When you don’t have shared language, you find things to do that don’t require verbal communication.
And more puzzles…
Sweet Tea spoke only one word of English in our home the entire month she stayed with us: Milk. We drink water at meals so it didn’t enter my mind to offer anything else. A week or so into hosting, some of the host families told us that their host kids love milk. So when we set the table for the next meal, I translated on the phone “Water or milk?” and Sweet Tea nodded. So I translated, “Which one?” She cleared her throat and said, “Milk.” She must have been really tired of water all the time!
During her visit we communicated almost exclusively via the translators on our phones which was certainly better than nothing but also frustrating for all of us. I learned to type in short, succinct sentences. “You hungry?” “You tired?” “I go bed. You go bed?” The funny thing is that I started speaking like that too! And not just to Sweet Tea. I caught myself having short, choppy conversations with friends as well.
Sweet Tea had no problem reading what we translated to her but had a very rough time translating back to us. Probably a lot of reasons including combining languages (she speaks/reads/writes two languages which she intermixes), slang, grammar and uncertainty/guardedness around us.
Sweet Tea did communicate with us in many ways that didn’t involve language.
More on that to come…
P.S. I understand that God needed to do that whole Tower of Babel language mix-up thing but, really, it would be much easier if we all just spoke one language!!!