This past week, we took our Stage 2 language oral evaluation today and by God’s grace, our entire team passed! We’re all in the process of grading the written portion now.Being the intrepid first team being sent out by Finisterre Vision, we are navigating the world of language checks in the midst of doing life here in Papua New Guinea.We have four of these checks before we will have acquired a decent grasp of Tok Pisin. For each check, we have a specific list of things to learn—both culturally and grammatically—along with a decent amount of vocabulary. Then, at the end of each stage, we are given both an oral examination and a written examination. The oral examination consists of being able to interpret a story told by a national, with the level of difficulty of the story varying from stage to stage, as well as being able to communicate effectively a story of our own to a national. The written portion pertains more to the grammatical concepts of the language—translating words and phrases and sentences—again with varying levels of difficulty.And we just finished Stage 2.That means that we are halfway through our language learning for Tok Pisin. Typing those words is both amazing and startling at the same time.On the one hand, it feels like we have been here for months and months, instead of a scant eight weeks. Truly, I’ve had pregnancies that haven’t felt this long. But maybe that’s what leaving your home country and culture to learn a brand-new, completely different one at 30 years old is like.And at the other time, it feels way too soon to be at such a mile marker.But either way, progress is a good thing. We are not yet where we aim to go and we have not yet done what we came here to do. Moving forward is a good thing—especially considering that we haven’t even gotten to the hard part yet.To give you an idea of what’s to come, here is the general timeline of language learning for Tok Pisin:
- Stage 1: Four weeks (we took five what with Christmas and New Year’s)
- Stage 2: Three Weeks
- Stage 3: Three Weeks
- Stage 4: Three Weeks
Now, here is the timeline for learning the Tok Ples of whatever tribal language group to which we end up going.
- Stage 1: Six months
- Stage 2: Six months
- Stage 3: Six months
- Stage 4: Six months
Learning Tok Ples, it appears, will take eight times longer to learn than Tok Pisin. So really, climbing the hill that is learning Tok Pisin gets us to the base camp of climbing the Mt. Everest of the Tok Ples we will be going to. Something to look forward to!As we are now at the halfway mark of learning Tok Pisin, our timeline would put us finishing Stage 4 around the middle of March. At that point, we would begin looking for a tribe end of March, beginning of April and possibly moving in May. That’s a little more than three months away.Of course, a thousand things could happen to change this timeline before then. So, we make our plans which is the best we as humans can do without knowing the future and leave the rest in the hands of the One who does.