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September Cru newsletter – Larry and Betty Barr

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11th Grade, “Straight A” student, Larry Barr, listened quietly to the Spanish lesson review through his headset in the school language lab.  Suddenly, the Spanish teacher reached over Larry’s shoulder and grabbed the paper on which he had been doodling innocently.  “I can listen and write at the same time,” Larry defended himself.  “Not in MY class,” declared Miss Hartman.

Not long afterwards, when Larry earned a perfect score, answering all 50 questions correctly on a widely-used, standardized Spanish exam, the office that was in charge of administering the exam   contacted Miss Hartman and incredulously asked, “Could he really have done that?  It has never been done before.” “Oh, yes, he would be capable of doing that,” Larry’s teacher affirmed.

It was in the early1960’s when Cuban refugees began pouring into South Florida where Larry lived, that he decided it would be wise to learn Spanish.  He began taking Spanish classes as a regular subject in junior high and high school and went on to major in Spanish Literature in college.

But when he arrived in Colombia, South America (August 1971) to serve as a Missionary Journeyman, he could hardly understand the Spanish he was hearing. The native speakers did not use the careful pronunciation of short sentences and phrases such as he had heard and repeated in the language learning lab.

“How could I have studied Spanish all these years and not be able to understand these people?” he fretted.   Finally, after weeks of frustration, he began to get the hang of it, as he followed along in his Bible while listening to the Spanish sermons at church.  The following three years of living in South America gave Larry fluency in speaking Spanish to accompany his excellent abilities in reading and writing it.

But, as they say, “You gotta use it or lose it!”  So, through the intervening years, Larry has systematically and intentionally worked to keep his Spanish skills sharp.  Almost every morning of the week, he is up very early studying his Bible and the printed Sunday School lessons in both Spanish and English.  During our 45 years of marriage, in every place we have lived, he has served in Campus Crusade for Christ/Cru ministries and/or church ministries using both written and spoken Spanish.

And now, along with a native Spanish-speaking friend who has been hired to help in the project, Larry is giving meticulous care to the final proof-reading phase for creating an updated revision of a series of mini-books, Conceptos Transferibles.  These booklets are the Spanish version of Dr. Bill Bright’s eleven Transferable Concepts series, which cover important topics for the Christian life.

Larry and his co-worker are working from scanned copies of the previous version. The big challenge has been that the scanner doesn’t recognize the Spanish characters, so there are thousands of spelling errors that have had to be cleaned up!  It has required a LOT of unhurried concentration and focus.   

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Larry displays the booklets in the Spanish Conceptos Transferibles series that he is helping to update

Looking back over Larry’s life, we realize that the Lord “superintended” his desires, his studies, his opportunities, his decisions, and even his personality to make it possible for him to work on this project.

It has been a long, tedious process, but the completion of Larry’s phase of the proofreading work is in sight.  Thank you for your part in helping us to continue to work “behind the scenes” to make life-changing ministry materials and tools available!

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