This week I am in Bucharest, Romania, with my friends Phil and Scottie Rice. Their family is the newest on the field for our organization, having arrived about 8 months ago.
It is really fun to see how their story has come around because Phil visited my family in Mexico City when he was in college. I have seen God lead him through the entire process, and he is finally here, living the dream!
Right now, that dream includes learning Romanian. On top of all of the other cultural stresses they have right now, they are knee deep in conjugating verbs and learning vocabulary. While difficult and stressful, it is necessary and key to their success in their new home.
We went out last night to eat, and Phil had to order food for the family (and me). I remember when ordering food was a stressful event. You can get to the point where you don’t even want to try if you are not careful. You must return to the humble state of being a baby who can barely communicate, but it is important to remember that your intelligence is not based on how well you can speak in a foreign language.
When I was learning Spanish, I used to wrap my self-esteem up in how others responded to my attempts to communicate. What a mistake! A missionary is much more than how well they communicate with words (especially in the first year). The effort is worth a lot, and it takes bravery to continue to learn language despite failures.
Phil is downstairs as I type this, plugging away with his language helper. He might fail more times than he succeeds today at language, but he will progress. I am confident that the God who led them here will continue to lead them in their language learning process.
I recently read the following phrase, “One of the keys to success in language learning is to view the process as strength, not a weakness.” The process of learning the language is one of the most difficult yet rewarding parts of ministry in a foreign culture.
Will you join me today to pray for Phil and Scottie and their family as they learn Romanian and deal with all of the stress that comes from their new relationship with this new language?
(Photo by The LEAF project on Flickr)