The first time I interpret for a new person is always difficult. Not knowing the rhythms, their accent, or style of speaking. Not knowing what they are going to say, what types of words they use.
Just not knowing them, makes it hard. The flow is simply not there, and it can feel stilted and restrictive. I’ve seen even very experienced interpreters struggle when translating for someone they’ve never met.My favorite person to interpret for is Daisy. Part of that is because she has beautiful Spanish. She speaks clearly, pronouncing words perfectly. No slang or cut off endings. Beyond that, though, I love interpreting for her because I love her.
The first time I interpreted for her, it wasn’t super easy. I got through it, but struggled at times. I was fresh from language school, still adjusting to life in the DR.
When I had been in El Callejon before, it had been for two two-week trips, and while I had learned some Spanish by the second one, I was hardly conversant. Now, I was back full-time, and we needed to learn how to work together.This meant spending time together. Daisy’s English was good enough that I could have taken the easy way out and she would have understood. But, that would never have moved our relationship past the surface. So, with help when I got stuck, we spoke Spanish.
And, a wonderful thing happened. The more time I spent with Daisy, the easier communicating became. Our conversation moved from simple statements about what we needed to do, to more complex and deep talks about faith, relationships, and emotions.
We didn’t just talk about the Site, but about what was happening in our homes. As I Thessalonians 2:8 says, we shared our very lives and became ‘dear’ to each other.As we labored together, striving to show the light of Jesus in El Callejon, interpreting got easier. Daisy knew exactly how long she could talk before she needed to stop and let me translate. After two years of sharing it, I learned her testimony so well I almost didn’t need her there!
It was fun, and at times very moving, to watch the students listen to Daisy’s testimony. To hear her story and get encouragement from what she had gone through. For them to talk about how amazing she was.
Sometimes one of them would thank me for interpreting, but most of the time, it was as if I wasn’t even there. Which was exactly how it needed to be for them to connect.As I think about sharing Jesus with others, is it a task, or a joy? Is it something I desire, or is it stilted and a struggle? Because, if I’m just sharing an idea or notion or concept, it’s not going to flow well. If Jesus is a relative stranger to me, I cannot expect to know the words He will use, or get the rhythm.
The goal and purpose of interpreting is to allow the parties to make a connection. That’s the case whether for another person, or in sharing Jesus. But to share it, I first need to have it.
Before I can share Jesus well, I need to know Him well. And, like with Daisy, that means spending time together. Not just when I need something from Him, or during church. I need to ‘hang out’ in the day-to-day and sometimes mundane of living my life. To dive into the Bible to learn what makes Him happy, what grieves Him, to learn His rhythms and words.My connection with Jesus is what helps me to share Him. As John 15 says, we need to abide in Jesus, and have Him abide in us. It is through this abiding that we learn to know His story better. Learn to know Him. Learn to love Him.
I’m not there yet, but as I grow to love Jesus more, I pray that I will also love to share Him more. That my love for Him will transform sharing Him into pure joy as I watch others learning to walk in His rhythm as they connect with Him, too.