turn laughed at this story and agreed that these were wise words.  I wonder if any of them will take it to heart.  I wish one of them would have asked, “and how do I become the kind of man who is a good husband?” but none of them did.  Did this wisdom fall on deaf ears?

Electricity cuts means cooking by headlamp
Another friend of mine, Sterehi, shared with me this week about the tattered state of his marriage.  He is ready to get a divorce.  He even showed me the divorce papers waiting to be signed.  As he complained about all the ways his wife had wronged him, I felt a great sadness in my heart.  I wondered “maybe she has not been a good wife, but has my friend been a good husband?”  I thought of all the late nights he spent working and how very rarely I ever saw him with his wife.  I thought of all the things in island culture stacked against marriage, like polygamy, easy divorce, promiscuity, and constant jealousy.  I thought about how Sterehi had once seemed so different—even above these sorts of things, and the story of his courtship.  How he had pursued and finally won his wife’s hand.  I thought of all these things as I considered what to say to him.  I didn’t share the same story I had with the others.  Instead I told him of the danger of bitterness and hatred entering into our hearts.  I told him how unforgiveness can destroy a person’s life and health.  I told him a story of another teacher who said that we must forgive seven times seventy.  I told him that a marriage is a great deal of work and that God does not want divorce.  And then I told him I would pray for him.  I hope you will too.

PRAYERS ANSWERED
Our new teammate has had a good homestay so far! We are encouraged by her good attitude. Times are hard for many people on the islands, but this has given us opportunities to share our blessings and pray with others. Our kids are doing well. Tom has been working hard every morning with our older son in reading and it seems to be paying off with him starting to enjoy reading and it getting easier. We encouraged by the local ownership of the translation project and their seeking solutions together for the different challenges.

PRAYERS REQUESTED
We see broken marriages all around us on Clove Island. Pray for that more islanders will seek to be good spouses. Pray for all the brothers and sisters on the islands that they could be a witness through strong and healthy marriages. Neither of the pregnant women (a neighbor and Tom’s sister) that we asked you to pray for have given birth yet. Please continue to pray for both of them, especially our island neighbor because the OB has traveled to France so now there is only a midwife around for the birth and to handle complications. She seems nervous and asks us to pray every time she sees us. Our NGO needs an office on Clove Island. We hope to find one to rent ASAP, pray that we would find just the right location and set-up for our needs.




Monday, March 20, 2017

The Good Neighbor Test

Took hike up stairs overlooking our town
They had come in quietly, without saying a word. So it was a surprise when I turned around and found two little girls in the middle of my house. I was surprised again by the next words out of their mouth.
“Give us money,” the older one said quietly.
I looked at them seriously. They were about the age of our boys, around 4 and 6 years old. I recognized them vaguely—they were some of our new neighbors.

It was a test—the neighbors were trying to figure out where we fit in.

On the islands there is a system in which wealthier people take care of poorer people. There are very few true beggars and they almost always have a visible disability. But poorer people usually have a network of people that they ask when they are in need—it is a network of existing relationships, often through the family. They have claim toward asking certain people for assistance.
They took most of the pictures

But then we come in.  We are foreigners and so automatically it is assumed we are wealthy.  But at the same time, we aren’t in any existing network. Where do we fit in? Does everyone have a claim to ask us for help or does no one have a claim? Sometimes it is the first interactions that set the precedent. How are we going to be known in our neighborhood. We want to be known as generous, loving people. We want to enter the give-and-take network that undergirds the community but at the same time we can’t support everyone. We also want to be culturally appropriate. We don’t want to give without relationship, but at the same time, relationships have to start somewhere.

All these things were running through my head as I looked at these two little girls. Perhaps they just wanted a coin to buy candy, or perhaps an adult sent them. They hadn’t asked permission to enter our home and they hadn’t greeted me (two things their culture requires), but they seemed shy. After a brief talk with them and Tom, I put some produce in a plastic bag and gave it to them with the message that we didn’t give money to little kids but their mother could come and talk to us.

A few minutes later they were back and said their mom was sick. They took me down an alley and into a tin shack area to their mother. Two smaller kids were already gnawing on a couple of the carrots I had given them. The mother was pregnant with her fifth and wanted money. Unfortunately, Ma Riziki, our next door neighbor from our previous house, had asked for food the day before and my kitchen was pretty bare. So I returned home with the two girls trailing behind. I went to one of the little neighborhood shops and bought some basic foods—rice, sardines, oil—and took it back to the mother. I wondered if she was disappointed that I didn’t just give her money, but she said thank you all the same. I shared a little with her about how we look to God when we have troubles— hoping that I could make this first visit more about beginning a relationship rather than just charity.
Our town

I went home, feeling like this first test had gone well, but not knowing for sure. The very next afternoon the girls were at our door again. I prepared myself to hear another request for money or food. Instead, the oldest girl said, “Mom told us to come over here and play.” The girls ended up playing with our kids for the rest of the afternoon. A new relationship has begun. 

PRAYERS ANSWERED

Our newest team member arrived today! We are thankful that her boat trip from the smallest island went well. We got our visas! We are thankful for the continued favor we have here on Clove Island. We feel like we’ve had several good interactions with new neighbors, though the combination of new and old relationships to maintain can be a little overwhelming.

