Learning Jula

Understanding the culture and language of a foreign country is no small task.

Susie Locklin is learning Jula. No, it’s not a new game, nor it is a dance or a kind of cooking.

It’s actually a trade language, Susie explains, and she is studying Jula in West Africa as part of her preparation for later tribal ministry.

Susie says her ultimate goal is to become a Bible translator on a team of tribal missionaries who will minister to a specific people group. She doesn’t know all the details yet.

“I don’t know yet what people group I’ll be working with. … Research needs to be done first to determine where the greatest needs are,” Susie says.

But she is confident that God knows where He has planned to take her and in the meantime, Susie is building relationships with local people and learning their culture. To do this effectively, she must learn the trade language fluently.

The local church is Susie’s host church and her friends there have gladly taken on the task of helping Susie adjust to life in West Africa. Recently, the church moved her from living with a host family into a little house of her own on the church property.

“It isn’t lonely living alone, though,” Susie explains. “There are always people around.”

And Susie keeps plenty busy with tasks and relationship-building, sometimes for 12 hours a day.

In recent weeks, besides moving, she has learned a lot about the local culture. “I attended my first African funeral, celebrated my first Fourth of July abroad, learned lots of Jula, learned many cultural things—both fun and hard things, made many new friends and also spent time with old ones.”

One highlight was the time Susie spent with a lady from another part of Africa who was visiting the area.

“One day after Bible study, she asked me to help her read her Jula Bible, so we sat down and read together. Then she wanted to learn some Christian songs in Jula, so we found a Christian radio station in Jula and listened to that for awhile.”

Susie loved spending time pointing her new friend to Jesus and helping her know Him better while at the same time, she herself grew in her knowledge of the Jula language.

Susie would have liked to share more about her adventures in learning culture and language, but she had to run. She had invited all the elders of her church over for dinner the next day to thank them for all their work in getting her little house ready for her, so she had a lot to do with dinner to fix and a house to straighten.

“Please pray for me,” Susie asks. “Pray for grace, wisdom and humility. Pray that I will be able to show Jesus’ love and joy in a way that makes sense here.”

It’s a big task, working to become relevant in the lives and culture of another people group in a faraway place. And Susie Locklin would be the first to tell you that it actually involves a whole lot more than just learning Jula.