Language School

“What is your proudest accomplishment?” 

This question came up at the dinner table a few weeks ago and I have been thinking about my answer ever since.

I could say writing my book.

Or staying married for 44 years.

But I think I will say that my proudest accomplishment is this:  Lasting over three years in Ethiopia.

That success was actually filled with various achievements.

It started with the accomplishment of going there in the first place.

Well, actually, that wasn’t my accomplishment, was it?  Remember I wrote about how God changed my heart and gave me peace.

So, how ‘bout my completing Amharic Language School without an emotional breakdown?

That’s something I can be proud of!

Sitting in classes from 8:30 to 2:30 every day for nine months.

Trying to read and write and pronounce the 240 artistic characters in that alphabet.

Practicing my dialogue over and over: “Temaree nain. Amarinya iyetemarku no. Gina bizoo alouwkim.”  “I am a student. I am learning Amharic, but I do not know much.”

One of the hardest parts about learning another language is the assault on your self-esteem. You fight against thoughts like I don’t belong here.  I can’t do this.  I am stupid.

 I wanted to quit many times, and I never would have made it through those months if God had not consistently ‘spoken’ truth to my mind.

Hmm.  I don’t think I can call the completion of language school my accomplishment.

Well, what about those two years living at the remote camp?

That was definitely a feat.

It was like going back in time.  Wearing long skirts, no electricity, no internet, far from family and grocery stores, dealing with wild animals and isolation.

I was regularly lonely and discouraged and somedays I didn’t want to get out of bed.

But – and that is a large BUT –  God took good care of me.

People and sunsets, birds and His Word, songs and even baboons, God used to comfort me, move me, teach me.

Every time I was afraid, every time I was depressed, His grace was sufficient, His power came through my weakness.

He’s the one who kept me there.  That was His accomplishment.

Well then, what about writing my book?  Would I say I am proudest of that? I can’t because I know I couldn’t have done that without God giving me inspiration and tenacity for that long task.

And staying married 44 years?  Now that is definitely God’s accomplishment!

So I am realizing as I write this that none of my accomplishments are technically mine.


So how would I answer that question “What is your proudest accomplishment?” ?

I’m not sure, but maybe it has something to do with that phrase from language school:

“I am a student.  I am learning, but I don’t know much.”

Maybe keeping the posture of a slow learner, being a lifetime student of Jesus, always knowing that I don’t know much – maybe that should be my proudest accomplishment.

Yeah, I think that’s my answer.

What’s yours?

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