Following our 2 week’s break in Goroka it’s time to reset, pick new goals for this next little stint and get stuck in. That includes getting back into the habit of writing blogs! Oscar is now on summer holiday having finished year 1, leaving Gerdine to experience a change of pace to looking after kids on summer holiday while trying to squeeze in language time.
I’m looking at what may be the last mile of the language learning marathon.

4-day old baby

A change of scenery is always nice. Life can feel quite isolated and monotonous in Kovol. The same places, the same people, the same work and few visitors πŸ™‚ It’s always a treat to come out to Goroka and do something novel like going to a store πŸ™‚ A store in town has trollies with a little car on the front. Alice and Millie love going to the store and sitting in the little car; it’s the highlight of the break that they are still talking about. We’ve already planned out in detail how we’ll leave the helicopter on our next break and head straight to the store to sit in the trollies!
The trampoline is always popular, and so is the pool at the resort. We’re a bit worried as parents that our kids see water so infrequently their swimming is behind where it should be, but hey, that’s life in the mountains for you.

Gerdine continued with school for Oscar during the break so that his summer holiday lined up with the Stous boys now. It was a working break for her, but Oscar is now enjoying a summer holiday with his friends.

Oscar feeds Alice a dessert he made

Returning to Kovol it’s on with language learning. So where are we at?
After 2 years of concentrated effort, I’ve finished the team’s cultural summaries write-up. The result is over 1000 audio recordings of Kovol speech totalling about 75 hours distilled into a 100-page document summarising each area of Kovol culture. This has been the bread and butter of my culture and language learning for 2 years and I’m feeling like I’m not quite sure what to do now it’s done!
This last week I’ve been working on my discourse analysis papers. I’ve got a write-up for narrative, procedural and hortatory discourse patterns in the Kovol language based on painstakingly chatting and analysing 13 Kovol texts. The promise of discourse analysis was that having studied these texts and seeing how the language uses paragraph-level features I’d become a better communicator myself. I hope that’s true at the end of the road now!
My 3 papers have been approved as finished for now while I wait for Philip and Rhett to finish their analyses and see what they have found.
This week I’ve been working on the final piece of the paperwork puzzle. The cultural themes paper is where I look for the themes that appear all over the place in Kovol culture, ideas that permeate the entire culture and without which Kovol culture wouldn’t be Kovol. These themes are listed, illustrated with examples and then aligned with a Biblical worldview with suggestions on what lessons will be very important for the Kovol people.

The kids gaze into the jungle on a recent hike

I’ve come up with 3 main themes and several sub-themes. The main themes are:

  • Misfortune is a result of personal sin
    Serious sickness for example always has a sin behind it that needs to be repented of.
  • Everyone must be in harmony to avoid misfortune
    People without any issues or problems with others can expect life to go well.
  • Prosperity is available, but just out of reach
    If you have the right knowledge success and prosperity will fall into your lap, but the Kovol people are lacking that knowledge.

It’s been interesting to look at these themes and several sub-themes and digging through the Bible to see how they would be addressed. I’ve thought about what will be key lessons for each of these themes, but these themes will need to be in mind throughout the whole course.
I suppose I can make these documents available if people are interested in reading for themselves.

Carrying 30kg of little girls up the mountain is quite the workout

With all that paperwork nearing completion, I’m nearing the end of my culture and language learning journey. The next step is to book a consultant check. I’ll be tested on my communication ability hoping to get to level 9, I was level 8 in December. If I can get that, and the paperwork is approved I’ll have completed culture and language learning and I’ll be ready to move on to literacy and Bible lesson preparation.
Lots of our consultants are away for the summer though so it’s looking like the test won’t be till the end of August.

That leaves me feeling a bit like I’m at a loose end. As I said I’ve been working on culture interviews for 2 years as my primary way of learning culture and language. Should I continue now the report is done? I can always improve right? But I’m also feeling a lot like moving on to something new!
With 2 months to fill, I think I’ll be doing lots of speaking exercises. Spending time just chatting with people is part of it, but also doing mock tests. I decide on a subject to talk about, like this week for example how in ancient Israel shepherds sat in the doorway of pens and became gates for the sheep. Having tried my best to communicate I check if they got it, show some pictures and then ask someone to give me their version of the story. I can then compare this version to my own and hopefully pick up some pointers on doing a better job next time.
What should be my next story though? It’s hard work coming up with ideas!

Gerdine likes to hold babies

Gerdine is looking to improve her speaking level at the next test too. I think she’s broken through a plateau where verb conjugations had her stumped for a bit. She’s booked an overnight trip to another village for next week where she’ll be up at night hunting for rats. Good on her, I’ll be enjoying our bed at home πŸ˜€

Returning from each break is a chance to reset and pick goals for the next few months of work. Having now basically finished all the paperwork that has been a major focus for so long it feels like I’m pulling into the final straight!


Nathanael Mol · 04/07/2024 at 3:19 pm

Thanks for the update. I would find it very interesting to be able to read these documents.

Mandy C · 04/07/2024 at 11:04 pm

Hunting for rats- whoopee! She’s a good wife πŸ™‚
Good to read all this. You have learned very quickly.
Seek to get to know people as well as their culture and words πŸ™‚
Love from us.
Mandy (mission sim just finished today)

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