Last Monday, after twenty-six hours of travel, I got home from my 2 ½-week writing assignment and promptly collapsed into a jet-lagged pile of mush. Later in the week, “Captain Connie” staggered through two sweltering days at Silver Springs, longing for Germany’s 60-degree weather. Florida is just ugly-hot in July. Finally though, my brain fog is clearing and I’m ready to compile my interview notes into usable articles.
In the meantime, I thought I’d give you a quick glimpse into the working part of my trip. Four of us traveled together: Heather Pubols of Wycliffe Global Alliance, who headed the project and organized the trip–and all of us—beautifully; her husband Jeff, who calmly drove us across some truly harrowing highways and byways; Soren Kjeldgaard from Denmark, professional photographer and all-around good sport; and me.
We spent time “story gathering” in Denmark, Romania, and Germany. As the team writer, I conducted interviews. Which means I asked questions. Lots and lots of questions. Of perfect strangers. And in Romania, I asked them through Stephania, our very talented translator, who is preparing for her own linguistics career.
At first, I worried that my recorder wouldn’t work right. I worried that I wouldn’t ask the right questions. I worried about long, awkward pauses. I tried to adjust to conducting interviews in front of a whole group of people, rather than one-on-one. That’s one of the differences between a more task-oriented culture like Denmark, where interviews were scheduled and private, to a people-oriented culture like Romania, where schedules revolved around people and everyone wanted to be a part of what was happening.
But once I took the focus off my own fears, I calmed enough to listen, really listen. And I heard the most amazing stories. About a pastor who smuggled Bibles during communism; cars with secret compartments; a couple who left everything familiar to do translation work in Ethiopia; an older lady who, with her husband, still build haystacks by hand—but help support missionaries; a young woman who holds a PhD and speaks five languages, and talks about living a life that has meaning.
Those are the stories I was privileged to hear; those are the stories I’m writing. And when they’re done, I’ll make sure you get to read them.
I learned something very important on this trip. Whether you’re doing interviews or having dinner with family, put your own worries aside and listen, really listen with your heart. You’ll be amazed by what you hear!
Many, many thanks to all of you who prayed for me and thought of me while I was gone. Your support means so very much!
PS–Photos courtesy of Heather Pubols. Thanks, Heather!