The day I encountered my own heart-language

By Heather Oleniuk (Ghana) | Canada in North America

So there's a phrase people here often use when encouraging us in our language learning. They'll say, "N naa kukeri!" which means "You're doing well!" We appreciate their kindness.

But one day on my way home from town, I was passing a little store by our house where we often buy eggs and things. The owner was one of the first people to teach us some of the Sisaali language and we've gotten to know him and his family a bit.

So, as I neared the store I prepared my Sisaali greetings in my head. Although there was a woman making a purchase from him at the counter, I've learned that interrupting a conversation to greet someone is no interruption at all in this friendly culture.

As I passed by, I called out in Sisaali: "How's your afternoon?"

Then we had the following exchange:

"It's fine!"

"Is your wife well?"

"Oh, she's well."

"How's your work going?"

"Good, where are you going?"

"I'm going home to cook white-people food for my husband."

And we laughed.

But as I turned towards home, the woman at the counter who'd been observing our Sisaali interaction, called to me in English, "Well done! You've done well."

I was puzzled by the tears I felt in my eyes from her kind words, until I realized this was the first time I had ever heard those words spoken in English here. Although I had known the meaning of the Sisaali phrase that communicated the same encouragement, to hear them in English touched my heart deeply.

And as I walked home I was thinking, Oh... So this is why we're learning the heart-language of these people. It really does touch hearts in a special way!

Pray for:

• Heather to effectively learn Sisaali.

• all mission workers in the process of language learning. Pray that God uses their experience to share his love with every nation.


Can you support the ministry of Robbie and Heather Oleniuk? Donate today to partner with their ministry.

SIM Asset Publisher Portlet

Asset Publisher

SIM Asset Publisher Portlet

Asset Publisher

Related stories

'Finishing' well

Stephen and Heather are using their skills for mission at an age when many might be thinking of retiring. Discover their story.

Lives light up through windows like you and me

As we think about the impact of HIV in our world, Windows of Hope in Zimbabwe gives us a picture of how lives can change and how we can be involved in changing them.

Testing and care change futures like Yetunde's*

Spring of Life Centre, based at ECWA hospital in Egbe Nigeria, is changing people's futures through services geared to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Read Yetunde's* story to find out more.

Jewel shines with Shalom’s care

When Ratna, still a young girl, discovered she was HIV positive she thought her life no longer had any value. With care from SIM and Hope fo Life's partners 'Shalom', she began to shine again.