Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Do people use the New Testament in their mother tongue? (by Douglas)

This is one of the hardest questions we face as we support Bible translation projects. Will people actually read the completed Scriptures? What affects whether or not these New Testaments are used?

In eastern Congo, the only published New Testament our group has seen so far is in the Fuliiru language. But several other New Testaments either are in press right now, or will be published in the next few years. Naturally, we want to know what kinds of factors affect whether or not people read them, so we can prepare as well as possible.
Ten thousand copies have been distributed; is their message being heard?
Do people find the words 'sweet', or are the books only a curiosity?
This was the work of the Strategic Research Team (Dr Bagamba Araali and me) -- to design and oversee the collection of interview data among the Fuliiru people themselves.

To get to the Fuliiru translation office in Kiliba, Bagamba and I traveled by air, sea, and land. On 20 August we flew to the town of Goma, on the northern shore of Lake Kivu. The next morning, we crossed the lake in a "rapid boat" (« canot rapide »).

Bukavu is on the southern shore. The photo below was taken from the window of a restaurant where we ate on our return trip.

In Bukavu we met the research team, pictured with us in Kiliba: Rév. Mbirize Masumbuko (Fuliiru Language Program Director); Feston and Malega, two other translators who have worked with him on the Fuliiru Bible now in draft; and six other Fuliiru pastors and Christian leaders. Mbirize is in the top left of the photo, Malega is next to me, and Feston is the only one in the "middle row".

The field researchers with Mbirize, Bagamba, Douglas and a guy in a football jersey.

The best road from Bukavu to Kiliba passes through Rwanda. I hadn't ever thought that my first visit to Rwanda would last less than one hour -- much less my second visit, six days later! Bagamba and I rode in the front seat of the van in this photo. The white sign wishes us a good trip in English, French and Kinyarwanda.

After re-entering Congo, we dropped off pairs of researchers at various places on the way to Kiliba, arranging for them to meet us after five days of interviews in a total of about twenty villages. Madame Tulizo, whom you see here, is the widow of a pastor.
Saying 'see you later' to Mama Tulizo
Tulizo testified that people in the chapel she serves used to be hesitant to pray in public. They didn't have all the vocabulary they needed in their own language, and they weren't sure how to use the Swahili words that they had heard. Since people started receiving teaching from the Fuliiru New Testament, though, there are always enough volunteers to pray in Fuliiru, and the contents of their prayers are theologically rich.

When walking with a camera, I often trailed behind Bagamba and Mbirize. On the left, we're going to the translation office shortly after our arrival in Kiliba. There were two cozy guest rooms, complete with solar power. On the right, Bagamba goes with Mbirize to see Lake Tanganyika up close.

The office is a few hundred yards above a Pentecostal church. On the other side of the road is the turnoff for a famous sugar factory; however, some of the factory equipment was damaged in the war and it is no longer in operation. I took this photo while waiting for the bus back to Bukavu.

But what did we find? More after the break...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ndruna Service for Mobilization

The Ndruna New Testament has been translated and is set to be published next year! In May, our colleague Dr. Bagamba led a service at a local church, using the Ndruna language and Scriptures, to help get people excited about receiving - and using - the New Testament. They also hope to continue with the Old Testament, which will require much support from the Ndruna people.

Veteran translator shows his true feelings for the Ndruna Scriptures, before breaking into song.
The service opened with Mr. Avuta Mboudhu, who has worked his whole life translating the New Testament and hymns into Ndruna, his mother tongue. He read a passage of the translated New Testament. You can see in the photo above how excited he was, and the congregation cheered. Then he started a Ndruna praise song, and the whole room jumped to their feet to sing along, clap and dance. (**See an update at the end.)     

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

April 2015 Group Meetings

The whole group

In April, our group - spread out over several countries and three continents - met in Uganda for 10 days of spiritual retreat and business meetings. Here are a few photos from that time together:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Home Away From Home (by Jennings)

Tomorrow I go to Goma for another 2-week visit with the translation team. When I was leaving from my last visit, in December, one of the team members (far right below) said aloud what I was also thinking: it was actually hard to say good-bye. We've always had a friendly relationship, but we've spent so much time together now that there is a depth to that relationship that wasn't there in the first years. I was deeply touched when he said that... and a little scared... great, another chance to suffer, more people to miss. But that's part of the deal, a blessing that is precious and painful.

Friday, March 20, 2015

This Little Puppy Went to S.P. , This Little Puppy Stayed Home...

