A Day in the Life of a Language Learner

"God didn't call me to be successful. He called me to be obedient." Mother Theresa

Ann ? November 2005

Our lives and ministry right now is pretty much language school. We are required to put in 40 hours a week, but on most weeks, we far exceed that. Four days a week we go to classes from 9:00 ? 12:30. Our particular class of new students has 16 divided into 3 levels. Robert is in the top one and I am in the bottom one.  My particular class has 4 other people in it so we get a lot of opportunity to practice.

After class we ride the trolley bus home which is usually about a 30 minute cultural experience in itself most days! We have a quick lunch and then I spend about an hour preparing for my language helper. She comes for 2 hours/3 times a week and goes over with me the areas I need the most help in.

After my helper leaves at 6:00 we have a quick dinner and try to get back at the books by at least 7:00 and I go until I just can?t anymore, usually between 10:00 ? 11:00. Then the alarm goes off the next morning at 6:00 and we start all over again.

On Fridays we have cultural assignments to do 2 times a month and a social project on the other 2 Fridays of the month. (See story on ?Social Project at School #23)

We live right next to a little grocery store and about a few blocks from an outdoor market so shopping can be done on our way home from school. Robert and I make a good team with the cooking and cleaning needs and can usually get that knocked out in a few hours on the weekend. We have a little bitty washing machine that fits in our bathroom and a clothes line on our balcony so I try and get a couple of loads done each week so it doesn?t pile up. Now that it is colder outside, it takes longer for things to dry.

We are SO GRATEFUL for the technology that allows us to tune into our church services live on Sunday evenings via Internet Streaming Video.  So far, it is one of our main sources of spiritual nourishment. We are SO GRATEFUL for the technology that allows us to tune into our church services live on Sunday evenings via Internet Streaming Video. So far, it is one of our main sources of spiritual nourishment.

On the weekends I also put around 15-20 hours of working on Russian in some form or another. We have visited a few Russian churches but have not settled in one yet. On Sunday evenings we get on our computer and watch our church services in Dallas live.

Every other Friday I have begun hosting a women?s Bible study and fellowship in our home for other female students from our school. There are about 5 of us who attend regularly and we are going through Beth Moore?s study, ?Breaking Free?. I have a sense that the timing and subject of this material is another one of those gifts from God that I don?t fully comprehend. Robert goes to a men?s accountability group made up of guys from his class also 2 times a month and has been blessed by the fellowship and insight of his brothers as well.

But for the most part, we have our head in the books or our earphones on, listening to the audio cd?s of the lessons we are learning. The curriculum and method?s of teaching at New View are excellent and I feel so priviledged to be a part of this. And yet, at the same time, this is probably the hardest thing I have ever tried to do and most days I am very discouraged.

I wish I could report that we are sailing through classes and speaking Russian fluently and leading everyone we meet to the Lord. But truthfully, I am getting up by faith every morning, asking God to give me the grace to get through the day and learn what I need to learn. There are days that I have thought, ?what was I thinking, when I thought I could learn this language at my age??

And there are days in class that as we go around the room taking our turn to read I pinch myself to keep from crying because after I?ve worked hours on something the night before I can?t get it out the next day. ( I know the pinching thing is weird ? something I learned in high school drama ? you think it would make me cry ? but I guess it gets my mind off my reason that I want to cry and focus on the pain. Of course it also kind of distracts from picking up what the teacher is saying at the time so maybe I ought to cut that out. ?)

We took one of my language helpers, Larisa and her husband Stas to the ballet to see Swan Lake.  The four of us had sweet fellowship.  Pray for us in deepening our relationships with Russians. We took one of my language helpers, Larisa and her husband Stas to the ballet to see Swan Lake. The four of us had sweet fellowship. Pray for us in deepening our relationships with Russians.

And there are days that I end up in a heap in my language helpers? arms, sobbing because I just can?t remember the word, or the grammar point or the conjugation. God has blessed me with such patient helpers who support me, encourage me and tell me I am a good student.

But there are also days that I get some of those ?ah-ha? moments when I least expect it. Recently Robert and I were having lunch as I tried to recite the dialogue I had been struggling with for hours. At some point I stopped and realized why something was pronounced the way it was suppose to be pronounced. It clicked. And it was something that was taught a month ago. But it clicked and when we both realized it we broke out into tears at the same time and he got up and held me and we cried together and thanked God for small miracles. I am so blessed to have a husband who is my biggest cheerleader.

And there are those days that I feel so alone. We miss our sons terribly. And, being so far from home while Robert's mother is so sick and his family is carrying all the burden, we feel like we have abandoned all those we love. I turn on my computer and check emails and there is a note from somebody saying they are thinking of us or praying for us and I am connected once again.

I am just so aware that God has us here in New View Culture/Language School for so much more than just learning the Russian language. He has many lessons for me to learn about me, about Him. Not all of it is easy to face, especially the parts about me. But the number 1 lesson is that He is faithful. And as Mother Theresa has been quoted as saying, ?God didn?t call me to be successful. He called me to be obedient.?

So, I would ask for your prayers on my language acquisition. (Robert?s too, but he just doesn?t seems to struggle as much as I do.) Pray that I would be obedient in all things.

  • To pursue Jesus first and remember His call on my life
  • To be disciplined to do my part on this language learning ? to do my lessons and continue to put in the time, whether I see the results or not
  • To be balanced. To know when to study and know when to take a break.
  • To trust Him with the results!