Who Are We

Wayne, Hilary & Adelaide Denny. Preparing to Serve in Leadership Training in Senegal, Africa. God has called us to take advantage of a unique window of religious freedom in Muslim Senegal by equipping church leaders who have a heart for reaching their country and the Muslim world.

We should be jealous. . . for the honour of His name – troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed. And all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honour and glory which are due to it.” John Stott

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Myths about France (# 1 being I ain't seen the first dang beret)

#2 - Europeans don't wear blue jeans - jeans with the typical american billboard t-shirt, no; but jeans, yes.

#3 - The food is great (never mind, that one is true. The food is great!)

#4 - French people are rude - 
We've heard this statement from numerous people but up till now we have not experienced one bit of it. We've had times of pulling our metro map out and looking lost and had someone volunteer to help us before we even ask. We've met people on the street who have cheerfully said, "Welcome to France." And most importantly, I'm pretty sure that every single time I've begun a conversation with, "I'm sorry, I just speak a little French," the response is always a big smile followed by a "No problem." People have been very patient in having to repeat themselves to us (although not everyone gets the fact that I need them to speak really slow) and very willing to help us.

Picture of the week - sobering reality

This week we went on a quick trip to Normandy and were able to spend a day seeing WWII sites.  One of the places that we visited was the American Cemetery near Omaha beach where the soldiers who died during the invasion are buried.  It was an incredibly sobering experience to see so many graves together for so many men who died in an extremely small span of time.  This picture is just a small part of the entire cemetery.  

As I walked through this place, it made me long for a day when there would be no more war, and no more death.  Malachi 1:11, (at the top of our blog) says that "My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun."  We long for that day when all peoples, tongues, tribes and nations will know that God is the one true God and will worship Him.  It is why we are doing what we do now.  We want to be a part of issuing God's great name to the ends of the earth.  We know that He does not need us to accomplish his goal, but that He choses to use us for His glory. We are grateful that He has given us this opportunity, and that we know without a doubt that it will be accomplished.  And we are grateful that one day we will not have to live with the sobering reality of war, and death, and sin, but that one day all people will know and worship the one true God and that His reign will be one of perfect peace.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I bought 3 months worth of toilet paper today!

This may not really be exciting for many people, but we were very excited to be able to go to the grocery store and shop with a cart, not just a basket!!  This week, some of our new friends from church are on vacation and they asked if we would like to borrow their other car for the week.  We are thrilled to have a little more freedom for the week as we have been taking the bus and walking everywhere that we need to go.  Here is how our week has looked like with the car

Saturday - leave it parked on the street because we're too tired to actually go do anything on our first day of vacation (I was actually tempted to have Wayne just drive me around some just because we had it, but I thought that might be a little silly)

Sunday - drive to church for the first time by ourselves, get lost, and be 10 minutes late.  We found out that roads are not really marked very well, and most of them change names 3 or 4 times in a mile.  

Monday - go to the big grocery store (which is only a 10 minute walk) and buy a whole cartload of groceries (and  I mean a cartload, it was almost overflowing).  Some of our more exciting purchases - toilet paper and paper towels (it's hard to carry them both back and pull a cart with groceries and push a stroller), lots of canned goods and spaghetti sauce, 6 liters of milk, and 80 diapers!

Tuesday - another IKEA run is planned, but this time it should only take a couple of hours max as it is only a 15 minute drive (but a 45 minute to an hour bus ride).

Wednesday - we're headed on a quick trip to Normandy, home of the famous D-day beaches.

Friday - we might be so tired from our vacation by then that we'll need to rest at home all day.

Saturday - I'm sure I'll come up with something, just not sure what yet.

Sunday - back to church, this time without getting lost, to return our treasure to our friends.

My cupboard stuffed with canned goods (and a few cookies and some chocolate to balance things out)

And the rest of our treasures (hmmm...never thought I'd call toilet paper a treasure)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wayne's interpretations of the international language learning standards (along with our current levels of competency)

You might be wondering, how do you know when you're competent enough in French (oh yeah, and what level are you at now)? Well, actually, there are international standards. Here's a link to more official definitions. I'll give you my interpretation of those definitions. The levels are A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.

A1 - You know common phrases, can tell people basic facts about yourself and even understand basic questions from others when they speak with an extremely slow southern drawl.

A2 - You can now move out of the fish bowl where you're only good for people looking at you and asking where you're from and where you're going. You can actually go ask for stuff at stores, give directions and can understand people who speak with just a regular ole southern drawl.

B1 - You no longer have to just talk about yourself and the things in front of you. You now can discuss abstract ideas (like why The Andy Griffith Show is still the best show ever, or why you think that even though the past 2 decades have mostly been depressing, next year N.C. State will be good).

