On Monday, we started a new term at our language school, so schedules and teachers got moved around a little bit. I was somewhat nervous about what the new arrangements would be. Last term, I had two main teachers–Aijan and Uranchimeg. Aijan is a Kazakh believer who speaks English relatively well. This is a great help when I get stuck on some new grammar or trying to figure out some unfamiliar word. Uranchimeg is the owner of the school. She also speaks English well, although she usually waits longer to let me puzzle things out in Mongolian. Because Uranchimeg has other responsibilities at the school, I often had substitute teachers during last term. I knew, then, that it was unlikely that I would have her as a regular teacher during this trimester.
When the new schedule came out, I still had Aijan for five lessons a week, for which I was very thankful. My new teacher was Tonga, who I believe had been away from the school for a month or three. She is an older teacher, also a believer and she speaks English quite well. She teaches me four times a week. That leaves one lesson in limbo. As far as I can tell, that means I will always have a substitute teacher for my first class on Thursdays.
This morning, I had my first experience with this. I can’t remember the name of my teacher, but she spoke hardly any English and never showed much recognition to anything I said in English. I assumed then that she would review old grammar, run me through a few review exercises or maybe just give me a test. But, no… Her assignment for the day was to teach me blessings (ёрөөл бэлгийн үг) for various occasions, such as what to say when someone is playing chess or shearing sheep or boiling water or reading a book. Because she spoke no English and I speak little Mongolian, this presented a huge challenge. Here are a few guesses of what some of those blessings are.
When someone is milking an animal, say “full container.”
When someone is churning the fermented mare’s milk, say “oil ride high.”
When someone is shearing sheep, say “sharp scissors shear sheep very well” (surprisingly, that’s not a tongue twister in Mongolian).
When your children give you something, hold it high and say “Grow as tall as this.” Okay, that was a total guess based on my teacher’s pantomime.
When someone is sewing, say, “Every action.” What?!?
When someone sneezes, say, “God grace/favor/mercy.” Hmm, sounds familiar.