The Spanish translation of Life Matters

Posted Feb 21, 2012 by Marlise Schneider in General


Some time ago, Cristina wrote about her experience translating Identity Wars into Spanish. She wrote of unexpected obstacles while taking on the task – and how she was blessed in the end. I was surprised, because my experience translating Life Matters was a bit similar in some ways. I thought it would be nice to share it with you.

It was about a year ago when Adrian sent my husband the manuscript for Life Matters. At that time, my husband and I were wrapping up a job at the SDA university in Thailand, and getting ready to move closer to Bangkok because of my husband’s new job. I’d thought, since I had no job prospects yet, that I’d be able to tackle the translation and finish it in a couple of months. But that’s not what happened…

When we left the university, I was suffering from burnout. I never went to see a professional about it, but we knew I seriously needed rest. Sometimes I’d stare at a page or screen for a few minutes, and then I’d realize that, in all that time, I hadn’t been able to process anything from what I’d read. I couldn’t start translating like that. I hoped that after a couple of weeks I’d feel better, but it didn’t work out that way.

It wasn’t only the burnout that drained the energy off me – the little I had left was used up in finding a house, moving in, getting familiar with the markets and surroundings, coming to terms with living in a new place – you know, all the normal discomforts of transition.

We weren’t really able to settle properly until around July – and two weeks later, my in-laws came to visit us, for three months. We were overjoyed with their visit, but of course my priority was now to be with them, take them sightseeing, and help them out, since they can’t speak English. We soon settled into a routine, and I started getting some translating done whenever there was a chance.

And then we found out I was pregnant (first baby) – joyful news, yes, but soon the nausea came – the kind that lasts all day, every day, with only a few hours’ break occasionally, for three + months. No more sightseeing with the in-laws, no more using the Internet, no more translating – scrolling down the computer screen for more than five minutes would have me throwing up. Daniel (my husband) encouraged me to write to Adrian and explain what was happening. It’d already been too long since he’d handed us the manuscript, and I felt embarrassed about that. I asked Adrian if he didn’t prefer to hand over the task to someone else. He was patient and understanding, and I was comforted when he wrote, “the translation will be ready when the Lord wants it to be ready”. I know he was just as eager as me to see it done (probably even more), so I doubly appreciated his patience.

And just as I started feeling better, and I’d re-started on the translation, the flood came. You may have heard of the flooding in SE Asia last year – well, it affected our area: both our home and the factory where my husband works. We were able to “escape” before the waters reached our home, then we found refuge at the SDA University and stayed there for a month and a half. I was feeling much better by then, and God took care of us and gave us a good place to stay, but we were in transition, unsettled, once more, and it was hard for me to sit down and concentrate on the translation– and the nausea hadn’t totally left me alone yet. So progress was still slow. I started feeling frustrated – would I be able to finish this translation before the baby came? Why was it taking so long? 

Just like in Cristina’s case, though, I realized that, while I wasn’t translating, I was processing what I’d read in the book and in other related articles. New growth started happening then – and growth can be quite overwhelming, especially when you come to realize that some of your ideas are not as Biblical as you’d once thought… so maybe all the obstacles were God’s way to give Him time to work in my heart, after all. I really appreciated the insights on family blessing that the book offered – especially since we’re expecting our first child.

Once the flood waters receded, Daniel had to be back at the factory to get it cleaned up and start production again. But we couldn’t go back to our house – it was still flooded. So we had a few haphazard weeks in hotels (closer to the factory than the university was), then finally in a tiny Bangkok apartment that one of the factory employees helped us to find. I got some translating done then, but every time we changed hotels, it would take me at least a day to “concentrate” again. (I was surprised at how much energy it took to just remember where the toothbrush was! Not to mention finding a laundry place).

December came, and we’d planned to visit our family in Argentina (that’s where we’re originally from). Unfortunately, I had to go alone, since Daniel had too many challenges now, with the factory and our house to clean up and all. I went ahead, since it didn’t make sense for me to stay when, for our baby’s safety, I couldn’t help with the cleanup, and the apartment we were staying in was not in an area where I could exercise or have access to healthy food.

Once in Argentina, I couldn't translate because there was no Internet in my parents' house (they'd just moved into it) - I would've had some time to do it. By then I was almost halfway done with the translation. While there, though, I read a couple of books on family that further confirmed some of what Life Matters talks about (even though the focus was totally different), as well as topics connected to it.  

Back in Thailand, it took me a couple of weeks to recover from jetlag and to get the house looking decent enough for me to be able to sit down and concentrate on translating (we’d been forced to stay away from home for three months, our stuff all stashed up on the second floor). And that’s when the translation actually began to flow. I couldn’t believe it – all those months of painstaking progress, and now, suddenly, it was moving along! No more burnout, no more nausea, no more transition, just progress! And still a few weeks before the baby arrived!

The translation is now finished. My husband, mother-in-law and I are just taking some more time to proof-read it. I’m thankful for their help. I’m praying that the proof-reading will be over with soon, so that the Spanish translation can be available. What’s been unique about working on this translation is that I could actually ask Adrian whenever I needed clarification on a phrase, word or sentence (thankful that he was patient with that, too!). Oftentimes, translators just have to make their best informed choice/guess, but being able to actually ask the author helps to make decisions with confidence. This was a big blessing.

I thank God for all that I learnt while working on this translation, and for all the ways He’s taken care of us during this “messy”, blessed year full of transitions. And I trust that, despite all the obstacles, He has been watching over the translation of this book.

PS: Oh – by the way, we’ll soon be in transition again – our baby is due next month! J