The English Speakers Class at Diospi Suyana School


Gook looking crew have a good time! It is usually only half as crazy as it looks.

Allison teaches a class for the English speakers at the school.  The class is similar to a one room school house with ages ranging from 11 to 6.  All our kids say it is their favorite class. This is both because their mother is the teacher, and because it is entirely in English.  We are fortunate to have some good and challenging curriculum that emphasizes US history and english literature.  The kids are doing readings at school and at home.  I look at all the books they have and I remember how enjoyable school in the primary years was.  It was fun to learn without the preoccupation of grades or performance.  Unfortunately our kids are taking most of their classes in Spanish, so it is a bit more challenging for them.  I think that is why they like this class so much.

In regards to all the kids Spanish; they are doing great and learning rapidly.  Sarah will be naturally bilingual, and Annie might be because they are learning their Spanish at a young age.  David and Peter will have to work a little harder to learn grammar and vocabulary.  David is a gifted learner in regards to Spanish and is progressing well.  He is willing to talk to anyone, and this helps him to learn.  As we have been walking around Cusco this weekend, he has been leading many of the conversations and his verb conjugations and tenses have been spot on.  Peter is more stealthy in his progress, but every time he venture to speak, he impresses me with his knowledge.  Sarah and Annie have very good pronunciation; if only I could sound so good.  They all are much better than me when it comes to understanding spanish when listening casually.  If I am engaged, watching the persons lips, and really listening, I do pretty good, and probably better than they do.  But if it is on TV or just someone talking near me out of my sight, I often cannot understand what is being said.  All the kids understand very well when listening casually to people nearby or when watching a movie in Spanish.  It is really impressive to me, and I enjoy watching them learn.  I am thankful that they are making such good progress.

Allison’s Last Trimester – also a good family picture!

From left to right, Annie, Will, Peter, David, Allison, Sarah

From left to right, Annie, Will, Peter, David, Allison, Sarah

As a continuation of Sunday’s and yesterdays posts. . .  I, Allison, will not take regular classes, much as I loved them, for the next term.  I will continue to work on my Spanish with a tutor on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for an hour each session.  We are going to talk about hispanic culture and literature.  My tutor, Laura, is from Chile, and has a Master’s degree in Latin cultural studies or something like that, and so I am looking forward to her South American perspective.

Please pray for me to have patience and wisdom as I homeschool the kids.  Please pray that God will help me to continue to foster the friendships He has given me here even though I won’t be on campus as much.  Please pray for me to have understanding and unflagging support as Will may need more time for school with his new FARO route.  Please pray for me to embrace my role here at home and to relish the time I will have with the kids.  Please pray for me to learn how to have solitude when the kids are home all day.  Please pray for me to learn how to pray more.  Please pray for me to be humble. 

Thank you so much for your prayers.  I don’t know where we would be without them.

The final push! Will’s final trimester.

This week begins our final trimester of language school.  Many things in our schedule will be changing during these last four months.  I (Will) have come a great way in my ability to speak and understand Spanish.  However, my fluency is not as good as it needs to be before I start practicing medicine.  By fluency I am meaning to describe the ease by which words get from my brain to my mouth.  I have a sufficient vocabulary (not great at all), but the words get stuck somewhere between my cerebral cortex and my tongue as I develop an expressive aphasia caused by my realizations as I speak of missed conjugations, skipped pronouns, forgotten rules of subjunctive, and all the exceptions revolving around those rules.  My other problem is I cannot understand people very well.  In English we speak in words, but in Spanish they tend to speak in syllables.  However I still think in words, and when a native Spanish speaker combines two words into one I am left puzzled regarding what has just been said.  Often if I can get one word of the sentence, I can figure out the rest, but not always. . .  So I need to get out and practice speaking and listening. Continue reading

Four more months and Friendship

Yesterday we watched the group of students that are one trimester ahead of us graduate from the Spanish Language Institute.  It was a sweet moment to watch them finish what has been a good and sometimes hard year.  It was also sad to see them leave, realizing that we may not (and likely will not) see them again this side of heaven.  Language school is a little bit like summer camp.  You make friends quickly, and they are very important in your life because you really need their friendship.  And then they leave, and you realize a big chapter of your life is coming to a close.  And you move on to the rest of your life without these friends, yet you are not the same as you were before because of them.  These types of friendships happen both inside of Christ and outside of Christ.  There is a common grace that God has given to all people that allows us to make friends.  Yet the friendships that that are bonded through our faith leave us with an assurance of future reunion that is not found outside of Christ.  For that I am thankful.  And, I am thankful to God that I will see all these people again and we will be able to talk about everything that has happened since the time we were with each other, and that we will rejoice in the presence of God as we praise Him for what he has done.  And part of our praise will be for the friendships he gave us along the way as we followed him.

Revisiting an idea from the past. God is made known through our weaknesses.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

I was reviewing a blog of some friends who are headed to Peru, and I reread this post.  I was challenged again by this crazy pursuit of learning Spanish as I recognized how far I have to go to learn this language.  It is a lot of work, and for a mind that is becoming set in its English speaking ways, I think the transition is even tougher.  As I read the post, I was reminded of a speaker who came to speak at our school during chapel.  He spoke Spanish, but not well.  He had come to language school in his 50’s or early 60’s, and as you would expect, learning Spanish had been difficult.  Even now, after being in the country for a couple years, he struggled with his Spanish grammar.  Yet he expressed joy in the difficulty, and he spoke to us of how God’s power is made perfect in weakness.  When we suffer and demonstrate our frailties and our inadequacies, when we allow people to see how broken and weak we are, and when we cannot do the job well . . . when we are lacking in all these ways, yet we persist in obedience and love to do the work that God has called each of us to do, he is glorified all the more.  When the missionary spoke in his broken Spanish, in front of his former teachers and the current students, with all his imperfections on display I was completely drawn to his obedience.  I was more drawn to his obedience and surrender to the will of God than I have been to those who master the language.  And so I remind myself daily that God makes himself known to the world through the brokenness of his people, as they walk out their faith in love and humility.