So I guess I’m starting a day late, but I ran across this post thanks to one of my high school English teachers yesterday. (Actually I never had her for English, only for Reading for Pleasure, but that’s another story.) Sounds like a good idea, since I have a lot of writing to do with papers, lectures, and this thing called a dissertation. So here’s a first shot, a lighter piece, on what I want to be when I grow up.
I come from a line of teachers. I guess it is in my blood. My father’s parents were teachers. Granny taught elementary school. Grandpa taught junior high art. (You should see his drawings and paintings, even the cards he used to make for their anniversary! He tried to teach me, but it didn’t take. But I digress…) My father trained to be a teacher, though his career took a different path. Even when I was in high school he would talk every now and then about bringing his credentials up to date and getting into a classroom.
My mom’s parents are a little different. Granddaddy was an electrical engineer who worked in the oil patch for one lifetime and then sold life insurance for another. But he also did some teaching in the business department at a large state university, and was a lifetime learner (he would always stay up later than the rest of the family, reading, and would get up long before, also to read). Grandmommy was an incredible pianist, among many other things, and I’m pretty sure she taught piano lessons at one point.
But me? I never wanted to teach. I wanted to be an astronaut, a paleontologist, an astrophysicist, a Navy captain, a Marine, an Army Ranger, a spy, a police officer, a map maker, an explorer, an archaeologist, a writer, a linguist, a Bible translator… anything but a teacher! That sounded so BORING. Little did I know what shape my vocation would start to take.
At the University of Oklahoma I majored in Linguistics. My plan at the time was to get through college as fast as humanly possible so I could check that box and get one with training with Wycliffe and disappearing into central Asia somewhere to translate the Bible. Obviously things didn’t exactly work out that way. Toward the end of my degree I felt a call to go to seminary. Seminary? Really? OK, I guess… So after getting married, graduating, and a year of working and getting settled in a new denomination (more on that some other time), off we went to Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS.
This is when things really started to shift for me. Now that I think back on it, I’ve left out a step. A few months before we left for seminary we met a couple who was planning to go to the Philippines as missionaries. One of his primary responsibilities would be to teach in the Presbyterian seminary there. This jived with some earlier conversations I had had with folks at Wycliffe and elsewhere about training pastors who speak a less common language. Often they will receive training in a “trade language” such as English, French, Spanish, etc. When they go back to their village or parish to work, instead of teaching and preaching in the language of the people, they will do so in the language of their training—to the detriment of their congregation. Maybe there was a need for people to come along behind Bible translators and translate other resources…
But how seminary helped move me from wanting to be a translator in the field to a teacher in the classroom will have to wait until tomorrow, because fifteen minutes are up!