Becoming…The Journey to Lose Myself in an Amazon Village
In the last five posts, we looked at “the Four Ps” which run my life help me organize ACL activities and use time wisely, learning from the culture events happening around the village, in the jungle, on the river, or anywhere else.
You will probably remember several references to amounts of time spent on each of the Ps. Did you wonder how an ACL learner is supposed to keep track of all that? Well, you have come to the right place for the answer!
Let me introduce you to an ACL form called the Monthly Report. For each day, it has boxes for each of the Four Ps and some of their subdivisions, in order to record how ACL time is spent, rather than just reporting a daily total of hours.
Pictured below is a real sample of my hours for the first half of November. The reason it isn’t from a more recent month is that I started planning for this series back in the fall, and at that time did an English version just for you. Forms are normally filled out in Portuguese to submit to our ACL consultant, which also explains the white-out and rewritten words.
The expectation of our field leadership and ACL consultant is that missionaries would spend a minimum of 40 hours each week on ACL. These 40 hours can be organized according to each missionary’s preferences, based on the people group, living situation, family status, and other factors.
Some missionaries do five 8-hour days, with 2 days off, reminiscent of a typical full-time job. Others have different schedules. So far, I have gone through several “phases” in my personal planning.
For awhile, there was no point in planning for a weekly “day off” because I was loving ACL and being with my friends so much that there was genuinely no felt need or desire for a break. (It does look like I took one full day off in November, though; nothing is written on the 11th). But normally, what would I do all day by myself? After a few hours of cleaning, reading, cross-stitch, and listening to downloaded sermons and radio programs, I’d probably get bored or lonely, and end up going to spend time with friends, which involves language, culture, and relationships…ACL!
That has all changed now that Wi-Fi has been installed in the village. Yes, yes, just writing that sounds crazy. And it’s certainly ironic that we only have power for 2-3 hours a day, (except when the diesel runs out…tonight will be our last night of electricity until more is purchased) so we can’t have a fridge, but we’ve got Wi-Fi!
So all of a sudden, there are so many things that can be done on days off! I can skype with my family, blog, look for new recipes, listen to sermons on RightNow Media, watch a cooking show or movie. And it has been good to spend one day a week “disconnected” from the world in which I am semi-immersed here in the jungle, to reconnect with family and just get some down time to relax my tired brain.
So, since June 15th, I am in a new season as far as scheduling. A few strategic changes to simplify diet and routine have reduced stress while increasing available time to be spent on…you guessed it! ACL!
My current personal goal is 10 hours a day which would be 60 hours/week, with one day off. Considering the 40-hour mission expectation, this gives plenty of flexibility for unanticipated circumstances. A few recent “for instances”
- Discovering a major infestation of thosands of tiny ants in my food bins.
- Washing dishes in the river for a few days due to broken water pump for the community well.
- Spending extra hours alone with Jesus after finding out discouraging news.
When these or other unexpected circumstances arise, since my working goal is already higher than it has to be, I can take a few hours (or the whole day when a migraine is bad enough) to deal with the situation, then go back to work, knowing that we are still “ahead of the game” as far as hours go.
And just to make sure it doesn’t sound like I’m overdoing it or becoming a missionary workaholic, remember that I truly love language learning, and my friends here are terrific. Spending time with them is a delight, not a chore. Most of the hours tracked each week symbolize a high percentage of fun.
And while the goal of 10 hours is always on my mind, it’s not a burden, but more like an extra-bonus challenge, resulting in prayers like, “Jesus, let’s see if we can do 10 hours today, okay?” But when it doesn’t happen, it’s fine, like yesterday, when the intense heat drastically reduced a certain North Country girl’s productivity to the point where by 11 AM, I had accepted the fact that it would be an 8-hour day.
Now let’s go from days and months to the big picture. According to the consultants and missionaries who have already finished ACL, after four thousand hours, a learner should be fluent enough in the language with sufficient understanding of the culture to begin teaching the Word of God. Four thousand hours!
So these hour sheets are more than just required reports for leadership. They are more than proof that I am doing my job and not just hanging out with friends in the Amazon jungle…oh, wait, hanging out with friends in the Amazon jungle IS my job. But these logs are more than just an interesting record of our activities together.
Every hour tracked on these forms is an hour invested with a purpose, toward a specific goal. As days and months march on, my ACL hours accumulate, pushing ever closer to 4,000, that elusive but reachable number. Monthly totals are a recorded testimony to the learning of words and phrases, gaining of experience, assimilation of culture, and deepening of relationships.
Each hour spent in ACL is one hour further into the journey of becoming who God is calling me to be in this place, one hour closer to being ready to communicate God’s Word clearly to my dear friends in their heart language. The time is short; their need is great; the task is urgent.
Although I often fall short of this, my heart’s desire is not just to “get the hours in,” but to make every ACL hour and minute count – for language learning and for eternity. Will you pray that God will help me in this area? I want to view these hours not merely as time invested toward an important goal, but as precious opportunities to be a light and a witness on the journey.
Oh that I might learn well, laugh often, love deeply, and live for Jesus only!
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:15-17