Having Bible Studies
A few years ago when we were stressing over learning a language, a Gilead instructor’s advice to us was “just go out and get Bible studies- let them teach you the language” In theory that sounds very nice, but actually having a bible study is TERRIFYING!!! My bible study’s name is Paam, and she is 8 years old. Her older sister has been studying so she asked for one too. The sisters apparently felt like I was a good fit, so here I am!!
It’s easy to feel so completely unqualified for this, and that the student would be so much better off with someone else that they can communicate with. But somehow Jehovah is making it happen because there are too many people wanting to study then we have teachers available! Our group of 11 publishers now (we just lost two) has 45 different Bible studies and did around 400 return visits last month. So Jehovah has been blessing our hard work and using us in ways I definitely didn’t think was possible so soon because there is such a huge need for help. Jehovah is definitely helping us to step up to the task!
So how do I study with someone when I don’t speak their language??? This is how! Once again, it’s all about the JW language app!!!!!! We are studying the listen to god brochure (they study that with most people here to start with because Thai people LOVE the pictures and the “stories”) all the subjects so far have been covered in the app. But the brochure is both good and bad for me. The material is very easy which is good, but there are no questions so I have to come up with my own, which is difficult for me. The first lesson was pretty simple, I could ask a lot of questions like “what is god’s name” and “what did he create first” but the lessons after I needed to get help from the sisters before hand to word the questions correctly. JW app has a lot of great statements I would use to follow up with, but not a ton of questions. It also has things like “can you read this paragraph,” “what do you like about this picture,” and “how can we use this scripture.” So basically I would ask her to read the paragraph, read the scripture, then I would ask the question. Sometimes there is a Thai sister with me who understands her answers, and sometimes there is not. So I just smile and say thank you and really hope and pray her answers that I didn’t understand were correct!!!!!
It takes me probably 5-6 hours to prepare for each study. I use a notebook and write down everything I want to say in English on one side and Thai on the other. Often I have to read my questions right out of my notebook because I can’t remember everything. This also has another benefit- often throughout the study I’ll ask her if she understands what I’m saying, and maybe 1/3 of the time her answer is no! Usually it’s because I’m getting the tones wrong, so I can show her what I’m trying to say from my notebook and then she understands!!
She really is the cutest little girl, and so patient with me! I think she loves my blonde hair so much she is willing to put up with my horrible Thai! She’s always taking pictures of me and texting me to just say hi. We’ve bonded over taking Snapchat pictures together. But she also really seems to enjoy what she is learning. It’s so exciting to me to have taught her Jehovah’s name and to hear her use it now despite the language challenge! She also says she wants to come to the meeting “to help me find the scriptures” since it’s so hard to find them in Thai!!! Hey, whatever gets her there!!!!
While the Japanese friends were gone at the Japanese assembly in Bangkok, I also filled in for a few studies. To make it easier on me, Shinobu grouped 3 all together and asked me to watch the “wonders of creation” video with them and ask a few questions after. Sounds great, but again, how do I come up with these questions when I don’t speak thai?!?! I started struggling through when I remembered about the parts we used to have at meeting where we watched the video at home and reviewed the questions from the KM at meeting. Genius! I found the article in Thai, made a nice work sheet and copied over the questions. The last question was “what do you look forward to in paradise?” I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to understand their answers, so I decided I would have everyone draw it instead.
The big day arrived, and 4 of us sisters headed on our way. Myself and a visiting sister were going to handle the 3 of shinobu’s studies, and the two others were taking care of 1. Normally we drive by car since the studies live an hour away, but since the only two cars in our congregation were already accounted for we all drove our motorbikes. An hour on a motorbike is not easy!!!! We got to the studies with super sore butts to find out that 3 of the 4 girls cancelled!!!!! I was disappointed, but so thankful that I could atleast study with 1 girl after my hours and hours of preparation!!! The other two sisters were able to talk with some local people while we were doing the study, but came back to draw with us about what they looked forward to in paradise. It was so interesting to me to see what Thai people envision paradise to be. We always picture a beautiful beach or something like that, but their vision is very much still Thailand!! They drew farms and mountains and cows…it was so interesting to me!
Since one of the couples in our group had to move back home, I’ve inherited ANOTHER study. she is 16 so I’m hoping she also will be so obsessed with my blonde hair that she won’t mind I’m awful at Thai. Our first study together will be next weekend so I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!!!!! Please pray for us!!!!!!!