Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mary, Merry, or Marry?

Say the above words out loud.... do you pronounce each differently? Do you pronounce two, but not three the same? Or do they all sound alike? Are you looking at me like I'm nuts right about now? If you're wondering about why I would even care, one answer lies in a story told today:

A missionary to Central America had a mechanical issue with his car. He brought in a mechanic to look at it, and in explaining the problem thought he said in the local language, "My car won't start, so can you add these points." What he really said was, "My car won't give birth, so can you add these bananas!" Least to say, he was known from then on as the man whose car just refused to give birth.

This just goes to show how slight changes in pronunciation can be at best hilarious, and at worst offensive. The point was made today that all of us will always (and already do!) have our own personal accent. The goal is to make that accent as understandable and pleasing to the people as possible, and that can only be done through careful, intentional listening and hard work in making that culture's sounds.

With that goal in mind, we got to dive into right into our phonetics drills! This basically looks like a small group of us sitting a circle repeating sounds and staring at our mouths in a mirror. I can say this for sure, I certainly haven't been more familiar with the shape of my tongue than I am now! The goal of all these drills is to allow us to go beyond hearing and using the 44 sounds found in the English language to hear, recognize, and execute all of the possible sounds of other languages.

After my first day of PILAT, I'm even more glad I took language and phonetics classes at Moody! Today was far less overwhelming to me since I already have a bit of training in phonetics. You almost have to learn a new language just to learn the different mechanics and possible sounds of speech; words like fricative, alveolar, and velar all describe the types of sounds we're accustomed to saying daily but don't ever stop to evaluate. Everything about this area of study fascinates and excites me! That is as long as I can overcome my own personal apprehensions and fears about doing well enough. I've been seeing how much of my previous SPLICE training is playing into how I view myself and my own language learning. I'm so grateful for the work the Lord has already been doing in me that is allowing me to willingly make mistakes, laugh at myself, and just learn!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PILAT and more!

Seeing as the past 3 weeks at SPLICE were so intense (mostly spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally), the past couple of days have been a welcome reprieve. That's not to say they haven't been busy too, just a nice change of busy!

Highlight of today: I sent in the money for my tickets!!! Barring further obstacles and delays, I will be leaving Colorado Springs on May 29th!

I've also decided that it would be beneficial for me to attend MTI's PILAT program starting March 28th. This 2 week program is designed to help language learners acquire multiple languages more quickly and efficiently. Since I had received some training in that area during my time at Moody, I wasn't sure I wanted to invest the time and money, however after talking with the teachers of PILAT, as well as my fellow MTI team members who had just completed the program, I was convinced that it would greatly expedite my language learning and communication once in Uganda! Linguistics and language learning are a great fascination of mine, so I'm just thrilled to have this opportunity to delve more deeply into them.

Current prayer needs:

-Diligence as I process and implement the key concepts I learned in SPLICE. Like my instructors said, "If you're not doing it here, what makes you think you'll do it there?!"

-Strength and perseverance as I turn my attention back to recording the last half of my solo piano cd. (recording was put on hold while I was out of town)

-Continued healing (my health is headed in the right direction, but I still have a ways to go!)

-The remaining 17% of my monthly support to come in

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Find Rest Oh My Soul

Today was our day for Sabbath. It couldn't have come at a better time. The past 2 weeks may not have been as physically taxing, but they definitely took more emotional and spiritual energy than I'm accustomed to!

As I sat/laid all afternoon in a golden field of grass surrounded by towering mountains and life-infusing sunlight, I have never rested so well before. I had another 'aha' moment today. One that I don't know why I've never realized before, but perhaps I just didn't take the time to think it all through. Before when I thought of Sabbath, I equated it with simply physical rest. Today in my 'aha' moment I learned that it isn't just about physical rest by the ceasing of work. It's about spiritual rest in the company of my Jesus, emotional rest from the upheaval of life, intellectual rest from the spinning thoughts of my overly-active mind, and social rest in the company of those I love. In the place of all of those 'rests' please feel free to say 'renewal,' because Sabbath is just as much about renewal--giving life--as it is about rest--ceasing action.

