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Preparing to minister to Ukrainians in their own language

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Final exams are over. Commencement and grad celebrations fill the day Saturday. Then, Sunday night, the VISION team will begin an intensive training "camp," where we will share times of Bible study and prayer, receive information about the cultural differences we will encounter, and review the songs and drama sketches we will use in Ukraine. 

Because one of VISION's distinctives is the presentation of much of our program in the language of the country we visit, five of our songs are in the Russian language, which is spoken in the eastern part of Ukraine. Three of the songs are well in hand, but we have just received the Russian lyrics for the last two, so there will be much to learn! It's a great challenge, but over the years, the goodwill and receptivity of the people has proved the value of this effort over and over!

This year, the challenge is greater because Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet, so there is little clue of what the words even sound like from looking at them.

Here's an example of about 10 seconds' worth of one of our songs:

Мы у престола благ узрим Его лицо,
Увидем всех друзей, навеки будем с Ним
Когда услышим звук все соберёмся там
Как грома звук в ночи воскликнем мы

Of course, we can't learn to pronounce the words from that, so we listen closely to our translator and write down a "phonetic" spelling. Here's what we have for learning the above, including the original English lyrics.

M[ee] oo preh-stoh-lah blahg, ooz(ih) reem yih-voh lee-tsoh
oo-v(ee)-dyem fsekh droo-zyeh, Nah-veh-kee boo-dyem sneem.
Kahg-dah oo-s(l)ih-shem zvook, fsyeh suh-behr-yohm syah tam
Kahk gro-muh zvook v’nah-chee, vahss-klee-knyem m[ee].

Here's the English from which the above was translated:

Around His throne of grace, we'll see Him face to face.
With those who've gone be- fore, we'll be apart no more.
When we will hear that sound, as all are gathered 'round,
Like peals of thunder loud, we will shout.

So, who does the translating? Each year, we must locate someone who is fluent in both English and the language we need. Knowledge of music and familiarity with biblical and worship-related expressions are also helpful.

This year, the Lord led us to two individuals who don't even know each other. One is Daniel Neverov, who participates in a worship team at Shadow Mountain Community Church. He and his wife Lilly are both natives of Uzbekistan, but the Russian they know is quite standardized throughout the former Soviet republics. The other is a Ukrainian native named Lydia Cooley, a music teacher and colleague of our adjunct music professor Harvey Tellinghuisen. She was aided by her American mother-in-law, Diane Cooley, who helped by suggesting alternate phrases in English that could lead to a better fit of rhythm when translated (a vital aspect of these translations.)


We are so thankful to these people graciously gave us several hours of their time to work out the best flow of rhythm and syllable stress, as well as singing or speaking the resulting lyrics so we could record them and write them down phonetically. May the Lord bless them richly, as we take their language to Ukraine.

Now, to finish memorizing all these syllables! Pray for us!

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