Thank you all so much for praying for us, encouraging us, and following our journey! We know that you're all here with us, in a way, and we love being a part of this team!
Here are some family updates, as that seems to be all I know to write about these days...
The kids are in the middle of a two-week Fall break from school. Since Jack and I still have class, we’ve found different things for them to do during the day. Last week, they participated in a camp run by Neuchâtel’s soccer team, Xamax, in the big stadium in town. They got Xamax outfits (that’s probably not the official name for them) and soccer balls. They met the team and practiced on the field. They both had kids from their regular soccer team at camp with them, and they were able to practice their French!
They are learning more than they realize and we see it most when people ask them questions in town and they’re able to answer in French without hesitation. It’s pretty incredible! At home, we’re working on building vocabulary with them and practicing basic verbs. And, this week, our language school is putting on a kids’ French class for our kids! Today, they played games to practice colors, numbers, vocabulary of things in the home, and vocabulary of family relationships. Little by little, we’re all growing!
I, Lindsay, completed level A1 last week and have begun level A2! I’m finding that I love learning a new language. Even though I studied languages in college, this is the first time that there is real-world motivation for me. I love working out the grammar and hearing people use words that I know. I helped out with the kids’ church class on Sunday and was able to understand the whole story! (Baby steps, remember?!)
We hosted small group again this past week, and I find that I can follow the conversation better each time we meet. Often, though, the things I want to say don’t use the vocabulary I’ve learned in my textbooks (not shocking) and I need to work with Jack or another in the group who speaks English also to help me translate my thoughts. Our small group is precious, incredibly patient, and kind… Je comprends plus que je peux parler.
I had a shift in my heart last weekend. I went from living in “survival mode” to “normal life”. Transition requires more from me mentally and emotionally, and I am learning so much about myself. Long story short: through a series of God-given conversations, prayer sessions, podcast episodes, and blog posts, my heart was finally able to settle. While we were in “survival mode”, we were focused only on daily life... getting ourselves to school, buying groceries without spending all our money, filling out paperwork for ID cards, and figuring out exactly what shoes the kids needed at school dominated our thoughts and conversations. Now that those things have settled into a pattern, we’re able to focus on the deeper things - family devotions and Bible study, actual rest, and deeper conversations around the dinner table. I feel more like myself this week than I have since we arrived. Praise God!
Jack is in his element! He’s doing really, really well (also not shocking), and we spend the evenings with a dry erase marker on a big window reviewing the things we learned that day. He loves that I now also have homework to do every night (making up for the many years during his M.Div. when I went to bed while he worked on papers). He has been such a rock for our family during transition - he is always calm and steady, and I’m so thankful that I have him to speak truth to me when I’m stressed out about public transport schedules and timing (true story, also not shocking).
Together, we’re meeting more and more neighbors. We’re building relationships with the new group of missionaries that just arrived to begin language school here. We’re learning how to spend less on groceries (Hello, Switzerland!), and Jack and I were able to go on a date! We’re enjoying getting involved at church, though we’re beginning to crave a worship service in our heart language. I’m so thankful for this experience - I need to know what it feels like to live outside of my heart language. May God use it to give me eyes to see what He wants me to see in Côte d'Ivoire.
Most of all, I’m blown away that we get to learn French and be able to use it to bring Scripture to people who need it. This is huge! The verbs and vocabulary I’m learning today will be used to build relationships with my future Ivorian friends. Every day that we practice here, we’re more and more prepared to move to Africa. Even the strategies we’re using to learn language here will be used as we learn another Ivorian language that doesn’t have Scripture yet. We are THRILLED to be able to do this!
I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.