For a full afternoon, I simply rested and absorbed the beauty around me. My first instinct of course was to lift my gaze to the heavens, but it was when I looked down that the Lord showed me my most treasured picture of the day. I sat on a hill of beautiful blowing, bending leaves of grass. As I took in the picture before me, I noticed how incredibly beautiful the blades of grass were as they folded into one another, all pointing toward the same thing. Not a one of them stood tall; they all bent to the will of the wind blowing across the field. Even when the wind stopped its gusting, the grass still bowed, holding in their bodies the evidence of the power of that wind.

Not far away grew a cluster of prickly weeds. This plant was distinctly thicker and stronger than the pliable blades of grass. Each one held its head high in the face of the wind and refused give way.

I can almost hear the strong plant saying, "but God told me to grow right here, and that's all I'm trying to do: just what He told me! And by golly, that's what I'm going to keep doing!" I suddenly was struck at how much like this plant I am. So often I determine I will stand strong come what may, and with the best intentions ignore the blowing of the Spirit that so desires to shape me into a thing of beauty. How many good intentions I have when I charge ahead in what I'm convinced the Lord wants me to do, but I wonder what the Spirit is longing to do with me if I would time to rest, acknowledging my weakness and bending in humility before Him.

Then those humble strands of grass caught my eye again. They too were doing just as the Lord had told them, but with a grace and meekness that allowed them to be beautifully shaped and fashioned by the wind.

Thus my prayer has become, Lord give me the strength to do Your will, the courage to stop and rest, and the wisdom to hold the tension between both work and rest in balance.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Conflict Resolution Styles

Yesterday we were talking about the differences in the way each of us handle conflict. Many of us knew pretty quickly which way we leaned, but many of us also had 2 different ways of conflict when we're in low or high stress situations. Teddy Bears and Owls are more concerned about the integrity of the relationship, and may sacrifice what they know to be good, right, and just in favor of maintaining the relationship. Sharks and Turtles value the issues of what is good, right, and just and may put the truth over relationships. I believe I tend to be more of a turtle and tend to choose "forgiving and forgetting" over confronting or engaging in conflict.

Each of these styles has their strengths and weaknesses, and a godly community is characterized by all involved using the strengths of their style to deal well with conflict while recognizing their weaknesses and relying on others to help them in those areas.

Teddy Bear (accommodating style)
For those who fall into this category, the relationship is of great importance, while their own agenda is of little importance. They want to be accepted and liked by other people, they think that conflict should be avoided in favor of harmony and believe that conflicts cannot be discussed without damaging relationships. They are afraid that if the conflict continues, someone will get hurt and that would ruin the relationship. They give up their goals to preserve the relationship. They try to smooth over the conflict in fear of harming the relationship.

Turtles (avoiding style)
People with this type tend to withdraw in order to avoid conflicts. They give up their personal goals and relationships, stay away from the issues over which the conflict is taking place and from the people they are in conflict with, and believe it is hopeless to try to resolve conflicts. They believe it is easier to withdraw (physically an psychologically) from a conflict than to face it. Some people attempt to avoid conflict by postponing it, hiding their feelings, changing the subject, leaving the room or quitting the project.

Foxes (compromising style)
People with this style are moderately concerned with their own agenda and about their relationships with other people. They seek a compromise. They give up part of their goals and persuade the other person in a conflict to give up part of their goals. They believe that differences between people would be treated in light of the common good and that parties need to "win a little, lose a little." They seek a solution to conflicts where both sides gain something.

Sharks (or lions) (competing style)
These people's goals are highly important to them but their relationships tend to be of minor importance. They place prime importance on achieving their agenda or upon their interpretation of what is best for all concerned. If necessary, they will sacrifice relationship in order to accomplish this.In these instances, they do not care if other people like or accept them and are not concerned with the needs of other people. They assume that conflicts are settled by one person winning and the other losing. While winning gives them a sense of pride and achievement, losing gives them a sense of weakness, inadequacy, and failure. People in this category therefore try to overpower opponents by forcing them to accept their solution to the conflict.

Owls (collaborating style)
People in this category highly value their own goals as well as relationships. They view conflicts as problems to be solved and seek a solution that achieves both their own goals and the goals of the other person in the conflict. They believe conflict improves relationships by reducing tension between people. By seeking solutions that satisfy both themselves and the other person they maintain the relationship. They are not satisfied until a solution in found that achieves their own goals and the other person's goals and they want all tensions and negative feelings to be fully resolved.

Taken from MTI's SPLICE training manual