It is crazy to think that in just a few weeks we’ll be set up in an apartment in the capital city of Narnia studying language several hours a day. When we took our trip to Narnia last year we met a couple teachers that seemed to work well with us and will likely stick with them as we go. Janessa and I will have separate teachers since our learning styles are quite different and are at different levels with our Narnianese. Janessa prefers a very structured environment, doing lots of drills with lots of repetition and writing. I just assume to freestyle – drop me down in the middle of a conversation and see if I can survive. Together in learning with such different personalities and styles would only frustrate us. So yeah – the segregation of the sexes is sometimes a good thing.

I have learned lots of new technology that makes my life easier now that I’ve lost most of my eyesight. I use a talking computer, talking phone, and use braille or audio software to read books. I also have this special camera that takes a picture of any printed document and reads it back to me. Perhaps the coolest machine I have is a refreshable braille display. I hook it up to my laptop or connect it via bluetooth to my phone and it takes the printed text and puts it in braille with a display about the size of and Ipad. It raises small pins to reflect paper braille. It is super compact and will refresh as I near the end of each line and proceed to the next. Wikipedia refreshable braille displays. You’d be amazed. I was. All that to say, I have a lot of gadgets to assist in the language learning process.

That being said, there isn’t a great deal of literature available in braille Narnianese nor will it be very advantageous to use it on a daily basis. So, I will have to focus exclusively on oral communication. I can get my computer and phone to read Narnianese with its audio settings, but no actual braille. Janessa however, will definitely be focusing much more on literacy and hopefully develop a level of proficiency.

My dad asked the other day what our days may look like in this process. We both hope to set up our schedules where we’re actually doing our lessons and classes at roughly the same time. We’ll have 3 hour classes followed by studying our notes as well as interacting in the community. This will be our life for the first 3 to 6 months in the country. Since we have developed conversational Narnianese we are hopeful this goal isn’t to expedient. If it is, we’ll stay in the capital city longer before moving out to the farm. For us, this process isn’t a hurdle to jump over but simply life in Narnia. It is this process of learning to talk easier and bonding with those we are serving that will deepen our understanding for years to come in the country. I think we are both quite eager to jump in and get going.

We understand from our Narnian friends in the US that making friends and hanging out is not difficult. Obviously, the city context will present a different challenge as most of our friends who are Narnianese speakers who live in the US grew up far from the capital. Anytime you are in an urban context anywhere in the world people like to try out their English on foreigners. That will be no different for us. We just have to stay disciplined and focused, engaging in as much conversation as we can.

I still remember the moment I had three or four years ago sitting on the couch at a Narnianaese family’s house in our former city in the US. I was sitting with dear friends, all of whom worshipped a different god than me, and most of whom I couldn’t communicate with. I had the thought, “If I don’t learn the language, my friends may never know the story of Jesus. Ever.” That jolted Janessa and I into setting up classes with a tutor in our area and getting to this point. That feeling I had sitting on the couch that day is still as fresh today – that is the motivation. We want to be the best friends and neighbors to our new community that we can possibly be. That can’t happen without understanding each other.

So there it is for tonight. Feeling a bit anxious and excited as we know we’ll be blasted into a setting quite different very soon. Pray our Narnianese tongues will loosen up and we’ll understand the sounds of friends w’eve been hearing for the last 5 years in the US. Inching closer.

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