July 16, 2009

Thanking God for the air we breathe

Nine P.M. was supposed to be a good enough time to leave for the airport. Traffic will be smooth at that time of the night, we were told.  Bangkok traffic proved otherwise, holding us up for a full hour, making us wonder whether we might miss our plane, but also bringing to mind the blessing of a missed flight of 2006.  Fortunately, I got there on time, finding a long line of merchandise heading for Africa.  

Our flight from Bangkok to Addis Ababa went smoothly.  As I settled into my seat for the next leg of my trip from Addis to Ouagadougou, via a stop in Lome, Togo, I discovered that my neighbour along with about 20 other young African men were on their way home from a school year at the Islamic university in Riyadh.

My future imam (Muslim leader) got off in Togo, but those of us travelling to Ouaga had to wait a few extra minutes to fix a valve before taking off. Upon take off, the captain announced that we would be having a meal during our 90 minute flight.  I reflected on the role of the flight attendants, and suddenly had a sentiment of appreciation for them and their provision of these basic necessities of life. Can you imagine carrying a load of very hungry and thirsty people on long range flights (8-9 hours)?

 About thirty minutes into our flight, we had a sudden drop in altitude – the kind that makes you happy to keep your seatbelt fastened.  Then what sounded like an alarm went off.  Suddenly the little trap doors above our heads dropped open, and these yellow things tumbled down; the voice from the cockpit told us to put on our oxygen masks. Nobody needed any prompting, as you can imagine, except now we had to quickly remember those instructions that we never really listen too! I started thanking God for the good life I had had thus far. But after a few minutes, the captain said we could take off our oxygen mask (and breathe normally!), and that we would be in Ouaga in 30 minutes.  I don’t think that any of us truly breathed easily until we were on the tarmac.  

By the way, we were given not one drop of water nor any food to eat during the entire flight!  But I won’t complain, I had air to breathe. 

Being thankful for life and breath to serve Him

As I was preparing to leave my hotel room after two and a half weeks at the United Bible Societies Tri-enniel Translation Workshop in Bangkok (June 11-26), my heart was full of thanks for the very rich time: The exhilaration of meeting translation consultants from all over the world - Russia, Germany, Africa, Holland, Papua New Guinea, Korea, India - and thankfulness for the appreciation for my meditation*, and for my contribution to the working group for translator training.  My African colleagues, in particular, were so encouraging. More and more, I feel part of the family.

Evening Meal

Evening meal with Thai church leaders and fellow translation consultants from  Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Mynamar

So I return to my work with renewed vigor for the challenges of task ahead.  Sometimes the challenges seem overwhelming, but I have the renewed assurance that God will guide and direct me to do His will whatever I am doing, wherever I am, and for as long as I have life and breath.

 *See the meditation here.

Seeing and (mis-)understanding (the text) Bangkok

Although we were cooped up in a beautiful hotel next to the river during our worldwide workshop for Bible Society translation consultants, we did have the occasional opportunity to escape and experience Thai life.

The first day that I went out walking just before 6 p.m., I observed a row of closed storefronts, with large sliding doors closed to protect the glass. Above the storefronts were several storys of apartments. They do seem to close early, I thought. But one day I went out in mid day, and they were still closed!  And then I started noticing some curious things. Often these sliding doors were open just a crack, and here I could see a parked car here, there someone eating and watching T.V. and at one place, an elderly sick person lying on a bed close to the door. Even those storefronts where they was actually a business, like the laundry business across the street from the hotel, I kept noticing what seemed like family life in the back. At the laundry business, the ceiling was open to enable one to look up to the second storey level, and then I slowly came to realize that each ‘storefront ‘ with the ‘apartments’ above it was actually a tall, narrow home unit, with sometimes a small business open on the main floor.

Now why is it that I misunderstood? In effect, when I saw the buildings, I made associations with what I already know: downtown Listowel (Ontario) has a line of stores with independent apartment units above, and in Ouaga there are shops that close down with a kind of a garage door. When we were born, we learn to understand our surroundings through constant observation.  Once we have made our mental associations with the world around us, we use this information in order make sense of new things. But sometimes this prior knowledge trips us up, as was the case for me.

As Bible translators approach their task, they have to be aware of not only what they know they do not know, but they also have to be careful they do not misconstrue what the text says by making faulty connections with their own bank of knowledge.  Then once they have all of that sorted out, they have to figure out how to render this unknown and potentially misconstrued information into their own language.   Not an easy job!

We continue to solicit your prayers for the Burkina Bible Society translators to give them energy and encouragement when they feel discouraged, joy and wisdom for task before them.

In these next few months I will be orienting the Moore translators in the translation of the Major Prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel; the Lyele translators will be working on 1-2 Samuel and Ezra and Nehemiah, and the Gulmancemana translators will be grappling with the poetry in the Deutero-canonical books.  Do pray that God will continue to give me inspiration, wisdom, and patience as I guide each one of these translation teams.

Daniel and I will be in Listowel, Ontario for the month of August, for pure vacation (no speaking engagements!!).  For the first time, Daniel’s daughter Sarah, and family from France will be joining us for two weeks and getting accounted with the Garber clan. In addition to taking in the sights of southwestern Ontario, we plan to celebrate my parents’ 55th wedding anniversary, as well as the wedding of one of my nieces.

Thanks again for all of your prayers.


Anne G Kompaore
July 16, 2009

P.S. on the Kangala fire. We are thankful for both local and exterior donors for generous gifts that were provided for the purchase of food grains and the re-roofing of several homes.  This fire, started by lightening and high winds, destroyed homes of about 500 people in May.  Kangala is five kilometers from Kotoura, where I worked for 10 years. The fire took place in the neighborhood right next to the Mennonite Church and affected several church families. For more info and photos see: Kanagala

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