Today, after church, AdventureMan took me to my very favorite place in Pensacola, Tudo’s (Vietnamese) and as we were waiting for our food, and our take out order (the Happy Baby has a bad cold so we are also taking lunch to his Mom and Dad) I notice the guys in the next booth are speaking in a foreign language, and because I don’t speak it, I can only guess, it was perhaps Maylay.
I think they had to be Mormons. They were in their twenties, and very clean cut. Two were probably foreign students, and two were in white shirts with ties, and dark pants, what I think of as Mormon-boys-on-their-mission dress, and it carries over into post-mission life. We saw them often, two by two, in Germany and in France, sometimes singing, sometimes going door to door, sometimes passing out pamphlets. They always spoke the language of the country they were in, maybe not so well at the beginning, but at the end of their two year mission, they spoke it pretty well.
From time to time, at the next table, they were all four speaking the same language, and it was not English.
So lets say, from a strategic point of view, that our goal is to spread the ‘good news’ (which, oh by the way, it is.) Doesn’t it just make sense that you make an effort to speak the language of your target nationality?
You would be amazed at how few of the other denominations who send ministers and evangelists overseas, how very few of them have much training in the language of the people they will be serving, or ministering to, or trying to share the good news with. You would not be amazed that when you are trying to communicate, especially big ideas, it really helps to be able to communicate. It also shows respect for another country and another culture, and humility to learn other languages and other ways. I can imagine that much of their success comes from an ability to build a personal relationship, and that is more likely to happen if you speak their language.
I am not Mormon, as you know, and I admire much of what they do right – I admire their neighborliness, their obligation to reach out and help where help is needed, and their stewardship of resources, built right into practicing the religion. I especially admire their ability to teach languages to the young missionaries they send out, and their vast library of genealogical resources.
When I was just out of university, and not making much money, my one big splurge was season tickets to the Seattle Symphony with my best friend, and oh, what joy we had with those tickets. We were there for the first ever performance of Hovaness’ And God Created Great Whales among other thrills.
AdventureMan and I love music. We have tried season tickets over the years, but at the end of a long work day, we found ourselves dragging, and when you are dragging, you can’t enjoy the performances so much. Many an opera we departed at the intermission, delighted to have seen the sets, but needing our sleep. Now, as ‘retired’ people (there are reasons for those quote marks), we can attend a symphony, stay awake, and have the great luxury of time.
Father Harry Hill at Christs Church told us about the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra at our first meeting, and just in time to call and order season tickets. We’ve been waiting months for our first concert, and what a thrill it was.
The theatre was packed. As a huge surprise to us, once the conductor, Peter Rubardt, entered, the orchestra went directly into a rousing rendition of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and all the audience sang lustily along! I’ve never seen this happen at a symphony before, but it was great fun, and gave us a chance to re-arrange our clothes. (The one downside is that the seats at the Saenger theatre are narrow, and I was sitting between two broad-shouldered men, it’s kind of like being in the middle seat in economy class for a three hour flight).
Rubart engages the audience right up front, explaining the context of the music (I was not familiar with any of the three pieces last night), foreshadowing curious elements in the pieces, spots to listen for – his explanations greatly increased my appreciation of the concert. These were the pieces:
Dvořák – Carnival Overture
BRAHMS – Double Concerto
SIBELIUS – Symphony No. 1
We discovered people we are sitting next to go to our church, and even though we are still new in Pensacola, we knew several people attending. That makes it more fun, too.
The orchestra is fine, amazing for a smaller town like Pensacola. Their timing and execution of the pieces seemed spot-on (I say that it ‘seemed’ because I am not an expert, but there were not obvious missed notes or timings, and some of the timings were deliberately not what I would expect). The audience is warm and enthusiastic.
There is plenty of parking. I know that doesn’t sound relevant, but in Seattle, parking could sometimes be a problem, especially when there is another event at the Seattle Center on the same evening. Finding a place to park and then walking to the theatre is easy and relaxing and you don’t have to do a big transition to enjoy the music.
The orchestra has a busy season coming up. You can learn more by visiting The Pensacola Symphony online. We can hardly wait for the next concert. :-)