Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Church Tradition Story 5: Beatles and Hair

One time, I went to a party at Chauncey's house--Chauncey is Lee's son--and Chauncey told stories about growing up in Canada. I remember something about killing a moose and jumping a tremendous distance on a machine. (Authentic Canadians refer to snowmobiles simply as machines, as in, "Would you mind running such-and-such an errand?" "Of course not, I'll just hop on my machine.") I forget if Chauncey actually did kill a moose or do the jump on the machine, because these were from two of his statements from the game, two truths and a lie, and Chauncey is amazing at that game.

What I do remember from Chauncey's storytelling that I'm sure is true are a couple of his stories about the eccentricities of living in a small Mennonite community out in the wild.

Chauncey went to a small Christian school. They weren't allowed to listen to rock and roll. There was even a record in the school library that was about how terrible rock music is. It had two-second clips from Beatles songs, to illustrate how evil rock is. Chauncey would go to the library, borrow the record, and listen to those clips a lot.

These Mennonites interpreted I Corinthians 11:2-16 literally; this passage teaches that women should pray with their heads covered, but men should pray with their heads uncovered and should have short hair. One time, a visitor came to their church, his hair went just below the tops of his ears. Chauncey turned to his mother, Genny, and asked, "Mommy, is that man a Christian?"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The most useless phrase in the phrasebook

[The following is based on my journal entry from 12-30-2008, while I was in Turkey. That day, Matthew, Paul, and I went to Haya Sofya and the Blue Mosque, and the Istanbul antiquities museums. We then went to two toy stores, trying to find Silly Putty. It is likely that I had, in my pocket, the only egg of Silly Putty in the country. We then went to the spice bazaar and had supper near there at a pide and kebap shop.]

Tonight at supper, I used eight Turkish words. First, I asked the waiter, "Ingilizce konuşuyor musunuz?"--"Do you speak English?" He looked confused, like I'd mispronounced something to the point of incoherance. Onur suggests that the waiter thought that if I knew enough Turkish to ask that question, I ought to know how to order in Turkish.

Then, I said "Ben vejetaryanım"--"I am a vegetarian." The waiter pointed at the three items on the menu without meat: soup, salad, and plain cheese pide. I ordered the pide.

Pide is flatbread with melted cheese on it, typically kaşar. Some people call it Turkish pizza, but some Turks, I hear, resent this--they see pide as being in a category of its own. It does not have tomato sauce.

In restaurants in Turkey, sometimes the bill is left on your table during the whole meal--that is, the waiter will take your order, leave the bill on the table, and append it as you order more things, say drinks or desserts. This seems to me to be a sensible system that prevents bills from getting mixed up. In other restaurants, though, you'll actually have to request the bill, they won't just drop it on the table when they want you to leave. We would have been trapped in limbo if I didn't say, "Hesabı, lütfen"--"Bill, please."

As we left the restaurant, I called out, "Hoşçakal," and the waiter replied, "Güle güle." (You say goodbye differently if you are leaving or if the other party is leaving.)

I felt so ashamed when the waiter looked blankly at me when I asked him if he speaks English. It was awkward, and I have five days of awkward built up.

If I move here, awkward will be my life for months, and I won't ever be normal. That will be hard.

The day after Josh's wedding proper, the party continued. We had a barbecue, then went inside for dessert. There were four languages being thrown around. I got out my yo-yo and did tricks. Claudia tried it, and her dad teased her because she couldn't get the yo-yo to return. Claudia's dad is Chilean, so he mostly teased her in Spanish. My Spanish wasn't good enough for me to translate what he said, but it was easy to get the gist from context. (It was a fun teasing, not a mean teasing.) She would hold her mouth open--her sister, Pamela, told me that she does this when she's concentrating--her dad teased her about that, too. I said, "En boca cerrada, no entran moscas"--"Flies don't fly into closed mouths" and everyone who spoke Spanish laughed. Even the people who didn't know Spanish laughed. That was the first time that I told a joke in a language besides English. That party is probably my favorite picture of heaven.

Today was the first time I used another language when I really needed it, and that experience was more purgatorial.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Teh Excel

So, tonight, I fired up teh Excel to tell it to open new spreadsheets in anything but that idiotic page layout view. Take a gander at teh preferences menu:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What Turks will tell you despite language barriers

Turks are very friendly people, especially to foreigners.

Whenever would pass a Turkish boy on the street, he would say, "Hello, hello, money, money." I don't think that Turkish boys are particularly greedy, but it's funny that hello and money seem to be the first English words they learn.

One time, Paul and I were in the Turkish air museum, and the person working there came up and told us that photography is either allowed or prohibited (I still don't know which). He then showed us the gift shop and a few of the exhibits. He could tell that we didn't speak Turkish, but he kept speaking to us in Turkish. He then kept saying something about Obama, and looked happy, and then said Bush, and grimaced.

There were many times that Turks who don't speak English would tell us about how they like Obama but not Bush. The other big thing that Turks who don't speak English will try to communicate is their pride in Mehmet Okur, the Turkish basketball player with the Utah Jazz.

On my last day in Turkey, I was trying to figure out where I should wait for the bus to take me to the Sivis Otel, where I could catch a shuttle to the airport. I asked, in Turkish, a person who works for the bus system if he spoke English. He immediately walked out of his booth and called out to the crowd, I presume asking for an English-speaker. One came up and translated directions to me. Then, I heard the worker say something about Israel and Palestine, so I had time to be overcome by dread before the translator asked me my opinion of the current situation in Gaza.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Meta-Blog Post

I hate throat clearing. Worse, I hate it when throat-clearers acknowledge their throat clearing. Unfortunately, this is what I'm doing tonight.

I've not had a whole lot of great ideas for bloggy articles lately. I didn't even write one this week, honestly, I forgot. I haven't had anything so interesting that I would write it up a week before my self-imposed deadline. I do have three ideas for longer bloggy series:

  1. Continue talking about Turkey--I have only written about a quarter of the things that I could have
  2. How to lead Bible studies--I find that whenever I'm training small group leaders, I have concrete advice that I've figured out myself, but I don't see anyone else using these tips
  3. Talk about how I work. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I could write a whole article about plain 8 1/2x11" paper.

Questions for discussion:
  • Which of these would you, dear reader, prefer to read?
  • For the series on Bible study, I want to use one passage or book as a case study. What do you think would make a good test case?