I’m sure you’re all dying to know what my day-to-day life consists of, so I have decided to take some time and satisfy your curiosity. While each day holds its own surprises, new experiences and special annoyances, I have developed the semblance of a rhythm. It follows more of a weekly pattern than it does daily but I like the sound of “day in the life” rather than “week in the life”.
For the first six months of my time on the island, of which three months have somehow already passed, I am learning the local language. Four days a week are dedicated to this pursuit. As of right now, I practice language on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. How do I do this? Each of those days I have a language helper come to my home or I go to their homes. These are women who are educated; they all have a university education. One speaks English very well; the other two are learning but their French is superior to mine. The timing of their visit is based on their schedules and so it varies each day. On Tuesday I go to my homestay town in the early morning and spend several hours there. On Wednesday, my host sisters are supposed to come to my house at noon; they usually arrive by 1:00. Friday, my lesson is scheduled for 10am, which means it usually starts no earlier than 10:30 even though my language helper lives two houses away. And Saturday I have a lesson scheduled at 1:30, following the same pattern of starting 30 minutes to an hour late every week. What I do before and after our hour together depends on the day.
Generally, I like some time to wake up. I spend at least an hour every morning in prayer and Bible study before I am ready to face the day. By that time, my kitten is very hungry so I make my way to the kitchen and warm up some milk for him. I then make myself breakfast, which usually consists of eggs, pancakes or yogurt. A visiting family just gave us a box of cereal, which I am very excited about! I write my letters in the morning at breakfast. Preferably I would have some time to read afterwards or clean, depending on the day. A part of the program I am with requires a lot of reading. Every three months I am required to read at least six books and write reports on them. Every week there are additional articles that we must read and discuss when we come together as a team.
Then comes language time. I used to prepare phrases I wished to learn that day about half an hour before my helper arrived or I leave for their house. When we met, I’d get a translation of the phrase and have them write it down in a notebook and then repeat the phrase on a voice recorder. Depending on the difficulty of the phrase, I would have them repeat it on the recorder in many different ways to help with my pronunciation, timing, inflection, accuracy, etc. Then we’d practice together. She will say the phrase and I will repeat. Or she will ask a question I’ve learned and I will give the answer. We’ve also played a sort of Simon Says type game to help my listening, played market where I am the client and she is the market lady and I made a clock out of cardboard to practice time and asking when things are going to start or end. Three months in my language has surpassed the simple phrase giving lessons and I am now working on comprehension and translation. Each lesson is different. If my language helper shows up today (when I tracked her down at her house yesterday after she didn’t show up for our lesson, she said she was tired) we will work on story telling. I will tell her a story in English and French. She will then repeat the story to me in local language. She will retell the story several times and I will record each and listen on my own time.
With two of my language helpers we have the additional arrangement that we work on English for an hour after our local language hour. They come with prepared questions and then we usually play a game or have a conversation in English.
Mid-afternoon is naptime. The heat is oppressive. I accomplish nothing during this time of day. I wilt like a flower as sweat beads on my forehead.
Three days a week, after naptime, I go to an aerobics class from 4:30-6pm. I hope to write an entire post about aerobics so I won’t go into too much detail. It’s fun; it’s active; I’ve met a lot of well-educated women and I enjoy my time working out with them.
The evenings are always variable. Following aerobics on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I shower and eat, then settle down. Saturday evenings I usually go to my team leader’s English club. I like to get ideas for things I can do in the future. But mostly I go because there are a couple women from my town who will only go if I accompany them and I very much want them to hear and participate in the discussions. Sunday evenings my team gathers for a time of prayer. Tuesdays I go out into the community to sit and talk with friends. And Thursdays are spent at my team leader’s house.
I realize this isn’t the most pivotal or thought-provoking post (which is why there are more pictures). I hope, though, it lays the foundation for future posts so that you may have a better understanding of what I’m doing day by day.