Learning More than the Language

Tags: Canada, Russia, Story

When one crosses cultures to serve God, a whole new realm of learning begins. A missionary has to learn the language, and study the culture, customs, religion of the country, and history, etc. This learning should continue throughout one’s whole time on the field. When Renata obeyed God’s call on her life and moved overseas, she not only learned Russian, but upon moving to Ulan Ude, Siberia, she embarked on studying the Buryat language as well. However, the learning did not stop there. Renata loves music, and when she heard the Morin Khuur (Buryat cello), she determined that she would really like to learn how to play this instrument.

A Horse of a Different Instrument

RenattaRussiaPicture The Morin Khuur is also known as the horsehead fiddle, according to Wikipedia. People started playing this instrument 2000 years ago in Mongolia. It is made up of a wooden framed sound box with 2 strings attached. If you look at the top of long neck portion of the instrument you will see a carved horsehead. The two strings are also made of horsehair, but more recently nylon is used. The bow is held in the right and loosely strung with horsehair as well.

If You Don’t Learn Something as a Child….

Renata was discouraged from attempting to learn to play this instrument, because some people around her believed that if one does not learn something as a child it is too late. Renata decided that she would not listen to the negative voices but use them as a motivator to show that regardless of age, people can continue to learn. Renata was concerned about being a student under a teacher who may have high expectations. Also, she was concerned with how difficult it would be to learn because she would need to communicate with her teacher in Russian and not English. It took courage, and with the help of a fellow missionary, Renata was connected to Larissa, a Morin Khuurist, who travels the world playing this instrument. Larissa agreed to teach, and Renata began lessons right away.

Others Encouraged as Well

Renata has been playing the Morin Khuur for one year and is part of a music group that plays in her church. The Buryat believers in the church have been impacted by this group because they see how their unique style of music can be used to worship God. Another lady has been given courage to sing in the Buryat language during services. Through this experience, Renata has discovered that one needs to constantly be a learner. Also, and maybe most importantly, she has learned that things do not have to be done your way or the way you grew up. Things can be done differently. Playing instruments that are familiar to the culture where you minister may help people to see that Christianity is not just a foreign, western religion, but that it is for them as well. Renata recently returned to Ulan Ude after an abbreviated home service. Pray for her adjustment to life and ministry back in Siberia. Also, pray that Renata will have many opportunities to share Christ with the Buryat people in compelling ways. Pray for the salvation of many Buryat people.

Learn more about the Buryat people.

Learn About SEND's Ministry in Russia.

Discover Ministry Opportunities.

Merla Gogel serves as a mobilizer for SEND Canada. She served in Japan for 12.5 years as a church planter and now serves in the Canadian office.

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