Learning the language...
When we arrived, we really couldn't say anything (or understand anything) in Akha. Well, actually, we did know how to say “Hello” & “Thank you”, but we found these two phrases woefully unhelpful in most situations. For about the first 48 hours, people would speak to us and our eyes would glaze over; we had no idea what they were saying and didn't even know how to say “I don't understand”. (We didn't have any translator with us... this really was “immersion”!)
By the third day, one of the young men (A-Go) decided to take us under his wing and tutor us. For the next, few days we spent 3-4 hours a night drilling Akha words with him. Now, there is no such thing as an Akha primer, so we used a book that the Thai schools use to teach English. So, the three of us would huddle around this book and A-Go would point to a section. We would read the word in English and he would see the word in Thai, then tell us the word in Akha. It was quite a process, but we finally started getting familiar with the basics. After a few days of evening sessions, A-Go had to travel to another village, so our lessons ended for the time being. But it was just as well.... our brains were sufficiently full and we were ready for a break and ready to practice what we had learned.
Thank you for your prayers for our language. We really feel like we've accomplished a lot in the two weeks that we were in the village. However, keep praying because we are keenly aware that our current progress is just a “drop in the bucket”. We still have many years ahead of us before we can actually “minister” in this language.