Saturday, June 30, 2007

PILAT - Photos

More Photos from PILAT - Program in Language Acquisition Techniques
- 2 week course in Palmer Lake, Colorado (Just outside of Colorado Springs) at Mission Training International

Above - The class - Hoping to fill our 'toolbox' with power tools for language learning.

Below - Dwight and Barbara Gradin, our facilitators for PILAT. They had been missionaries with Wycliffe in Vietnam and shared inspiring stories from their experience working to learn languages and their efforts in translating the Bible into the tribal language of 'Ja'. (Dwight did the "play by play" and Barbara did the "color commentary"!) Due to health reasons and the war in Vietnam they were only able to complete 1 book - the gospel of Mark. In class on Friday, Dwight showed us the completed New Testament in 'Ja' and let us listen to a 'Ja' choir sing 4 part harmony from hymn book which the 'Ja' people translated. It was inspiring to hear the stories - the many times hope was denied and the amazing way hope was fulfilled in God's timing and in his way.
Below - More comprehension practice for us following directions in Ja.
Below - Phonetic Drills - twice daily for almost two weeks this is the view we had during drills, looking at a mouth in a mirror. (The mouth in the photo is of Vanessa (China). We were in small groups of about 10 people and followed the direction of the leader to enable our mouths to make sounds like "bilabial and velar fricatives", "nasal consonants", "alveolar flaps", and "uvular trills". The term I liked the best were "bilabial glottalized explosive" doesn't that seem like it'd be a fun sound to know how to make!
The Whole Family Approach - While the adults and teenagers were sitting in lecture or small groups teaching our mouths new tricks, the younger kids were also engaged in learning. PILAT leaders did various projects to help the children prepare for learning a new language in their host culture. Games, field trips, art work, songs and stories all helped them build a positive perspective on the language learning adventure ahead. Below are some photos of the children and the body labeling art project.

Friday, June 29, 2007

da bear

While Kristina and I were walking on the path to Palmer Lake on Wednesday night we saw a black bear. At first we thought - perhaps its just a bush. Then we watched a dog run off the path and chase the "bush" up a tree - confirming our thoughts that this must be a bear. The dog's owner - not realizing why the dog had run off chased the dog. She put the dog on the leash and then proceeded to walk closer to the bear. We tried yelling from the path "Lady, there's a bear!" but she didn't hear us. We watched her get closer and suddenly stop, turn around and walk quickly down the hill with her dog (a grey hound).

We eventually continued our walk to the lake. Later that evening when DeWayne and Marsha returned from the lake to the building where we are staying, they saw the bear on the walking path. It moved off the path, stood up and looked at them and then walked away. Fortunately, the bear was more afraid of them than they of it. Unfortunately - I think this was the only time in the last 5 weeks that DeWayne and Marsh have been without their camera!

I apologize for the lack of clarity in the photos - it was dusk and Kristina wouldn't let me get closer for a better photo. When I realized that the "fence" between the bear and the path was all posts and no barbed wire I agreed with her advice.

Here are some other animals we saw while at Rocky Mountain National Park long horned sheep, elk, magpie, deer, and a prairie dog like animal.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Own it!

Above Kristina (Romania) is following directions to pick up a pen and put her paper on her head. Simple, right? Well - what if the directions were given only in 'Ja' a tribal language from Vietnam - a language we've been learning the last 7 days? A bit more complicated. Eh?

Language Learning Techniques - Barbara and Dwight Gradin are enabling us to pull in the language and not rely on language schools or teachers to push it into us. We must OWN IT! we are responsible for our own learning - not others.

As we learn new techniques to pull in the language we practice them. Because we're focusing on the method and not the language, we are not learning in our future target language. Language groups are learning Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Vietnamese, Mar, Portuguese, and French.

Learning French from our language helper - Trudy
Our LAP - or Language Acquisition Project today involved Rooms in a house, Pronouns, Activities and Tenses.

Rooms: paper with a sketch to represent a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room
Pronouns: 4 small papers with sketches to represent, I (smiley face), we (3 smiley faces), She (stick figure), they (2 males, 2 females).
Activities: 3 small papers with sketches to represent playing (ball), sleeping (pillow), cleaning (broom).

Following the directions we go through a progression starting with listening and comprehending the names of the rooms and pronouns. Then Listen and point then listen and move the paper. Through the first section of the activity the learner does not say anything just places the correct pronoun into the correct room as directed. "She is in the living room." We eventually got to where we added the verbs and could answer questions after the sentence (in French) "They are cleaning the kitchen." Who is cleaning? Where are they cleaning?

