Monday, March 31, 2014

Language school- Day 16 and Lusaka

We had such a great weekend in Lusaka. People are always surprised when I tell them I went to a movie or something like that here in Zambia, so I thought I'd show you a little bit about what the capital city is like. It is 5 hours away from Namwianga, and a world away experientially. 

In the seven years since I first moved to Zambia, it has changed like crazy. The mall that is there still makes me drop my jaw sometimes. It's just wild because it's right next to such extreme levels of poverty. Here's a little picture tour of the journey to Lusaka...
Leaving language school and headed to the tarmac.

 Lusaka is way hillier than the land around Namwianga. 
No trip to Lusaka is complete without a stop at "Kafue Corner". This is where I've made friends through the years who sell all sorts of beautiful baskets and are famous for their apples and bananas. Every inch of your windows is smashed full of vendors wanting you to choose their fruit. 
When you make it to Lusaka, they have robots (traffic lights), but most intersections still use roundabouts. 
I saw this golf club for the first time!
This is our favorite roadside market. 
People are all over the roads selling all sorts of things. The things I've bought on the side of the road over the years include, but are not limited to, bottled water, fruit, scrabble set, phone charger, beach towel, soccer jersey, posters, jumper cables, a movie, a lamp, sunglasses, talktime, and I'm drawing a blank for anything else. It's actually a really fun, convenient way to shop. 
And my all time favorite place in Lusaka is the chitenge house. Chitenges are the brightly colored wraps used for dress or for carrying babies, and this market in town has about six shops in a row with so many selections. I squeal everytime I go in. This trip I got to pick out 50 different ones for each of the aunties for their birthdays this year (don't tell!), so it was so much fun choosing from all the beautiful patterns. 
And then on the other side of town, there's the mall with the movie theatre and kettle corn and slushies, and everytime I walk up I utter the phrase, "We've reached the land of milk and honey." It's crazy, and you feel almost like you're back in America. You're quickly reminded that you're not, but still. 
A skyscraper made of cement. 

Then it's back to the bush and reality where things are worlds apart. I am always so excited to get to Lusaka, but even more ready to leave it and get home. It's stressful, fast paced, busy, and commercial. Just so different from everyday life here. 

I bought a cake at a bakery there to present Ba Mwiinga on our last day this coming Friday. That's the customary gift at a graduation, so I thought it fitting. I had them write "#1 Teacher Ba Mwiinga Ndalumba!" on it, but when I went to pick it up the next day it read "I Feacher" for some reason :). They easily fixed it, and we were on our way!

Today was a great day of trying to soak up all the last bits of wisdom he has to share with me this week. He brought me one of his books today as a gift, hoping one day I'll be able to understand it! 

I'm off to bed, but if you're someone who has been praying for me, I'd love prayers for the bat situation in my little guest house. One of the ceiling boards is down (not fixable in the next week) and the bats that I hear all night are starting to come down and freak me out. Like they stand in the path between me and the bathroom, and I just can't handle it. Benadryl's not even cutting it to keep me from thinking they're going to swoop down and get me in the night. I have my door barricaded so they shouldn't be able to get in while I sleep, but it doesn't stop me from hearing them all night! So some prayers for them to keep their distance and allow me some peace of mind the next few days would be wonderful! I appreciate you all! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Language school- Day 15

The test went great!

And now I'm in Lusaka having some girl time with Cintia! It is so nice to get out of Tongaland (that's actually what Tonga-speaking places are called, not just a nick name I've given this place :)!) and rest my weary brain a bit. I'll be refreshed and ready for my last week of classes!

I hope your weekends are restful and relaxing as well!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Language school- Day 14

As is sometimes the case, success is followed by more challenges! Today was just one of those days where the task seemed totally daunting, and I felt completely incapable. 

Ba Mwiinga is getting to the point where he thinks I know way more than I know (being taught something doesn't mean you know it, unfortunately!), and I'm just overwhelmed with the pace right now. I have to keep reminding myself that learning a language takes time, and that I'm in the middle of an ongoing process. It definitely won't be over next Friday when I head home, and it won't even be over in another two or three years. It's encouraging to think back to how much I  spoke two years ago, and it's even more exciting to think about where I hope I'll be after another two years. It's an ongoing journey, and one I'm so glad I'm taking, hard as it is at times. 

Tomorrow is my third exam, so I'm studying like crazy tonight! Thanks for all your love and prayers!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Language school- Day 13

We got it!!! Finally, after two and a half loooooong days, I understand predicating demonstratives. Ba Mwiinga finally told me this morning that he thought I was deliberately not getting it, and I think he actually meant it! That kind of put a fire under me and made me put aside my stubborn streak and just try a different way. And it all finally came together, and he said, "Now I can sleep tonight!" 

