This week was an exciting change of pace for Steve and Gerdine Stanley and co-workers Philip and Natalie Hansen. It was the first time in eight weeks that a helicopter landed. Two CLA (culture and language learning) consultants stayed with them for two days to check their language ability and answer questions they had about the language learning process. The consultants also happen to be their neighbours; they work in the Pal tribe a two-minute flight (or six-hour hike) away. They are currently working on finishing Bible translation and discipling the Pal church.
The Kovol community were excited and keen to tell the consultants how well the team were doing. The piles and piles of local food in their houses underlined that the people were caring for them.
They sat with a group of Kovol speakers for the evaluation and were asked to name foods, people, items etc. This was followed by describing things with adjectives and progressing up to making a few statements about what they had done in the last few days or what they planned to do tomorrow.
At this stage, the checking is pretty relaxed and enjoyable. They are not expecting to have come too far in the language in three months of study, so this wasn’t a high-pressure check – later on it might be when they are hoping to finish language study and ‘check out’.
The good news is that they are all advancing as expected and are all in the basic-mid range.
As for specifics to work on Steve needs to go back a bit and drill noun phrases better.
The Hansens were able to fly out for a much-needed break, leaving Steve and Gerdine on their own for the next few weeks.
Steve and Gerdine decided to take the rest of the week easy after their CLA check. They have been pushing hard recently and need to slow down a bit before they burn out. A couple weeks of break every six months is not going to be enough, they need to learn to relax better in the bush.
They are thinking of taking the following steps:
Slowing down their house building projects to a Saturday every two weeks instead of every week.
Steve aiming for seven hours a day of language study instead of eight.
Scheduling more days of less intense CLA.
Steve looking after Oscar more often to allow Gerdine un-distracted language time.
Taking an extra day off every now and then when they are run down.
Last week everyone on the team was overworked, over stressed, tired, irritable and ready to lash out at each other quickly. Life in the tribe is demanding and unpredictable and they are all run so ragged that if a crisis hit they would not have the energy to respond effectively. They are going to ease up on the pace so that they can always have that buffer of physical and emotional energy. Please pray for them!