Mission Trip 2016

Language barrier ... Yes, but ...
Saturday, January 9, 2016 by Dan Allen

I am surrounded by folks who do not speak my language. Some of them can understand English, a few can converse in it, but all are fluent in their native tongue (Hindi or Telugu). So, if I am with a group of people and my handler is elsewhere, I’m left out in the cold concerning conversations. I have no idea about what they are saying.

That, however, does not stop me from making things up as to what they might be saying. It’s like I have a closed caption in my mind which is translates everything into English. I create stories of their conversations and interaction. 

One time a heated discussion took place about the trash and forgetting to take it out. On another occasion it was why they painted the walls purple. And yet, another, was about their lateness.  “Don’t you have a clock that is working?” “Yes, but I wasn’t looking at it.” “Well, why not? I gave you a clock. You are supposed to look at it!” and so on.

I am easy to amuse and do so to myself. 

At the dinner table one night, it was noted by my village host that the prawns-curry was a bit salty.  When the hostess entered the dining room she apologized for adding too much salt. I said it was fine and noted that shrimp do come from salt-water. They got the little funny, but then they started talking among themselves. The host and hostess talked to each other and included mom for a bit with the little daughter chiming in. It was not a heated discussion, but any means, but it was lively and vocally animated. I wanted to interrupt: “Wait, I said it wasn’t too salty for me.” Of course, that is not what they were talking about . . . at least I don’t think so.

After one of my sessions with the pastors, I requested prayer for the husband of one of my nieces who was in ICU with double pneumonia and, at that point, was not responding to treatments. I thought, perhaps, one fellow would close the meeting with prayer remembering this request. Oh, how wrong I was. All 20 pastors started praying, out loud and at the same time as they pleaded with God for this young man’s life, claiming promises and quoting Scriptures in their prayers (so I was informed afterwards when I spoke to my translator). After about ten minutes of this, the lead pastor of the group ended the prayer meeting by going louder than the others and finally saying – “amen” and “hallelujah.” To which the men and three women replied: “hallelujah.”

Despite the confusion of their tongues, to my ears it was one of the sweetest sounds ever heard. Sure am glad God is multilingual. 

Not sure what angelic language is spoken in Heaven, but I’m sure we will all not only understand it, but will have a great time conversing with so many Christians from varied parts of the world.

Then I won’t have to make up conversations with my internal closed captions!

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