Has anybody seen my memory lately? I seem to have left behind a sizable portion of it this past month—probably as a result of covering 5,160+ miles in four weeks to give twenty-eight ABT presentations at twenty-six schools (plus one at a daycare). Looking back, I almost can’t believe I actually did that. But when you have Help, and you take it one talk, one day, one week at a time (and rest on the weekend), it can be done.
It was a cool Saturday morning in January when I left home, heading for State College to pick up supplies (projector, brochures, pens, CDs, some friendly advice, etc.). I spent the night with friends here at the base, and left late Sunday afternoon for Lancaster, PA, where I would give the first presentation Monday morning. I wanted to communicate the wonder and glory of the Gospel, the need for volunteers, the possibility that God might call some of these students to be Bible translators, community development facilitators, senders . . . all of which takes a good half-hour or more to cover.
Nervously, I set up my laptop, glanced over the PowerPoint, passed out brochures, (all at a rather breath-taking pace). As I sat there, waiting for the students to arrive, I suddenly remembered that this school wanted a twenty-five minute presentation. It’s too late to change the slideshow and omit something! What do I do? Lord, please help me—here they all come! There they all came—what seemed like a small army of new faces—some friendly, some passive, some wary—I like new faces, but preferably not more than six at a time! So there I sat, feeling rather out of place. What do I have to tell them? I’m just little Ayana . . . And then I was “on”! I hope I looked braver than I felt. But I went striding forward, opened my mouth . . . and talked much faster than I’d ever thought I could! Thank You, Lord! We did it. I guess when You fill me up, I do have something to say.
Most of the time my various technological gadgets worked well. But sometime during the second or third week, I noticed that no matter how I angled the projector—up, down, left, right—the picture was slanted. First, I blamed it on the curving wall. At the next stop, I accused the tipsy little table and propped a couple of its legs with notebooks and folders. But one day I noticed that even with a firm, flat table and a fine, straight wall the picture was still crooked. Uuuuh . . . Now, what? Operator problems? Unpacking the projector a couple days later, I noticed at last that one of the little black projector feet was missing. Ta-da! From then on, I routinely stuck a newsletter, a brochure, and a prayer card under that corner of the projector. The picture was satisfyingly straight.
With all the miles traveled (a few in very wintry weather), I’m amazed that there were no major incidents. No accidents, no getting lost, no major vehicle trouble—despite occasionally having to “start” the car two, three, and four times before the engine would turn over. Unfortunately, I did get my first speeding ticket, one afternoon while cruising through Virginia. I’d gotten lax about watching the speedometer all the time, plus I was calling home, plus (and I think this might’ve been the true culprit), I was humming the chorus of “Nova Jerusalén,” which is a very rousing song. I went sailing past a patrol car, and the officer promptly pulled me over. I. Was. So. Embarrassed. However, I have been much more careful of my speed since . . . and have largely reserved “Nova Jersualén” for off road use.
And now it’s over. No more talks, no more setting up the projector, no more kind, kind strangers offering hospitality. Did they get it? Did anyone catch a spark of the fire that burns in my heart? The fire that burns in our Father’s heart? I think some of them did, but only time will tell. Please join me in praying that God will call a few more workers through this.
—Ayana Otto, ABT member-in-training from Indiana
P.S. I got asked many questions. Some of my favorites:
Do you have to go to school to do this? How long does it take?
Sure thing! We usually have to study about four years—sometimes more. And when we get there, we’ll easily have another four years learning the language.
What are you really afraid of when you think about going on the field?
I’m afraid of being lonely. The food doesn’t really scare me, because I don’t have a strong sense of smell. So if I can get it into my mouth, I can probably eat it. (I may have to eat my words some day, but that’s been my experience so far.)
Are you a pilot!?
No, they wouldn’t let me do that, because I’m blind in my right eye.
What’s wrong with your eye?
Good question! It never finished growing, so it never got to where I could actually see out of it. But it has a long fancy name I can’t even pronounce, which means . . . “small eye.”
What did that fellow [in the story] think that if Jesus didn’t die, he would have to die?
Because without the shedding of blood there is no remission (taking away) of sins. If Jesus hadn’t died, we would’ve all had to die, because that’s what sin does to you.
Do you ever work with languages that don’t have a writing system?
We haven’t yet, but it’s probably only a matter of time. So part of our training is learning the basics of creating a writing system.