Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: TRIAL (05/10/18)
By Linda Lawrence
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It’s been over a year since our new neighbors moved in. The husband was an American nomad teleworker who fell in love in Vietnam. Deciding it was time to settle down, he brought his new wife here to Oregon. Jesse was friendly and outgoing but Trang spoke little English, so was very shy. Trang and I made early awkward attempts to communicate, but since we couldn’t understand each other, we mainly smiled and waved across our yards.
Then recently, they invited their friends, family and neighbors to a party to celebrate Trang receiving her green card. I am very hard of hearing and avoid those kinds of social occasions if at all possible, but I knew I needed to attend. I had been praying for all my neighbors regularly and knew Jesus would want to be at that party. So I went with Him.
Catching only parts of several conversations around me, I did pick up on a comment about Trang’s need for improvement of her English conversational skills before she would be able to take advantage of her green card. When Jesus nudged me, I gathered up courage, took a deep breath and asked her if she would like to come to my house to try to practice English conversation. My poor hearing would be a handicap, but I had a board game that would give us a wide range of subjects of conversation that we could try out. The answer was “yes”! Her smile was eager, and to my surprise, she pulled up her calendar on her phone so we could set a date.
At the party I also found out that Jesse doesn’t speak Vietnamese either, but he has learned to understand Trang. They got to know each other, sitting side by side in a coffee shop, texting in English. Apparently she understands written English, but she too struggles with understanding our pronunciation.
So, I asked a few friends to pray that God would give me the gift of interpretation when I was with Trang. I want to one day share the Good News with her, but first we have to learn to understand each other when we speak.
To my delight, God is answering that prayer. I don’t understand every word, but Trang says that, like Jesse, I’m beginning to interpret ‘Tranglish’. Sitting across a table, speaking face to face, with her Vietnamese dictionary on her smartphone and old-fashioned pen and paper by my side, we are communicating well enough to laugh heartily at our awkward attempts to understand each other’s stories.
Trang’s knowledge of English vocabulary is actually quite good; it’s her pronunciation that is the big problem. Vietnamese lacks many of our English sounds. Trang is patiently teaching me much about the differences in our languages. I can’t make some of the sounds that come naturally to her and vice versa. Our tongues definitely require interpretation.
The first time we sat across from each other, I spoke of us experimenting with the Life Story game. “Experimenting? I don’t know that word,” she said, puzzled.
I stumbled at defining the word for her, but then she was nodding that she got it. “Lumming and drying!” Her bright eyes looked at me expectantly, but I had no idea what she meant.
“Lumming and drying . . . lumming and drying . . ?” I repeated quizzically.
She nodded vigorously. “Yes, lumming and drying!”
Suddenly remembering pen and paper, I passed them to her. She neatly printed these words: Learning and trying.
“Oh, yes!” I cried. Our trial run at “learning and trying” is turning out to be a success. For now we are sharing our stories of our past, but I am waiting and praying for the day that Jesus lets me know Trang is ready to understand His story for her future.
An ongoing true story. More to come.
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