In the photo above Britney (An MK going to Germany - attending Black Forest Academy!) is eliciting information from Trudy to lead us through and activity called GLUE

If you apply GLUE, the language will stick!
G - Get what you need
L - Learn what you get
U - Use what you learn
E - Evaluate

Above our language group is learning a "Basic Hospitality" dialog. - Welcoming a friend into our home and offering tea or coffee. We learned the phrases, added actions to each word or phrase and eventually erased the words from the board having recited the dialog.

The French Language Learners: DeWayne (Paraguay), Donna (Uganda), Joanne (Kenya), Brittany (Germany), Lori (Japan), Ashley (Algeria) & Trudy - our French Language Helper.

Here is another GLUE activity. Dwight Gradin is speaking 'Ja' a tribal dialect from Vietnam with Chelle (Albania). They've erased the words and are trying to associate the spoken phrases with sketches. 1. Where are you going? 2. I'm going to the market. 3. How long will you be gone? 4. About one hour.

Another language learning technique - Item Labeling. Here Tony (Kenya) has labeled his body with post-it notes in Swahili. They recommend doing this on items through out your home and then also adding action words associated with the item. For example - Window - shut, slam, close, open. As visitors come to your home they can help add new actions - like "wash". =0)

I must admit I enjoy applying the language learning techniques more than practicing phonetics! There is a reason I was not a linguistic major! - I have new respect for those who were! (Joanna & Holly! You are AMAZING!)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Clown in the Mirror

Our SPLICE program has ended and we've moved into another phase of training with another group of people (38 adults 33 kids). (Same beautiful location)

PILAT - Program In Language Acquisition Techniques. Until June 29, I am focused on learning how to learn a new language. The first two days we've spent listening to instructors and staring into little mirrors practicing phonetic drills with consonants and vowels. Although English uses about 44 sounds we've been introduced to hundreds if not thousands of other sounds outside our "box of 44".

from the classroom.
  • "Your brain is bigger than you think - It's so big you loose stuff in there!"
  • "You will be the town clown."
  • "If you don't hear it right, you won't say it right."
  • "You're not learning the Japanese language. You're inputting the "Japanese" way of communicating."
  • "Learning is not restricted to teaching, but learning can be restricted by teaching."
Phonetic Drill - In place of me posting a photo of a mirror with this entry today, I would like you to find a hand held mirror and join me for a phonetic drill. (This is a fun one because it actually makes sense with words and not just phonetic sounds.) Ready . . .

Pre-consonant lip-shaping for the vowel
Say the following English sentences and exaggerate the spread and pucker of each syllable. Watch your lips in your mirror. Move your lips quickly but say the sentences slowly.

Coca Cola Collaborates.
Keep Coca Cola in cold cans.
He who has hope heads home.

Lee loaned lame Lou leased lowland.

Bees both bamboozle baboons and bovines.

Good game! Go get gold, gain glory.
Moe's mean mood makes most men move.

(Remember, it's ok to laugh - As a language learner (aka town clown) you are expected to bring cheer to others with your language mistakes!)

Tomorrow - I'm meeting with a language helper to practice some of the language learning activities we've been studying. The goal is to focus on the method of learning not to focus on learning our target language (for me Japanese). So tomorrow I'll be working with a French language helper. I'm looking forward to it! Perhaps I'll input enough of the French way of communicating to be able to talk in French to my 2 1/2 year old niece in Canada!

As I'm here in Colorado, I'm communicating with fellow missionaries in Japan about language study options when I arrive to the field. I'd appreciate your prayers on our behalf as we have multiple decisions to make such as location, school, length of study, housing arrangements and potential Japanese roommate(s).

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Community Time Photos

Here are some photos of what we've done during "Community Time" with our new "tribe".

Visit "Rock House" the local Ice Cream Shop

Take the Ice Cream to watch a local little league Game.
Bike on the New Santa Fe Trail
More Ice Cream

Good til the last lick!

Tell stories
Sing Worship Songs

Give Guitar lessons
Play Card Games
Play Video Games & Watch Dvd's

Send Email, Update Blogs, and Surf the web

Perform Skits
Demonstrate Talents
Dance like a Hampster
Enjoy the International Talent/Skit Show

Cheer on the performers

Speaking in Paradox

Snow in June! Just one of the many paradoxes in my life.

par·a·dox /ˈpærəˌdɒks/ Pronunciation Key - [par-uh-doks] –noun
1. a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.

