It initally sounds super exotic and exciting...a summer in Italy! But there are lot of things that have been a little uncomfortable. Not having TV (or DVDs, or access to Netflix!), sleeping on a fold-out couch, being couped up just the two of us all day long in a place less than half the size of our [very small] house in CA.
But those have all been secondary compared to what the language barrier has been like. Our first two weeks here we excitedly dove into learning the language through a Pimsleur learning course, but we felt like we'd barely learned anything. We could introduce ourselves, ask the time, order food, but conversationally we are so stuck.
There are about 7 people in the church who speak English fluently enough to have a normal conversation with (and 4 of those people are in the pastor's family). With everyone else we can smile, say hello, ask how they're doing -- and then, that's it. Everyone converses on as normal and we're left feeling like a third wheel.
This was driven home for me when we stopped by the pastor's elderly mother's house today just to say hi. She is the sweetest lady, and we had so much to share with each other. We attempted at communicating a few words, but ultimately, sat in smiling frustrated silence until we left.
Even when people do try to include us, by translating a few thoughts here and there in a conversation, it's tedious and inconvenient, and we're still unable to fully participate. For E, it's been tough not getting the jokes. Even if we catch a word here and there, we don't understand the intricacies of the language enough to get the jokes and teasing that goes on between the people here. [Which happens a lot!]
There have been a few moments of so much frustration I wanted to scream. It's so isolating to be in the midst of people happily conversing, and not be able to participate.
Have you guys ever experienced the frustration of inability to communicate? We'd love some encouragement!