Hope you all have some lightbulb moments of your own today! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Language school- Day 12

Today started out pretty rough. The last two days have been spent attempting to master a concept I still don't understand, especially don't understand it's relevance, and am so discouraged about. I'm sure it shouldn't be this hard, but for some reason it is. Ba Mwiinga's wisdom today was this:

You're like someone who's taken up boxing. In the beginning, you get punched all over. In the end, you at least learn to defend your face!

I've been taking a lot of beatings these last couple of days, but I know it's mainly because we are getting down to the intricacies of the language. The more complicated it gets, the more my brain fights me. BUT. 

There was redemption at the end of the day. We started talking about a certain word, that led us to how that word is most often heard as a name now, and then we had so much fun dissecting Tonga names. To me, it's totally fascinating. Here are the most common names around here (I know oodles of people named all of these names. They are akin to John in America.) and their literal meanings. 
Nchimunya-- the same (given when you've had many of the same gender and then you have another)
Chabonwa-- we see you (you are welcome here)
Busiku--born in the night (someone born between 22:00-24:00hours)
Chipo/Chipego-- gift (you're a blessing to us)
Milimo--much work (born during a time of great busy-ness, like harvest time)
Michelo-- of fruit (the parents had to see a traditional doctor prescribing wild fruits or roots to get pregnant with this child)
Mainza-- rainy season (someone born during rainy season)
Chimuka-- you are late (a baby that comes after due date)
Chilala-- you overslept (another name for an overdue baby)
Twaambo-- many stories (everyone was talking or gossiping about the events leading up to your birth. Usually a pregnancy before marriage.)
Mapenzi-- in trouble (born during a time of trouble in the family)
Malilwe-- much crying (born when someone has just died)
Lweendo or Nzila--born while on a journey
Choolwe--lucky, blessed (usually a child born after the parents thought they couldn't have any more children)
Mutinta (my tonga name!)--in the middle (the only girl in a family of boys or vice versa)
Luyando-- love (a promise between the parents to love each other, like this child is a pact between them)

None of these names are gender specific, which I also find interesting! Anyway, it was fun to work with all of those and a welcome break from predication of demonstratives! 

I continue to feel so grateful to have this opportunity. I've already seen so much growth in unexpected places, but I also know I have a loooong way to go! :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Language school- Day 11

It's been a long time since I laughed until I cried at something in that way that you just can't stop, but that happened this morning during class. First of all, this will probably only be even possibly funny to you if you've been here, but even then it's probably 99% my exhaustion that had me so laughy. Second of all, Ba Mwiinga laughed right along with me the first five minutes or so. Then he just sat down and let me get it all out. :)

So, he was wanting me to write a telephone conversation out on the board. We're working on demonstratives and locatives, and he wanted me to think about how you'd say them when you can't see the person you're talking to. Anyway, he starts by writing this on the board: "Hallo?" And that's it. From that point on I was laughing and crying. 

Here, very few people say the word hello like Americans do. It comes out like "ha-low", which then sticks with foreigners because that's how everyone here pronounces it. So, when I was home on furlough this year, my neice Jenson was starting to talk more and more, and without even thinking about it, I would take her up to someone or something and have her say "ha-low", and it stuck. My sister in law Courtney even caught her greeting her grandmother on FaceTime by saying "ha-low".

So, for some reason it just got me to see it written out like that. It's not that hello is being pronounced differently, but Ba Mwiinga says it's an adapted word and the actual word is "hallo".  And I just couldn't get over it. I'm still laughing out loud as I'm typing this!

Anyway, I realize that made little sense, but it was definitely a highlight of my day. I'm happy for anything that can make me laugh like that these days! Hope your days are filled with many highlights and laughs, too!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Music to our ears

Not too long ago, I had baby Rita in Livingstone with me, and we stopped at a local market. She was enthralled with the handmade xylophones and would scream whenever I made her walk away from one. I finally thought, Hmmm, I bet the others would like that, too. So I bought a bunch of local, handmade instruments from the market that day, and boy have we had fun!

Sesa boy
Memo and Sesa boy




Biggie Emmanuel

Anna baby


Deacon and Maleele


Enjoy a little taste of their music!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Language School- Day 10

I'm home again for the weekend!! What a great feeling!

The test went so well today, and I've already had opportunity to use a lot of its content since I've been home this evening. I love when I can see how relevant what I'm learning is in my real life. We also covered a concept that's been unclear to me the entire time I've lived here, so that was awesome! (Predication of the verb "to be" for all you fellow nerds out there...)

By popular demand (Kels!), here is a picture of Ba Mwiinga. He's just the best, and he let class out early today so I could get on the road and see the babes. 

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Language school- Day 9

Last week, Ba Mwiinga started drawing the same picture on the board every day. Because I'm on my phone, I can't make a very nice example, but here is a rough version of what he draws:
He says he gives me the knowledge that would fill a gallon every day, even when I'll probably only realistically use a pint. The rest will probably spill off of me and go over my head, but the idea is that at least I've been exposed to it and will recognize it if it ever comes up in the future. Whenever I find a particular subject challenging, he draws that picture up there and reminds me of how the meat of what I'll be using every day is there, so I needn't worry.

