Our time at Swahili language school in Iringa is continuing well, and we are starting to look ahead to our next move west in a week or so! We had originally planned to stay in Iringa for four weeks, but have extended that by one more week so as to give Laura as much time to continue with classroom learning as possible.
Laura is really enjoying the classes and is making excellent progress, having covered the majority of Swahili grammar and learned a lot of vocabulary too. She is able to converse more and more each day, and is encouraged by how much progress she has made in just three weeks here. You can even see her speaking Swahili for yourself…
During the time that Laura is in Swahili class I have been working on things like our US tax returns, preparing our move to Mpanda, and finishing the final essay for my MA in Bible and Mission. I have also been trying to improve my Swahili skills by talking with people at the campsite, in town and in the surrounding villages, and even learning a few words from the local language – Kihehe.
I love learning languages, and am aware of how language is so much more than just a vehicle for transfer of information. For Tanzanians in particular, spoken language is a tool for building relationships, and plays a key role in the identity and life of both individuals and communities.
Kamwene, umunogage? Ndimunofu hela! Just a few words in the language of someone’s home can say a huge amount. The language that you choose to greet someone can communicate that you respect them, that you value their culture, and that you are interested in their home, their family and their community. Since just a few words can say so much, we firmly believe that for communities to have the Bible in their heart language will not only mean that it is understood more readily, but our prayer is that the very act of translating can communicate something of the way Jesus loves and values each and every person.
We would appreciate your prayers over the next week or so, as Laura continues to learn Swahili, and as we prepare to drive west to the town of Mpanda where we will be living and working. At present we are hoping to leave here on Saturday March 10th, and arrive in Mpanda on the evening of Tuesday 13th, assuming everything goes well with the journey, the car and the roads.
Please also pray for a language survey that our colleagues are undertaking over the next two weeks, visiting the Lwila (or Rwila) and Konongo peoples in Katavi Region. Please pray that they would build good relationships with people, and come away with some valuable insights into the language situation among these communities, and in particular what role if any we might play in helping them to have access to the Bible. Thanks!