My parents are visiting from California this week (my daughter graduated from high school yesterday), and they brought a cassette I had made dated May, 1984, when I had been in Bolivia for just a couple of months. I can’t believe I filled two sides of a 90-minute cassette, but there it is.
My wife and children all said, “Wow, you sound just like Uncle David,” my brother who still lives in California. It’s not so much the accent but the slower cadence, the more relaxed tone, that marks a Southern Californian. I think 14 years in Utah and 8 in Texas have pretty much wiped out whatever was left of that in my speech.
Of course, what’s interesting to me is what I chose to say in 90 minutes. I talked about living conditions, my health (I lied and said I was fine), and economic and political upheaval. I spoke very little about missionary work, other than to talk about people we were teaching. Mostly I talked about the people I had met.
At one point, I had several children gathered around, and they were all giggling at the gringo mumbling gibberish into a tape recorder. They asked if they could say something on the tape, so I have what to me is a priceless record of these beautiful Bolivian children talking briefly about themselves. And a couple of them sang cute little songs like “el dedo pulgar.” I asked them if they would sing a song together, and they chose the Bolivian national anthem. Very sweet.
It’s a little sobering to think that these kids are in their thirties today. I’m sure they’ve changed tremendously, just as I have changed. But it’s nice to have a reminder of who I was and what I was thinking those many years ago.