Did I ever think I'd be sitting in class for six hours a week, pouring over a language that dates back to the tower of Babel (or thereabouts, according to one source I read)?
But I'll tell ya, it feels great to be learning this language after almost five years of spewing memorized phrases just to get me by. It comes in really handy in situations when communication is imperative. Take the other day, for example, when I'd been grocery shopping with my little girl.
I came out of the store with four large totes full of vegetables, eggs, cleaning solutions, jugs of varying beverages, rice, cheese, and more. It was a lot of stuff, and very heavy, so I was thrilled to see my neighbor, Sheila, coming out of the store at the same time. She offered to take one of my bags. Whew, what a relief! With the rest of my totes, Jubilee and I made our way to the corner to catch a ride; me loaded down like a caravan camel and Jubilee following close to my hip to avoid traffic.
When we had hailed a covered three-wheeler and loaded my totes into it, I realized to my horror that one of my totes was missing! There should have been three and there were only two! It was time to practice what I'd been learning in class.
"Please wait here," I told my driver, though not in English of course. "I don't have one of my bags. I must go back into the store. When I come back, I will give you lots of money." (Not the most eloquent speech, I admit, but he caught my meaning).
Into the store I raced with Jubilee in my arms, where I quickly overtook a store manager and practiced my language again.
"I am missing one of my bags," I said. "I was just here and I bought many items. If someone were to find a bag in this store, where would they put it?" (Again, my words were rough, but he also caught my meaning. I was two for two! I was talking...and being understood!)
The manager got on his radio, and I got on my phone, thinking to call Sheila, just to make sure she hadn't taken two of my bags with her and not just one. Low and behold, that is exactly what had happened! Whew, problem solved.
Now I needed to communicate to my driver, who was still waiting on me, and the manager, who was summoning his employees, that all was well and I no longer needed their help.
I took a deep breath, and tried for a third time to talk.
"I am so embarrassed," I said. "My friend took my bag, and she didn't tell me. Now there is no problem. Thank you for your help!"
Each of them smiled, even laughed a little, and said, "No problem." They caught my meaning again! Three for three! Yippee!
I did get a stress headache because of the ordeal, but I was at least able to navigate my way through the choppy waters of cross-cultural living with no help from anybody else. And my little sweetheart was a huge comfort to me the whole time, kissing up and down my arm, staying quiet and obedient. She is such a gift to me. Look at her in this picture, wiping down the table after dinner! Ordinarily I do not let the children on top of the dining room table, but she was being so helpful and cute that I held my tongue.