“This story . . . “ we begin. Phase Two. We’ve moved on from the pre-school level of colors, numbers, nouns, and very simple action sentences, and into the world of stories. The first week our stories progressed from a few pictures to Kindergarten and 1rst-grade level books. Our teacher puts a picture or a page in front of us, and we go around the table saying sentences. Some are quite simple, the woman is wearing a red shirt . . . the bananas are on top of the table. Some get a little more interesting, the woman feels sad because she knows her children will be hungry because the monkey stole the bananas. We speak, we get corrected, we record the teacher talking, we listen to the recording and ask questions, we list new vocabulary words and record him again using each new word in sentences. We speculate on the way the story will progress, then turn the page or pull out a new card and talk some more.
Stories give words and grammar meaning and power. We used to just work on sentence constructions, which have their merits, but connecting all our vocabulary and tenses into the context of a story makes much more sense. I'm reminded again of how we as humans are wired for story. We try to impose a narrative on what we see, and when we try to recall words or truth, we remember them in the setting of story. Certainly the Bible has some poetry and prophecy and propositional teaching, but the bulk of the pages reveal God through story.
As a person whose second story is about to be published, it is fitting that I'm immersed in these little Swahili stories, which can be so simple yet so rich. Praying that our story here in Kenya is that much more interesting because of the time we're spending now on monkeys and tables and doors left open.