Becoming…The Journey to Lose Myself in an Amazon Village
Tacked onto the bulletin board next to my desk, along with an assortment of other ACL papers, in three languages, is “The Missionary’s ACL Manifesto,” a reminder of how I should think and act every day on this journey of becoming. This manifesto is a set of personal declarations for the learner. It is based on ACL’s six tenets, which are illustrated by a tree and three supporting principles, which can be compared to sun and rain, pruning and feeding, and soil preparation.
Without further ado, I present to you,
The Missionary’s ACL Manifesto
I will work to build relationships with, and interact with as many people as possible.
I will learn mostly from the context of what the people are doing and saying.
I will spend most of my time away from paper, home and office, and be out observing, interacting and participating in the real life of the people.
I will spend significant time trying to understand and be understood.
I will spend more time in real communication than on study alone or in mere repetition for practice’s sake.
I will appreciate the value of evaluations, both to determine my progress and to fine-tune my CLA efforts toward reaching my goal.
I will be disciplined, work hard and seek help when I need it.
I will seek out and appreciate help and advice, and will take advantage of all input by applying it to myself.
I won’t compare myself to others, and will follow a multi-style approach.
This evening, as on many others, my evening reflection includes manifesto-based assessment of the day just gone by. To what extent was each declaration fulfilled in today’s ACL activities? How can I live out these tenets and principles even better tomorrow? How can I deepen my roots in this culture, intentionally, purposefully, growing and becoming? What steps can I take tomorrow towards the goal of producing fruit of linguistic, social and cultural proficiency?
Reflections on July 26 ACL:
Interaction with almost everyone in the community today! One family’s daughter and son-in-law arrived from another village, and I forgot to go over and greet them, so need to remember to do that tomorrow morning.
I had the chance to help out two adult friends…nothing big, but even little things can be a blessing and mean a lot in relationships.
- Photocopying attendance forms for Xibu, who is the government-paid teacher for the kindergarten – fourth grade students in our village. The government hasn’t been sending supplies to them, which is becoming not only a frustration but a real handicap in the children’s education.
- Printing out a copy of James chapter three, recently translated into the sister language by a missionary at the base whose primary ministry is Bible translation. He e-mailed it to me to get feedback from people here. One of the native believers here in the village, who read it a couple nights ago, asked for his own copy of James 3 so he can adapt it into their language. It is exciting to see this man’s initiative and love for the Word of God.
Little friends came over to hang out and play with my toys, today…okay, that happens almost every day! I played with them for a few minutes before going back to studying, took photos of them wearing my huge sunglasses, let them spit their apple peels all over my floor (it is made of dirt, remember), and cleaned up the mess later. One of the three-year-olds even “helped” me with photocopying in the evening. He got a big kick out of pushing the button and watching the paper feed into the printer and then come out.
This tenet was fulfilled beautifully today. Community hanging-out time in the morning, class with the children (since Thursday is their tribal history day), and watching steps in the processes of 1) weaving a sifter 2) making pottery, and 3) crafting some sort of item that goes on a person’s head. I need to follow up on all of these, but especially the last one, because it was in the beginning stages today and I really don’t understand what it is going to be.
4 out of 6 hours were out in the community, away from my desk, so this one was certainly accomplished.
Comprehension-Based and Communication-Focused
These tenets are very easy to achieve when spending time with people. It would be rather absurd to spend hours with friends without talking, trying to understand and be understood. We are getting pretty skilled at “negotiating meaning,” an entertaining activity that language learners do with their language helpers, who should get a prize for patience.
I engaged in plenty of conversations today, about things happening in the village, how my family is doing, future plans, the culture events I participated in, tension going on between the teachers and the government organization responsible for the oversight of native schools, funny things the children did or said, and much more.
Need to improve on this tenet tomorrow. I could have been more disciplined today by planning my schedule better.
The fact that I was awake until past midnight with back pain and headache, and still woke up shortly after 5 AM was a contributing factor to low productivity, but should motivate me to be more intentional, not slack off and waste time. Although I also did do laundry tonight, which, along with the accompanying bathroom-washing task, is a nearly 3-hour chore.
So instead of being frustrated for only doing 6 hours of ACL instead of the hoped for 8, I am letting it go today, but will make a more solid plan for tomorrow…and stick with it. .
Today I followed some specific recent advice from a consultant on how to handle a difficult ongoing situation in a culturally-appropriate and godly manner.
Some plans for specific multi-style learning strategies didn’t work out to do today because the friends whose help is needed were busy, so I’ll try again tomorrow.
Another Day Closer to Four Thousand Hours!
Overall, I would call this yet another successful day in my ACL journey. After turning off the laptop and flashlight, I’ll go to bed…with a grateful heart.
First of all, I thank Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Creator of this world we live in, and the Giver of every good thing in our lives. Each sucessful day here is a victory by Him and for Him.
I am thankful for God’s Word, and the precious promises it contains for us who follow after Him. The following verses were part of drawing me to personal faith in Jesus when I was four years old. Now they now encourage me in ministry, as I seek to know Jesus more deeply and make Him known in dark placed, bringing forth fruit in His great harvest field.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3
Do you know who else I thank God for tonight? I am deeply grateful for my village friends, prayer partners, family members, financial supporters, and blog readers. Some of you fit into more than one of those categories. Even though you are not here right now, your encouragement and partnership on this journey contributed to making today an ACL success.