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Death to the iPhone/French as a Second Language

May 9, 2012

Yesterday was the hottest day we have yet to experience here.  It wasn’t so much the temperature, but the humidity was extra thick.  You could see it in the air.  It was 93F, but felt like 100F, according to the internet, which is always the source of correct information, you know.

But, really, it wouldn’t be that bad…and it’s probably already been that hot…except that the power was out.  All. Day.  No A/C.  No fans.  We spent most of the day on the porch, out from under the sun, but trying to catch any breeze that blew in.  Sadly, the wind was taking a day off, probably due to the heat.

No electricty and being so hot are not exactly conducive to me wanting to cook dinner, despite being able to turn on the generator to do so.  We can’t leave it on long, because the price of fuel is so high, but it is needed to keep the fridge and freezer cool.  However, on this particular evening, I was not in the mood.  So, we left Levi with his friend, Lydia, and took Amelia down to the Commercial Centre to check out a little cafe that just opened there.  They have hamburgers for $10 or other little treats.  We just got sandwiches because it was cheap and the guy there didn’t seem interested in cooking.

While we were trying to translate the menu, we couldn’t figure out one particular word: gaufre.  The only context we had was that you could get it with chocolate or ham or orange.  What the what?  So, I took out my iPhone, opened my French translator app, discovered gaufre means waffle and dropped it.  On the tile floor.  Glass shards flew everywhere and I just stood there dumbfounded.  Our only smartphone and it lasted just over a month.  Ugh.  I felt terrible about the waste, my sudden lack of phone, our handy apps (we had ones for French and Lingala), and my ability to have internet despite the power or internet situation.  Such a bummer!


We ate and walked home.  I stopped by a friend’s across the street because I could see she had tried to call me (the home button still worked), but couldn’t use the touch screen to see her texts.  Convenient she is staying across the street.  We talked about a new phone for me.

Today we went shopping and it was another adventure, as grocery shopping in Kinshasa always is.  But, during one of our stops we sent our driver, Pepe, out to get a new phone for me.  Another missionary has one that works and she enjoys it, so we told him to get one just like it.  Tah dah!  New phone!  It’s like a Blackberry rip off, but it makes calls and sends texts and takes pictures and even has a little flashlight at the top (because the power goes out a lot, see?).

(Phone update: Tomorrow our phone will be flying with our friend to Canada, where she is spending the summer busy with stuff (aka: having a baby) and when she comes back in August, maybe she’ll bring it back intact!  Woo hoo!)


Tonight a few ladies got together for a movie night.  The power was out, but sometimes frivolous use of the generator is required.  Our neighbors across the street (different ones than previously mentioned) have a projector and a big white wall and surround sound.  We had popcorn and Cokes and Amelia was a little angel.

The movie was called “Midnight in Paris.”  The thing I noticed most was that during the movie French was spoken on and off.  There were no subtitles (it was a Woody Allen movie) and it flowed seamlessly in the conversations.  What took me aback was that I didn’t notice when it changed from English to French until nearing the end of the movie.  I can’t understand what they’re saying…my French is not yet that good, but after hearing French every single day for over a month, I’m no longer noticing it as a foreign sound.  I hear the word breaks; I can pick out things I understand.  Soon, I hope to simply understand what is being said.  Speaking it would be wonderful!  But, for now, I’ll enjoy that I no longer find it a foreign language, but as rather something I don’t yet understand.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2012 0829

    Tell Pepe hello from the madame Jennifer and the rest of the Abbott’s. We miss him!

  2. May 12, 2012 0829

    what’d y’all think of the movie?

    • May 13, 2012 0829

      I liked it (I actually thought you especially might enjoy, but it sounds as if you’ve seen it already?). Thought provoking, as all Woody Allen movies are intended to be. It was a girls’ night, but I’m fairly certain Matthew wouldn’t enjoy it. I remember you also liked The King’s Speech, which I’ve been trying to watch for a few days now (as power, kid-free time, and computer availability allow)…Matthew won’t watch it with me. Equates it to torture. Ha! So far, I like it, though. 🙂

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