26 February 2012

Friends and books

I probably have quite a number of dates muddled in all of this.  I would appreciate it if one you has access to a time machine could go back and correct the errors.

Of one thing I am certain.  By the time Susan and I left Honolulu, at the end of January, 1973, I had signed a contract with the Pacific and Asian Linguistics Institute - or possibly my contract was with the University of Hawaii Press directly - to write two books about Yapese: a Yapese-English Dictionary, and a Yapese Reference Grammar (by the way, I can do any of you much better deals on these books than those two Amazon links offer - just e-mail me :-)).  Iou, Defeg, and I - both mentioned in previous posts - had worked on these for some considerable time at this point - but I don't know when we began.  I do know that we were working intensively on these during these years - 1970-72.

I was back at the University intensely now.  I had to catch up on my enrolled studies; had to work on the two Yapese books; and was finding that my friendships had taken on quite a different character now that I was a professed Christian.

For one thing, there was no secret about it.  I went round wearing that T-shirt with "Christ is the Answer" screen-printed on the back.  My Yamaha 50 had been replaced by a Honda 90 - and Hawai'i now had a helmet law.  My helmet had 'Jesus' painted in bright pink psychedelic lettering on the back.  I suppose that most of my previous acquaintances sighed and said to themselves that John had replaced his drug trip with a new one - quite correctly, in a way.

My relationship with one friend changed character in ways that eventually had important worldly consequences for us.  The friend was Greg Trifonovitch.

Greg was a fellow linguistics graduate student.  He was something like five years or so older than me.  'Is' in addition to 'was' as Greg is very much alive, still a dear friend, although we see little enough of one another, due to distance.  Greg was born and brought up in Palestine - in Tiberias, I think - and had moved to the United States in his late 'teens.  We knew one another pretty well before I stopped being a student.  Now I came back - bursting with my Christianity.  Greg was astonished.  I remember well his comment: "What?!  That's impossible!  My adult Sunday School class has been praying for you for two years!!"

Susan and I were no longer living together.  We were, in fact, feeling a considerable amount of strain in our relationship.  I was (am) not the easiest person to be closely involved with.  We had officially decided that we were not to be engaged until God made it clear that we should be married.  God, however, had to deal with John Jensen's badgering, demanding way of wanting what he wanted, when and how he wanted it.  Susan, therefore, had to be certain whose - or Whose - voice she was listening to.

But our lives were very full now of our Christian world.  In particular, we were committed to Campus Crusade for Christ and its activities - which included street witnessing.  One evening a week, with many other Campus Crusade friends, we went to the International Market Place in Waikiki (which apparently is going to disappear), and buttonholed passers-by with the intent of going through the "Four Spiritual Laws" booklet with them - wanting a decision for Christ.  The methodology is undoubtedly shallow - but I have no doubt that some, at least, are genuinely converted, with a start in such a way.

Our closest friends now were all from Campus Crusade activities.  Kathy Golden - now Kathy Ehmann - we knew through Prince of Peace - became Susan's bridesmaid - and, at least the last we heard from her, she worked for Campus Crusade at their headquarters Arrowhead Springs, California (the headquarters moved to Orlando, Florida in 1991 - I wonder if she is still involved with Campus Crusade).  Vicky Clark we had known from the encounter groups.  Vicky was very upset when we left the encounter group scene - was rather annoyed with our hot-gospelling Christianity - and ended up being active with Campus Crusade herself.  Her mother hosted the reception for our wedding.

And also from Prince of Peace we became close friends with the man who ended up being my best man; Bob Feldhan.

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