Wednesday, February 15, 2012

SONS of ANAK: Reflections on Language Learning


One of the reasons I have been so excited to come to a Christian language school, is to be able to learn Bible terms in French. I found when I was in Gabon last March, that was the biggest gap in my French vocab. It took me off guard at first, but it makes sense. They're not exactly teaching Bible terms in your high school French class these days =) 

So every Friday we have a Bible vocab session in class, we started in Genesis and have been working our way through. Recently we talked through the story of Joshua and Caleb, when they were sent out as part of the 12 spies of Israel scouting out the land of Canaan in Numbers 13.
Ten of the twelve spies came back and said that the enemy was too strong and their warriors too big, the "sons of Anak" were there. There were giants in front of them. 
Only Joshua and Caleb returned with the assurance of victory.

It struck me that Joshua and Caleb didn't just ignore the difficulties, the stature,  the strength of their enemy, but they acknowledged the obvious adversity and still took a stand to say, "my God is bigger. My God is stronger. With our God we will have victory."
The land God had promised them, a land flowing with milk and honey was at stake.
God had been faithful before, He would be faithful again.

It is easy to see language learning as "a son of Anak," as a giant in front of you. This "giant" stands between you and the mission field God has called you to, between you and the land of milk and honey. After-all, this land that God gave the Israelites would distinguish who they were in the generations to come as God's people, to declare to the nations who this God is, whom they serve and follow.
 We are going to a "land" God has prepared for us, to declare to the people surrounding who He is, who this God is that we serve and follow, and for whom we would leave home and family and near-fiances.

Our God is stronger! Our God is stronger than my French, stronger than my ear's inability to hear differences in sounds, stronger than my tongue that doesn't automatically go into "French mode," stronger than my mind that doesn't always put my French grammar in the proper order.
With all my inadequacies, God's name will still be proclaimed and He will still draw those unto Himself- and that is the assurance of victory.

What "giants" are facing you this week, this month or even this year? Are there "sons of Anak" that are standing in front of you? Are you able to report like Caleb and Joshua, "yes, with our God, we will have victory"?
As you go about your week and rub shoulders with those around you, I challenge you to remember that you have the gift of being able to to share the Gospel, to listen to people's stories and share how God has written yours, in your heart language! You don't have to learn another language in order to declare who your God is, "...the fields are ripe and ready for harvest."

Please pray for me as I strive to work with excellence in learning the language, pray for ears that can hear, a tongue that can speak and a mind that can comprehend. Pray I might have opportunities to declare who God is, in the agnostic cultural climate of France.
And pray for me, that I might grow to connect with my God in a language that is not my own.

What is French class really like you ask? Well I've never seen the whole thing, so I can't vouch for the entire movie, but this clip from The Pink Panther with Steve Martin seems to capture a lot......Enjoy =)

Now you know how to pray for me ;-)
With Love,
From Albertville,

Life in Albertville.

Hello Everyone! =)
Welcome to Albertville!
Albertville is located in the Savoie region in Southern France in the French Alps.
I thought I'd give a tour on life here and the things that keep us busy. So feel free to come along and see where I live, work and play preparing for Gabon. I'll let you know now there A LOT of photos, so feel free to skim as little or as much as you'd like =)

Entrance to the center off of the small road: chemin des Galibouds

Entering the center

The family building

Classrooms and Singles' housing

Recycling bins, you can be fined in France for not recycling!

Main entrance to the school and where I live

Secured entry: keeping the singles safe at night

Mail boxes!

The "celibataires'" hallway- (aka singles', not celebrity or celibate hallway as some have guessed ;-)

Common kitchen

Cooking with 6 girls in this kitchen is always an adventure- but we enjoy it =)

Pantry for 6 of us.

Common living area

DVD player plays both region 1 and region 2 dvd's - so helpful!
Pulley system for the wood shutters outside our windows (see below)

The shutters are adjustable to let in some light or to be completely shut, it's amazing how much warmer it is with the shutters down, especially with the single paned windows. 

