Becoming like little Children?

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Robb and Lindsey’s youngest daughter, Alaina has become more vocal over the last few weeks. Yesterday she was busy trying to tell me something. Some of her words were very clear and the message was unmistakable and I was able to respond appropriately. There were also other words that were clear but the meaning ofwhat she was saying eluded me because of the way that she was putting them together. And then there were what I took to be words but I could not clearly identify which words they actually were. She made me smile with her efforts to communicate with me but there was also a level of frustration in her that she could not make her meaning clear with everything she was saying. This caused her to repeat sections of what she was saying and to watch me closely to see if I understood. Craig was standing nearby and he came over and said to Lindsey that this was how we sounded when we spoke Ju/’hoansi to the people here! This made us both laugh but the reality of it is that it is probably quite an accurate picture of our communication skills at the moment. When we stick to phrases that we have learned from our language helpers we communicate quite well provided we remember to click in the right places though the people are mostly quite forgiving if we forget. It is when we venture into the realm of constructing our own sentences that we can get into strife. Just as Alaina has yet to understand and master the “rules” of sentence construction so too have we. I must confess I tend to put the words into much the same sequence as I would for English with a few exceptions. Those exceptions are the ones I know about but there is still much that I don’t know. Mi /oa !’han. Three words, very simple but so much more to learn. As I thought about Alaina and how I had interacted with her I wondered if the Ju/’hoansi people were responding in a similar way with me. Encouraging me when I got it right and responding. Sometimes understanding my sentence attempts and “fixing” them and at other times just smiling because they don’t know what else to do as they are bemused by what they are hearing and wondering if I am actually speaking Ju/’hoansi!(That is just an exclamation mark not a click!)
When Jesus spoke to his disciples about becoming “like little children” or they would “never enter the kingdom of heaven.” I am pretty sure that speaking like them was not what he had in mind but rather the trust that they demonstrate. Yes, even the trust that they demonstrate when they engage you in “conversation.”

One thought on “Becoming like little Children?

  1. Is Mi /oa !’han actually 3 words??! Thank you for another great story about the steps and frustrations of learning a new language. We’re praying for you that you will continue to get on top of this wonderful and complex language. Little step by little step. Love j&d

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