Starting very soon, I get to start learning a new language! And experiencing a new culture! Aaahhh! That makes me so super-excited! To hear musical-tone words, make friends, push my brain past its linguistic limits, see the world differently, experience God in new ways. You have no idea. It feels almost like getting and giving Christmas presents, or seeing a friend who lives faraway, or winning a big contest.
Actually, it’s more like the feeling I used to have right before jumping off a huge cliff on Grace Island, Bermuda. My memory says it was 30 feet high, but that number could be off. As a camp counselor for teens, I couldn’t act scared, of course. Especially since I was in charge of the youngest girls’ cabin; many of them needed reassurance and a courageous example to follow.
But why was it that even after many times cliff-jumping that summer, the adrenaline rush always came? A trace of genuine fear dilated my eyes and quickened my pulse right before each run or standing jump. It was only a leap, a 30-foot drop, and a couple seconds to the water, deep, warm, and blue. Perfectly safe for anyone who can swim.
That little momentary fear, however, was greatly overshadowed by the fun and thrill and delight, especially when jumping with some of my campers. It was totally worth it, and something I would do again tomorrow if given the chance.
Learning Zoró will be totally worth it as well. It feels like I’m on the brink of something incredible that I will absolutely love, but that requires a leap of faith and trust. The goal is becoming part of the Zoró culture through immersion. It’s not so much “learning the language,” but “living the language.” This is a process which involves challenge and hard work and losing one’s identity. Plunging into that kind of unknown is understandably just a tiny bit scary.
Yet as my eyes widen in anticipation and my pulse literally quickens just writing about it, wondering if I will really have the courage to push my feet off the firm ground and off the edge, my hands fly to my mouth and I shiver with delight. Because at the bottom of this huge cliff are the deep waters of God’s faithfulness, the warm waters of new friendships, the blue waters of culture and beauty. And just as during my experience of learning Portuguese and being “Brazilian-ized”, there will be days full of laughter and fun and unexpected blessings and relationships and ministry.
The cliff awaits. Jesus is right beside me. Another thrilling adventure is about to begin. And I wouldn’t miss out on it for anything.