Learning Amharic

Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.” Proverbs 4:13

We need more than a friendly smile and English words. To buy vegetables in the street, travel across the city, show respect to passersby, and definitely to talk to and pray with patients, we need Amharic. Thank you to all who have been praying for our language study — this update is especially for you!

Thick, heavy, slow, and out of gas… I was surprised at how exhausted I felt after our first day of Amharic lessons. But there was a haze of joy, because even then we sensed that God has been listening to your prayers on our behalf.

Wulita is our language teacher (pictured with us above). She has been teaching Amharic to foreigners (ferengi) for many years. Not only does she understand and anticipate many of our difficulties in learning Amharic, but she is able to help explain Ethiopian culture across multiple generations. We praise God for sending us such a skilled, patient, and godly teacher! She even lives close enough to meet us in our home!

After 2 weeks, I am glad to say that the initial brain sludging has gotten much better. Lessons are not quite so draining … and in fact, we end up having quite a bit of fun. To help demonstrate and practice conjugating phrases to match the gender and number of the people you are talking to, Wulita has a set of little dolls. Here they are, holding various animals and household items while we practiced combining people, verbs, prepositions, and direct objects:


We spend about 3 hours each day with Wulita. From each session, we have 5-7 recordings that we can use to study on our own, about an hour each day. Yesterday, Wulita surprised me by pulling out an anatomy model, which we used to learn organs and internal body parts! It certainly helps that her daughter is one of our third year medical students.

We are still just at the beginning of our Amharic study, but we have felt and seen the fruit of your faithful prayers on our behalf, even in how much we have been able to learn in 2 weeks.

Please keep praying for us, that God would provide aptitude and focus for learning and using Amharic.

Please also pray for the next phase of our language study. Wulita has only committed for the first 6 weeks, and so I don’t know if she will be able to continue teaching us or if we will need to find another tutor. 

Please pray for Wulita and her family, as she has been such a blessing to us.

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