To Learn A Language

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In our Unit 1 text book, there is a saying, “To learn a language you must make at least a thousand mistakes.” I can do that!We have begun our language training here in Salatiga and we can say three things for sure.

  1. It is going to be extremely fun.
  2. It is going to be difficult.
  3. God will use the work we put in here to reap good fruit in the years to come as we serve in Indonesia.

I am thankful that the Indonesian language is not as difficult to learn as, say, English or Chinese, but there are certainly a few things we will have to learn to say differently. For example, the letters “t”, “p”, and “k” are all said without a lot of breath. Try putting a piece of paper in front of your mouth and saying one of the aforementioned letters. If the paper moves then you have used too much breath. The sounds made by these letters are a short staccato.

Here are some of the rules we have learned so far:

  • The second to last syllable of a word receives the most emphasis. Think of the word Indonesia. The emphasis is on the “ne” and it goes In-do-NEE-sia. So, as we read/say words, we know to emphasize the second to last syllable in order to say it correctly.
  • Every letter only makes one sound. The letter “a” will always make an “ah” sound. It is never a hard “aa” sound as in baby. So, as long as you can say the alphabet (which has the same letters but different sounds) in Bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language), then you can pronounce any word.
  • Any question that we ask should have a kind of sing-songy intonation. The last word goes “up” at the end and sounds kind of playful. I may not be saying this correctly and I don’t exactly know how to do it consistently, but my hope is that I can start sounding like a person instead of a robot when repeating words and phrases!
  • Any word that ends in “k” should be said as if it were a silent “k.” For example, the word for Mr. is Pak. To say it correctly, you say Pa and stop the sound while at the same time moving your tongue to make the “k” sound. It is a very short word, so don’t think it sound like Laura Ingalls calling for her Pa. It is almost like you are saying “Pop” without the “p” at the end.

We are enjoying our work and we have plenty of people to practice with. We try our best to walk as much as possible and talk to people as we go. I stopped and spoke with a soup salesman outside out house and then bought two bowls of soup. One soup is a green peanut soup with coconut milk and the other is a black bean soup with coconut milk. I get to be the guinea pig until we know a certain food is safe for the family to eat. They were both rather sweet to the taste and very delicious. Jessica spent 45 minutes talking with our neighbor. They have been eager to help us learn the language and have blessed us with free bananas and mangoes.

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Just the other day I was having my quiet time and a thought came to me, “I am living out my dreams!” I am still in shock a little bit! I can’t believe that I am finally in Indonesia with my family and our crazy adventure has begun! I am loving this place, learning the culture and a new language, and getting to use my God-given gifts every day. This is my dreams come true! Praise the Lord. Thank you for your faithfulness. We know we are uplifted every day by your prayers and the Spirit of God.

We are running the race as those who aim to win the prize. We will learn this language as best we can so we can be effective in preaching the Good News and sharing our lives with others. The Indonesian’s have a saying, “If we do not know each other, we cannot share our love.” Our hope is to know the language well enough to know our Indonesian friends and neighbors so we may share our love and the love of God.

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