At the beginning of March Sara and I began learning the language most commonly spoken throughout Kenya; Kiswahilli. We are taking 5 hours of language training per week with our (Malimu) Jacken. We have both individual lessons and couple lessons where we attempt to converse with each other as if we were at the market, church, or talking about our day. We have been told by other missionaries that language training of any moment on the mission field was the most difficult.
Learning Kiswahilli as a couple presents its own unique dynamics. If you have ever been in a class with your spouse you know what I am talking about. Sara and I learn at different paces (Sara a little quicker), memorize differently (Malin learns the more obscure words), and pronounce words differently (Kenyans have said Sara speaks Swahilli as if she is Kenyan). It really gets interesting when Sara corrects me, or I correct her. Let’s just say as we learn Swahilli we also learn conflict resolution, compromise, and communication.
Sara can say, “We we ni ngonjuwa wapi?” Where are you sick?
“Saidia mim!” Help me!
“Kupongezi- Mschinana” Congratulations, It’s a girl.
“Nina Mimba?” Are you pregant?
Malin can say, “Fungua Mdomo.” Open your mouth.
“Kudunga Sindano.” Giving you a shot.
“Meno Maridadi.” Beautiful Teeth.
“toa ulimi.” Stick out your tongue.
We wish we were learning faster as our lessons will be completed at the end of this month. Patients so appreciate the limited swahilli we speak and now it is enough for Sara to manage on the Wards and myself in the dental clinic without tying up a nurse to help with translation.
We have learned a favorite Kenyan proverb that seems appropriate to our language training the phrase, “Haraca, Haraca, Heina Baraca.” It translates, hurry, hurry their are no blessings.
We will be patient and know that “Mungo Anakupenda Sisi.” (God loves us)