These tips were compiled by Rick Gray, veteran MTW missionary to Bundibugyo in western Uganda. These principles are applicable in any cross cultural setting.
For Short Term Missionaries
In Bundibugyo District
1. Get the best possible person to translate for you. Ask the missionaries and/or the Babwisi church planters for suggestions as to who would be a good translator.
2. Try to memorize a short greeting in Lubwisi and use it in you introduction. It will really grab people's attention to hear you attempt to speak in their own language.
3. Use the simplest English possible, and speak in short phrases at a time. Even the best available translators do not have an expansive English vocabulary, and a long complex sentence is very difficult to remember well enough to correctly translate it into Lubwisi.
4. Frequently pause and ask the people questions to test their comprehension of what you've just said. This is a good check to see if your translator has done a good job, and/or if you have done a good job, and/or if you are speaking over the people's heads. There's no sense in moving on to the next point, if they haven't understood the point you just finished teaching!
5. Use plenty of illustrations, short stories and proverbs. Of course there is a reason why Jesus used parables so frequently in His own teaching, so why not follow the Master Teacher's example?!
6. Keep each of your lessons focused on ONE specific truth, and then explain it several different ways. If you try to teach too many different truths in just one session, you will probably just confuse everyone. Follow Bill Clinton's successful presidential campaign strategy, "Keep it simple stupid!"
7. Don't let people sidetrack you with questions that are not relevant to your subject. Simply and politely offer to answer the question AFTER you have finished the lesson.
8. Always try to apply the truth you are teaching in a practical way to the people's lives. This one might be tricky since you don't know a whole lot about the culture and the way of life here. Again, feel free to ask the missionaries and/or the Babwisi church planters for advice.
9. Be as animated as you possibly can be. The Babwisi are a very animated people, who love to laugh and easily express emotion. So the more expressive you can be, the more likely you will be able to hold their attention and make the truth you are trying to teach stick in their minds.
10. Have fun! The Lord can & will use you. The way you relate to the people, the joy you have in Jesus, the love you have for His Word & His flock will communicate volumes to the people (much more that your words!). Even though you'll only be here a short while, the people will remember you and the fruit of the Spirit in you for years to come!