Monday, January 13, 2014

Arabic Practice

One of the first words I spelled in Arabic.

At my small group last week, we talked about hope. Every person in the group gave a prayer request in the form of a hope that we have and we all prayed for our hopes. When it was my turn to speak, I shared that the hope I have is to not give up on Arabic. It is the language of the people here in Kuwait and I feel that it is important to know for a variety of reasons. I prayed that I wouldn't give up and I would have opportunities to continue to speak Arabic.

Fast forward to this week and God answered that prayer. I work at an institution where there are many native Arab speakers who also speak English fluently. I usually have the desire to speak to some of them in Arabic, but because of fear and and the difficulty of trying to speak and understand, I usually always chicken out and speak English, which is easier for everyone.

However, I was able to get over my fear this week. I started speaking to one of my colleagues in Arabic while we were in the tea room getting a drink. She responded quite positively, and even though the conversation was short, she said she was impressed with my Arabic.

That's not to say that I'm fluent by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a small vocabulary that I can work with. My colleague had to repeat herself a couple times and translate a few words, but I had an idea of what she said and she could understand me.

She also said that she would try to speak to me every day in Arabic, which was a surprising and pleasant offer. I know that means a lot more work and thinking for me, but if it helps me to use the vocabulary I have more often, then I'm definitely interested.
"Welcome" in Arabic

I also had lunch the same day with another Arab colleague, and because of my confidence from the previous encounter, I also asked if I could practice. It was a little more difficult because he was more interested in teaching me, rather than trying to talk using my limited vocabulary. However, I still felt like he understood me and I understood some of what he was saying. I was a little discouraged because I understood less, but I was glad that I tried.

I walked away from that experience realizing that God answers prayers. I have been wanting to talk with people in Arabic since the beginning of the year, and almost always chicken out. However, after we took time and prayed together in small group, I had an opportunity to communicate in Arabic twice in one day.

We often feel that the pressure is on us, but this experience reminded me that God really has power to change things in my life, to overcome fear and doubt, and transform his people from one degree of glory to the next. If we put our hope in God and not ourselves, then our lives will be much more satisfying and joyful.