Wednesday, November 9, 2011

German Mission Debriefing

Well, it wasn't a total failure, but it didn't go as planned. Part of the problem, like last month, was insufficient planning.

But I did some of the things I set out to do. For a few examples, I did get to sit in on a half day of German classes at Portage High School, I had some conversation with native German speakers (though our conversations were not STRICTLY in German - I used as much German as I had command of), I read my German Luther's Small Catechism out loud not daily, but on a regular basis. I was able to survive almost the whole month having switched my Facebook and Google accounts to a German interface (like how you might change your Facebook language setting to English - Pirate).

One of the areas where I got locked up was I have Benny's Why German is Easy guide in PDF format, but I wish I had it in print. For whatever reason, I didn't get around to printing it out until the very end of the month. It's an excellent resource, I just sat on it all month. But I've got it now in a handy binder, so even that isn't a total loss! By the way, there's nothing wrong with the guide in its native electronic version - I just felt a compulsion to be able to use it without a computer. And if I owned a tablet (think iPad or Kindle Fire ((aff link))), I would have been more likely to use it electronically. I guess what I really wanted with it was more portability with it than my laptop allowed. Still, extremely stupid reason not to use it.

In our house, as in my house when I was growing up, we pray the Common Table Prayer before meals, "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen." I taught the German version as it appears in Bode's T├Ągliche Andachten (it's like a year's worth of Portals of Prayer in one volume and auf Deutsch) to my almost three-year-old son who can recite it from memory [TK should I link to or embed the video of Joshie praying "Komm, Herr Jesu" here?]. The Pastoral Care Companion also has the common table prayer in German (page 655), though it adds two words that aren't in T├Ągliche Andachten (du uns). Just like in English, the German text of the Common Table Prayer is not a settled matter, but the meaning varies little.

I didn't get around to doing any in-depth grammar work, regular conversation, or vocab building. Those are three glaring sins of omission from my October mission. Should have done those things, but didn't.

Maybe I'm trying to do too much in just one month. Maybe I need to start smaller and/or simpler.

On a somewhat related note, check out this blog post from the President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Pastor Matthew Harrison: The LCMS has far more people in the pew each Sunday than all of Lutheran Germany. And I could be a big fat jerk and point out that the EKD doesn't technically fall under the Lutheran category, especially given their 2009 rejection of the Augsburg Confession. But it's interesting that some of us Lutherans in the United States want to learn German not only to read Martin Luther and others auf Deutsch, but also as a way to, shall I say, avail ourselves to German-speaking mission fields.

Failing these missions is almost more discouraging than bombing Greek or Hebrew because these missions are completely my own.