When I read the Bible I notice the richness of the language and the multiple meanings of the words. I can understand some Finnish Bible texts more clearly when I read the Russian Bible.
In 1991 I was asked to interpret a sermon into Russian. When I entered the interpretation booth it felt like I had lost all my Russian words, and tears came to my eyes in that seemingly hopeless situation.
A now deceased speaker happened to walk by and he comforted me: “Don’t cry, Paula, God will help.” These words are etched in my mind and I remember them whenever I’m preparing to interpret. I can pray to God and ask that I would be able recall the correct words when interpreting so that they would convey the gospel message to the listeners.
When I read the Bible I notice the richness of the language and the multiple meanings of the words. I can understand some Finnish Bible texts more clearly when I read the Russian Bible. Believing native Russians, many who also know Finnish, have been a great help as I have studied the language.
Interpretation situations are always different. Interpreters at Russia’s autumn services help when people want to discuss with each other. The happy greetings, “Smirom Boga” (God’s Peace), of believing friends who have arrived from afar and rarely see each other are touching.
At home services or in a nursing home there may be a few elders among the listeners who have ardently waited for the services. Many times at services we sing together in Russian and Finnish the songs that have become dear to the Russians: “Dearest Jesus, on Golgotha show Your wounds of love to us” and “With His blood the dear Lord Jesus, paid my debt and set me free”.
When we are leaving we often hear: “Don’t forget us; come again.”
During the sermon I have to concentrate on listening and interpreting. What if I don’t remember the whole sentence spoken by the speaker or I don’t know how to interpret a spiritual expression? Do I always understand the thought even in my own language? In such a situation I try to interpret the thought as understandably as possible without changing the meaning of the spoken words.
The listeners can help me if I grope for words. Once a native listener told me the correct Russian expression for the word “sheepfold”. After that I felt there was no need to be nervous in such an atmosphere of love—I could be free to ask and the listeners were free to help.
Much time is spent traveling on service trips that last several days and it is necessary to try to be on schedule. If not before, then on the way home I realize how joyous and amazing it is how God calls people from very different situations into his kingdom and has given many the gift of faith. At mission services the gospel is preached to them to refresh and encourage them on their journey.
Text: Paula Konttinen
Published in its entirety in the online version of Päivämies, 31.5.2018
Julkaistu englanninkielisessä kieliliitteessä tammikuussa 2019
Monet suunnitelmat ovat tänä poikkeuksellisena keväänä muuttuneet. Muun muassa perhejuhlien järjestelyjä on pitänyt miettiä uudelleen. Tämä on koskenut myös avioliittoon vihkimisiä. Nyt vihkimisiä on toimitettu niin, että koolla on ollut vain joitakin läheisiä, ja muu juhlaväki on seurannut tilaisuutta ehkä virtuaalisesti.