Wednesday, 16 February 2005
Class goes per usual today – good and lively discussion. After class I spent a few minutes with Nina, the Greek teacher here. She is standing in the gap while the school is without a full time Greek teacher, but has only two years of formal education in the language, while she herself is teaching the first and second year students. I am hoping to help upgrade what she knows so that she can raise the bar for her students. After this we do a bit more shopping with Alene and Oksana, and have late lunch at a Ukrainian restaurant. We have Greek and Caesar salads – so no local flavor this time.
Tonight’s Bible class goes well. It is very difficult preach in this mode, because you are communicating one thought chunk at a time – you can never quite get up a head of steam or string together a logical train with too much effectiveness. But there are times when it is possible to communicate with both content and style, and it is great when the translator picks it up as well. Margaret is an excellent translator who thinks on her feet in a marvelous manner. I am a professional translator of ancient literature (I know, that’s a really glorified picture of a pastor), so I have a great appreciation for the difficulties of translation. Margaret seems barely to think about it before she puts it into Russian. She gets my humor, and manages to make people laugh in the same way. There are unexpected times in translation: sometimes you give a paragraph and your translator gives half a line, while others the opposite, and you think, “What in the world is she saying?”
After class I have some interesting conversations. One man comes up who was part of the English class which immediately precedes the Bible class had a statement and a question. He said he was a former member of the USSR Spesnatz Commandos, and while he was serving, he said, he killed 28 terrorists by his own hand. He was intensely concerned about whether this was murder, and what God might think of Him. Two part explanation: no, it is not murder when you’re defending life and freedom, and yes, Christ’s sacrifice is for all sins. He then goes on to proudly say that he has met Bill Clinton. I don’t have the heart to tell him my opinion of that president. Another person comes up and tells me that when she came last week and heard I would be speaking on the human problem of anger, she had decided that anger wasn’t her problem, and it wasn’t necessary for her to attend… then this week she had some issue happen and was angry, angry, angry. So she was glad to be there as well. I am very tired tonight – perhaps all the teaching is finally catching up with me.