Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Is this going anywhere?

Sorry! If you get to the end of this email and are left wondering where I'm going with it, well you're probably understanding it correctly then. I've been sitting on this email for 6 days now. I wanted to share this little tidbit about an experience in my work last week, got it started, but blast it all, I couldn't think of what point I wanted to make! Some kind of missionary update writing block, I guess. So while the experience is kind of cool I couldn't make it come to a point. So after sitting on it for a while, I realized that if I don't get this sent out, it will likely be another 2 weeks before I get another update out! So here is a little bit of mostly, but not completely useless rambling for your reading pleasure. Hopefully the next one will be back on track somewhat. Feel free to comment on how to make my writing more worthwhile! By the way, what kinds of things do YOU want to hear about in this ministry? Feel free to ask us questions or let us know what you want to hear about and we'll try to get it covered, 'cause chances are, you're not the only one wondering!
This last week I was finishing up the last of my comprehension checks on some Acts portions I've been translating. Comprehension checks are where, after I've translated the passage I'll spend time with different individuals or groups and see how the text is comprehended and fine tune, or re-write the portions that need it. Being a culture that thrives on hearing and passing on information by mouth we know that if the text is good, they'll be able to tell back sometimes huge portions with most of the pertinent details.
We strive to have the translation easily understood by both the more educated and by those with less education. So at least one of my comprehension checks is done with someone who may be a little more removed from the type of thinking that school experience provides. There is a marked difference between how easily this type of person will comprehend a text versus someone who's a little more educated and trained to pay attention to details. That means that in my comprehension checks with the more simple minded it's a little tougher to iron out the details if something goes wrong. I just expect a touch more difficulty comprehending when working with such individuals. That was certainly the case this last week.
One thing that stuck out to me this week was how some portions of texts just really fly compared with others. I worked with a group of 2 guys during this particular check and there is an amazing transformation at times where, rather than struggling through the text with a lot of difficult concepts, they start telling it as if it's their own story. This was the case with the story of the Jewish exorcists in Acts 19. I read the whole story and when I signaled it was their turn to tell it back to me they just started going. Their faces lit up, their eyes sparkled with excitement as they sat up and really got into it. Bandying the story telling task between the 2 of them of them they cruised through the story without missing a beat and without hesitation. I love seeing that happen! They were so into it that they wanted to talk and laugh about it more; they thought the whole thing of the exorcists using Jesus' name like a magic word and getting their you know what's kicked was pretty funny! The thing is, they could relate to that story. Not so much with the exorcism thing, but with the magic words and even people thinking that Jesus' name is a special magic word and using it in conjunction with their parlor tricks and other social manipulations. They could relate to those things and so it really brings the story home to them. "We know people like that!" they were saying, referring to the many unbelievers on the outskirts of the Mibu language borders who they interact with almost daily.
One thing was for sure, after hearing them go through this story so clearly and easily, we've got a good text here. I'm realizing that while the other texts might be just as good, it's the ones that they can relate to specifically that really are easiest to understand. It's the texts that start getting into the harder concepts where we start to see the separation between the educated and the less educated. Start using terms relating to God's grace and mercy, and start insisting on differentiating between disciples, believers, and the church, or start differentiating between 'teaching the word of God' and 'teaching the kingdom of God' or any other terms that have some major overlap of meaning and the ones with less education start to show that they live in a world of extreme generalization as far as how they interpret the hearing of new information. How do I get the text to speak all those details to them? Since I see quite a number of others who do get the same details with no problem and that those that do are typically more educated, I'm convinced it is a matter of mental discipline and so I become less inclined to try any further to change the text. I think that as their interest in the things of God continues to grow and so therefore their desire to learn of him, so will their ability to learn how to read or listen more meaningfully. Is that really the solution though? Or am I just being naive? Hmmm.
Hey, by the way, in case you've forgotten, we post a lot more photos on another blogsite. There are more family photos there as well as photos that are not so much ministry related, but still fun. Check out

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