Saturday, August 16, 2014

Disappearing Languages and Other Things

Interesting stats about the language imbalance in the world and current efforts to translate the Bible into indigenous languages, shared with me by a friend who did two years of missions in western Afria.

About four years ago, my dream was to become a linguist for Wycliffe who would go to remote areas of the world to translate the Bible into indigenous languages. That's changed, and a part of me regrets that my life has taken a different direction. Of course, I say that I will do whatever and go wherever God calls me, but I wonder if I backed down from the idea of working with Wycliffe because I was intimidated by the notion of actually being a missionary?

When people from my Christian community back home learn that I've been in Korea teaching English, their first assumption is that I went abroad to do missions work and taught on the side. Actually, I went abroad to teach English, and didn't do any missions work on the side. To reiterate: not a finger did I lift to contribute to this great cause for which I purport to live. And when I clarify this, well, it becomes a bit awkward. I wonder if I've let them down in some sense.

Now, my time in Korea is over. Memories are starting to be replaced by photos and blog entries, people are losing reasons to stay in touch. I've been home for one week, and in two more, classes will begin: my first steps toward obtaining a PhD in linguistics. Five years down the road, I'll be a "doctor"... and then what? What will I do after that? Where will I go? God only knows. (And does anything I'd ever had planned even matter to Him?)

A new chapter begins... But the book of life metaphor isn't perfect, I must admit. In a book, I can always turn back to an earlier page, read it again, maybe add an annotation. Seems more like I'm reading a message I'd scratched in wet sand at the beach, only to have the water wash it away.

It's hard to remember things.

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P.S. Unrelated: I found out recently that a friend and fellow Fulbrighter in my year is the granddaughter of WC Townsend, the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL International! Wow! Also, one of the Fulbright Korea grantees this year is the grandson of Noam Chomsky. It's like the heirs of linguistic royalty are partying up in Seoul right now. Haha.

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