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.)     

What I didn't know is that the Ngiti people - those who speak the Ndruna language - are known for their music and enthusiastic dancing. I don't know when I've ever danced so much in church. And everyone, from the youngest children to the most elderly, dignified reverend-pastors, were all dancing, too.

Rev. Bahura, one of the Ndruna translators, reading another passage of Scripture
Part of Bagamba's goal in these services is to demonstrate the importance of the mother tongue. Below, he asked a teacher to come forward, and gave her instructions in English, "Go tell that American to come up here on the stage." The lady looked around, confused, and then admitted she didn't know what to do. So how do we expect Christians to fully understand Scripture if it isn't in a language they know well? How do we expect the church to grow and mature?

Bagamba with Ndruna-speaking teacher, showing the importance of using a language people understand
Another part of mobilization is showing the community that, as poor as they are, or think they are, they can do something. Bagamba pointed out that, if every adult in the Ngiti community contributed just $1 per year, they could fund the whole translation project. Below, a young girl raised her hand to speak up and say that the children could contribute, too! Don't leave them out.

Young girl tells Bagamba that children can contribute to the project, too, not just adults!
Then he asked people to raise their hands if they would be willing to contribute to the translation project (below).
Those ready to contribute to the translation project
A few more photos, to give you a taste of a typical Congolese church service.
Youth band
Kids playing marbles outside
One of the youth choirs... even the very young participate
More singing and dancing
The missionaries who came from Europe back in the day brought brass instruments. There are still brass bands in churches who play for special occasions.
Close-up of another youth choirs. These choirs function as youth groups for young people, giving them a community and an important role in the church.

** Update: In July, a typesetter came from Cameroon to typeset the Ndruna New Testament, preparing it to be published. Muzee Avuta came to the office to meet the typesetter, 3 days after his 75th birthday. He asked the typesetter, "Can I have the New Testament within six months? I don't want to die before I hold it in my hands and read it in church." 

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.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Celebrating Mother-tongue Languages (by Douglas)

We (Douglas and Bagamba) participated in the commemoration of International Mother Languages Day in Bunia on 21 and 22 Feb 2014. Here are a few highlights:
Bagamba says that an important step in saving an endangered language
is clarifying the objective of your intervention.
Douglas introduces the subject of the Vanuma community
before presenting an evaluation of the state of health of the Vanuma language.