Learning a new language is one of the more humbling things you can do in life as an adult. And all the missionaries said…Amen! If you have a problem with impatience and pride and want a solution to rid yourself from these things, then I suggest going to another country and spend all of your time learning their language and culture.
I think I am beginning to understand the saying of Jesus a little more, “Unless you repent and become like children you will by no means ENTER…” Of course, he was speaking of the culture and the language of the Kingdom of God, but the application transfers into other cultures as well. Unless you change and become like a little child, you will never enter your host culture.
Becoming a child in regards to learning a new language and culture as an adult can be a humiliating experience. You may know a lot of things back in the States, but when you enter a new culture and can’t express yourself, you are placed in the position of a child.
The advantage children have is that they are not self-conscious. As adults, we are very self-conscious and feel humiliated when we have to express ourselves in the simplest of ways. Everything in us wants to prove that we are more intelligent than we are sounding at the present moment.
I can see how learning a language will also help you along in the Philippians 2 process-becoming of no reputation. This is a process that Jesus had to endure as he entered our culture. He humbled Himself and became bonded to our world. He didn’t cling to his rights, but released them and became something that he wasn’t before.
In America, I would say, there are very few times when we are forced into situations that we can’t get out of that strip our self-confidence, pride, and reputation. We have many ways of self-preservation where life is familiar and we know how to navigate through social situations with ease. We can play the angles more easily in a culture we are very familiar with.
In the “L.A.M.P” book by Thomas and Elizabeth Brewster that I am reading, they have some great insights into the role of a person who wants to learn a language.
“It’s not uncommon for people who speak English to establish themselves in roles overseas which make language learning impossible. For example the person who goes as a…teacher…or missionary…has a high status role. His self-image compels him to behave in ways which conform to that role. In language learning the attitude of superiority that often goes (subconsciously) with the sophisticated role, must be laid aside.”
They go on to say, “If he takes the role of an educated foreigner who has come to help “these people”, then hardly anyone will feel comfortable in giving him the help he needs. He may never learn to communicate as an insider would, and he will frequently be misunderstood.”
So, these are just a few things that I have personally consolidated this week in my 5 days of language! Not much time to be sure, but enough to know where my attitude needs to be checked and what position I should take when entering a new culture. I don’t think I will ever look down on anyone struggling with the English language again and my eyes are opened even more to the challenges that lie ahead in learning Thai.
**I posted a few pics on Facebook yesterday, so if you don’t have a Facebook account and want to see them, now would be a good time to get one and add us as friends.
***To read a more personal account of day to day life, check out my wife’s blog. Please pray for Jacq, she has been breaking out in hives every afternoon for the past three days. They are red, big, hot, and uncomfortable. She takes Benadryl, but it either knocks her out cold or makes her excited.
I will try to write more about my thoughts on my host family and the culture I have experienced so far. Until next time….keep us in your prayers! Thanks!!