Here on the train from Perm to Tomsk, I started reading the book, The Bondage Breaker, again. Hans sent to me in Montana, but I’m not a very diligent reader. It’s about breaking free from lies and living a full, deception-free life in Christ. I’ve heard lots of it before, but there are many good reminders about truth and what to do with it. Self-deception takes on many forms and it’s one of the most destructive forces for a believer. Self-deception only exists if the possessor isn’t aware of it. So, by definition, I’m not aware of it. One of the best weapons against it is accountability and transparency with other believers. If I find myself a lone ranger, out on my own, accountable to no one, it’s only a matter of time before I’m in total darkness.
This is another 40+ hour trip, this time, into Siberia. We’re headed for Tomsk. We just spent 6 days in Perm. It was such a sweet group of people. About 10 all together. Russia is a unique place to live and work. Coming back and working here would be tough. You’d
absolutely have to get a handle on the language because without it, a translator is a must. We were at a meeting the other night and needed to put together a tea break. The “tea” thing here is like lots of other countries with the exception of the US. You have tea between everything. It’s tea or coffee with pastries or crackers and it’s fabulous. If you have any sort of a meeting without tea, Russians will feel like it’s not complete. And so will I! And because we came straight from a rehab center out of town and didn’t have the tea break essentials, I went out to find a market while Josh began his teaching from the book of Acts in the basement of a church. I walked all over before I found a small market. They seem to be everywhere except when you really need one. Once inside, I was looking for the basics. I’d seen these ladies set up loads of tea breaks before…
Let’s see… black tea, green tea without the caffeine, crackers, some of those vanilla wafers, I already have the instant coffee, sugar blocks, napkins… wait. We need cups and spoons. I looked everywhere but, nothing. So at the counter, I pointed at the picture of a simmering tea cup on the box of tea and said, over and over, “cups”, and “spoons” making a stirring motion with my hand like I was playing charades. When you can’t communicate, it seems like a good idea to just say the same thing over again only a little louder.. as if that will make a difference. Of course it’s not a hearing problem we’re having. Like I tell people teaching through a translator. If they turn to you and say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that,” don’t just repeat the same thing again. Say it another way. They heard you. They just don’t know the words you used.
So there I am, “CUP!” “SPOON!” She just shakes her head and says, “Nyet. Nyet” (No.) I know for a fact she has cups under that counter. They have single packets of instant coffee and individual tea bags for sale right there and a boiler with water in it on the side. If I come back to the church with all the stuff I bought but without cups, I might as well just throw it in the garbage. Will we drink it out of our hands? So I point, under the counter continuing my antics. Finally, the other girl stocking shelves comes over laughing and they start to be a little less serious and out comes the sleeve of cups. “I knew it! Yes!.. I mean Da!” I think they just wanted to see how far I would go to make it happen. She charged me a Ruble apiece ($.03) for cups and I was on my way. All that to say, a couple simple Russian words would have made a world of difference in there. Sometimes I feel like such an arrogant American not knowing this language. Just like here in this train, I can’t say more than ten words which is just enough to get me in trouble. At least they give out cups and there’s hot water at the end of every car.
Is there a spiritual takeaway?
It’s worth the effort to learn to communicate better. Period.