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Roger Bruner is the author of Found in Translation (Barbour Publishing, Inc., 2011)and its sequel, Lost in Dreams (Barbour Publishing, Inc. , 2011). In Found in Translation, the main character, Kim, receives help and support from the older male leaders of the trip. I really loved seeing that. Mentoring is often absent from a lot of current YA novels. I  think kids though need and want it. I asked Roger to explore this topic a little more.

Roger, young women want the support of their fathers, uncles and grandfathers. How do you think these men can show these important women in their lives that they are valuable?

Time is one of a man’s most precious commodities, so I would say dads, uncles, and grandfathers need to spend as much time with the young women in their lives as possible without intruding into young women’s lives or putting young women ahead of their own spouses.

As hard as it is for me to believe, Kristi is twenty-five now. She lived with her mother a third of the country away from me for two years, but we stayed in touch. When she came back here to live during her senior year in high school, we spent enough time together that I look back at our time together fondly. And I sure hope she does, too!

Spending time isn’t enough, though. We, men, need to listen and do our best to understand. I think we should be honest enough to say, “I really don’t understand what you mean. Can you pretend I’m a little kid and try again, please?”

Along with spending time and listening goes taking a genuine interest in whatever interests them. I still can’t believe I went shopping with Kristi for a prom dress, but I did—and I’m told I gave some important input, not to mention my final approval.

As strange as it might sound, I think men should be “men” and learn to say “no” to the younger women we care about. And we should encourage the adult women in our lives to do the same. Kids don’t need and shouldn’t have everything.

What do you think dads, uncles, and grandfathers should refrain from doing in their relationships with these special young women?

Considering what I just said about saying “no,” the obvious answer is not to spoil our favorite young women. They are, after all, our daughters, nieces, or granddaughters, and we cannot and should not try to buy their friendship.

Men—women, too—need to be careful to avoid the “when I was young” temptation. Things have changed so much that we can’t even imagine what today’s kids are going through.

I think we should also be careful not to push the young women in our lives towards our own unfulfilled dreams and goals any more than we should push our sons, nephews, and grandsons.

We should also prevent them from becoming over-involved in activities, even if each of them is worthwhile in and of itself. Growing up is a process, and teens—like younger children—ought to have enough free time to enjoy it.

Thank you, Roger.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer, and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) Two of her published works for children are Marty’s Monster and Jessica Jacobs Did What?  For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

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One of the elements I loved about Found in Translation was its unique setting–a short-term mission trip. (You can read my recommendation Found in Translation on May 23, 2012. )

Roger, have you  been on short-term mission trips?

I’ve been on countless trips, starting with one to Australia in 1993. I’ve been back to Australia several times since then, but I’ve also gone to England and Wales once each and to Romania twice. Romania is the only non-English speaking country I’ve been to.

Growing up as a Southern Baptist preacher’s kid, I’ve always been interested in missions. But that interest really started to grow in 1984 when I got a job at the International Mission Board (then still the Foreign Mission Board).

Home staff members were encouraged to participate in short term projects, but not until 1993 did I feel the call to do that. That first trip to Australia was SO busy, but that didn’t matter.

You and your daughter Kristi wrote Found in Translation and its sequel, Lost in Dreams, together. How did that come about?

It came about because Kristi went on a mission trip to Mexico when she was eighteen. Like Kim, she took things she didn’t need, failed to take things she did, paid for overweight baggage, did construction, and worked in an area that had a lot of trash.

Listing Kristi as a co-author, however, was a publishing decision rather than a statement of fact.  She did write the Foreword to the first book, however, but that’s all. She read my manuscript upon completion and gave it her approval. But since I wasn’t telling her story as such, it didn’t contain anything she could disapprove of.

How can parents who are not going with their teen on a mission trip support and help that teen?

First thing is the parents shouldn’t simply plunk down the money for the trip. Have the teen work—whether at home or at an actual job—to earn some or all of the money. That vests a kid’s interest in the project and motivates his or her sense of ownership.

Parents should also encourage teen participants to study the culture of the people they’ll be living and serving among. People are people, and meeting other members of the Christian family in another country is an EXTREMELY special feeling. But differences will exist, and the better prepared a teen is to accept them and not say, “This is the way we do it back home,” the more effective they’ll be.

(My interview with Roger continues on Thursday.)

Nancy

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer, and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) Two of her published works for children are Marty’s Monster and Jessica Jacobs Did What?  For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

The short-term mission trip is a familiar experience to Christian teens. Either they have been on one or they know someone who has. That’s one of the reasons I think Found in Translation (Barbour Publishing, Inc., 2011) will delight and intrigue teens. This novel by Roger Bruner and his daughter, Kristi Rae, unpacks one such life-changing trip and tells it with authenticity, humor, and great heart.

When the reader first meets eighteen-year-old Kim Hartlinger, she has just missed her connecting flight to San Diego where she is to join her mission team. Kim is just this side of a blonde joke. She thinks the airline can put her on another plane—a faster one. The curious part about her misunderstandings, her excuses, and her less-than-grace-under-pressure attitude is that she begins to feel familiar. Oops!

Kim does board another flight, (the reader senses that God intervenes). However, her late arrival in San Diego costs the group valuable orientation time and people are less than pleased. Their irritation, however, is a minor difficulty for Kim compared to what she learns next. The mission project has changed. (She doesn’t know about the change because she didn’t read the emails.) Instead of evangelizing with a local church in a Mexican town, the team will be building houses in a village recently hit by a tornado. The tiny village is poor, remote and didn’t even have electricity, plumbing or running water before the disaster. Kim has not come prepared for such an experience. When she blurts out her dismay and frustration, the team leaders offer to refund her money and help her get a flight home. To everyone’s surprise, including her own, Kim decides to go with the team. She believes God wants her on the trip.

God does have a reason for Kim being on the trip. More than one. The authors show Him using even her missteps and mishaps and making them the needed elements to bring about His good purposes. During the two weeks Kim learns to lean on God more, to seek His plans over her own, and to obey Him even when what He is telling her to do doesn’t seem right to her.

This theme of trusting God is not the only theme the Bruners explore. They also dig into the need for forgiveness and restoration. They come at it from several angles, enriching the reader with understanding and inspiration. The Bruners  also look at teamwork and how relationships support or hinder us.

Found in Translation is a great read for Christian teens, particularly girls. I think they will enjoy Kim and her spiritual journey. Her story will encourage and inspire them. Her relationship with Aleesha may cause them to long for a friend like Aleesha or maybe even to be a friend like Aleesha. The wise way Kim handles her relationship with Geoff will remind teens to be discerning and prayerful in their relationships. Kim’s sweet relationship with little Angelita, the disabled child from the village, will warm their hearts and open their eyes wider to the riches that can be found in serving others.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer, and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) Two of her published works for children are Marty’s Monster and Jessica Jacobs Did What?  For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

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