Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hello from Aru!

A zi mi chi! Edyo ngoni ya?

I've started Logbara Ti and Lingala lessons with Papa Jerome, so I thought I'd try out a little bit of Logbara Ti on you! My students break out in laughter whenever I try this with them. I'm not sure if the laughter comes from delight in a shared language, or amusement at my poor pronunciation. In any case, I am enjoying the attempt.

Logbara Ti is the language of the local Logbara tribe. Lingala is more widely spoken as one of the four national languages of Congo. Daily Mass and Sunday Mass are usually in Lingala, so I've had more exposure to Lingala and I've begun to get a feel for the flow of the language. Logbara is still quite foreign. I'll keep practicing. My French, also, needs work, but I am usually able to communicate effectively eventually, although not always correctly.

I hope you are all well. You remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Much of my time is spent developing curriculum, preparing lessons, grading papers and teaching at the girls' high school. I have some delightful students. On Saturday when I entered the classroom, my fifth form class greeted me with a welcome song in English accompanied by dancing and drumming. Today they adorned my desk with an embroidered cloth with crocheted fringe. These moments help balance out the frustrations that come with teaching and living in a sea of unfamiliarity

I have begun preparing Christmas pageants with my fifth and sixth form classes. Fifth form will enact the infancy narrative from St. Luke's Gospel and sixth form will follow the story line from Matthew's Gospel. Both classes will sing Christmas carols.

I am also beginning to prepare a Christmas program with the pre-school children. They will sing "Good Morning", "If You're Happy and You Know It", "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Silent Night", if we can manage to have them ready by December. They are as cute as they are energetic.

I also have become an unofficial secretary, librarian and photographer. I use my laptop everyday. These high tech devices seem incongruent with our wood-burning stove, petal-powered sewing machine and charcoal-heated irons. We are still without internet at the convent, but I'm grateful that at least I can connect at the computer center.

The construction of the volunteer house is progressing well. Two Italian volunteers should arrive at the beginning of December and we hope to move into the house soon after that. I am looking forward to helping paint and furnish the house, and to starting the lay community there.

We also have begun making arrangements for the library, and the organization of books. I will keep you updated on the progress with these plans.

I am grateful for the many blessings God has given me in these first two months in Aru: a welcoming community, kind local people, energetic students, great natural beauty, a culture filled with music and color, exposure to many languages and many opportunities to learn. In the midst of the ups and downs, I feel I'm in a good place to grow and serve.

Thank you for your prayers and concern.



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