This is a way different philosophy than what I've been operating under up until this point. Ba Halale and I had an agreement that if I didn't think something was relevant to my life, I didn't have to learn it. :) Ba Mwiinga thinks I'm wrong! Imagine that! Hehe. He wants to prepare me with so much knowledge, even if I never have to use it. I guess it's kind of like what we're taught in education-- prepare way more for your lesson than you'll ever actually be able to cover. 

One of the funniest things to me is how he HATES my use of some words from other Zambian languages instead of Tonga. He'll ask me what a certain word is, I'll tell him what I've been taught in Kalomo, and he'll just scoff! "Why use a Lozi word when there's a perfectly good Tonga one!" I keep finding new ways to exasperate him! 

The problem is that there are 5 different versions of Tonga spoken out there. Each region in Tongaland (generally the southern part of Zambia) speaks it's own version, and they have widely different vocabularies and tonalities. Everyone from Kalomo who heard I was coming to Monze for language school warned me not to come home speaking like "those people from Monze"! So, I'm trying hard to balance what I'll actually use with what Ba Mwiinga wants me to know. 

Tomorrow is my second exam. Here is a little section of my homework from last night, trying to get me ready for the big exam! Thanks for your continued love and prayers. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Language school-Day 8

Today was GREAT, by far the best day yet. Things are really clicking in many areas, and I'm slowly giving up my desire to understand the whys of every little thing. Ba Mwiinga continues to be patient with my "curiosity" and had this to say to me today:

Your problem is you want to know everything! All at once! It doesn't work that way!

He's right, obviously, and I'm starting to get why. Today I put together something from a song I sing with the aunties all the time. I'd never understood really what it meant and no one could explain it. And today, it naturally came out in one of our lessons, and I actually squealed! It's cool to see how this knowledge builds on itself until I'm able to construct meaning in certain places where I couldn't before. 

I'm also slowly surrendering the idea that this language should at all resemble English. Today Ba Mwiinga told me, "It's normal that you get frustrated. Every foreigner who has tried to write about our language got frustrated because they were looking for similarities and there are none." Ain't that the truth! And continually trying to fit the language into where I think it should go is pointless! It doesn't work that way, and the more I release it and let it be what it is, the more it oddly starts making its own kind of sense.  

And the coolest part is I'm learning so many new cultural lessons along the way. Yesterday Ba Mwiinga asked me what twins are called in America. "Uh, twins, I guess?" I replied, not really knowing what he meant. He was surprised to find out how meaningless our names tend to be in America, how they might honor someone, but rarely are people named a definition. But here, it's totally different. I've known this before because of all of our babies' names at the Haven, but he shed so much more light on it. The first twin here is always called Banji, meaning the first of many. The second twin to come out is called Mpimpa, meaning something that was folded in half and thus there are two now. The next child to be born in a family after a set of twins is called Nsanzya, meaning they've been washed of the twins. And twins were thought of such as blessing from God that the families of twins were never taxed! 

He also spoke of how most Tongas have five names. One from their mother's maternal side, one from their mother's paternal side, one from their father's maternal side, and one from their father's paternal side, and then their situational name, usually given by the midwife. That would be their names like "many", "trouble", "gift", etc. Apparently the name you actually go by is from the one who "owns" you, either father's side or mother's side depending on bride price and all. Such a different world! And it all comes back to language. 

Sorry for yammering on! Thanks for all of your prayers and encouragement! You guys are the best!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bo William Hawley

I interrupt my normally scheduled language school update for more important news. Today, in Oklahoma, my nephew was born. Bo William Hawley. 

I'm so happy and sad, all at the same time, you know? These are the times I'm supposed to be home, to be a part of the huge moments in our family's lives. Bo will be 9 months old when I meet him, and that's just so hard to believe. 

I've never been as thankful for technology as I have been today. I was updated every step of the way and have already facetimed with the sweet baby boy. My family is so good to make me feel so included in what's happening all the time. 

My heart aches for home tonight. There's not much else to say but that, I guess. More on the joys of language learning tomorrow :). 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Language school- Day 6

My dad had a saying for us all when we were growing up playing tennis. If we hit a shot that was poor and would get us frustrated, he would say, "Hit it and forget it!" What he meant by this was don't dwell on that one bad shot and allow it to throw you off course and completely alter your mental state. Bad shots are going to come. That's just part of life. Forget about it, move on, and hopefully do something differently next time. 

Well, today was a bad day. A realllllllly bad day. So I'm just going to take my dad's advice, forget it, and pray for a better one tomorrow. :)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A little walk

I just found this post in my drafts from way back in March, and I can't get over how little they all look! One of our favorite afternoon activities is nature walking, so here's a little glimpse of it!

Leo and Deacon







Sesa says Cheeeeeeeeeese

Twin love

And again

And still


Hello bunnies and chickens










The definition of a hot mess