Como Esta from the Philippines! I’ve been here for three days now and I am already in love with the people here! I’m staying in a missionary guest house – and have had the privilege of meeting several missionaries and hearing about where they’re going and what they are doing. It has been quite an eye opener.
Today there seems to be a theme in the conversations that I’ve taken part in. It is about languages.
I learned this morning that it is quite a process to teach a tribe how to read and write. First, a missionary family enters the culture. They build a home, start relationships, and bring in resources such as medicine. They live within the culture to learn the language the natives speak, absorbing and accepting the culture as it is. At that point, they assign phonetic codes to the sounds the language creates. Following language guidelines and other nearby languages, the sounds are turned into readable words. The missionaries are then ready to teach the natives how to read and write their own language. Eventually, they are presented with a translated Bible and other books. Then a school is born. Once education is introduced, a whole new world of possibilities is available to the people. This process takes years of trial and error, careful methodical listening, and love and sacrifice on the part of the missionary family. I am amazed at the patience these people have to see the vision come to reality.
A little later I had a key conversation with one of The Guys. We were talking about how we communicate within marriage. During our talk, my mind kept returning to my lesson on languages. And there are quite a few similarities between what a missionary does in a new culture, and how we develop our marital language.
We get married and move into a home together. Then we start learning each other’s language as we communicate day to day: expectations based on the way we were brought up, pain, experiences that produce assumptions, how we process where each other are coming from, and how we naturally think as a man or woman. As we listen, we absorb and accept each other as we are. It is done through trial and error, and takes a lot of patience. We have to be students of each other, taking into consideration all of the things that make up our spouse, and tailor our communication to how our spouse can really understand. We can learn each other’s language – but it takes years of careful, methodical listening, and love and practice.
Once we learn to speak each other’s language, a whole new world of possibility opens up for us as couples. Communication gets easier as you practice speaking in each other’s language. Your understanding grows for each other, and there is less hurt. And there’s greater peace because you eventually don’t have to try so hard.
Stay tuned for other lessons learned from our friends in the Philippines!