We spent our first year in Cambodia focusing on learning Khmer, the national language of Cambodia. While that allows us to communicate with nearly everyone, it is not the heart language of the Great River people. They have their own language that shares just a few words and sounds with the Khmer language.
When we first visited our missionary partners in their village, I met my language tutor, Azim. We jumped straight into language learning when we moved to the village. Azim has been there for me since day one. When I fractured my feet, he continued to visit me in my home so we could study Khmer together by reading the Bible. Whenever I’ve needed any kind of assistance, he has always been there to help me, especially while I was in a wheelchair. I am glad to count him as one of my best friends.
At the beginning of 2020, I decided to focus on learning the Great River language. We anticipated being in the U.S. for a couple of months this spring to deliver our son River. However, we did not anticipate the pandemic that caused severe delays in receiving his Social Security number and processing his passport application. As I write this, five months after River’s birth, we are still waiting for his passport. Living out of a suitcase for so many months has been enough to burn out even the most seasoned traveler, but in spite of the delays, we are at peace knowing that our Lord Jesus is ruler over all.
Azim has continued to help me in my language studies remotely. I left my phone with him and send him money for his daily wage and to pay for our long and frequent video calls. At the beginning of the year, we set to work creating the first Great River language study book for English speakers (that we know of), and he gladly took on the challenge.
After six months, many video calls, and sending work back and forth, the main draft of the book is now complete. With 27 lessons, a dictionary of over a thousand words, and a convenient search feature, this resource is now accessible on our smart phones. We are still polishing things up, and we are learning a lot as we go. I have learned tons about the language, and incidentally, so has Azim. We hope our work will provide an easier method of language learning for the rest of the team and any future missionaries to the Great River people. Your support has made this possible. Thank you!
Azim has not only been an incredible friend and tutor, he has been God’s instrument to fling the door wide open into the heart language of the Great River People.