Most people think all of Africa is the same. Mud huts, no running water, no electricity. And while many Zambians do live in those conditions, the house I live in is made of concrete, not mud. It has running water (on good days). And although the power’s been out at least part of every day the last few weeks, we do have electricity. Did you know that in our capital city of Lusaka, there is actually a movie theatre showing the Hobbit right now? Yeah, people don’t know as much about that side of Africa.
However, this week I am heading out to the village to stay, where life will actually be mud huts, no running water, and no electricity. It's time for a week of language immersion, so I’m going to a village where no one will be able to speak English to me, as much as I may beg them! While I’ve spent plenty of time visiting villages, this time my focus is just to be immersed in Tonga and in the culture completely, with no translation.
I’ve been taking language lessons the last two months, trying to turn my Tonga-that-conveys-my-message-but-makes-me-sound-like-a-two-year-old into legitimate Tonga speaking. After I had lived here about a year the first time, the aunties and I started only speaking to each other in Tonga, and that helped me learn it. The problem with that is that they speak to me at my speed and they already know my limitations and word base. The aunties are too good to me, and it’s actually hurting my ability to speak Tonga as well as I would like to speak it.
So, this week we’ll see how I fare in the real world. My teacher, Ba Halale, says I know all the vocabulary I need to know. Now it’s just a matter of starting to piece the grammar together better. My prayer is that I come back with a better understanding of the language and culture and a deepened ability to relate to those I'm serving with here in Zambia.
See you next week!