Lions and tigers and bears, Oh My

“Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my.” Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz

This line reminds me of a place in Locust Grove, GA called Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. There was a special trio called BLT: bear, lion, tiger. They were rescued together as babies and have grown up together at the sanctuary. This is an unnatural trio of predators. In nature, they would never be together because lions are from Africa, tigers are from Asia, and bears are from North America. To Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tinman, these were their greatest fears in the dark woods along the path of the yellow brick road.

Language learning is a great fear for many people. As Americans, we endure the two years of foreign language in high school. We learn to read and write a language but never really know how to speak it or understand someone speaking. A few love learning language, some hate it, and others struggle through the whole process. After our high school exposure to a foreign language, we tend to forget almost everything we learned.

“Classes and tenses and agreements, Oh my,” has become a new saying for us.

Jeremy and I both have our own learning disabilities, so language learning is a struggle for us in different ways. We have completed 17 of 60 lessons here at language school. It became a little overwhelming by the end of the third week because in Kiswahili there are 15 noun classes, 15 tenses, and everything has to be in agreement within a sentence: subject, object, adjectives and verbs. Just this past Friday we were trying to explain why we were struggling to our language helper after being presented with the word AMEWAITENI. Only it was left of the original verb kuita which means to call. When you break down this word AMEWAITENI:

A – is the subject pronoun for he/she

ME – is the past tense

WA__ENI – is the object pronoun for all of you

IT – is the root of the verb kuita

(You drop beginning and ends of verbs to add the subject, object, and tenses.)

Literally, you can say a whole sentence in one word. Amewaiteni means He called all of you. I can read the word fine but to be listening to someone speak, you have to do so much to the verb to understand. Jeremy is struggling to even break down a word into the parts to understand the whole word.

Please pray for us as we try to learn Kiswahili. Every day we have 20-30 new vocabulary words being added and usually a new form of a tense. After 4 weeks, we probably have over 300 vocabulary words, 5 tenses, and nouns from 11 classes with their positive, negative and possessive pronoun forms. This is a lot to take in, understand and then to speak. It is truly a challenge for us. Please pray for ears to hear, minds to understand, and tongues to reply. We know we can only learn this language and its complexities with God’s help.


7 thoughts on “Lions and tigers and bears, Oh My

  1. Having taught ESOL and struggling with my our foreign language studies, I will be in earnest prayer for you both. I’m so proud of you and your ministry. God bless you and keep you … and help with those verbs!


  2. Dear Ones,

    Can’t even imagine learning a new language. I’m praying that God will really help you and I know He is faithful. Think of great it will be when you can speak to the people He has sent you to serve!


  3. Jeremy and Claudia,
    We had a method we used many years ago to learn French and Pazande. Get a little… use it a lot…review… It sounds like you are doing that. Do you have a group of neighbors you are able to practice with. We will pray you get to do that!


  4. Always so interesting to read your blogs. I was overwhelmed by the reading lesson. I pray for you both for a clearer understanding of the lessons. I know it’s has to be tougher when you’re pregnant and may feel morning or all day sickness. As far as the two ladies, I feel so much in touch with them. I carried a little boy 9 mos and 2 weeks only to see him breathless. I lived their heartache and it’s very tough to get through. It’s true time helps, but it takes a LOT OF TIME to even accept it. Keep sending news. You are one of very few things I read on FB. There are so many worthless postings , but I can see pics of my great neices and nephews. Take care of yourself. When is your due date? Do you plan to deliver there? I’m sure you’ve checked out best you can. Love you. And so appreciate your work


  5. I will be praying for you all to learn the language so you will be able to help the people that God has sent you to minister to.


  6. I remember those days of language learning and the struggles Dan and I went through. Our language, the Indonesian language, isn’t even a fraction of what yours is in the ‘difficult’ department. Praying for you!


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