Tuesday, October 30, 2012

7 months in Mongolia

O yana. We didn't write since July 20th. So if you're not on our email list, you haven't heard anything about what's going on!

We've been here 7 months now, well just over that, and that means 6 months of language (we had a month-long break in August). Summer was nice, not too hot (compared to Aus anyway), though unusually rainy. We went out and visited some fellow Aussies working here in Arhangai for a week.

What else? We decided to change churches, at least our Mongolian church. Our former church moved to a new location and a later time, and so we decided to try a couple of other churches at that time. Eventually our church decided to move back, but we settled on another church and are going there for 5 or 6 weeks. It has been hard to make connections, but that's okay. I (Seumas) can understand the general content of the sermons (usually), and find the preaching quite good (and biblical). That is a great encouragement.

The weather is turning now. We had our first snow a little while ago, but the ground is not blanketed yet. The coming week has a few days forecast not about zero (Celsius). We have sealed up our apartment windows as part of the process of getting ready for winter. We also had a second interior door put in just yesterday. Conveniently the workers turned up just before our teachers came to dinner for the first time.

The reason I started writing this post was mainly to talk about language. At least for myself this has gone very well so far. This was to be expected, but it's still something to be happy about! In the WAYK "Travels with Charlie" schema, I am kind of a low 3 - what happened at the party last night - level. I can make myself understood about a fairly wide range of things, even if my constructions at times are a bit strange-sounding or I have to resort to more basic words because I lack specific vocabulary. Talking in the abstract and about complicated matters is still beyond me. Understanding is usually the major stumbling block - it's not unusual for a whole stream of Mongolian to be totally unintelligible to me.

Reactions vary. Usually when I engage Mongolians in some conversation they are pretty impressed with my level of Mongolian, especially after 6 months. This is very complimentary, but there are plenty of unintelligible moments to keep me in line! Often Mongolians assume you know zero Mongolian, which ranges from awkward, to just funny when they speak English and I just reply in Mongolian. I prefer to discourse in Mongolian where possible.

I'm at a stage where I'm going to try tackling more reading. I have one book by Piper in Mongolian, and can input that into FLTR, which makes reading easier! I have a few other books I might try down the track too. I *should* watch Mongolian tv, but we don't have a stand alone tv unit, and I don't really know what to watch in terms of Mongolian television online.

There is still a long way to go language-wise. I don't want to settle or fall short, but really achieve a level of being able to speak and engage fully in Mongolian. That's on my side, I will try and get Rachel to write about her own experiences sometime.

Okay, hopefully more frequent updates coming to this space!

Oh, ps. I will be in Australia from 28th Nov to 11 Dec, for some university stuff. But I'm pretty flexible and would love to catch up with people. Get in touch.

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