27 Jul

Prayer Update – 27th July 2014

Morning All!

P1010017Why is it that routine is so hard to maintain when kids are on holiday?  Or is that just me?!  Dan is on holiday so I am spending more time at home than usual and yet my normal "home" jobs are not getting done.  One of those being to write to you!  So today I am making a bigger than usual effort to get this written so you can have some idea of what we are up to at the moment.  As a result of the long silence it is a bit of a mammoth one, sorry!

Dan is on holiday and has been since near the end of May.  He had a great summer scholars program for the mornings of June put on by one of the local schools.  It made it possible for me to keep up with a fair bit of my work and gave Dan a bit of structured time each day.  The biggest upside for Dan was that some of his friends that are home-schooled attended the program so he got to spend lots of quality time with them.

Tim is very busy in his now not-quite-so-new role of Operations Director for Nigeria Group.  One of his triumphs has been working with the Finance Department (one of the Departments that reports to him) to help them get their systems fine-tuned and more efficient so that they can get reports out to people on time.  Over the last three months they have gone from reports being two months late to being right on time!

A few weeks ago I had a great opportunity to gather some more information about a few of the 500 or so Nigerian languages.  One of our partner organisations, the Nigeria Bible Translation Trust, runs workshops for language teams on a regular basis.  Nigerian translators from all over Nigeria gather in Jos for training and to work with Translation Consultants to check the scripture they have translated so far.  This particular workshop was for 26 language teams who were all working on the New Testament in their particular language.  I was able to meet with 12 of those teams over the course of a day to gather a bit more information about those languages.  One of the exciting things to see was how passionate they were about their languages, how much they valued them and wanted to make sure that others knew all about them and most of all how much they wanted to see their people have scripture they could really understand. 
One of the more amusing moments came when one of the teams decided that really they needed to give me a name in their language.  When I asked him how my name would translate into English he cheerfully said "Potato" but went on to assure me that it is a very popular name for girls in his area!

Looking forward, I have been invited to attend a workshop in Kenya from the 7th to the 12th of August.  This has all come together quite suddenly and as a result we are scrambling to get my flights and my Nigerian re-entry visa in time.  The workshop will be training so that I can help with a really exciting initiative called the Digital Bible Library.  The whole Bible has been translated into 18 different Nigerian languages but some may be out of print or hard to get hold of.  Ideally we want these scriptures to be available online for free.  The Digital Bible Library will be a storage place for these digital versions of the different translations that can then be made available through various websites like You Version.  Of course this goes well beyond Nigerian languages, the aim is that all translated scriptures will be able to be released online. 

I will be able to explain it and rave about it some more when I get back from the workshop so look out for that!

Some down time for Ali and Dan
Ali being able to attend the Digital Bible Library workshop
Progress Tim has been able to make with the Finance Dept

Safe travel to Nairobi for Ali
Energy and balance for Tim while Ali is away

26 Jul

Until all have heard

I wrote a blog post for the Elim Missions website about some of the impact of Bible Translation. bibl1

On the 24th May there was a great celebration on an island in the far south of Nigeria where the Obolo Bible was being dedicated! This was the result of over 30 years of hard work by a dedicated team of Obolo translators and committed support from the local churches and supporting agencies.

To read more about it head over to http://www.elimmissions.co.uk/

14 Jul

Great things in Ga’anda!

We work with a ton of amazing people here in Nigeria.  Translating the Bible isn't the only thing we do, we try to help people learn to engage with it and use it in their daily lives.   One of our teams host Scripture Songwriting workshops to help encourage churches to be using the langauges that God gave them, to praise Him. 

Mr Sunday Timawus, Coordinator of Ga’anda Bible Translation project and Area Coordinator for the surrounding languages, reports on changes that have taken place amongst the Ga’anda people since the Scripture Songwriting workshop that took place in January of 2013:

artspic1`One of the things that attracts people in our area is songs, more than reading the Scripture actually.

`I’ve seen the testimony of the people in our village. Most of the people who don’t come to church say, `Now you are doing something!’ After the workshop we had a lot of revival in our church. Most of the time we see the elderly men and women staying at home since the services were not in the language,  but since the workshop there’s been kind of a breakthrough in our place and language. Now, most of what’s happening is in the language so they can understand it and they have rededicated their lives to God. Now they are saying, `When can we have another workshop?’

07 Jul

Dialect Delights.

I recently received an e-mail granting the new codes to seven dialects that I had requested.  Before you switch off (Yawn, Ali is talking about her boring job again!) or wonder what on earth a dialect is going to do with a code, let me try to explain. 

Let’s start with languages . . .

There are a great many languages in the world, 7,106 at the last count (Ethnologue, 2014).  There are also lots of languages, in different countries (and sometimes even in the same country!) that share the same name despite having nothing else in common.  For example, in Nigeria there are two unrelated languages that go by the name of Ichen.  To save confusion and to ensure that we do not duplicate our effort needlessly we need to be able to identify exactly which language we are talking about without having to go into a great long description of that language e.g. “You know, the Ichen that is spoken in Taraba state and is related to Jukun, not the one related to Izere that is spoken in Plateau State.”  Bit of a mouthful!

So, to avoid all this messing about, each identified language in the world has been given a unique ISO 639-3 code.  Ichen from Taraba State is [ich], whereas the Ichen from Plateau is [cen].  No two languages have the same code.

I have to say that from a scientist’s perspective I find this rather pleasing.  I used to work with small worms, crustaceans and molluscs that each had their own unique scientific names like Calliostoma zizyphinum (a personal favourite) and Crepidula fornicata.  These names could be used among scientists anywhere in the world and everyone would be talking about the same thing, whereas if someone just mentioned the Slipper Limpet, it could mean any one of a dozen different species. 

However, I digress.  Back to languages and their dialects.  So, described languages are quite tidy, they each have their own ISO code, all neat and sorted, right?

Er, not quite.  You see some languages are made up of several dialects, these are closely related but sometimes still not fully comprehensible to a speaker of a different dialect.  In some cases they really are so incomprehensible to each other that separate translations are needed in each dialect.  So we need to go one deeper and be able to give a unique code to some dialects as well, otherwise, once again we could find ourselves reinventing the wheel in a dialect that already has work in it.

So back to the beginning – these dialects are ones where language work is progressing to ensure that the speakers of those dialects have scripture in a form that they can really relate to and understand deeply.  I always think of this in terms of French but maybe if we are thinking dialects then a broad Glaswegian might be more appropriate.  Imagine if you only had the Bible in audio form and the reader spoke in a broad accent using words and figures of speech that only a Glaswegian could comprehend – how well would you grow as a Christian?  Always struggling to really understand what God’s Word really meant, maybe thinking that God didn’t really understand you or care about you because he didn’t even speak your dialect.  For many people in Nigeria they face a similar situation.

These seven new dialect codes represent groups of people who are that bit closer to getting God’s Word in their own, fully understood, dialect.   Six have active projects where speakers of the language are translating the Bible into their language!

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