Renee’s Musings In Lieu of Actually Learning Anything

1. English is not the standard from which all other languages are derived. In other words, the rest of the world didn’t just translate the English language into their own language.

2. This means that not everything has a literal translation. Just because we say “Good-bye� doesn’t mean that Mongolians are saying “Good-bye� in Mongolian when they depart from one another (They are literally saying "With Party" or "With Happy").

3. Therefore, just because I want to translate everything literally, word for word, doesn’t mean I can.

4. This also means that just because I can translate every word in a sentence from Mongolian to English or vice verse, doesn’t mean they are the same thing and that the result will make sense.

5. This language they are speaking is really how they communicate. They didn’t just learn a new language before I did and are now speaking it better. They aren’t English speakers at heart.

Well, these revelations haven’t really made me feel any better about anything. I haven’t necessarily progressed in my Mongolian because of them. But hey, call me enlightened, for what it is worth.

Meet Undraa!

(Editor's note: This article by Renee' can be found in the latest edition of the "Anderson Family Newsletter". You may download April 2007, as well as all previous editions here. If you would like to receive an e-copy and be added to our mail list, be sure to go to the contact page and we will add you right away!)
In the drudgery of language study, last week I found a high point. In the absence of Baldo, Bernie and I have been working together with Undra. Undra is our new house helper and my language helper. We have started studying a supplemental language book called “The Sunday Book.� This book is designed to help us learn common church vocabulary, including the books of the Bible and simple praise songs.

This past week we were learning the words for “chapter� and “verse.� As we recently learned in class how to ask “What is your favorite…?� we began to ask Undra these questions. She brought out her very well used Bible (especially for a three year old Christian). Bernie told her his favorite verse. She turned quickly to Isaiah 43:1-4 and it was already highlighted in her Bible and is also one of her favorites. When she turned to my favorite, Philippians 3:10 it was highlighted as well. She and Bernie share the favorite chapters of Romans 6-8. It is their favorite book as well. Her second favorite book is Hebrews, which is also my favorite.

I was able to tell her that Hebrews 11:9-10 was the verses God spoke to me as I prepared to leave Tennessee for Mongolia. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. Undra immediately lit up and was able to tell us that God gave her the same verse when she moved from her home town of Darhan to Ulaanbataar.

Times like this are very much streams in the desert for us. Our family had already grown to love Undra. She is so sweet. She cleans house just like I do (not always a good thing). Our eye for beauty is much the same. Yesterday we made a fruit pizza together. I had her arrange the fruit and “make it pretty� and it looked exactly like I wanted it. But on a deeper level, we are truly appreciating her genuine love for God as she manifests it through her love for His Word and commitment to His Work.

We were pleased to know she feels like part of the family. She especially loves Cori and likes to take her shopping and wants to take her to the movies. She told Bernie that Cori was our young daughter and she is our old daughter. While we are definitely not old enough to have a 23 year old daughter, we are more than thrilled to have her adopted into the Anderson household.
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The Verb Must Be Right

Last week one of my teachers was wearing a pin with a Mongolian flag and some writing on it. Being the typical nosey American that I am, I wanted very much to ask her what her pin said. While I haven’t made great strides in learning this language, I know enough to not ask that question. Why? Because according to Mongolians, her pin can’t “say� anything. I also know that I can’t say, “That sweater looks nice on you,� because of course, a sweater can’t “look.� So, in both cases I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t know the right verb to use.

I’ve thought about that a lot this week in light of the Mongolian church. In typical American church language, a non-Christian is encouraged to “accept Jesus into his heart.� This week I am thinking that we are not using the right verb. Several things have had me thinking along these lines:

• My Mongolian language study
• An article in Christianity Today
• Weaknesses in the Mongolian church
• Weaknesses in the American church

As I started to wrestle with this in my mind, my first question is, “Is this in the Bible?� I can’t find any instance in the New Testament where an individual is encouraged to “Accept Jesus.� Jesus and the disciples challenged people to repent, to believe, to follow, to become as little children. My husband who has spent more time (especially recent years) studying church history than I have tells me "accept Jesus" probably originated with D. L. Moody or his mentor, Charles Finney. Godly men, to be sure, but over the years, this terminology doesn’t seem to be bringing about a change in lives that reflects New Testament Christianity.

To me, the important thing isn’t whether or not we accept Jesus, but whether or not He accepts us. He accepts the ones who come to Him in repentance and faith.

So in my context, I have to ask, “When we ask a Mongolian to accept Jesus, how do they understand that question?� This is really critical when you factor in the fact that the religion they know most about is Buddhism, and this calls on them to accept just about everything. It would be possible to “accept Jesus� without rejecting false religion, idolatry and self-orientation. I’m afraid there are Americans in church pews every week who have “accepted Jesus� and not left behind their idolatries either.

The Waodoni (Auca Indians) seem to have a better understanding when the verb they use is to “become� a “God-follower.� Many Africans now “walk the Jesus road.� These verbs indicate a change of path, indicating an understanding of the difference between the straight and narrow as opposed to the broad way that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13, 14). It is easy to “accept,� it is difficult to “follow.�

I think we have to get the verb right. Eternity depends on it.

