Niece-&-Uncle Mutually Interpret
I tried, the very year that she was born,
to gain initial entry to her land.
Its godless regime, who our gospel spurned,
refused a visa to my English friend –
though several times he’d visited Poland
with clothes and books and Bibles for the saints.
On a previous mission, customs men
impounded many copies of God’s Word,
due to disagreements in his team –
this patient ox was yoked to stubborn ass!
Now a further twenty-four years on,
Berlin Wall gone, I’m welcomed readily;
yoked in clear purpose to a man of God,
a Dutchman called by Christ to pioneer
God’s way of restoration. We are here
to pass the message on to ‘faithful men’.
I know within my spirit certainly
that regularly in the years ahead
I will be coming back to preach and teach
as an interpreter of Scripture truths
in Bible School, in church, in conference.
In order that my words be understood
I myself will need interpreting.
That ministry, which Gosia first took up,
ideally suits her in so many ways:
The task to her’s a joy, not just a job;
she’s non-intrusive – just ‘the girl next door’;
hungrily the message she absorbs –
as revelation lightens up her soul
her cheeky, cheery chuckle oft alerts
her Polish listeners to prepare to smile!
On the car ride to the conference site
I notice she delights to bless the Lord,
singing along to English worship tapes.
Years later she will lead the church – and me –
by sheer example through ‘the gates of praise’.
I also learn she is an only child –
until his death some fifteen years before,
a ray of sunshine to her daddy’s heart.
As father with two daughters of my own
I felt I should adopt her as my niece.
Our bonding strengthened through the following year
as she translated all my lecture notes,
checked them out, then taught them at my side.
From time to time we’d meet in groups to eat
and talk of this and that. I got to know
not only that she loves my mother tongue,
English literature she enjoys as well –
Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Lewis Carroll, Lear,
Haworth’s Bronte sisters and James Joyce.
On later visits I have also served
her in the role of life’s interpreter,
based on my longer years and broader range
of experiences here on Planet Earth.
On a journey, giggling with her friend,
suddenly she fell silent, then exclaimed
in English, ‘How I love you, Uncle Hugh!’
before resuming Polish girl-pal talk.
When, on my autumn visit, she arrived
to stand at my left elbow, my blind spot,
how serenely lovely she appeared.
and how superbly she interpreted –
more than mere translating technically –
conveying every nuance of my words
to bear the message deep in hearers’ hearts.
In newsy conversation, heart to heart,
towards the bus stop side by side we walk;
from my shoulder hangs her heavy bag;
it feels I’ve walked with her throughout her life,
a fully-integrated guardian.
Hugh Thompson, 16 October 2000