On the Spot

Consequence #324 of living in Brazil: I’m not allowed to be shy.

So this weekend there are two guests here from the General Conference to assist in a spiritual enrichment seminary that the Division is hosting for the employees on Sabbath.  One of the men is from Colombia, so he is getting around well with his Spanish, but the other man, Erika, is Samoan so he’s relying on translators.  Well they both came to our neighborhood’s sundown worship tonight.  And after watching Erika sit and smile with everyone, despite being able to understand the jokes and conversation, I decided to sit by him to keep him in the loop.  I translated the worship for him and it was nice and low pressure considering he was the only one listening to me.  It helps that he didn’t know if I was translating correctly, or making it up (not that I purposely made anything up, just some things get summarized if they’re repetitive).

Well, at the end they asked him to pray to close.  Much to my surprise however, they asked me to translate his prayer for him.  Considering I’m a “to English” translator and interpreter I was a little taken aback.  The big question which comes next is “translate to what, Spanish or Portuguese?”  Now yes, this question makes me look like a linguistic snob who is rubbing in that I can translate to whatever, but it’s a legitimate question.  Anyways, since I was given the option of choosing, I decided to translate to Spanish.  Normally I would have declined a public (about 30 people were there) translation into a foreign language, but it was a prayer, that’s the shortest speech you can ever translate, right?  Well, needless to say, General Conference people sure know how to be detailed in their prayers!  So 7 minutes later… it didn’t really go too bad.  I felt confident in most of my word choices, but now that I look back, I may have accidentally translated “provide” as “prevent.”  So it may have gone something along the lines of “Thank you, Lord, for preventing us with this Sabbath.”  Almost the same thing?  Bah, no use crying over spilled milk.

At least afterward the Colombian GC guy and a new Chilean department head, who I hadn’t yet met, both asked me what country I was from.  Now, I’m sure they weren’t assuming I was from a Spanish speaking country, but it’s always nice to see people’s surprised faces when they hear I’m American.  Small victories.
The ironic thing is, even when praying out loud here in Brazil, I only pray in English, not in Spanish or Portuguese.  Funny that I had to pray for someone else in Spanish.  Well, let’s see what adventures await me next. 

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