For the record, I know that this is not my typical blog. It sounds much more like Bernie wrote it. He usually does the theology blogs and I do the ones about how I feel (think Venus and Mars). Let’s leave it with the fact that I feel very strongly about this theology and had to blog about it. Besides, a blog can’t sound anyway.

Let the Little Children Come

“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones, “ the King said, projecting his voice toward the dark world so loudly it was heard on the earth as thunder. “For I tell you that their angels in heaven always behold the face of my Father.�

The King pointed to a church custodian yelling at children unauthorized to play on the swings and chasing them away. “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.�

The King spoke to people out for Sunday dinner after church, who turned away from the street children. “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.�

Then he watched a man and a woman taking children off the streets bringing them into a building, giving them a warm meal and a cot and safe refuge, and telling them about their Master. On the other side of the planet, in Africa, he watched his people caring for children born with AIDS, many of them orphans now, or soon to be.

The King nodded his approval. “Whoerver welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.�

He watched his people give the children a warm bath, read stories to them, hug them, and laugh with them. He smiled broadly, “Thank you,� the King whispered, “for doing this to me.�

He looked now at men plotting and stalking and taking pictures of children, doing to them the unthinkable. He looked at men herding frightened little girls together and selling them to foreigners. He looked at men in white coats, driving beautiful cars purchased by the blood of children. He looked at those who inflicted the suffering. His eyes smoldered.

“I made these children. I took them into my arms, put my hands on them and blessed them. And yet you scorn them, use them for your gain, treat them as disposable. It would be better for you to have a millstone tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea than to face what I will surely do to you.�
He looked now at others who turned their heads from the children, too busy to share a meal, a blanket, or a paycheck. They did little or nothing to help the children, and he regarded their failure to help as the inflicting of harm. “To you who look the other way, saying my children are not your concern: Repent! For it is I you have turned away from. I will not forget.�

He gazed at another group of people, those watching out for and reaching out to and helping the children. He said simply, “Well done. Your reward shall be great.�

Taken from Safely Home (p. 357-358) by Randy Alcorn, Tyndale House Publishers, 2001

Grateful There Are No Bumper Stickers

When this first article started coming to my mind, I wanted to name it “Bumper Sticker Theology.� My thinking was along the lines of “Have you hugged your (fill in the blank) today.� I think it came out around the same time as the one that says “My child is an honor student at…� followed by “My child beat up your honor student.�

The thought was that I would give you some ideas of how to fill in the blanks, based on things we took for granted before moving to a third world country. Some possibilities are:

Hot water heater (that works on a daily basis)
“No smoking� restaurants
Emissions Control workers
Clothes Dryer

These are just of few of the things that we never thought about, but now think about frequently in their absence.

However, we are finding that having a family of four full-time students doesn’t always make it easy to get out monthly newsletters, and therefore determined that this month’s would be a “Thanksgiving� edition and our next one would come sometime over the Christmas/New Year holiday and would also serve the purpose of being our yearly Christmas letter. So I decided to take these thoughts in a different direction and use them to express our new perspective of gratitude.

There are many things that make life easier that we were never thankful for in the States. I’m not going to say that I wouldn’t love to have a clothes dryer or a dishwasher. I’m not going to say that I don’t wish I could go to a restaurant and eat non-smoke flavored food. I’m certainly not saying that I’m not hoping that the government will wake up and do something about the incredible pollution issue. So, what am I saying?

I’m thankful.
I’m thankful for what I have.
I’m thankful for the majority of our boxes that have come.
I’m thankful for the wonderful home that God has provided for us.
I’m thankful for the new friends, Mongolian and English-speaking, that we are meeting and getting to know.
I’m thankful for technology like Skype, Instant Messaging and email that allow me to stay so connected to my faithful friends and family back home.
I’m thankful for good restaurants, even if they are smoking.
I’m thankful I don’t have to eat out of a dumpster.
I’m thankful my children don’t have to live in the streets and beg for food or money.
I’m thankful my children have parents to hug them.
I’m thankful that my husband didn’t choose a bottle over his family.
I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to hear the Gospel sooner rather than later.
I’m thankful that I can begin and end everyday with my relationship with my Creator, my Savior and my King.
I’m thankful for the privilege of serving Him in many capacities over the past 20-something years.
I’m thankful for each of you that take the time to read our newsletters and website, and especially for those of you who take what you read and pray.
I’m thankful for that I have a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11)
I’m thankful that this life isn’t all there is and that we can look forward to a city whose Builder and Architect is God (Heb. 11:10)

Last, and least, I’m thankful that I decided to take a “thankfulness� perspective instead of pursuing “bumper sticker theology� because it has left me much more encouraged. Count your blessings this Thanksgiving holiday – literally. Maybe even take the advice of the old hymn and “name them one by one.� It’s worth the time.