Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Just Like Learning to Drive

When I (Leah) was 16 years old and had just learned how to drive, I could really care less about driving stick shift. Learning to drive automatic seemed difficult enough. After a couple of years, my dad started teaching me to drive stick in our 2007 Saturn, manual transmission. I remember when I drove from our house to the grocery store (which was like a mile) I had mastered it. I remember st gear, I stalled about 3 times in a row, and everyone around me was honking like crazy. I decided that driving stick was not for me.
another time driving a bit further with a lot more traffic. I couldn't pull out of 1

In 2009, when I decided to move to Africa, I realized the vast majority of cars on this continent are manual. One of my teammates took me for driving lessons for what seemed like an entire day. I clearly remember getting so upset when people were “watching me” learn to drive that day. Anyway, after lots and lots of practice I finally learned because I didn't have any other choice. The first day of driving around by myself and successfully pulling out of 1st gear and not rolling backward felt like pure victory. I just had to get back up and keep trying. Luckily, I never gave up. If I did, I’m convinced I’d be walking everywhere.

Learning the Sotho language is a similar situation. In this country, people do speak a bit of English but mostly in the towns and more developed areas. The further out of town we move, the less English we find. This is because the majority of people living deep in the villages aren’t well educated. And this is our ministry hub. If I really wanted to, I could sit back and bring my husband Piet with me EVERYWHERE I went. I could fully rely on him to be my mouthpiece and I would be ok. But would my ministry be effective? Not very. Basotho people LOVE their language and their culture. Their faces light up when I greet them in Sotho and they laugh with joy when I stumble over a basic phrase.

I keep telling myself, it’s just like when you were learning to drive manual. I didn’t learn overnight; but I never gave up. Learning Sotho is difficult. I’m at the point now where I can hear certain words in a sentence and more or less hear where the conversation is going. It’s a long journey from here, but I won’t give up! I know eventually I will come out on the other side successful!

With that being said, I wanted to teach my readers a few basic phrases:

Hello: Dumeleng
How are you: Le kae?
I’m fine: Ke Teng!
How’s Life?: O Phetse Joang? (“U pete-se jwang”)
Where do you live?: O dula kae?
It’s cold: Hoa (“Wa”) Bata!


  1. That's a good analogy! Good luck to you I'm sure you can do it. God Bless

  2. Awesome read! Very inspiring, even to eveyday life challenges!