Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Big Eight

Sorry not to post much more about the fun party and celebration we had today for James. I can’t believe he’s 8! Sounds so old to me. In just 10 hours we are attempting to traverse this portion of the globe which will involve not one, not two, but three different taxi rides, a boat trip across Lake Albert and a bus trip across the Ugandan midwest. Should be an adventure any way we slice it! So, to catch up on James’ big day, see my facebook photos over there. And to catch up on our trip, I will post updates just as soon as I can!

I’ll wave to the hippos for you!

Sese Fo

She sits quietly flipping the pages of her illustrated Bible for children.

Crowded faces behind peer over her shoulder to peek at the pictures they never had.

The big people stand up.

Sing stuff.

Sit down.

Pray something.

She kicks her muddy shoes on the bare-board pew just in front of her.

You see, this is church.

But it is not church as I have ever known it.

This is church in a foreign language.

Our kids are learning Swahili, but we haven’t pushed French yet. We usually attend the French service, and while it is all well-known to Kent and I, we know Anna isn’t getting much. She has started to recognize songs and try to sing them. Last week we sang a familiar tune:

“Je suis fort, fort! Oui plus que vainqeurs
par le sang… de Jesus!”

[translation: “I am strong! More than conquerors because of the blood of Jesus!” Okay that sounds weird in English, but it sounds good in French, trust me.]

I didn’t realize until we got home that Anna was singing (at the top of her lungs no less) this same tune. “Sese fo, fo. we nanana” She’s making sense of something and proclaiming it from the rooftops. I have to admit, as a linguist who loves languages it was a little disturbing to hear her murdering the French, but she’s only 3. James, at almost 8, can sing all the words and those of a few other songs as well, but he’ll never outsing his vociferous little sister. =)

The girl has volume I have never known. Opera future? maybe. She’s right there with Olivia the Pig. Yesterday we talked about the Nutcracker and ballet and she promptly donned her Fancy Nancy tap shoes and tried a tap routine. She really only slipped those two times because the shoes were on the wrong feet. Dancer?

Whatever she becomes, I pray everyday she knows and understands where real strength comes from. For now we’ll go with ‘Sese fo!’

The Races

One lazy Sunday, I heard lots of laughing on the back porch.
I went to investigate (as any mother would because sometimes laughing is synonymous with trouble).
But this was not the case.
No, this laughter came from cheering at ant races.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Ant Races.

You may recall we have had a year of battling with biggie-sized ants in our kitchen. Since the back porch has been doubling as the kitchen these days (basins for washing dishes, charcoal burner for long cooking), we stack dirty dishes out there. Presto! No ant problem in the kitchen. They’re all outside. There is a Congolese genius to traditional construction of a cooking house separate from the residence.

So the boys were watching these ants do their thing around our breakfast dishes. The stacked basins for washing became like a track, and I have no idea why but the ants would go around and around and around. That IS funny. Can you find the lead ant in this race?

I love that my kids don’t need video games, noises or flashing lights to enjoy playing. I always avoided battery toys when they were tiny (not only for my own sanity, but because I wanted their little brains to get well-exercised in IMAGINATION).
I love the look of wonder on their faces as they discover things all around them,
and create little castles,
Little universes that help make sense of their own.
Filled to the brim with imagination.

The Divider

It can look like a Great Barrier Reef, this massive division separating one world from another. To build that bridge and learn that language is so slow and so much work, most people don’t bother. But the Body of Christ is to be a symbol of unity across barriers. We have immense chasms of differences and yet we are one Body.

I was sitting in church last week trying really hard to listen to a sermon in Swahili. This past year we have become really comfortable with the young – urban – professional – youthgroup French service, but the life of the church is really conducted in Swahili, so we are trying. My side of the barrier sounded something like this:

… Matthew 11 … … …         … … … ready … … … … he/she/it is praying … … …                … … first… … … Jesus … … …          friend of mine from my village … …                  … … always said he was really strong (lots of laughter) … …                   … people look for him when someone doesn’t pay them back…          … joy … … many people … … …                 … … like that … …                … praiseworthy … …

Doesn’t make much sense, does it? I’d love to claim that I had to take 13 different children at different times out back to the outhouse, but it’s not true. The kids occasionally distracted me with a request for water, but in general there were many lost minutes of nothing but noise to me. Hard to subsist on jumbled pieces that don’t make sense while you wait for the blanks to be filled with understanding that seeps in at a snail’s pace.

Kent was able to fill in most of the meaning I missed on the way home. Apparently, it was a great message about following John the Baptist’s example of humility. Ironic.

You may remember the experience I related in of attending Obedi’s funeral where his mother, in her early nineties no less, sat in the dirt next to his coffin. I was confused at first that one of the younger sisters was talking right into her ear. I thought maybe she was hard of hearing until I listened for a louder clearer version of Swahili to find the sister was translating into a local language! This grandmother needed a translator to attend her son’s funeral.

And left me wondering, how many people in this country are sitting in services hearing messages that are more ‘blank’ than meaningful? How many grandmothers who come have a limited understanding of Swahili like I do?

Oh that God’s Word would bridge the gap and fill in the blanks!

This is why we came.