Hard to Translate

I’m going to Haiti. Haitians speak Creole. I speak English. Sometimes. Sometimes I speak Gibberish. But that’s another story. I don’t speak Creole. Most Haitians don’t speak English. I’m supposed to preach to Haitians. In 11 days.

Google to the rescue!

I’m always amused by the little things of existence. Big things? Booooring. Little things? Bust-a-gut funny. Like Google Translate, the free service that will take one word or sentence and translate it through a filter into another language. Accuracy not guaranteed. But it looks like it works. Used to be, the translator only worked with common languages, like French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and such. But now… now it’s just darn impressive. Sixty-six languages are there for the using, including… drum roll… Haitian Creole. A language spoken in only one itty-bitty country of the world (and a neighborhood of Miami) is now easily available for mass communicating. So far I’ve translated my testimony and a greeting for the church I’m visiting there. I have only a short sermon left to translate. Now, let’s hope the translation was accurate. I’d hate to call someone a banana by accident.

In the process of preparing a short testimony to deliver in front of the Haitian church, I thought it a good idea to tell the Haitians what I do for a living. Sounds reasonable, right? Only I couldn’t. Not my job at the church anyway. I could think of any way to tell a group of third-world residents about computers, video editing or technical ministries. Chambellan doesn’t have the kind of electricity we do in America. Sure, there are generators scattered around town but the concept of plugging in a TV to watch a ballgame is very foreign to most of them. Video editing? Yeah. I know. My job would get lost in translation. When I tried to write down my career since “university,” I also drew a blank. It’s a strange scenario. My careers to this point have been strictly first- or second-world pursuits. Journalism for example. Port-au-Prince has journalists. Most of them foreign media covering the rebuilding and humanitarian aid. There may be a newspaper in nearby Jeremie but, even if there was, the vast majority of Haitians are illiterate. Can’t show off my writing prowess. Internet blogging? Yikes. They understand radio thanks to the BBC, secular music and a few religious stations. Most households of some means have a radio.

I worked some in radio. They understand that. And I was a pastor. They understand that, too. And now I’m pursuing church planting. So I chose to focus in on things they would comprehend. Hopefully I don’t get lost in translation!

Chambellan Baptist Church in western Haiti. I'll be there in 11 days for a short visit with a mission team. I'm jazzed about the trip.