Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

Elder Nelson's visit to Hamburg, and interpreting again

I don't think I've posted about this yet. On the other hand, it made me write in my paper journal for the second time in about four years (the first time was a couple of days earlier when Stella peer-pressured me into writing an entry).

Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is on a trip through Central and Eastern Europe. He started off in Helsinki last Wednesday and visited Hamburg one day later, last Thursday.

I had been wondering whether I would be asked to translate again, especially in view of the many positive comments I had heard after the stake conference the weekend before. However, the stake president said he'd be translating.

However, on Thursday during the day, Stella phoned to say that Oliver Back had called and would I be willing to translate for Elder Rasband? So my services would be needed, though I wouldn't be translating for the main speaker. Stella agreed to bring my scriptures along since I'd be needing them if I was going to translate.

The chapel and cultural hall were fairly full when I arrived about half-an-hour before the talk was to begin. The hall would fill up right to the end, with people sitting on the stage behind, and apparently even the cellar below was full of people who watched the talk on a television screen. People upstairs could watch on two screens on which the speaker's image was projected so that they could see a larger picture.

I brought two chairs up to the top because Thomas Leiß said that the two benches on the stand would probably be full. The chair I sat in turned out to be right in the view of the camera, since I was sitting behind the pulpit. So when there was nobody currently speaking, Stella could watch me :)

Before the meeting, I talked with Nadine van Impelen and she asked me whether I'd be translating. I said that I would, but for Elder Rasband, not Elder Nelson, and that the stake president would be translating for Elder Nelson. Her reply was, "Na... dazu sag' ich jetzt nichts."

I asked why she was curious; surely she listened to the original English anyway? She said that she listened to both, and compared the translations. I said that people such as she were what every interpreter needed—knowing that there are people in the audience who critique their translations :). But she confirmed again that I did a good job.

During the evening, we heard from President and Sister Hansen, Elder and Sister Rasband, and Elder and Sister Nelson. Elder Nelson, as main speaker, was the concluding speaker.

During his talk, I felt as if I was reading out of a book… I'm not quite sure what contributed to that feeling; maybe the style of his talk. He spoke about Jesus Christ, which makes sense when you consider that it is the mission of apostles to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ.

He counted up five main points of Jesus's ministry which we could emulate:

  1. Love, coupled with obedience to the commandments
  2. Ordinances
  3. Prayer
  4. Knowledge
  5. (Can't remember exactly; I'll have to consult my notes)

At the end of his talk, he said that he would draw on the faith of those present to give his testimony in a language which was not his own—and he gave his testimony in German. Not just one sentence, either, but several sentences in clear, comprehensible German.

And the feeling that went along with those was very strong. I don't know how to describe it, but I had a warm feeling in my stomach. It was definitely a strong, good feeling.

I also remember thinking what a signal that sent: to address the audience in their own language, if not in the whole talk, but at least in his concluding testimony. A kind of respect for them. And it was great.

Several people told me later that they didn't feel it sounded like something he had learned by heart. I can't tell, but it did seem to come with feeling. It was a wonderful experience, but I fear I will forget it all too soon, and what I felt at that point. This is why I turned to my diary as soon as I got home, to record my memory of that evening while it was still fresh.

Afterwards and in the days since then, I received more compliments on the quality of my translation. For example, Brother Hardel told me that I conveyed well the feeling of the speaker: that I spoke with feeling and not in a monotone, that I conveyed the emphases of the speaker in my translation. He compared it particularly to some of the simultaneous interpreters for General Conference who, he feels, sometimes sound as if they're just reading from a paper without regard for the words they are saying.

I also heard from several that they found my translation better than that of Brother Warnke, the stake president; a couple even said I was one of the best interpreters they had heard. I heard that so often that I began to be a bit conceited towards the end :).

I attribute my success at least partly to the fact that so far I was translating for Church leaders, and that the opportunity to have the Spirit with me made a difference. I don't know how well I would have done on a securlar occasion.

(One person complained a little: the sound engineer. He said that he had a hard time with the sound levels when I spoke because I spoke fairly softly and the circuits where close to overmodulating if he turned them up far enough to have me easily audible.)

After the conference, I spoke a little with Frank Herber, whom I hadn't seen for quite a while. It was an interesting little talk, because he, too, tends to approach the gospel from an intellectual point of view. Unfortunately, our conversation was cut short when our ride wanted to go home, but he suggested we meet again and talk. We'll have to do that.

In August, my sisters wanted to go to the temple with Stella and me. Up till now, I wasn't sure whether I would be entering into the temple or (as I did last time) staying in the guest house, mostly because I wasn't sure about my feelings for the gospel.

I wanted to believe, but I wasn't sure that I did.

I'm still not sure, but I feel that the feeling I had when Elder Nelson bore his testimony means something significant. I think I will try to prepare emotionally and enter the temple again in August.

I find it hard to acquire a testimony in the first place and to recognise it for a testimony when I do. But I agree with Frank Herber that it seems logical, for the most part, which is comforting to me.

Well, that's all I can think of about that evening right now.

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