Elikya playing with her pups
In December, the day I returned from Goma (previous post), our dog Elikya had puppies! Douglas texted me when the first arrived, while I was still in the Goma airport. By the time I got home, there were 5, and by the time we went to sleep there were 6. When we woke up, there were 7!
Of course, having the puppies made for a very fun - if slightly chaotic - Christmas and New Years. Then, quite suddenly, two of them got ill and died. We think it was worms, though we're not sure. It was heartbreaking... I try not to think about it too much...
Puppies having one of their first meals, back when their ears and paws were still so tiny.
The others stayed healthy, and the first one left to go to his new home just a couple of weeks ago. The day guard at our office, who loves dogs, had picked him out of the litter because he's unique-looking, all white. He asked what the puppy's name was, and we told him that we were calling him "Whitey" (or "Le Blanc" in French... "the White One"). I asked him a few days ago how Whitey was doing. He said he is a very nice dog, "très gentil". I love that he appreciates that about him! He said that they changed his name from "Le Blanc" to "Le Bon"... "the Good One". I love that, too. I am so happy that Whitey went to this new home!
Whitey getting ready to go to his new home. Now his name is "The Good One", Le Bon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Goma update - December 2014 (by Jennings)

A few highlights from my latest trip to Goma, to check Hebrews with the Tembo team.
The Nyanga delegation, including one of the original translators (far right)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When a "literal" translation is not accurate (from Jennings in Goma)

In Scripture translation, we're aiming at four goals, which are sometimes in tension. We want the translation to be: 1) accurate, 2) clear and easy to understand, 3) natural-sounding rather than stilted or "foreign" and 4) acceptable to users (especially the local church leaders).

Of these, my first responsibility as a consultant is to try to ensure accuracy. If the translation don't reflect the meaning of the original text, then it doesn't matter how clear or natural it is, it isn't a good translation. So I need to be sure that nothing has been added, omitted or changed.

But accurate is not the same as literal. Sometimes a translation can be very literal -- even word-for-word -- and yet be completely inaccurate. That's because meaning doesn't just come from the text, from the words. It comes from the text plus the context: the linguistic, cultural and historical context of the original language and how it fits -- or doesn't fit -- with the context of the target language.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dispatch from Goma: "Say My Name" (...or don't, that's fine, too) by Jennings

Aimée is fascinated. With me. She stands on the veranda outside the office and tries to catch my eye, then gives me a small, shy wave. I give a small wave back and a smile. She walks away, then comes back again a few minutes later. This goes on for hours. Aimée is 5 years old, and I've known her since she was a baby, since 2009, when I first started coming here to Goma a couple of times a year. Her father is the caretaker for the translation office compound, and she has 4 older siblings and a baby brother, Manu, who is not quite 1 year old and is walking.


Manu, back in February (before he could walk)

When the translators have left, I go outside and sit on the steps with Aimée and Manu. She strokes my (fascinating) pink, furry arm. We play a game, with my limited Swahili:

Me (pointing to Aimée): What is your name?
Aimée (softly): Aimée
Me (pointing to Manu): What is his name?
Aimée (again softly): Manu
Me: And what is my name? Do you know?
Aimée (looks up with a big smile): Muzungu!

Right, close enough. I could tell her what my name is, but she knows me as Muzungu, and that's all right. People seldom address me here by name, anyway... I'm not sure it's quite polite to use first names. So people call me "Madame" or "Mama" or "Madame Douglas", if they know Douglas' name. As for "Muzungu"... I've never been crazy about that name, but I'm coming to terms with it. Especially when it's used with obvious respect or affection. Or by a little cutie like Aimée.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Healthcare Among Friends - Part 2

Another tale of friendship and surgery, this one far more serious. You will notice that, as in the last post, there are a lot of "as it happens" in this story. Lots of happy coincidences. Some of these I attribute to the fact that Congolese society is highly networked and inter-dependent, with lots of unexpected connections between people I never would have guessed knew each other. I also can't help but see God's hand in how things came together. Here's the story:

The head translator for one of the projects we work with, Pierre, had known for some time that he needed prostate surgery. He lives up north in an area that does not have great hospitals. But a couple of hours outside of Bunia, in a town called Nyankunde, there is a very good hospital, furnished and supported by Samaritan's Purse. It is well-known throughout the region. That is where Pierre hoped to have this surgery.
Pierre, head translator for the Bible in his language. During tea time at the translation office.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Healthcare Among Friends (Part 1)

A few months ago, I (Jennings) noticed a sore on my face that wouldn't heal, and I began to be suspicious of it. Back home in the U.S., I would call or email my dermatologist to make an appointment; the spot would be removed (if needed); and the insurance company would have sorted out how much I owed (perhaps a hundred dollars or more).

Here, it works differently. Here, you use the friend network.