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When in Pakistan for the First Time

When in Pakistan

Challenging and Fun

By Hazel Angwani

It has been nearly a year since I arrived in Pakistan as a lay missionary. If I were to describe the experience so far, I would have to say it has been very challenging but at the same time, fun.

Coming to a new country was challenging and experiencing it first hand was even more so. One of the initial challenges I encountered was learning the national language which is Urdu. Urdu is really difficult for me, because it has so many rules to follow. As a student, I have to keep in mind the masculine and feminine nouns and learn how to pronounce words which are nasalized. I find it very hard mainly because it is not the way I am used to speaking in my own language and other languages like English. On top of that, learning the spelling of words in script is difficult. The lessons I have learned so far while learning the language are to listen well and to be patient.

However, even with only few words, we can manage to go to the place we are looking for, buy the food we want, tell the tailor when we can get our clothes and greet the locals in our compound. At the end of the day, we get to laugh at our experiences which has helped a lot in relieving the stress. Learning the language is challenging, but it helps us to know more about the culture.

The most memorable part of my journey is that I got to see the northern part of Pakistan. For me, it is by far the most beautiful place to see here. I was really excited to visit these places because they look so nice in the pictures and videos from the internet. And when I saw them with my own eyes, I could not help but take pictures of the scenery from every angle. It was breathtaking to see the snow-capped mountains up close, because we only ever get to see them from afar in Murree when the weather is nice. The sight of the tall trees was truly amazing. Despite the long travels and rough roads, I believe it is all worth it because it offers another side of Pakistan.

Another thing that amazes me is the diversity of the people and culture. I have only heard bits and pieces about this diversity from my language teachers and some of the locals we became acquainted with. But as I continue with my language learning here in Karachi, I am continuously learning more and more about the diversity of the country. I can get overwhelmed at times with the realities surrounding its people, but it helps me reflect on my mission here.

Other people’s image of Pakistan is not always good. But it is like any other country in the world, having its own problems to deal with, yet with many good things to offer like its beautiful natural scenery and its diverse people and culture. I have more to see and experience in the “Land of the Pure,” and I’m looking forward to that.

Columban lay missionary Hazel Angwani lives and works in Pakistan.