PRAYERS REQUESTED
Tomorrow we do a little orientation for our newly arrived teammate and the next day she goes into a week-long homestay with an island family. Continue to pray for her transition and that her homestay experience will be a blessing all around. The translation project has lost one of its island workers, which could be a blessing in disguise but is still difficult. Pray for a clear way forward. Pray for us to get into good and healthy patterns as we start life as team and settle into more of a routine. We have two women in our lives that are waiting to give birth— Tom’s sister back in the States and one of our new neighbors. Please pray for easy deliveries and healthy babies for both of them.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Language Mix

Our kids love rainy season!
I find language fascinating. From the history of how languages develop, how they both shape culture and are shaped by culture, how dialects break off and how our brains process multiple languages… Language is a complex world of study.

Our return to the islands has meant diving back into language. Here are three little language anecdotes from this week.

Keeping languages straight— “Ngasi wanono,” the words were out of my mouth before I realized,  “wait, that’s the wrong language.” I quickly apologized for speaking the dialect of Volcano Island to Clove Islanders. They laughed off my mistake and assured me that it is really just one big language. Still, I never usually revert back to the language of Volcano Island, where we lived from 2009-20011. But we had spent four days on Volcano Island waiting for the boat to take us to Clove Island and somehow the old dialect was re-activated in my brain. Then we got back to Clove Island and our new landlords (who are very westernized) insisted on using French with us and at the same time we got an email from French friends. Another foreign language portion of my brain had to be re-activated. Sometimes my brain struggles to come up with the appropriate vocabulary on the spot (sometimes I stumble over the right English word even). It will get better, my brain just has to catch up. I was encouraged though to hear that one of the visiting linguistic consultants with decades of experience was trying to have a conversation with an islander by speaking Malagasy (language of Madagascar) before the other consultant pointed out that she was no longer speaking French.


Tom & kids take care of flooded area after storm
Celebrating local language— It had been going on for hours. An unending visit circling the same ridiculous conversation. Our one visitor with his big cowboy hat that reads “USA” always ventures on the ridiculous but tonight he kept coming back to an argument about differences in the local language as spoken by his home town (on the other side of the island) and the capital area (where we live). His statements showed a lack of understanding of the grammar of his own language and an unashamed bias for his hometown’s version. No one engaged him but he kept continuing and repeating his one-sided debate for what seemed like hours. Our other guest was Huomba.  Huomba is one of the most thoughtful young island men we’ve met and he is always very careful in his speech. He has a passion for his local language. He has been studying it and working with an association to promote literacy and writing in the local language. After a long time of silent listening and pondering, he formulated one thoughtful comment, “The differences within our language show that our language is rich.” After that he just sat smiling and shaking his head at his fellow-islander’s rantings.

Kids in a language soup— It was our first time meeting again with the Swiss group on the islands. We were together Sunday morning to sing and study together. Our kids and theirs constitute almost the entire population of white kids on Clove island. The kids range from around 2 years to our daughter at 8 years old. The Swiss kids’ mother tongue is Swiss German, our kids’ mother tongue is English, but all six kids have been thrown into a world where they are surrounded by the island language and French, with a variety of Arabic phrases thrown in for good measure. As adults we had three different mother tongues between us and we got by with a mix of English, French and local language. We looked over at our kids with no common language between them. They seemed to be getting on well…apparently you don’t need that much language to play!

Right now some of our friends and colleagues are in the thick of thinking about language very deeply as they consider the right words to use in translating important texts.  What our friend Huomba said resonates in my head, “Our language is rich.”  I think this is true of all languages.  Just like the people who use them, languages are examples of the richness and complexity of people and human societies.  Understanding and using a language is like unlocking a great treasure…there is beauty and wealth and blessing from God.  Language is rich and those who learn it can partake of those riches! Persevere, all you language learners out there!

PRAYERS ANSWERED
We’ve had a constant stream of visitors since coming back to Clove Island, sometimes it has been tiring but mostly it has been really nice to reconnect with our old friends and we’ve also been happy with some fledgling friendships with our new neighbors. We are extra thankful for the good weather we had for our boat ride last week as since then it has been storm after storm. Some of the storms have been pretty violent!  We are feeling much more settled in. We’ve unpacked almost everything and have most of our essentials now. We continue to be very thankful for our new house. A large kitchen cabinet fell from the wall as Megan was preparing dinner! It wasn’t mounted well. We lost several dishes and Megan has a bruised elbow, but we are very thankful that no one was badly hurt. The kids won’t start school for a couple more weeks (they will start with the new trimester). We are thankful that they will have some time to adjust to island life before starting local school.

PRAYERS REQUESTED
The consultants and our teammate have had a good and tiring week meeting and talking about translation. It continues this week! Pray for stamina through the long days and for good productivity. We are renewing our annual visas this week. We aren’t expecting any problems, but please pray that they get processed without incident. Our newest teammate is supposed to be arriving on Monday from the neighboring island— pray for her as she says goodbye to her village and teammates on the small island. Pray for her boat trip, for a calm ocean and uneventful travel. Pray for a smooth transition to life and work on Clove Island and that we’d be able to support well in the process.