Even my English vocabulary fails to convey what it feels like to try to speak a new language; to will my tongue to move and lips to shape in ways they never have before.
I hear the new phrase. I hear my own voice repeat it, exchanging the foreign tones with ones for which my brain already has a category. I shake my head and try again, grasping at the nuances and subtleties of vibrations. My tongue feels fat as I press it more smoothly against the back of my teeth. I try again, pushing it to the roof of my mouth. I'm not even sure how to adjust now; it still sounds markedly wrong. I laugh at myself and am relieved to hear my teacher laugh with me at the awkwardness of my struggle, the faces I unknowingly make while trying.
I hear my three-year-old in the background, asking for more water in his sippy cup, and for once, I am amazed by and not attempting to correct his lisping mispronunciations. For once, I appreciate his impressive grasp of language; the depth of understanding that allows him to make mistakes that I would rejoice to be capable of making with this language right now. It is remarkable, the ease with which this child (any child) has picked up on his mother tongue; the ability to distinguish and classify similar sounds as different; the cultural awareness acquired to be able to tell nuances apart.
Immersion. Practice. Time.
Like a newborn, I am again immersed in a world I cannot understand without the vocabulary to even ask an intelligent question. But this time, I am aware of that which I do not know, of all that I desire to comprehend, of the many things I long to share.
It's been done before...
"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."
Long ago, the Godman Himself left His throne and humbly undertook the greatest cultural exchange of all time... Clothed in mortal flesh, the Divine broke into our world as a newborn child.
Unable to speak.
Wonder. The very Word of God, personified. Unable to even speak. Wailing. Cooing. Misunderstood.
It's miraculous, what God chose to overcome on our behalf.
And from the great Incarnation came a proliferation of incarnations, set in motion by the words, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel...". It is the unbabbling of Babel, the miracle of the Word made flesh, again and again, as He fills broken vessels with His Spirit and Word and sends them out to once more become babes anew among languages untouched; a "rebirthing" in a sense of The Word in every tongue.
So we prayerfully embrace the struggle of learning this language and living in a foreign culture for the joy set before us, as our Savior already did so perfectly, and take great comfort that in even this weakness, our High Priest can sympathize with us. And in our prayers, we ask to partake in the miracle of the kernel.
"Unless a kernel of wheat falls into the Earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12:24)
The Word was killed. Put to death. Buried.
And when He rose to life three days later, the Word increased (Acts 6:7) and increased (Acts 12:24) and increased (Acts 19:29).
May all that we bury in the ground for the sake of bringing The Word to Isaan bring increase and increase and increase for His Kingdom.
Please Pray With Us
Please pray with us as we study the Thai language. It is certainly a challenge, and we look to Him for strength and endurance to faithfully chip away at this hurdle that stands between us and sharing the Gospel with the unreached in Isaan.
Please pray for Isaan. Pray that God would already be preparing the hearts of people to be opened to the Gospel when they hear it.
"Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)