B2- Native speakers begin to be less bored with you because they can watch you speak without seeing you painfully search your inner dictionary.

C1 - At this point, you're kicking some butt. You could probably understand more complex dialogue like in this video.

C2 - You've just about gotten native at this point. It says you can understand just about anything read or heard. I'm not sure I'm here in English.

Before we leave, we would like to be around B2, C1. It kinda stinks that now that making a C is a good thing, it'll be hard for me to do. If you're wondering what level we're at now, Hilary is at the upper end of A2 and this clip explains where I'm at.

Yeah, you guessed it. Somewhere in A1.

I'm proud of my husband

Remember when you were a kid and you'd bring home a good report card?  Well, Wayne got back his test this week and it deserved to go right on the fridge!  The writing on it says "Bravo, you have made a lot of progress, keep it up!" (in a Hilary translation).  Wayne has really been improving in his speaking skills.  One of our new friends from church even told him on Sunday that he thought Wayne was really improving, and apparently, when you get a compliment from a French person, it really means something.  The French don't give out compliments very easily.  He also told Wayne "I wondered why you decided to go to a French speaking African country instead of an English speaking one.  A month ago, I thought you maybe had made a mistake.  Today, I don't think so.  I think you made the right choice and you'll do well!"

I just wanted to brag a little on my husband :)  And I'm not the only one who thinks he's pretty amazing!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Learning a language is a lot like the Christian life in general

Total immersion works! Once you're immersed in a language, you'll learn it.

I've heard this statement numerous times from people who have gone through the process of learning a language. Although, the past 2 months have created many occasions where I question this advice. Will it really come? Simple everyday tasks create numerous opportunities where I can't find the word I want, can't express the thought I'm thinking, or can't begin to understand what is being said to me. And yet for some reason, I press on.

There are numerous reasons to press on, but a major one involves taking by faith the statement that "Total immersion works." Yes, it's the most mentally exhausting activity I've ever done. Yes, it's the most humbling activity I've ever attempted. But, I take on faith that "Total immersion works." 

Regarding the Christian life, I've often considered the wisdom, "trusting God works," as simply accepting the complete deferment of joy until the afterlife. I focus solely on the current blank stare on my face and fail to realize this isn't a permanent condition. Trusting God involves complete trust, but not complete deferment of joy. 

Similar to learning a language, many days include nothing but frustration, yet I hold on to the hope that one day a new world of expressing myself will be opened. One day, I will get and tell inside jokes in another language. 

One day, but, as C. S. Lewis describes the gradual growing joy in the life of a Christian (again eerily similar to learning a language), "he gets it gradually; enjoyment creeps in upon the mere drudgery, and nobody could point to a day or an hour when the one ceased and the other began. . . This will not . . . happen in a day; poetry replaces grammar, gospel replaces law, longing transforms obedience, as gradually as the tide lifts a grounded ship."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy birthday to our favorite person in the whole world!

Here's a video tribute to the best mommy in the whole world. 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Picture of the week - exhaustion

So I was checking on Addie the other night and this is how I found her.  She loves to read at night, but apparently it was just too much for her that night.  I showed Wayne the picture and he said "That's how I feel when I read French too!"  It's true, learning a new language is exhausting.  No matter how many hours of sleep I get, I still haven't really felt rested.  When I finish class every afternoon, the last thing I want to do is to do my homework, I just want to rest!  I sit in a chair all day, but by the end of the day, I am exhausted!  We were wondering when we started why we have a week of vacation after the first 7 weeks of class.  Now we know and we can't wait for our week off! We love what we are doing now, but boy is it hard work.

And a bonus picture this week, just because I love it, and I love them!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Life without a car

