Part of the work I am currently doing is studying Mandarin here in China. My first year I taught at a university, and now I study at a language school. I came to China with no ability to speak Mandarin. I spent my first year learning little phrases, and, very importantly, how to order food, but acquisition didn’t go much further than that. My focus was more on teaching and meeting students. Many students are able to speak some English, and so I naturally gravitated a bit more to them. China Partners though has an earnest desire for long-term acquisition of Mandarin to communicate deeply and effectively in our Chinese friends’ heart language.
Before coming to China I had some baggage learning languages. I didn’t do very well in university learning Spanish, and partly because of that I didn’t consider myself very able to learn a new language. However, learning Chinese has been a different story since I began ten months ago. At my school I have fantastic teachers who are passionate and kind in instructing me, and I have the opportunity to communicate with many people outside of class. Most importantly as I’ve lived here God has been kindling in me a desire to love my friends through learning. He’s shown me that I too, through his empowerment, can acquire this language.
From storekeepers with whom I casually chat, to friends with whom I want to share, I have seen the valuable effects of being able to slowly speak more of the language. I have helped lead a Bible study this past year. We have changed our structure to incorporate more Chinese into our studies as the year has progressed. We have witnessed on many occasions when a student’s understanding of God or the topic we are talking about has opened more deeply when we communicate in Mandarin. This time of learning to speak has given me a precious glimpse of the importance of loving my friends through learning their heart language.