Saturday, December 5, 2009

Heaven's Language

We heard another missionary say the other day that French is the language they will speak in heaven. Why? Because it takes an eternity to learn it! I posted last that I ordered in French at Tim Hortons. Well, yesterday in class I learned a new grammar principle about the placement of adjectives. Some go before the noun, some go after. So.....I ordered our hot chocolates wrong. Instead of saying "quatre chocolat chauds petit" it should have had the 'petit' after 'quatre' and before 'chocolat'. Oh Well! I realize that learning french will truly take a lifetime! Our classes are going very well and I feel like I'm learning so much at every class. Our professor is truly a blessing and answer to prayer. She has a heart for teaching and a burden to help missionaries learn french. Some days we do so much laughing about different things! We're starting to understand more of what is being said in french. Of course, it depends on the person. Some people speak very quickly and with a very strong quebecois accent, so that makes it very hard for us to understand. We try to watch some cartoons and game shows in french. We even watched Dora, the other day!

At school, JEB bring their ACE school with them as well. Madame Claire always has some sort of snack for them like maple cookies, oreos or oranges. And she offers them water or juice to drink. Usually a couple of times during our class a head or two will peak into the office needing school help. Madame Claire is so patient about me leaving to go help JEB with their school work. (Of course, there is the occasional bathroom break, diaper change, juice spill, or trip to warm up our coffee)

Madame Claire has fallen in love with Silas. She has 3 grown boys, so I think it brings back memories for her. She's so helpful when we walk in the door to help Silas take off his coat, gloves, hat, and shoes. He seems to really love her too!

Before we arrived at language school veteran missionaries told us that language school would be one of the most difficult things we've ever had to do. At first we weren't sure it would be so hard. But, now that we've been here 7 months, we're finding that is true. Yes, learning a language is very difficult. It's hard to learn something that involves changing the way your tongue wants to work and your mind wants to think. Studying here and there truly does not cut it. We study usually several hours a day: during naptime for Silas, in between meals and sometimes even after the kids bedtimes. It's truly a lifeconsuming study. But, it's not only the language that makes language school so difficult. Being here can truly be a lonely place. Everyone in Quebec has been so friendly and patient with us learning french. They seem to have respect for people wanting to learn their language. But, while they try to help us with french and try to talk to us only in french, the vocabulary we've learned to be able to reply can seem pretty limited. Often on our way to church we will practice sentences in french so that we might be able to have a chance to speak to people. In an English speaking place we enjoyed the fellowship of others and speaking freely...we still aren't to that stage here yet. We long for fellowship of others english. It's also not quite as easy to be involved in ministries of church as we are used to. We often don't quite get all the details down for the announcements and so much of our time is spent studying. Many missionaries have cautioned us to remember the reason we are learn french. Of course, we want to be a blessing to the church here, but we have been reminded by several missionaries to remember why we are here so that we do not get caught up in doing "ministries" and lose focus on learning the language.

We're enjoying our time here and are so excited about learning french. It seems everyday we're understanding more and more and taking steps forward. It truly is the next step for us to reach the Mission Field that God has called us to--The French West Indies. We heard a missionary tell us before we left for deputation that his family's time in language school is a time where their family became so close. We're finding that is true, because here all we sometimes have is each other. We're all experiencing culture shock together, missing the states together, making the same silly mistakes together....I could go on and on.

I praise the Lord for being able to be here at language school. I'm thankful that He is patiently molding and shaping us and preparing us to be on the field. He's so good to us!


  1. I find it so interesting to see your take on living in Canada. Do you think that the French-speaking Canadians accept/approve of your learning French here because you are going to another country? Do you think they would be so accepting of Americans coming to their province to evangelize THEM? I have two reasons for asking. (1) We have heard that French-Canadians are not accepting of Americans coming to them as missionaries, and (2) we met with some animosity when we were preparing to come here when we announced ourselves as "missionaries." We quickly learned to just say that "my husband was invited here to pastor a church" rather than "we are missionaries." So I was just wondering about your impressions over there in the predominantly French part of Canada. We've been well-received here as simply "pastor."

  2. Hello Susan!
    It's good to hear from you! I sure am enjoying your blog! As for the people we've met of Quebec that know we are missionaries, they have been supportive. As well as cashiers at the grocery store and cleaners and people that are complete strangers. I think they hear "West Indies" and think of poor needy, hungry people. But, when we have gone soul-winning, it is a completely different story. We've been told that people here have been so "oppressed" by the catholic church years ago, that now people are totally turned away from "religion". They see us as trying to get them to convert to "religion" and I think it brings up bad memories for them. I do believe, in general, people here are very hard to the gospel, just like a lot of places in the states. We have met some american families here that are missionaries to Quebec. They are doing well, but we've heard that some areas here are not accepting of american missionaries.

  3. That's exactly what I was talking about - the "West Indies = poor and needy" part! We've found that most Canadians think of missionaries in the sense of poor countries, building schools and living in huts and digging irrigation canals - therefore Canada does not need missionaries. We've had an extremely hard time soul-winning here. Most people will not even let us get past introducing ourselves before they shut the door. Vancouver is also so ethnically diverse that Christianity is just considered another world religion equal to Buddhism, Islam, etc. We also come up against atheism, wicca, New Age - you name it, it's here.

    Anyway, I was just wondering what your impressions have been as "missionaries" in Canada since you're actually going to another country rather than staying here. We've heard that it's very hard for Americans to get into the French-speaking areas of Canada.

  4. good post, Kami. Thank you for sharing about how things are going for y'all, not just what you are doing!