We don't have a car here in France, and in some ways it's great...no repairs!  But in other ways, it's tough.  Life is a little less convenient without a car.  For example, let me tell you about my day.  I decided yesterday that I would go to IKEA today with a friend because our mattress is really hard.  We decided to get a mattress pad so that I wouldn't have to sleep in the living room on our spare bed.  I looked online and found what we want and they said online that they came rolled, so I thought "No problem!".  Well, Elise and I hopped on the bus this morning with our little cart and headed off to IKEA.  Well, first of all you should know that IKEA is about 15 minutes away by car, but by bus it takes 45 minutest to an hour.  Well, we were not deterred and even found a way to cut 10 minutes off the trip by walking a bit and making a different connection.  We would have made in less than 45 minutes if the bus we first got on went the whole route instead of going out of service 6 stops into our trip. So we hopped off and waited for the next bus (about a 10 minute wait).  We finally got to IKEA after about 50 minutes.  I found what I wanted, asked the IKEA lady in my best French how much it cost (it still took us a while to communicate even with my best French) and she printed off the receipt for us to pick up our item.  Here's the catch, you don't pick it up downstairs, but 1 km away at the IKEA pick up location.  I almost said "Are you kidding?" but I don't know how to say that in French.  I told her that we took the bus and she sort of gave me a "good luck" smile and we headed off to check out.  I told the check out lady the same thing "I took the bus and walked here" (in my best French) and she drew me a little map and told me how to get to the place.  I recognized enough words that I thought I knew how to get there.  Well, we made it to the other IKEA building, and picked up my mattress pad.  It was rolled into about a foot and a half diameter and was about 5 feet tall.  They put it on a cart I think to take it out to my car, but I just smiled and pointed at my little cart.  I tried to use my best French with the man there too, but as soon as I opened my mouth, he started talking in English to me.  So, we loaded it onto our little pull car and secured it with some packing tape and back out on the street to the bus stop we go.  I'm not quite sure what people thought as we rolled it onto the bus, so I tried not to look at them.  We made a quick stop at ToysRUs on the way home too.  I got some really funny looks as I wheeled my cart and pad and all into the store and asked if I could leave it at the counter.  One man was nice enough to try and understand what I was saying and then even joke with me about the nice gift I brought him.
Soooo...4 hours later, we made it home with my new bed.  I guess Wayne should just be glad that he didn't have to go buy me a whole new mattress, that would have made an even better story.  But the strange thing about the whole morning is that it wasn't even that stressful.  We had a great time chatting, the 45 minute bus ride didn't even seem that long, and I wasn't even that bothered that I had to lug a mattress pad home on the bus.  It's amazing what you get used to!  So while life with a car would be more convenient, God has given us the grace to adjust to life as it is without.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Never let your schooling interfere with your education

This quote (I think by Mark Twain) was advice given to us last summer during our 2 week training on language acquisition techniques. The main point of the quote for language learning was, don't forget that your goal is to communicate with other people, not to ace a verb conjugation test (although conjugating verbs correctly does help get your point across to people better). Thus, don't spend all of your time doing homework and studying for a test. Get out and talk to people!

One way that I've been able to do this is by basketball. I've begun practicing with a team and it's been great so far for getting practice in both listening to French and speaking. 

Probably the neatest part of this opportunity though is that the coach is from the same city we're moving to: Thies, Senegal. Last night, she was trying to teach me some Wolof phrases (the main African language in Senegal) using French (she doesn't speak English). Needless to say, we didn't cover much.

It's pretty cool to think that playing basketball is a great way for me to achieve my main objective in France, learn French. It doesn't hurt that I'm getting back in shape at the same time either (actually, it does kind of hurt today). 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I love Wednesdays!

I love the French system.  No school on Wednesdays!  We have been using Wednesdays to spend some time together as a family as we often get busy on the weekends with language learning activities, especially church on Sundays. 
Today we took the metro to a park in the next suburb.  Parc de Sceaux is kind of like a mini Versailles (I think anyways).  The gardens were created by the same person and we were quite impressed with the place, even in January.  I can't wait to see it in the spring and summer!

Here are a few pictures from our day together.  It was a cold one!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'm not no account, just ignorant

One of the main struggles right now, is feeling no account. I can no longer do many of the things I could do with a decent degree of competency back home. Back home, if asked to preach a sermon, no problem. I'm not saying it would be anything great, but I could do it. But in French, it's not possible. To express even the simplest of ideas in French right now requires a great deal of effort.

Before this experience of language learning, I don't think I realized how much I relied on my competency to feel important. I found significance in being an engineer, a good student, being able to preach/teach, etc. Now that my competency is gone, I'm needing to find significance in something else. I'm being reminded of a truth that I've known before but had not fully appreciated. The truth is that I am "in Christ." 

The Bible speaks often of the Christian being "in Christ," which is truly a loaded statement. One aspect of being "in Christ" is that my significance is now found in the fact that I'm associated with Christ. The fact that through faith I am associated with Christ and therefore a child of God, I don't need to find significance in my competency. Regardless of how my situation changes, I will always have significance because of my relationship with Christ. 

This truth has proven to be extremely encouraging as I don't see myself becoming very competent again real soon. And finally, pray that as my competency slowly increases, that my feeling of significance does not simultaneously shift back to competency and away from God.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Picture of the week - adaptation

What you do when the washer and dryer cost 2 euros each and they're not that big!  The unused top bunk, a drying rack and a dehumidifier worked great! At least when we get to Senegal we won't have any problems.  I believe the forecast is hot and dry at least 360 days of the year.