Beyond Our Boundaries

Amazingly, we are six weeks into language training – almost halfway through!  We are gaining wonderful insights into culture, as well as getting a solid base in Kiswahili.  Tanzania is people centric.  A phrase which captures this well is “Mtu ni Watu” – “A person is people”.  This concept of community even permeates the language.  It is noun centric.  English tends to be more verb (action) focused, but Kiswahili builds sentences around what/who is receiving or performing activity.  One quick example of this is the equivalent verb for ‘to have’.  It translates more like ‘to be with’.  One doesn’t possess something as much as one ‘is with’ it.  (I’ll save the implications of that for another time). 

Since we began studying over six weeks ago, all the nouns we have learned have been confined to eleven noun classes; with each class having different agreements so that the verb, adjectives, etc. all agree with the noun.  This part of Swahili grammar is particularly relevant because of what happened in class this morning.  This morning we were quite unexpectedly introduced to another noun class. Class 16.

The first thing that came to mind was fear of adding another noun class – I was quite happy with the eleven classes I already knew.  I felt safe inside the boundaries of eleven noun classes.  This introduction of another class shouldn’t have been unexpected, since the board at the front of the room has had spaces for fifteen classes from the beginning. But unknowingly, I had created a safety zone for myself inside this new language. 

The very next thing that came to mind was the request of Jabez in I Chronicles 4:10, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border…”.  Until this morning my perception was that Jabez wanted more stuff.  More land, more wealth, etc.  And maybe that is what he wanted.  But this morning I considered for the first time the bravery of Jabez’ request.    Jabez trusted God enough to make his request without qualifiers (like – expand these borders, but not those), and to know that if God remained with him, he would not come to harm.  I don’t know if Jabez fully knew all that he was asking for, or what the answer would bring his way.  But he was courageous enough to ask. 

In the past two months our boundaries have been expanding – geographically and in most other ways too – and yet I’m stunned at my skill for creating new boundaries to make myself feel secure.  As we continue being exposed to new things, please pray with us that we will follow God courageously.

7 Thoughts

  1. You 2 are amazing. God Bless and stay in touch.

    We are still waiting on God to bring us a buyer for the lab.

    Love you guys

    Thanks So Much ,
    Herbert Steffen
    Office: 309-377-2851
    Cell : 309-830-0787


  2. Dear Jim and Susan, it is so good to hear from you! You have been on my heart and mind a lot lately. My goodness, there is much more to learning a language than just how to say the words! I had forgotten that! It sounds like you are learning a lot about the language and people. Perhaps if we were more people (others) centric, our world would be a different place. Being ME centric is an epidemic in our country and unfortunately, it can rub off on all of us at times, t This reminds me of Phil. 2:3&4 and the need for this mindset. I’m praying for you! I miss you! Love, Donna


  3. Everything Donna O said goes for me too 🙂 Praying for you and ever thankful that you two have answered this call on your life.


  4. We rejoice with your perseverance and good attitude about expanding your boundaries! It seems you are both adjusting well: must be the prayers! Love to you both, Brad & Wendy


  5. I love what you two are learning. The words you write encourage me to “expand my borders” in this USA. You both our people persons in Africa. See you later, alligator. Does this saying translate in your new language? 🥰


  6. Yay! It sounds like progress!! I am praying that you will be courageous and attentive as you trust Him to help you learn to communicate.


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