To Translate or Not To Translate

So I have had this thing in the back of my mind for a couple of months now; I've come to refer to it as "my decision." When I told LCMS I was going to volunteer at YLM, I committed to a year and a half, which puts me in June of 2010, although I'd probably stay a little longer anyhow b/c that's a horrible time to leave. I can choose to extend my term at anytime; I just have to tell them and they'll give me a new fundraising goal. I've also wanted to work for Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT) for several years now. I'm the nerd who took Greek and Hebrew for fun in college so it's pretty much my dream job. SO, I basically have to decide whether to stay here doing what I'm doing for another year or more, or if and when to apply for LBT.

I had been wanting to talk to a recruiter, who actually randomly found about my interest a few weeks ago via a friend of a friend who works for LBT, for several weeks now, and I finally did today. Here is a recap--I was going to call it a summary but it's probably going to be too long for that--of our conversation:

There are no initial requirements other than having a bachelor's degree (check) and feeling that God is calling you to work with LBT (also check...I'm pretty sure anyhow). You can start the training, the majority of which takes place in Dallas, TX, at GIAL (Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics)--they also offer specialized courses in ND and IN--in either July or January, although he said it was slightly more difficult to coordinate starting in January. To apply, I would just have to e-mail this lady whose name and e-mail he gave me, and ask for an application. If I advanced further in the process, several trips to Chicago (where LBT is headquartered) would be reuired for interviews and meetings and such. I was curious as to the typical demographic of applicants, and was told that it truly varies. They get people straight out of college and they also get people seeking a second career; there are opportunities for both, and they definitely take stage of life into account when assigning each person to their field work. You can either work directly with the translation aspect of it (which is what I would want to do...remember: nerd) or work in a variety of other areas I think involving music, literacy, etc. that he called "Scripture Engagement." As far as opportunity availability, he said that there will be several new positions perfect for someone my age opening up in the next 2-5 years, and that you will not be put through the whole application and training process if there is not a post open for you.

Speaking of training, the program progresses as follows: approx. 1 year of training in Dallas (or the satellite locations) that essentially earns you a Bachelor's degree in Applied Linguistics (about halfway through, you become a full-time, salaried employee of LBT), then no more than a year of support-raising (even though you're being paid, you still do this...speaking engagements and such, probably similar to what I've had to do for LCMS), then possibly an internship of 6 mos. to a year (depending on your performance throughout the training, age/experience, gender, etc. (for instance, he said that because I'm a single woman I may do an internship to achieve greater respect and status before heading out into the field)), then alternating terms of 3-4 years in the field and 9-12 month sabbaticals (you can go anywhere you want, so maybe STL, maybe back to the mission, maybe back to Dallas to work on a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics (paid by LBT)) for the remainder of the time you're with LBT.

I think that about covers it...I guess that wasn't too bad of a summary. However, I am still undecided, although becoming less and less so, especially due to an e-mail that I got literally while I was typing this blog...if it's not a God thing, then I don't know what is...but more on that later. A million different factors keep running through my head, so I'm going to attempt to organize them into a neat list of pros and cons to extending my time at the mission:

1. I love what I'm doing here--it's like a lifelong mission trip--and I love a lot of things about El Paso--using my Spanish, the weather, Mexican food, etc.
2. I feel like it's a really critical time for YLM and I almost can't leave--financial crisis, proposed church plant in Sparks, rebuilding the fire-damaged building on campus, escalating violence in Juarez and therefore need for the light of Christ, etc.
3. Servant Event Coordinators are typically people who come for a year and then leave when they are just getting good, so I secretly kind of want to break the mold and be a more permanent fixture.
4. I would be around to see some of the returning groups 3 and 4 times, which I would love, and it would make the registration process easier on their end too.
5. The youth from St. Paul's come every 3 years and if I stayed for another year I would be the SEC for their trip.
6. I could budget the multiple trips to Chicago and also a trip to this informational conference put on by LBT called I.D.I.O.M. (In-depth Investigation of Missions) that I've wanted to go to for several years now into my next year of support-raising for LCMS.
7. I just got this e-mail, literally while I was typing this blog--I ALWAYS have my e-mail open while I'm working on other stuff--saying that the extra funding I have in my account with LCMS, instead of being applied towards general missions in the same region I'm working in, will now remain in MY personal account until my term ends and could also be applied towards my new fundraising goal.

1. There is room for improvement in a lot of areas here that sometimes get frustrating...although staff Bible studies are working to improve some of them.
2. Sometimes I don't feel needed or like my skills and education are appreciated here, like all I do is send e-mails and enter stuff into spreadsheets and anyone could do that.
3. I am scared that I will get "stuck" here, for lack of a better term--get too comfortable and be afraid to jump into something daring and challenging. Like I feel like I should go for LBT while I'm excited about it, although the guy I talked to did say something really helpful, and that was that if I am truly called to serve with them then God is not going to take that passion away from me.

I'm sure I'm missing some others because I've been debating and praying about this for months now, but that should help you get an idea of where my head is at. I guess there are way more pros than cons so I might be leaning slightly towards starting LBT in either July of 2011 or January of 2012??? I know I ultimately have to make "my decision," but your input is always welcome. Of course I will keep you posted as to what I decide, but in the meantime please pray for clarity, guidance, direction, etc.

Until next time, blessings!


chill said…
you know my thoughts. I will pray for your decision.
erinalter said…
it must be peter slayton that you talked with:) he is a cool guy... we were classmates together, and i am always bumping into him at recruiting events.

he will give you the lowdown, but it will be to you to make the decision. pray!