We recently finished a 6 week course at the Center for Intercultural Training, one of the requirements before heading to France. The Center is nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina - about 40 miles east of Asheville. In this quiet, lush, rural setting we tried to soak up as much as we could about how to learn a language and live overseas from several seasoned missionaries and world travelers. Our facilitators combined had over 200 years of cross-cultural experience. Plus, there were 30 other missionaries attending this training and in a similar stage as ourselves, so it was easy to connect as they are preparing to move to all corners of the earth. Here is our small group, some wonderful people who have all done some amazing things already, and God has more in store! They were such a blessing to us!
We were in class for 7 hours a day discussing various topics such as ethnocentricity, spiritual warfare, team dynamics, how to use a language helper, how to raise our kids in a different culture, etc. The boys were also in class during this time, making crafts and having fun, but also learning about saying goodbye well to friends and family, making transitions to new cultures, even some words and phrases in different languages. I think it's safe to say, however, that they mainly enjoyed playing superheroes with the other kids.
Zeke even reported that he was learning a new language in North Carolina called “Southern.” He explained that instead of saying, “Hi,” people who speak Southern say, “Haaa” and they drink sweet “tay". Well, you just need to hear him say it, it’s adorable, and actually pretty spot on!
Outside of class we read deeper into the topics we were learning about, and had opportunities to chat around the campfire with our new friends. We also did some sight-seeing in the area. A local favorite hiking spot is Chimney Rock (did you know they shot the movie “Last of the Mohicans” here?), and Asheville is a beautiful and eclectic city, where the boys were able to try Ethiopian food for the first time. Here they are trying injera. Liam was not too sure...
As we pack our bags and get ready to fly to France for a year of language school, we are grateful for the time spent in North Carolina in preparation. There were many topics, each so complex and varied, that one of the main things we took away from the course is just how much we don’t know! Instead of going as teachers, we are going as learners. One thing we are sure of is this: we can’t do this without the Lord preparing the way, guiding us, and using us, particularly in our weakness. Thank you for your prayers as we prepare to leave this week. Our next update should be from France!