The anniversary of my coming to Chad found me in the Guera (still here), getting to grips with Chadian Arabic, day to day life Chadian culture and yes, the heat!…
A daily preoccupation is: what am I going to have for dinner tonight? The heat is overwhelming, we have no fridge and market day occurs once a week. It’s not a reality that I welcome but it is the daily experience of the people who surround me! Access to technology presents a similar challenge. That’s why you have not heard from me!
Also, through my need to acquire Chadian Arabic, I am seeing how language can, almost incidentally, include and exclude at the same time. Reflecting on this makes me appreciate how blessed we are to have all of God’s Word in a language that we are completely at ease in.
My journey so far…..
The day following my arrival here, I decided that sitting in the house would not help my learning so, I decided to go to the well where people were congregating to collect water. They were shocked to see that I was unable to communicate in Arabic. One girl even ran home to get her mother who came to ‘behold the strange sight!’ Yes, they all laughed… and I thought that I might as well join them!
With the help of my language helper, I am now able to go to the local market on my own. Most of the vendors help me linguistically when they see me struggling, even if there is still some mirth in their voices! Even along the road people stop to talk with me. I think they are curious.
My colleague has been working with local translators to bring God’s story to speakers whose first language is Sokoro. As a number of linguistic communities are to be found in the Guera, she recruited boarders from the local high school to take part in a presentation of the Easter story. They read in Sokoro, Falaata, Arabic and Mboro.
On Easter Saturday, we travelled to one of the neighbouring towns. That Saturday night and the Sunday morning, people from the community came by the church; some preferred to remain outside, sitting on mats, listening to what was being read and said.
There were many rich moments but the one that constantly returns to my memory occurred when my colleague was reading from John 19 in Sokoro. The Sokoros instinctively demonstrated that they recognised their authentic voice in the phrase used to translate ‘crucify him’. The feedback received was encouraging. A lady from one of the communities present has since asked for audio material to play so that passers-by can hear it. We continue to pray for this work.
Can you remember what it was like when you ‘got it’? You saw and understood why Jesus came to earth and why he died. You grasped something of God’s love for you. You recognised your need for the Saviour. Whose permission did you seek before making your decision? What were your concerns as you thought over the matter?
One of the things I am beginning to see clearly is that faith and belief are not personal matters. At home they are perceived as such, but what if the cultural norm is for a group decision to trump an individual’s wishes?
Wayne Dye speaks of eight conditions which need to be met before an individual will consider committing to becoming a disciple of Jesus. One of these conditions is freedom to commit. I am now ‘getting’ what it looks like to believe the
- providing me with a French/Arabic speaker as my language helper.
- somewhere suitable to stay for the three months that I am here.
- some of the small, seemingly insignificant ways He has used to assure me of His presence with me.
- continuing good health.
-sustaining relationships whilst in Melfi.
- that my learning of Chadian Arabic will develop smoothly.
- for continuing good work/community relationships.
- for good cultural awareness and sensitivity.
- that as the programmed language learning phase proceeds, it will become clear as to where I should be and in what role.