TITLE: No Translation Necessary
By Patty Wysong
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“Patty!” I looked around searching for the voice that had called to me. It was in Spanish, so I overlooked the Americans, “Ven a ayudarnos, Patty!” We were on a two week mission trip to Ecuador, helping a local church enlarge their building. It was the church my father had built during my high school years and I was thrilled to be home after being gone for five years.
Stepping over a bench and around the pile of trim waiting to be stained I made my way to the two ladies. They didn’t even give me time to fully reach them before they were plastering me with questions. “I think she’s telling me she has three kids and asking how many I have. Anyway, if that was her question, I tried to tell her that I have three, too. I mean also. Oh, you know what I mean!” Sally was talking a mile a minute, but then again, so was Zoila. And they were both saying pretty much the same thing. The looked at each other, laughed and met half way in a hug, knowing they had just found a kindred spirit. All I had to do was nod my head and smile and they were off and running again. Using their hands they conveyed their children’s names, ages and even their heights.
They did great until they got to a topic close to a mother’s heart. When hand signing failed, Zoila turned to me, “Patty, preguntale si todos son Cristianos!” It was an important question.
“She wants to know if all your children are saved.”
Sally’s eyes immediately teared up. Looking straight into Zoila’s eyes she replied, “My middle son, Tim, is not.” No translation was necessary.
Zoila immediately understood and reached out a comforting hand. “My oldest son, Bolivar Jr. is not saved either. I will pray for your Tim and you pray for my Bolivar.” The women hugged, while I stood there watching the miracle happen again. These women, from different parts of the world, speaking different languages had connected in a way they would never forget.
I played translator for them for a little while longer before being called away. By then they knew they were both pastor’s wives and both worked with the children not only in their churches, but in their communities as well.
An hour later I happened to be walking towards the church class rooms when I heard the ladies again. I had to laugh at what I heard, “Cuando andamos con Dios,” Zoila sang.
Sally smiled hugely and came up with the next line, “In the light of His Word,”
Then it was back to Zoila, who sang the next line, “Nuestra senda florida
Sally caught the volley with, “While we do His good will…”
“Él será nuestro Rey,” Zoila jumped back in.
“And with all who will trust and obey,” Sally finished up.
Both ladies laughed and sang the chorus together: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” They had figured out their parts and when Sally took up the alto, Zoila picked up the soprano. They laughed joyfully together, hugging each other as I clapped.
That set them off. For the next two weeks they often worked together and could be heard singing, sometimes trading lines like they had with, “Trust and Obey,” sometimes singing together but in their own language, and other times teaching the other a chorus. For the choruses they would find someone to give them a translation of what they were learning to sing. When they forgot the words they hummed along, enjoying the melody.
They not only shared their joy, they found they could share their sorrows, too. Many times when the three of us were working together one would start talking, pouring out her heart, and she would stop occasionally to let me translate. The tears would flow and there were many hugs interspersed. God’s comfort was always shared with the other.
When the two weeks of the mission trip ended the ladies clung together. “Patty, tell her I will never forget her, and that I will pray for her and for her family,” Sally said as the tears ran down her face. Zoila understood without the translation.
Now, whenever I hear, “Trust and Obey,” I pray for both Zoila and Sally, the ladies who showed me the depth and richness that is found when Christ bridges the barriers. Their love for Christ had bridged the language barrier like nothing else could. It spilled over into every area of their lives, allowing them to connect as only sisters can. Christ was the tie that bound them together, giving them not only compassion, but true understanding as well.
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