Our children keep asking how we are doing with our French. Well.... we are trying hard. My 9th & 10th grade French classes are helping immensely. We have lessons with an Elder 3 or 4 times a week, for about an hour. Our goal is to practice another full hour each day. Dad says he should get credit for the time he is shopping for French baguettes (which we get everyday, because they don't use any preservatives), for the time he spends making French toast (both for us personally and for the weekly French Toast breakfast he prepares for the elders before district meetings), and for French Kissing (and you get no details on that).
We had heard rumors that we probably wouldn't have to learn the language, because English is becoming the universal language. Well, this doesn't apply to Pointe Noire. There are no tourists, so the locals don't need to know English. There is not one woman in either branch that speaks any English. There are a couple of men that say they speak English, but they aren't at all fluent, so when we try to communicate with them, between their little English and our little French, things often don't get across correctly. However, we are seeing some improvement. We are able to fake a short conversation with the locals, and to shop on our own and ask for things, and we can pray in French (one of us still likes to peek at our cheat sheets).We have a great time saying "Bonjour," "Ça va" (saw-vah), and "Comment" to the people on our morning walk. We are regulars now in the neighborhoods we walk in and the people know and recognize us. This morning Dad said "Ça va, Mama" to a lady about my age who has an early morning vending table that we greet each day. The ladies around her all laughed and laughed. Some of our new early morning "friends" say that to me, but we were a little concerned that they seemed so delighted with it. When we got home we asked the elders if it was ok to say that, and they said "Oh, yes. It just means that they are your friends and got a kick out of our being so friendly."
A couple of interesting things from our ability to read French....
This is a juice we purchased recently. We have been looking for a really good orange juice or fruit juice, and this one looked good.However, when we got it out of the fridge for breakfast it poured a bright red and when Ed tasted it, it was definately not regular fruit juice. Upon translation, we discovered the main ingredient was red wine. Who knew?????
This is a sign that we see on our walk every morning. You can guess what we assumed. However, we have just learned that it is a shoe repair shop, owned by a guy who's last name is Rouma, thus the "Chez Rouma" (House of Rouma) and he fixes shoes for both sexes. Yes... we still have alot to learn!