Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mommy, why do those people talk funny?

Hello all,

I have long been fascinated with words.  In fact, I'm something of a language sleuth and amateur etymologist.  By the way, that's etymologist as opposed to "entomologist," which is a person who studies bugs and insects (such as Washington politicians).  Etymologists, on the other hand, study word meanings and word origins, and how the form and meaning of words have changed over time.

When I was a kid I didn't care a fig about English or any other language.  It was not until my family moved to Guam that I began to pay attention to the Chamorro language because we were living in a Guamanian village and I couldn't understand what anybody was saying at first.

Years later I studied Greek for two years in college plus I took a year of Russian because I was a math major at the time and it was the recommended language for that program.  Then in seminary I dove back into Greek and added Hebrew to boot.  My fascination with languages really started to grow.  Appointed as a missionary to Brazil in 1976, Portuguese became my working language for the next 15 years.  Along the way I picked up enough Latin, Spanish, and Italian to be dangerous and to embarrass myself in public.

My son, Chris, who also loves languages, posted the following video clip on Facebook and I thought it was very creative and funny, albeit somewhat coarse in a couple of spots.  It's long but I think you will like it.  We'll talk more on the other side.  Enjoy!

As most of you know, Ramel and I are preparing to move to Ireland as WorldVenture missionaries.  Our job description is "Evangelism and Church Planting."  Our immediate challenge will be to work with two other WV couples to start a Gospel preaching church in Sligo, the largest town in NW Ireland.

Ireland has two official languages: English and Irish (Gaelic).  While nearly everyone in the country speaks English there are still many places where Irish is the heart language.  Therefore, we are committed to learn enough Irish to be able to address people in their own language and to show that we value their culture and customs.  We've invested $400 in the Rosetta Stone Irish Course and have been studying away, finding it difficult but very interesting.  One of the revelations to me has been the number of words that have come into English from the Celtic languages, including Irish.  Who knew?

Please pray for us about this language acquisition journey.  While Irish is not required to do ministry in Ireland, we believe that it will help open doors in that very traditional region where we will be working.  They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but I'm betting that they are wrong.

Go raibh maith agat as do chuid paidreacha,
Mike & Ramel

P.S. That means, "Thank you for your prayers."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Geezers and Gadgets

Hello already,

I'm not even going to try and explain why I haven't written anything on this blog for so long.  The explanation and excuses would just bore you.  I'm back, and that's all that's important.

When I was a kid the most sophisticated piece of technology in our home was a big cabinet-style Philco radio.  Then in the mid-1950's we bought a television set.  We lived in Imbler, OR (98 people) at the time and my dad was the pastor of a little country church in Summerville.  Every Sunday afternoon a group of folks from our church would come over to our house to watch TV because we were one of the few families in the congregation that owned a set.  We'd pull up chairs and pop popcorn and bring out the chips and other munchies.  Then everybody would sit down to watch "Gunsmoke" or "Lassie" or "I Love Lucy" or one of the other shows popular at the time.

Believe me, that TV was considered a modern marvel. A small round screen with a black and white picture, yet still it was like magic to us.  Jump forward in time... the transistor radio.  I remember getting my first one.  I could actually carry it around with me and listen to music or ball games or any number of other interesting things.  I would often listen to it in my bed at night after I was supposed to be asleep. Sometimes I could pick up far away stations from foreign countries like Texas, or California.  That's because of the physical characteristics of AM waves.  They travel farther at night.  I liked to listen to Wolfman Jack from XERB broadcasting out of Chula Vista, CA.  Their transmitter tower was over the border in Mexico so they could use a stronger signal than was allowed by the FCC. It was a real boomer!

All that to point out that I've been around the block a few times and have seen the introduction of a lot of technical gadgetry during my lifetime.  And frankly, I'm having a hard time keeping up now.  The changes and innovations are just coming too fast.  Oh yes, I'm peddling along, trying to keep up a brave face, but this stuff frustrates the daylights out of me.  I regularly use 4 different computers, all with different operating systems.  I've got 3 email accounts and a smart phone.  I'm on Facebook.  I was on Orkut and My Space before that.  I write two blogs, maintain a website, and have a Twitter account.  I'm doing it all.  However, sometimes I get frustrated with it all, too.

These gizmos and gadgets are supposed to help us communicate with one another, to stay better connected to family, friends, and coworkers.  However, it seems to me that we are becoming more disconnected than ever from other people.  Looking at a tiny screen and texting cryptic messages to one another using symbols, acronyms, and abbreviations is not my idea of communication.  In fact, it's just one step up from cave-writing, which the Neanderthals perfected long ago.

I'll admit it.  I'm a geezer.  I'll probably never be fully comfortable with all this gadgetry.  But I just want to go on record as saying, just because something is new and shiny and fascinating doesn't mean it is an improvement.  Nothing can ever take the place of sitting and talking to a friend over a cup of coffee, or looking into someones eyes as we share life together.  Maybe we all ought to take time out for a "technology fast" once in a while, just to remind ourselves of what real interpersonal communication is like.

Seriously, would the world come to a screeching stop if you turned off your smart phone and computer for two or three days?  I don't think so.  I dare you.  Try it.  Maybe by reducing the noise and chatter you'll find it easier to hear that "still, small voice" that we all long to hear, but that so often gets drowned out in cacophony of modern living.

An old geezer and proud of it,