Communal bathroom

French throne


My room =)

Making use of limited space

So these walls between rooms alternate storage between the rooms. My room is right next to the common area and kitchen, so I have a storage closet and a sink in a closet on my side, and on the between is the mint green wall, which is the pantry in the common area on the other side of the wall. It struck me as kind of funny at first, but it's efficient!

More use of storage...

My funny little sink in a closet =)

It's been really helpful, especially not having a private bath.

The view out my window - God's magnificience in the Alps.

Conference room
We have a devotional and prayer in this room every morning at 8:40 before class. Each student must lead a devotional in French at some point throughout the semester.  On Fridays we have a time of worship together (again in French =) I've enjoyed getting involved playing violin on the worship team.

Our classroom
There are five classes of French at the school. I've been put with a class that started last September, so it was difficult to jump into the middle of a class at first, but now I'm really enjoying it growing a lot in my French. 

Madame Anne
We do a variety of reading, writing, grammar, listening, speaking exercises, and of course, no English is allowed in class. We try to keep English to a minimum outside of class too. Living with 2 girls from Germany, a girl from Holland, a girl from Britain and a couple girls from the States makes it easier, as French is our common language.
Don't know what we'd do with out the mural ;-)
We have class from 8:40-11:15 and 1:45-4:15 Mon, Tues, Thursday, Friday. No class on Wednesday and long lunch breaks which mirrors the cultural school schedule in France nationwide.

the laboratoire
The laboratoire is one method we use to practice our pronunciation. We respond back to oral exercises on the computer, and Madame Anne sits at a master computer where she can link in to listen to each of us individually and give us feedback. It's definitely not a student's favorite place in the world, but I think it does help. Side note: the school is getting new computers!  

National Crepe Day!

Learning to make crepes on a Friday afternoon- a great way to end a week of French class! 

SCHOOL FIELD TRIP: skiing in the French Alps! 
I had never gone skiing before, but what better place to learn! I didn't do anything spectacular- rocked the bunny hill all day =), but I got over being afraid of sliding around on snow on skis and actually had fun. I look forward to learning more in the future.

 On the weekends it's fun to visit places for the day near by in the region. One Sunday the girls and I made the 30 min walk up to Conflans. Conflans is a medieval city on the slopes overlooking Albertville. There was hardly anyone around and nothing was open because it was Sunday, so we had a wonderful time exploring the old "city" and soaking in the panoramic views. Come along with us and enjoy Conflan...=)
The bridge between Albertville and the road to Conflan

Two of our grocery stores, Lidl (similar to Aldi) and Carrefore (sim to Kroger) are within a 15 min walk (one-way) from the center. There is a store called Geant (sim to Target) that is a 30 min walk one way from the center. I walked there one Wednesday just for a good walk and to visit the bigger store. These are the views I passed along the way. The Olympic facilities still remain from the 1992 Winter Olympics which were held in Albertville. Last week they celebrated their 20th anniversary. 

The old vacant house next to the school- doesn't look like something straight out of a novel or a movie? The school is considering purchasing it to expand their housing availability.

The church we attend, around the corner from school
 I've enjoyed getting involved in the nursery and have started playing violin on the worship team. We have one service, 10-11:45. The church celebrates communion every Sunday. I am learning to connect with God and hear from Him in a language that is not my own.

The sanctuary
The nursery

A couple of weekends ago, the girls and I took a Saturday and frolicked around the nearby town of Annecy. It is about a 45 min drive from school, so we enjoyed getting out and about enjoying the old architecture, market and the contrast with the modern-day mall located in the "modern" part of town. We also enjoyed some French baking =)

Carey- with the C&MA to Mali

Library and theatre in Albertville
The old church in Albertville

....and home sweet home again back in Albertville.
As I write this, I am sitting in our living room, snow is
falling outside our window, Jodi is in the kitchen trying to make chocolate chip cookies with French ingredients and
measurements- always an adventure =) And I am sitting on
the couch with Renate (a teenage girl from Germany who is
here for the year practicing her French), and introducing her
to her very first viewing of the Sound of Music! =)
Always something new.....

Hope and pray you are all doing well!

Love From Albertville,
           ~ Amanda