Our vision for our time in Cambodia is to be given to whatever the Lord has for us. The invitation so far has been to support existing ministries at Hard Places Community. For Aaron that looks likes coaching and discipleship of the 55+ national staff. However to do that I feel really strongly that I need to be able to go to deep places in their heart language; Khmer, which requires an advanced level of language speaking ability. To get to that level, I am looking at one to two years of study and practice.
In September I started part time language class through Gateway to Khmer (G2K) international language school. I am in level one of four, with 5 other students. We meet twice a week in the evenings for a couple hours per class. So far we have learned basic greetings, questions, numbers, and job titles. Some of the other students are teachers at an international school and the others are working at various NGO's. The class primarily is focusing on vocabulary so far, but is well run and I am learning pretty well in that format. My current class goes for 10 weeks, after which I will start level two full time.
Last week I also started meeting with a language helper. The goal is to accelerate my language learning by learning more topics than just what they are presenting in class. I also wanted to get time with someone who has no teaching experience but speaks fluently so that I can learn the correct way to pronounce things without any presupposed ideas on how to teach. I learned some language learning activities when we went to culture school in Colorado in June. My language helpers name is Annuch. She recently graduated high-school and is volunteering full time in the Library with Megan to practice her English and get job experience before she starts university in November. She didn't have any prior experience and has been enthusiastic about doing my activities with me and answering lots of questions. So far I have been learning directions, locations, vehicles, times of day, personal pronouns, and how to form past tense and present tense sentences related to transportation. I am really enjoying this one on one time and am getting a ton out of it! Yesterday in our session, among other things, I was able to tell her that: others and I went to a school and market the day before yesterday on a bike, all in Khmer with correct syntax. My time with Annuch amazingly is free, and in return for her help I am spending some time every session helping with her English. She already speaks very clearly, but we are focusing on her reading and writing skills.
Annuch starts at the university in November, but has offered to keep meeting with me if she is able. Either way I'm very grateful for how quickly I am learning because of her help; and will look for another helper if she is not able to continue working with me.
Language learning is an important part of our life and ministry here in Cambodia. I am very blessed by the training and opportunities I have. Its not always easy finding time to practice right now outside of class and time with Annuch, but I know that every minute spent learning gets me closer to loving and journeying with HPC Khmer staff; and that makes it more than worth it. Thank you everyone for you prayers and encouragement as we continue on the wild journey with the Lord.