One of the things that we conversed about with the Massos as we met last week was language learning. There are a few languages in Mundri - the two main ones being Moru and Juba Arabic. There is obviously not a Rosetta Stone for either of these languages (Juba Arabic is quite different form the more formal Arabic), and so one of the trainings that we will be going to is a language learning training. Honestly, I don't even know what that means. All I know is that we will learn skills that help us pick up language by being immersed in it.
There came the question - how do you immerse yourself into a community enough to learn the language? The singles on the team have all done home stays with friends in the community. These can be as short as a few days or as long as a few weeks. It is ideal, because it not only surrounds you the language, but the culture. You are cooking, cleaning, living among people the way they live. That's all fine and dandy for one person - but 6? Hello - we would take over!
So Michael and Karen suggested that we get a tent big enough for our family to sleep in and we take it with us to put up on the trips we take as a family. I'm not much of a tent camper, but this could be adventurous - and certainly a good way to be in the middle of community life. (By the way, just to clarify - these would be short term camping trips - not our permanent living situation!)
This idea took me back to the times that we went to the bush in Malawi. We would pull up the flat bed truck that the ministry owned, fill it with foam mattresses, park it under a tree, and hang mosquito nets. That would be our bedroom for the next several days. It was messy, crazy, and breathtaking. If you have never slept under an African sky, I suggest putting it on your bucket list. We would go to bed with the smell of campfires, the beat of drums from a funeral somewhere, and the howls of hyenas in background. Then, when the sun started to rise, we would wake up to several little faces peering at us over the side of the truck - laughing at the "Muzunga Wamisala" (Crazy white people) sleeping! At least a tent would afford a tiny bit of privacy, right?
So we have added "buy tent" to our list of things to do before we leave. Any suggestions of affordable, easy to put up tents big enough for our family are welcomed.
Someone asked how the kids will like this. Let me tell you - in Malawi the kids adjusted much better than we did! There is also the fact that they were willing to be watched, touched, etc in the village, because they knew that we would be home in the safety and privacy of our our home eventually. It will be the same for us in Mundri - we will have a home built on the compound and we will be around the team. Having this security is what will allow us to forge ahead into the unfamiliar world of new languages, new cultures, new people who point and stare, and being the stand out minority.
If you want a good peek at life in Mundri right now with only 4 single women on the compound, read Heidi's blog off to the side of this one. It's called "Four women and a compound - the series" :)