We called our friends Ryan and Maura Martin after we arrived in Cameroon, but before they did. Our families went through Lay Mission-Helper training together in LA in the Spring, and we wanted to share our experiences so far. We hadn't seen them since our Commissioning at the end of May. One of the first things Ryan said to me was, "It's good to hear your voice." I didn't think much of that expression in the moment, but have been thinking about this more.
Last night I re-discovered some music we had brought with us, some songs written and recorded by my younger brother, Matthew. Halfway through the first track, I was surprised when my deceased brother Ben's voice came through the speakers, as well. I was not expecting to hear Ben at all. It was good to hear his voice, it was as if he was made present to us again.
"Jinyuy" is Lamnso' for the Word of God, from Ji meaning word or voice, and Nyuy meaning God. (As a side note, nyuy pronounced ever-so-slightly different means "cutlass," the machete-like tool used to cut grass and brush.) I think that it is beautiful that the Word of God, in Lamnso', is not just the word, but the spoken word. The Greek "Logos," which is what John uses in his Gospel, also has a meaning that encompasses more than just "word," meaning complete thought, logic, etc. But in Lamnso', without any loss of the logic, the word is spoken, not just spoken but spoken to you. Our God is a personal God, one who speaks to us. We not only have God's word, but also God's voice. God spoke and created the cosmos. The Lord spoke to Moses from the bush that burned but was not consumed. The Lord speaks to Job, the voice from the storm. The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.
As I've noted before, there are so many languages all around us. Today is Kaavi, market day, and I managed to use some of my fledgling Lamnso' and Pidgin skills to help me communicate. There were also languages I heard that I did not understand, and was left just smiling and nodding. But at Mass, there was but one Word that we received, one Word spoken by God, one Logic made flesh, one Voice, one Jinyuy: Jesus.
It is good to hear his voice.