Counting in Japanese

Counting

Ichi, ni, san, shi, go.” You might hear us counting in Japanese if you come by my Mission Friends class. Sometimes in our sessions, you will hear preschoolers carrying on a conversation in Japanese. During one session, one of the girls was mad at one of the boys, and I don’t know what she said to him in Japanese, but it was clear that she was not happy with him at all. Other than that one time, their words are usually upbeat and cheerful.

Our church began an English as Second Language (ESL) class at the beginning of this church year. The ESL class for adults meets at the same time as Mission Friends, so the preschoolers are with us each week to learn about missions and how much God loves us. Four of the young women who attend are Japanese. Their preschoolers are a blessing to us every week in Mission Friends.

The preschoolers speak both Japanese and English fluently. I am amazed at how they can talk with us in English one moment and then turn to one another to speak in Japanese without skipping a beat. Though the preschoolers can talk in both Japanese and English, I know that Japanese is their heart language. It is the first language they learned, and the language they speak in their homes.

I like to ask them about words in Japanese. Their eyes light up as they try to teach us words in their heart language. Several weeks ago while doing an activity, they started counting in Japanese. The other preschoolers seemed to catch on quickly. I can’t say the same for their Mission Friends teacher — me! Miwa seemed frustrated that she had to repeat it so many times for me, and we were only learning the numbers 1 through 5! She held up each finger as she said the numbers. I told her I need to practice a lot.

Throughout this year, we have concentrated on talking about how much God loves each of us. When we talk about the missionaries, we say things like, “The Friedrichsens tell people in Cleveland that God loves them.” In our Prayertime during Group Time, I always thank God that He loves each of us. I want our preschoolers to hear that God loves them and to feel God’s love through the ways that we show love to them. We have enjoyed learning words from one another, but the greatest words I want them to know are “God loves me.”

Now I need to practice counting in Japanese. Ichi, ni, san, shi, go.

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