…which end will you lift on?

Archive for the month “July, 2011”


Well, I’ve finished my first week and a half of linguistics classes.  The program I’m enrolled in is accelerated, with a semester’s worth of instruction crammed into one month.  Take that times three classes, and you’ve got the idea.

Already this has been a learning experience for me, and I’m not talking solely about linguistics, here.  See, for my last two undergraduate degrees, I held a 4.0 GPA.  I’m used to being the “smart” kid in class; school has always been easy and fun for me.

At least I’ve still got the “fun” part down.   Imagine every linguistic nerd you’ve ever known, and put forty of them in a room together for the entire day.  Add free donuts, and you’ve got my school.  Needless to say, I’m not the “smart” kid anymore.  Now I’m just the fun one.

The main lesson I’ve learned (rather, re-learned) this week is that I’m not perfect.  And my striving to be perfect in my schoolwork is, at its core, pride.  This is something I’m having to recognize and work through.  And frequently lecture myself about.

There’s a scripture that comes to mind when I think about school.  In the King James version (happy 400th birthday, by the way!), 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”   Right.  Study!

The main lecture I’ve been giving myself is a reminder of the big picture:  I am going through this training so I can return to Africa (in one year!) and teach people how to read.  This is God’s will for me; not to get an A+ in every class I take, but to prepare myself to do the work that He has ordained for me.

A more contemporary translation of 2 Timothy 2:15 speaks more clearly of this big picture.  It says, “Do your best to win God’s approval as a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed and who teaches only the true message.”

Do your best.  Nowhere do I read, “Beat your head against the wall if you don’t get the best grade in class.”  This scripture will be my guidepost to remind me of my bigger purpose, and it’s not to get straight A’s.  It is to bring the true message, the message of salvation through Christ, to the world.

The pressure’s off, so now I can admire the amazing linguistic gifts that God has gifted to so many wonderful people.  And enjoy the free donuts.



As I reflect on my month in Africa, I wonder what I can tell you to convey the amazing, life-changing visit I just spent there.  When I look through the hundreds of photos I took, I wish I could go through them all with each and every one of you, explaining what they are.  If only..!

My first full week in Africa, we conducted a literacy workshop out in the bush.  During the four-mile bike ride there and back, I had time to reflect on God’s provision.  In a country where a sip of water could make you violently ill, or something as tiny as a splinter could introduce a deadly bacteria into your body, you begin to realize how fragile life really is.  Africans know that their lives are in God’s hands, and they cling to Him with a tenacity that I covet.  This picture was taken in a payot, which is like a gazebo outside of your home where visitors are received.  The pastor had left her Bible (in the Zande language) in the windowsill, so I could see how well-worn it was.

The following week, we led a teacher training workshop.  Daily I was amazed at the students’ dedication and seriousness with the training.  One student named Repent (shown seated, in a polo shirt) came to class, and practiced teaching to his peers, even though he was terribly sick with malaria!  These believers understand the importance of reading God’s word in  Morokodo, their own mother tongue, and take very seriously the task of giving others this precious gift.

After that, we traveled to another town to meet with some missionaries and talk about their organizations, and their role within the country.  While we were there, it was clearly demonstrated to me that God has big plans for this country, and He is working mightily through His people.  Workers are there “at such a time as this.”  I can’t wait to be counted among those who are blessed to call this wonderful country home!

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