Our french language school is a Christian school. It was created by French Christians to teach others who would be working in franco-phone countries in response to God’s call on their lives. So there are “devotions” each morning before class begins. Fridays devotions are singing praise songs and hymns (in french, of course). Tuesdays are devotions in your class with everyone taking a turn (the first one you can do in english, then it’s french only). Mondays and Thursdays one student gives a devotion to the whole group starting with the most advanced classes, then moving through all the classes until everyone has had an opportunity.
When we arrived last January, Randy was placed in the class that was just beginning to do their devotions so he had to give one within the first month here. That was pretty rough on him but in usual “Randy fashion” he mustered his courage and bravado and did a pretty good job. At least I think so because at that point I couldn’t understand any french. Then someone traded with him and he got another opportunity to give one in June before the term ended for the summer. Now his class is the most advanced class of this session, so he got an opportunity to do another one!
In preparation for Burundi, he began it with a story, as all sermons and talks in Africa begin with a story. He also enlisted the help of fellow classmates to act out the story while he told it. For those students who just arrived in September the acting out of the story was helpful and the entertainment was certainly appreciated. The topic was spiritual competition and how we often try to “buy” God’s favor by doing “good things” for Him (as if we could), rather than growing in the understanding of how much He already loves us and giving our whole self in response to His love. The skit was well played by the other students who were very willing to participate. Randy did enjoy the delivery of it and the chance to once again be stretched in utilizing his growing language skills. As to whether the listeners understood all of his points only each individual could answer that since we are all in different places in our learning. I understood more of it than the first one he gave, so that’s saying something!
We are both finding it very challenging to be learning such a large and new body of knowledge in our later years. Randy’s high school french has served him well as there’s many things he learned that have been brought out of dust balls and they are there for him more readily now. His class is doing a lot of discussion and he looks for opportunities to talk to people and use french. While we have always known he is the rabbit and I am the turtle when it comes to most things, I may have turned into a snail in regards to french language acquisition, moving even more slowly. Due to disruptions in the year’s course and my lack of any language other than english, I have needed to repeat the beginning level which should prove beneficial for a great foundation. Only time will prove if that is true as I continue to work hard but have yet to feel a sense of significant progress or ability to say more than my name and a simple sentence (if I can even remember all the words for a simple sentence!).
I am thankful for a very encouraging teacher (pictured above) who even when she corrects you (which she does often) is able to also be affirming (not a typical french characteristic). I am thankful for the small class I’m in that has two other older language learners, like myself, allowing us to laugh at ourselves and encourage one another. And while learning french here at school is proving to be harder and more difficult than I had anticipated or imagined, I can attest to God’s strength for each day, His grace to persevere and look to His approval of me, rather than my performance or others responses to me. Daily this is where I work to put my focus, on Jesus who loves me. This is where the “prayers of the saints” are at work in me, not just trying to learn french and not quit, but transforming me as a vessel of God’s work. We have just seven more weeks of class here before the real learning of french begins in Burundi. We pray to learn as much as we can while still here and finish strong. Thanks for your support and prayers with us.