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The Travelling Bible

, , , , , , , | Friendly | July 31, 2020

A while back, when I still believed myself religious, I purchased a copy of the New Testament written in Hawai’i Pidgin — an English-Creole dialect — partly for the novelty and partly because I love studying languages and dialects as a hobby. It ended up as nothing more than a shelf decoration after I found myself to be agnostic, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to get rid of it.

A few years pass, and I find myself working with an absolute joy of a human being from Jamaica. We become casual friends and I learn he’s a pastor at his church, among many other hats he wears. He also likes to play a bit of a game with me where he will speak to me only in very rapid Jamaican Patois to see how much I understand — which is mostly everything — and it’s after a bit of this that I remember that particular book on my shelf.

I tell my coworker I have something I want him to look at, and that he can have it if he likes it. Even the possibility of a present has this enormous man doing a literal happy dance, and we part ways grinning.

The next day, I present him the book and he immediately flips it open and starts reading it aloud fluently, which has me excited because I wasn’t sure how similar different Creole dialects were, and it has him excited because this translation gives him a modern level of comprehension that a lot of the older, stuffier English varieties lack. Naturally, I give him the book, and he gushes on about how excited he is to use it for future sermons since there are a lot of immigrants like him at his church.

While I may not ascribe to any particular religion anymore, I like to believe that there is some degree of fate to be found, and if there is, that it’s what had me keep that book through several years of paring down my collection just so that I could give it to a friend one day and make him smile.

This story is included in our Feel-Good roundup for July 2020!

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