by Martin Horton, Wycliffe UK
Hannah joined Wycliffe last year and is now on her first placement in West Africa. She shares some of her first discoveries:
My work involves considering how to write in a language that has up until now only been spoken. As you can imagine, it’s not easy, but it’s a role that God had planned for me, long before I arrived here in West Africa.
I had already been on various short-term placements here and there and been convinced of the need for all to hear about Jesus, so things seemed to be falling into place.
After spending time studying at the School of Language and Scripture – which included making weird and wonderful sounds with my mouth in phonetics classes, culture learning, and three weeks learning Arabic – I moved to a country in West Africa.
Before considering how to write the language, I needed to learn it, and it felt like being a toddler all over again.
As you can probably imagine, I’d love for it to go quicker. Sometimes it can be hard to sit in on yet another thing and understand practically nothing. Sometimes I really don’t feel like going out and being so incompetent and not even being able to properly thank or make small talk with the people I meet.
I’ve found that praying before language learning lessons has been a good reminder of the fact that all wisdom and knowledge belong to the one who created all things and people. There is one who speaks and understands every single language! If you are able to do something, that’s because God has given you that ability. If you possess things or have any family, that’s because God has given them to you. That goes for everyone everywhere. Nothing just happens, that is, where God is not involved.
My work involves considering how to write in yet another language that has up until now only been spoken. It is so important to have a good writing system so that translated Scriptures actually get used. It’s a privilege to work together with two local translators and to facilitate and learn from them.
I’ve been enjoying spending time getting to know local people and finding out what life is like for them. I’ve been so warmly welcomed and generously hosted on many occasions. It’s been refreshing to see God’s image being reflected by the people he’s created here. They share with and care for each other so naturally.
The main challenges for me have been limited social interaction and church. It’s been great to visit local churches, but it’s been difficult to get to know people and at times discouraging to not hear much about Jesus. However, these difficulties have pushed me closer to God. This is really his work, and he cares about people so much more than I do.
Please join me in praying that God’s grace would spur me on to love him above all else.
Please pray that the church here would always proclaim the message of God’s incredible gift of grace.
Written by Martin Horton, based on conversations with Hannah
Reproduced with permission from Wycliffe Bible Translators UK