Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"I knew what you wanted to say."

Did you ever wish you had an interpreter? If you have taken a vacation in a country where English is a foreign   language you probably have. Even the simplest thing needs charade like antics to become clear. But the worst is when you know a little of the language and think you have a bead on what you need to say and how you believe they will reply.
I tried to get bug spray in Rome and by the time Pam and I had finally found someone who guessed the the right word from our "looks like" "sounds like" communication we were in stitches and the sales lady was laughing with us, or, at us - that is still unclear.
One our new missionary doctors who took great pride in his language learning repeatedly gave a man pepto bismal because the man said he was "wafa mudumbo wangu" only to find that while mudumbo was stomach the actual sentence was not, "I am sick in my belly" but "my pregnant wife is sick." 
I believe one of the biggest mistakes we can make is believing that communication styles have changed but meanings have not. Even the simple changes from "bad" being terrible to "bad" being incredible signal the danger. Given that communication is less than 30% verbal then everything from our posture to our location becomes a giant opportunity to miscommunicate. The real problem is not that we miscommunicate but that we only get one chance to communicate with most guests and if that is a miscommunication we have lost the opportunity to open their eyes to the savior we so desperately want them to get to know.
The care with which we are approaching the face lift of the property and building along with the effort we are making to clarify our vision and what a win would look like with that vision is more than warranted. Because we are dealing with an eternal outcome for those we touch we cannot afford to take any shortcuts or overlook any information that would inform our efforts.
My first interpreter used the three sentences I spoke on the subject of the wise and foolish man to preach a short sermon that ended with 6 decisions. As we walked away from that village I told Watson, "I didn't say all that.' To which he replied, "Yes, but I knew what you wanted to say."
I have spent the last 55 years of my life wanting to say the right thing that will bring people to Jesus. May our present efforts, as difficult as they are, be for that very purpose.

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