We have completed our first two weeks (one half week and one full) of language school and we are still working on pronunciation; a necessary step to form the foundation on which we will build. As we repeat word after word and sculpt our mouths to make the new foreign sounds, my mind wanders. Not in a way that distracts me from my task, but in the kind of way that the Lord can speak to you in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life. Whether or not we slow down does not mean that we can't listen to and spend time with the Lord. In the same way, I have been hearing a "whisper" in my mind as my lips and tongue curl and bend into position. No, I'm not crazy...its not that kind of whisper.
The voice that I hear is telling me not to forget all that has taken place to bring me to where I am; all who have given to me or my family and thus helped to bring me (or us) to this place. Of course my parents come to mind. Where would I be if they hadn't modeled humility and obedience toward the Lord? The voice also reminds me of my sister who, although "mistreated" me as all older sisters should, always encouraged me to be open minded and to be interested in other points of view. Jill obviously should be mentioned as she has carried us/me so far. This voice in my subconscious that continues to whisper during my phonetics drills also contains reminders of countless college professors and mentors, coworkers and friends along the way. Among the long list, two people in particular come to mind; a husband and wife, youth pastors from my high school days. They would not want to be mentioned, but they know who they are.
Even though my brain is under intense distress from trying to condition my tongue to respond correctly in this my third language, I flash back to other times when I have attempted making French sounds...or at least pretended to make French sounds. The couple from my high school days, I'll call them J & R, used to speak to me in French accents. I have no idea why this started, but to them my name was Gavo-ho-ho-hon. My typing doesn't do it any justice, but you have to imagine Steve Martin in "The Pink Panther" in order for it to sound right in your mind. J&R were some of the first people, outside of my family, to believe in me and to invest in my life. When a scared eighth-grader needed help understanding what God was trying to say to him, they spoke wisdom and helped me to clarify a call to missions. When they sensed me falling off the straight and narrow path, they spoke truth and guided me back on track with love. In their words and deeds, they modeled God's own heart of redemption and holiness to a teenager who needed to know it.
J&R will always be important to me, but there are dozens more who have made different investments and contributions to my life on the journey. To all of you, I am grateful. The Lord has brought our family down this path, but I'm certain that it has been my fellow believers who have been His hands and feet. As for the title of this post, it translates literally, "what does it mean?" This is a question that I will be asking a lot over the next few months and years as I attempt to learn French. Qu'est que ça veut dire? - What does it mean? I hope that as I am learning new customs and languages, I do not forget what this all means. I hope my heart continues to break for the lost and because of injustice in the world. I hope that I understand the gravity of what the Lord has asked us to do. I hope that I represent well those who have gone before me. And most of all, I hope that our work will bring glory to God.
I hope that I can remember just how much this all really means!