Missionary Training has been such an interesting process. Who knew there was so much to learn? I know I haven't learned it all - and have a long way to go, but I'm amazed as we sit in class and cover topic after topic how many emotions have been surfacing. It's been a process of reflection and thinking about the past - how that might affect my future. How I handle stress and what stressors I'm experiencing as I prepare to go to Japan and the inevitable stress of entering a new culture. Considering more fully the losses I'll be facing and learning how to grieve. How to say good-bye and how to say hello.

We've been given permission to speak in paradox here at Mission Training International (MTI). Here are a few of the paradoxes I see right now.

  • I'm thrilled to be so close to going to Japan after 7 years away. (And 12 years since my first visit!) But I'm sad to be living so far away from my immediate family.
  • I'm anticipating a reunion with my Japanese host family and Yurigaoka church. Yet, I'm sad to leave my support system in Minnesota like my home church and bible study gals.
  • I'm happy to finally be able to study Japanese full time and to learn to use it to communicate. And I'm frustrated with the ambiguousness of the decision of where to go to language study. (still undecided)

The list could go on and on.

I'm learning that life isn't always an either/or

as in - Either I'm happy about moving to Japan or I'm sad about it.

It is a case of Both/And or it could be but

as in - I'm both happy about moving to Japan and I'm sad about it (because there are so many good-byes involved).

Its been an exhausting week of identifying the emotions that have been going on inside of me and facing the chaos of the transition ahead. It hasn't been easy but I'm so thankful for my time here at MTI, the large group, growth group and individual coaching that has helped me to prepare spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically for the move. I'm thankful for a safe zone where I've experienced so much grace from people in a very similar stage of the journey as me. Where I've seen so many sightings of God at work within paradox.
Photo: Taken in Rocky Mountain National Park at about 12,000 ft. Yes I'm standing in snow and wearing a skirt! It was about 4o degrees on the top and 80 degrees F on the bottom of the mountain.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Another monumental weekend! Ahhhh to get out of the classroom and enjoy the outdoors.

Knowing I was going to be staying at MTI (Mission Training International) for another 3 weeks, and feeling a bit of cabin fever, I decided to take this Saturday to explore my surroundings. Besides the big Pikes Peak adventure, I've only been off campus to "Rock House" where we frequently indulge in yummy, homemade Ice Cream and to Wal-mart for random purchases. I don't have a car here so I borrowed bikes from the Lovingfoss tribe (fellow BGC missionaries, going to Mexico). So my friend, Rachel (Peru), and I could go exploring for the day in and around the town of Monument.

We biked on the New Santa Fe Trail and landed right at the local Farmers Market. In MN, the St. Paul Farmers Market is practically a weekly addiction for my sister and Mom and I so to find another Saturday Market was simply a gift.

Rachel and I chatted with the locals and got a good sampling of food (chips & salsa, sausage, jam, honey, cherries, pretzels and apple cinnamon bread). After all that grazing we only made two purchases: me - handpicked cherries and Rachel - local honey (see her enjoying taste sample #17).
Following our local exploration of local shops, (including a local book store) we found a park with a view of the mountains, perfect for a picnic lunch.

After lunch we decided to try to bike to Monument Rock. We got directions and headed out. When we arrived at the trail head we saw this sign below warning us about Mountain Lion Activity. If you're looking to add a bit of adrenaline to your life - have someone post a sign like this near your exercise route!

We tackled a pretty adventurous off-road mountain bike path (read: 2 miles of down hill through trees and up hill on sandy ground) ever so aware of the threat of mountain lions, before we got close enough to see Monument Rock.

When we reached the gravel road we parked the bikes and walked the rest of the way. (Mainly thinking we wouldn't have enough energy to bike back up the hill.)
Above - Rachel walking with Monument Rock off to her right and Mt. Herman, covered with trees straight ahead of her.

We enjoyed looking at this unique rock structure sticking out in the middle of a valley. But when we heard thunder in the distance decided not to stay too long.

After taking some photos we left Monument (the rock) and biked back (finding a shortcut on some local roads - which were wonderfully down hill!) to Monument (the town).

When we started to feel rain drops we did what any normal biker would do - Stop at a local coffee shop - have a cup a Joe, take a nap and wait for the rain to pass.

The storm was very slow moving and still hadn't hit when we woke from our naps. So we frantically biked "home" to MTI counting the seconds between the thunder and lightning, trying to calculate the distance away it was and hoping we'd make it back before it poured. Amazingly we did!