1983: Folker and Monica Mittag – Found in translation

By Monica and Folker Mittag

16/08/2021
Folker and Monica Mittag wedding

 

The wedding of Folker and Monica Mittag in April 1983 resulted from an encounter in Caux ‘which changed our lives for ever’. Folker was a German businessman; Monica a Swiss interpreter. They remember:

 

Monica

von Orelli wedding 1946 Caux
The wedding of Monica's parents in Caux, 1946

My parents, Konrad and Marlies von Orelli, got married at Caux at the end of the first conference in 1946. As children, we spent almost all our holidays there, playing with children from many countries. In the process we learned English and interpreted for those who did not understand each other. It was an amazing childhood, with a number of adopted Moms who looked after my sister and me when my parents travelled for Moral Re-Armament (now Initiatives of Change).

When I was in my teens, my father took me into the interpreting booth for the first time. He had been thrown in at the deep end when translation was needed at the Caux conferences, and there were no professionals to do it. So he had done his best and felt that I might be able to do the same.

I learned on the job how to interpret simultaneously, with only about half a sentence’s lag behind the speaker. Later I studied interpreting and learned to interpret meaning rather than just words. That is what still fascinates me: to try to understand the speaker’s mind and bring his message across to my listeners as clearly as he does to his.

For the next years, I spent all the conferences at Caux interpreting and building a team who could work in different languages.

That is what still fascinates me: to try to understand the speaker’s mind and bring his message across to my listeners as clearly as he does to his.

 

Folker and Monica Mittag wedding with Marlies and Konrad von Orelli
Monica and Folker at their wedding with Marlies and Konrad von Orelli

 

Folker

As often before, I was invited to the industrial conference during the summer at Caux. I was looking forward to meeting friends from many parts of the world and was welcomed by one of them, Konrad von Orelli.

At the main meeting next morning I was interested in a speech in English. As usual, I used the earphones, so that I could hear the German translation in one ear while listening to the speaker with the other ear. I wanted to check the accuracy of the interpreter’s work.

Monica Mittag translating
Monica interpreting

When the speaker started, I forgot all about what he said: I was fascinated by the interpreter’s voice. I was so impressed that I asked Konrad immediately whether he could introduce me to the lady whose voice I had heard. He just replied: ‘I’ll see what I can do.’

He invited me to supper with his family that evening. When I arrived at the table, I recognized Konrad and Marlies, their daughter Marianne and her husband Christoph, all of whom I had met before. And then there was another lady. Konrad introduced me but was vague about who she was. Then he turned to small talk.

Finally his wife Marlies said: ‘Come on, tell him that she is your/our daughter.’

Then the lady said, ‘I’m Monica.’ I was spellbound: this was the voice I had heard in the earphones. I can’t remember anything about the rest of that dinner except listening intently whenever she spoke.

The dinner lead to a marriage which at the time of writing has lasted for 37 years. There are still moments when I just listen to that voice.

We believe God planned for us to meet – and we are so grateful to Caux and our friends there for helping that to happen. The unexpected ideas that come out of silence still enrich our lives and determine what we do and when and how.

There are still moments when I just listen to that voice. The unexpected ideas that come out of silence still enrich our lives.

 

Monica and Folker Mittag
Monica and Folker in 2021

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

This story is part of our series 75 Years of Stories about individuals who found new direction and inspiration through Caux, one for each year from 1946 to 2021. If you know a story appropriate for this series, please do pass on your ideas by email to John Bond or Yara Zhgeib. If you would like to know more about the early years of Initiatives of Change and the conference centre in Caux please click here and visit the platform For A New World.

 

  • Photo wedding 1946 and headphones: Initiatives of Change
  • All other photos: Folker and Monica Mittag

 

 

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