Friday, April 15, 2011

The Best Laid Plans of...Frogs?

The past week, I’ve been a frog.

I lost my voice on Saturday, and it didn’t return until this (Friday) morning. A week of turning a soprano into a creaky baritone wouldn’t be advantageous for most people, but it’s certainly not helpful for someone in the depths of support-raising, where talking to people isn’t merely inevitable. It’s like breathing. The hoarse croaking, was, of course, accompanied by a nasty cold, but life stops for no one. And neither does support-raising.

So, despite being bleary-eyed from coughing all night, Sunday morning I headed to my old college church, where I visited dear friends, pretended I was a college student again, and passed out prayer cards with the perkiness that comes from eating too many cough drops.

I don’t remember much else, until Monday night, when I attended a district conference for our church, where I again snacked on cough drops and hoped I didn’t look too drugged as I scraped out introductions to all the Higher Ups and Important Pastors that I met. “What do you do?” “I’m a linguist.” “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” “Linguist.” “I’m sorry…?”

Sign language translation began to look very amenable.

Tuesday, in my now-usual manner of coughing and sneezing and squeaking, I ran around for several hours chasing down appropriate signatures and donating vials of my blood for the various exams and tests to prove… what precisely? Oh yes. That I’m healthy enough for my entrance visa.  Oh the irony.

Wednesday morning, my voice has the low rasp of a black-and-white film star, but I again jump into the car, ready for a meeting with area pastors. Little did I know that I would need military-grade satellite imagery to weave me through the road maze of Coon Rapids. And so, I frantically roam the highway system, desperately watching for signs until I realize there are actually two roads numbered 10 and that can make a very big difference. Especially when I’m on the wrong one. Heading the wrong direction. Movie stars might think being late is attractive, but frog-voiced linguists who had hopes of professionalism find it disconcerting.

That afternoon, I sat in Barnes and Noble, racing the finicky internet connection as I pecked out emails and sprayed water over the various fires that had somehow cropped up in the last four hours. Next it was out to Glencoe and an evening church service, where, soon after arriving, I realized that the demographic that was in my head was not the one sitting in the pews. And so, as I was clipping on the mike (“turn it up more; we can’t hear you!”), I found myself switching out video clips and re-arranging my stories, and diving into a blessed evening with forty 5th-8th graders.

The week continued in such a vein, as Thursday’s dessert night canceled due to the collision of several miscommunications and extenuating circumstances, and Friday’s dessert night altered from anyone’s original expectations. Various individual meetings that were supposed to come together this week dissolved, and emails and phone calls that needed replies didn’t receive them. Packing needs have piled into corners, and I only hope that important deadlines haven’t been buried on my neglected desk. Blog posts are half-written and thank you notes remain unaddressed. Sunday’s presentation hasn’t been compiled, and I realized I have forgotten some paperwork at one of my stops this week.

I admit, sometimes “overwhelming” is an understatement.

And then, as I sit here chronicling this week’s adventures, not sure whether I ought to laugh or just shake my head, an email drops into my inbox.

photo courtesy of
A new partner. From a place I’ve never been. With a name I don’t know. How this was sent to my email, is beyond my imagination.

I’m reminded of Isaiah 55:8-9, when God says

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
   neither are your ways my ways,” 
            declares the LORD.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
   so are my ways higher than your ways 
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.

And I’m glad that it’s not up to frogs to run the world.