Too Much Translating

February 8

Of the two of us, Char works the harder. Through winter vacation, when people would ask, “Did you go home to America for the New Year holiday?” she would answer that we hadn’t gone anywhere. There was too much work to do. But she DID manage to control things enough to have two full days off with her friend Peggy for trips to see nature. Late in January they’d gone to the beach & mountains, and on February 8 they went to the mountains again.

Dave keeps finding things that “need” doing before he can send his online class onto the internet. For short introductory and exit videos for each of the 10 modules he had talked with a staff guy at the college who does video-taping, and learned that he should plan to bring several different shirts. Instead, he opened the boxes of cloth scraps in his office, got out his sewing machine, and spent several hours stitching 20 or more scarves and stoles. Because the ends don’t have to show in the video, they were left ragged, but still looked pretty good.


February 10

With the semester’s beginning drawing near, Char looked at her hair and saw that it was time for a permanent. That meant a trip to Kaohsiung where the woman who has taken care of her hair (and our son’s, and our daughter’s) for more than 15 years has a salon. She looks very nice now.

Dave stayed in the office doing whatever fell to hand, and in the middle of it got a call from the dean of students. He needed a recommendation letter for a graduating student who plans to go to Princeton. “Oh, and while you’re at it, could you help me with my own application for a visiting scholar position at Claremont in California?” Of course.


February 11

Wedding in the morning. In contrast to the others we’d been at since Christmas which were fun, this one was like a presbytery meeting. The student’s father is a pastor in Dave’s presbytery, and young man grew up in a big church before his father came to Tainan to study for ministry. It was an almost royal gathering, and more than a little bit stiff.

Later in the afternoon we went to a choir concert. The Seeds of Hope children’s choir and the Elegant Song adult choir made beautiful music. We took our neighbors Juan and Ruth, who thoroughly enjoyed the event.


February 12

Because Dave has to go out fundraising for the theological college twice in March, but didn’t have the dates set yet, he told the secretary at Dongning Church not to schedule him to translate that month. So she loaded the 4 weeks per quarter that he usually does into January and February. Those came right on the heel of Christmas (an extra service) and Chinese New Year (another extra service). He’s been really getting a workout!

In the afternoon he led worship and preached at Tainan International Community Church, and was pleased to have a pianist at the keyboard. Of late dependence on computer files of pipe organ or piano accompaniment has become more the rule than the exception.


February 13

Char went back to school. She not only had 4 hours of class in the afternoon, but a department meeting at noon. It was the first of “3 Mondays in 8 days” (more below).

Dave looked at the week ahead and, even though he was still technically on Winter Break, he could see that it was going to be a busy week. The theology department students were going on retreat on Thursday and Friday, and he would be along, so all the work he would usually fit into 5 days had to be done in 3. On Monday morning he went to work with a different kind of “to do” list. Instead of just listing things, it said, “From A to B you’ll work on THIS; From C to D you’ll do THAT”. As a management tool, it worked on Monday, but fell apart on later days.


February 14

Dave had a Valentine waiting on the couch where Char has her coffee in the morning. Char had a snickers bar on the pillow where Dave takes his afternoon nap. Pretty good exchange.


February 15

Rush work….. finishing Sunday’s sermon, putting together Sunday’s power-point show, and getting all of the music files in shape for a congregation to use. Rush work was not good work. Too many mistakes and too many compromises were made. Hoping nobody will notice on Sunday afternoon.


February 16

Student retreat: Bus left at 8:45 AM. Went to a “camp” at the campus of a former Bible college. The folks who ran it apparently bought a big house in the 50s and added facilities around it as they had funds through about the 70s, then ran the place until they had no more students and closed in 1995. Only repairs and cleaning have been done since, so it looks run down, but it is absolutely clean, a delightful contrast to many placed around this land which, though not all that old, are already junky.

Dave led opening worship, then translated most of the rest of whatever happened for Juan. Problem was, most of the rest of what happened was in Mandarin.  Effectiveness, which runs 50 to 75% when the input is Taiwanese, drops to the low teens in such cases.


February 17

Second day of retreat: the speaker is excellent. He’s a counselor from a medical college in Taipei. Because it’s the “second best” medical school up there, he deals with a lot of young people who feel like failures because their parents expected better of them. As a speaker, one of his techniques is to use movie clips. VERY effective. I think we ALL want to learn how to do that as preachers.


February 18

Though the calendar said “Saturday”, the government said, “Monday” so everyone had to go to work. That’s because February 28 is officially a holiday (Peace and Reconciliation Day), and it’s on a Tuesday, so we’ve been given Monday the 27th “off” on pain of having to make it up, on the 18th. Char went to work, and because staff had to be at the theological college, a special training session was laid on and faculty had to attend, too. It means that the house cleaning got skipped.

Dave spent a third day running as a translator for Juan (who has neither Mandarin nor Taiwanese) and for Chris (who has Mandarin, but not so much Taiwanese).

That evening his recorder group began rehearsals and class again. Something happened to him since Christmas. Now he can read music written in staffs. That DOESN’T mean, however, that his fingers go where they’re supposed to, just hat he can read what notes he’s should be playing. It makes things less frustrating.


February 19

Fourth day in a row as a translator. Effectiveness dips further. Then there was church in the afternoon (English) for which Dave felt underprepared, but it went well. Having a weaker than usual sermon, he turned up the energy (friend Everett Savage taught him, “when you can’t give ‘em light, give ‘em heat!”  After church and a short break at home, off to the cultural center to hear Mendelsohn’s Elijah Oratorio, in which one of the international church members was singing. LOTS of music, but all of it good.



February 20

Theological college begins the spring term. Back in the saddle. But a day without translation was a welcome break.

It was Char’s third Monday in 8 days (including the one she had on the 18th). She and students are tired of each other, but don’t have to meet face to face until the 6th of March now. The break will do them good.


February 21

Morning prayers: Translating into the microphone for Juan and Chris (who have receivers) and a little bit loud for Knowledge Maseko, returned from Malawi, but not yet equipped with a receiver set. Dr Wong, the college president, spoke on the same lesson Dave had used in church last Sunday afternoon, but Dr. Wong had a better mentor, he used Walter Wink, a theologian from Auburn Seminary in New York, and interpreted the entire “eye for an eye…….”discourse as a manual for non-violent resistance. Really good stuff!


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