Our time at Mission Training International has come to a close. We spent four weeks at their training campus in beautiful Palmer Lake, Colorado. Being surrounded by mountains and the beauty of God’s creation was a perfect setting to be encouraged to “develop the practical skills and attitudes that will successfully take you through the challenging and rewarding process of being interwoven with another culture” through their COMPASS program. *
Our first two weeks focused on “tools and techniques necessary to learn a new language more quickly”, and provided “… both a background understanding of how to best learn a new language- including 30 proven techniques – and a solid foundation in phonetics (hearing and producing different sounds)”*
Our class times were filled with group sessions of practicing “mimicking” a new language as we heard it, as well as participating in the actual projects and activities we can take with us to use in language learning through our everyday interactions once back in South Africa. We got to literally stretch our mouths and tongues to learn how to make the phonetic sounds that English speakers may not be use to making, as well as to learn of the sounds we English speakers make but don’t even realize we do. Oh… and we did much of this practice with a hand held mirror before our faces to be sure we were getting tongue/mouth placement just right!
We also split up into smaller language groups that met with language helpers to give us a variety of real time practice in the language learning tools that we were learning about. Lori’s group was with a Russian speaker, and Mike was learning Hindi. These small group times gave us practical experience with the games, activities, and projects that we can use when we return to South Africa to learn Zulu on our own initiative. In fact, one of the most important encouragements we received through this language learning portion of our training was that we need to take ownership of our language learning.
To read more about Lori’s take on the language learning premises, click here:
Pray for us, that we will be diligent in this and utilize the tools we’ve been given.
“Father, find me faithful to steward this new information well”.
The second half of our time at MTI was spent on cross cultural training. Some of the modules we experienced touched on the topics of managing stress, embracing rest and keeping the Sabbath, conflict resolution styles, the various stages of transition of exiting home culture and entering new culture, values awareness, hellos & goodbyes, and grief and loss.
We learned much about ourselves, our classmates, and our spouses during these activities and interactions, but most importantly, we learned much about our Father God, and His heart of compassion for those He calls His own. Jesus experienced all this and so much more as He left His home, His culture and family (the Father) to meet us where we are; and that represented huge costs and sacrifice for Him in terms of His comfort and His glory. Therefore, the sacrifices we make to meet people in their cultures are relatively small – but also imitate Jesus’ sacrifice for all peoples.
We not only participated in “class time” but also small “growth groups” where we interacted on a more personal level with others in our community at MTI, as well as meeting weekly with a coach who counseled and listened to us a couple as we processed all we were learning. And there was ample time in our schedules to meet informally during “down time” in the evenings and weekends to get to know each other better. The beautiful outdoors beckoned us for times of rest, relaxation, personal reflection, and recreation. And there were many little kids attending along with their families to give us smiles and laughter through the days.
It was an especially uplifting time to meet together each morning for praise and worship through song. We will miss the 39 adults and 21 kids that we met and interacted with over those four weeks. We trust God to protect and use them well in all they do as they step out in obedience to His call to show His grace to the 17 countries we will be going to.
Take away Quotes from our time at COMPASS:
“That you are talking is more important than what you are talking about” – David McClure (in context of language learning).
“Live the life of language before learning the law of language”. – Dwight Gradin
“We need to stop and rest so our souls can catch up to our bodies” (Cherokees on Trail of Tears).
“Die to even the beauty of your own culture”