After visiting some time in the first village (previous First 48 Hours), I took another night train to a conference of national believers. There were about 600 attending and I was coming to lead sessions on orality and using stories to plant churches. Sounds simple.
I walk into my seminar room and only two people were there. Thirty minutes later only four. But they hadn’t missed anything because the translator hadn’t shown up either.
A few minutes later we got up to fifteen people and I snagged somebody to translate. We started 45 minutes late, which for overseas is about on-time. Five minutes after starting another ten people show up and we make the circle bigger. I talk about 2 minutes and another 15-ish show up so we rearrange again and start again. Then my original translator shows up so we try to get him up to speed. We now have an hour left and a good size group of thirty. I start again…and more people come in. After ten minutes of trying to figure out how to arrange so people can see around the columns holding the roof up scattered around the room we started again. 150 people. BUT…
They spoke 6 different languages and most people only spoke one. And the translator only knew 1 of them. Some could understand another language they heard but couldn’t speak back in it. We tried multiple language translation translating 6 times, which very quickly became obvious that was a ridiculous idea to try.
Hard to have an interactive session when people can’t speak to each other. So I changed plans again and started more lecture style knowing people were being left out. Have you ever tried to teach to a wall…it gives more response than I got.
So I tried an interactive exercise. Well that went over lousy.
Finally I told everybody what was obvious, that I had no idea how to work this situation and needed to think on it tonight. Of course only 1/2 understood what I had said after it was translated.
And I have 3 more sessions with this group.
That was Day 1 at the conference. Fortunately, well, have you ever heard the phrase around Easter time, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’”? Well, it’s Day 1, and Day 2’s comin’…