Thursday, November 7, 2013
Teaching through Translation
Hello! I'm feeling much better today. And now I know why. It was my anti-malaria medicine! It was making me sick. So I've decided to stop taking it. If you're reading this, and you're a praying person, please pray for me that I don't catch malaria (I'm doing things to avoid mosquito bites--like sleeping under mosquito netting--but there's only so much you can do.) Classes continue to go well. Everyday I am amazed at how much these pastors want to learn. They are very eager for this opportunity. But they're also starting to get tired. Each day I have to work a little harder to keep them engaged. Lately I've been doing a lot of Q&A stuff to keep it interesting--asking them questions instead of having them just sit and listen to me. That works pretty well for the most part, but sometimes translation makes it challenging. Sometimes, based on the answers I get, I think they didn't understand the question. But then I think, maybe it's that the translator did not translate their answer well! Today a pastor came over during a break and wanted to ask me a theological question. Moses (my translator) finally asked him to wait until Eric (the missionary) was around, because he just couldn't figure out how to translate the pastor's question. (Moses was also very tired by that point in the day--understandably.) Since I'm not always sure of the translation happening in the classroom, I'm really glad I did fill-in-the-blank outlines and emailed them over here before I came. These have been translated into Swahili, and are in the hands of the students. But even then, sometimes the students will point out that a translation is not good. So we just stop and hash it out until everyone's satisfied. You might think, "Wow that sounds really frustrating." But what I'm finding remarkable is how much DOES get through--how much we DO have in common--how much we CAN share despite the fact that we can't talk to each other directly. Smiles, laughter, handshakes--all of that transcends language. (Although they do have a different way of shaking hands here -- I'll have to show you when I get home.) Prayer and worship -- they're universal. (Although their method of prayer is a little different -- they all pray out loud together at the same time. And their singing is different, too -- it's WAY BETTER than ours!) Even though I cannot sit down and talk directly with most of these pastors, I feel as though I am getting to know them. Some are strong leaders, some are compassionate caregivers, some are fiery preachers and evangelists, some are studious, and some are really funny (I can't tell what they're saying, but I know it's funny because everybody is laughing). Even though I can't talk with them (without a translator), I feel I am getting to know them--and I am growing to love them.