02 Jan

2015 in Nigerian Numbers (and other Bible books).

Bible Translation is all about resourcing the local church with scripture that people in their community can truly understand, engage with and be transformed by. We can’t count converts or restorations, but we do hear story after story of lives changed. We know that the more people who have access to translated scripture; the more lives are changed by it. In 2015 the following groups having worked tirelessly over many years received translated scripture.

Portions:
Tarok Old Testament books – 300 thousand speakers
Nyankpa Gospel according to Mark – 70 thousand speakers
Duya Acts of the Apostles – 78 thousand speakers

New Testaments:
Tula New Testament – 30 thousand speakers
Tyap New Testament – 130 thousand speakers

Between Tyap and Tula who both received their new testaments, 160 thousand speakers were able to understand the Christmas story possibly for the very first time this year — pretty cool. It really opens the doors for evangelism, discipleship, church planting and dozens of other ministries with the church here.

Obolo man reading his Bible for the first time.

Obolo man reading his Bible for the first time.

Bibles:
Hausa Common Language Bible – 18 million speakers

The Hausa Common Language is the people’s Hausa, the language that they really speak and understand well. In fact Hausa is a language spoken, usually fluently, by an additional 15 million Nigerians who are not actually Hausas. This means that this translation has the potential to impact 33 million people! The original Hausa translation was like trying to read and understand the King James, okay to a point, but not always the most accessible and useable. Any version of scripture you can really understand easily is far more likely to be used and far more likely to change lives.

27 May

Aramaic? Hebrew? What language DID Jesus speak?

I read an interesting article on the BBC today about which language Jesus spoke.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27587230

Follow me for a minute (remembering I am neither a Biblical scholar nor a linguist!)…..

The evidence suggests he spoke Aramaic or Hebrew and probably understood some Greek.  I live and work in a place where people regularly use 2, 3 or even 4 different languages.  It seems perfectly normal here to do so, yet each person seems to have 1 language that they understand best.  We refer to this language as their mother tongue or heart language.  

The New Testament was written in Ancient Greek so no matter what conclusion is drawn on the language Jesus spoke, it seems that Jesus words were translated when the Bible was first written down.  God seems very pro translation to me!   

I think God's desire to reach out to humanity is demonstrated in Revelation 7:9 "After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands"

Every language represented – it doesn't matter how big or how small that language group is and we have both here in Nigeria, they will be represented!  Brilliant.  

 

22 Oct

Are we a nation of liars?

2 weeks ago we started our Hausa course. Hausa is one of the major languages in Nigeria (out of 520) and it is the one spoken in the north where we are. I am not a big fan of language learning but I am getting on with it okay for now. There are 5 of us in the class, none of whom are linguists, none of whom are thriving in the environment, but we are doing it to honour our Nigerian hosts and enable us to greet properly – it is very important here.

The first thing we learnt is about greetings. There is none of this hi bye business, but there is a long series of greetings. The bold is a loose translation, don’t over analyse it – it doesn’t work believe me!

T: sannu. hi
A: yauwa sannu. hi to you too!
T: yaya gida. how is your household
A: lafia. fine
T: yaya maigida how is your husband
A: lafia lau. very fine
T: yaya aiki. how is your work
A: mun gode Allah. we thank God
T: yaya giyada. how is your tiredness
A: ba giyada. there is no tiredness

Etc etc. and so it goes on

T: Sai an jima. see you tomorrow
A: to yauwa sai an jima. yup see ya

It doesn’t matter how anybody is or if you are tired or if work is bad, you always answer in the positive. It occurred to me that we Brits often do the same thing.

T:Hi! How are you
A: Fine thanks and you?
T:Fine
A: Great cya.

Sometimes I get sick of the falseness.
Sometimes I’m glad to hide behind it.
Maybe we aren’t so different from the Nigerians.

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13 Jul

Togo 2010 Update 2 – Sent on Sunday 11th July

Monday 5th
Pretty much the whole day was taken up with travelling to Bassar. We and all our bags piled into the minibus and headed off at 0700! We arrived about 1500 and promptly prayed over the building our beds and then the rains came! Boy was it loud, pretty awesome! Hanging mosquito nets is a bit of a mission when you are hot and sticky, but they all got hung and supplies bought and we started to settle in!

Tuesday 6th
Day 1 in Bassar involved a little walk into town to visit the police station
to let them know we are around in town. The Chief Constable, Raymond there is always very welcoming and open to hear about what we are up to this time on our visit. Wondering around the town is surprising hot and tiresome for us ‘yovo’ (white people), so after a lovely siesta we sat down with our resident linguist, Ruth who taught us some of the basic linguistics we need to go on and learn some Ntcham. This mostly involved trying to figure out how we make all the various sounds in English, only to find that Ntcham has so many others that we aren’t used to making!

Wednesday 7th
The morning had in store for us our first Ntcham learning session with Samuel. We learnt about the different sounds in the Ntcham alphabet and then all the various greetings. We moved onto to have a wander into town practicing those greetings with everyone we meet along the way.
The afternoon was spent chilling out hope for the big rain storm to come our way. It didn’t.

Thursday 8th
This morning was Ntcham class 102. 0900 in the office with Samuel learning our new Ntcham names. The pronunciations can be a challenge!

Tim- Gbati
Steve-Ubootu
Ruth- Damba
Megan – Jabii
Aimee – Saai
Lizzy – Jeeti
Miriam – Jaai
Hannah – Ajaa

We learnt how to introduce our selves and ask “what is your name” we also learnt a few more ‘survival’ phrases like, I’m sorry, thank you and I don’t understand. Once again, we took a wonder around town practicing the things we have just learnt. It is so much easier than learning a language in school. The freedom to go and apply what we just learnt is a real advantage! After a wee siesta in the afternoon we headed to the office to help Samuel produce some booklets of the scripture portions he has translated. We hope to distribute these in the various church meetings we visit while we are here. Every night after dinner we get together and have devotions. We take it in turns to lead based on one of the passages about Jesus ministry. The session includes a bit of singing, praying and sharing about our day, what we have found good and what we have maybe found harder. A great time to explore scripture together and grow closer to God and be challenged in ways that maybe we didn’t expect.

Friday 9th
A more chilled day today, Ruth wasn’t feeling so great yesterday and woke up feeling worse today. The team did a great job of reacting with prayer for her! Whilst the rest of the team headed into town to greet people and check out some cloth and negotiate with the Tailor, Tim and Ruth popped next door to see the doctor. The result is that we are currently treating her for malaria. It is far more precautionary than reactionary; it is very simple to treat here. She is fairly chirpy when not asleep but she has rested well, drank lots and even eaten some. We thank God that she is already doing better at the time we write this. Please do pray that her recovery is quick, the team miss having her around! After lunch, some of the girls got their hair braided, it is certainly an experience! You’ll have to check out some photos after we are home.

Saturday 10th
This morning we headed over to Samuels house to learn about making African Donuts! First job is to make the batter. We then headed into town to explore market day. Town is much busier than any other day we have been in, and the market was packet with everything imaginable included smoked fish on every corner. Ruth is doing better today; she managed to join the team for breakfast. After lunch we headed back to Samuels house to cook to donuts having given the batter time to rise over lunch.

15 Jul

Togo Team Update 5

Monday 7th
Our final language lesson with Samuel was good, we learnt about numbers,
money and counting money, which is different from other counting. We learnt
‘power tools’ which are key phrases and questions to help us learn more
Ncham vocab. So things like, what is that called? Where is _____? How
do you say _________ in Ncham? We then headed for a walk around town to
buy a few supplies and practice a few phrases, we even stopped off for a
Coke. In the afternoon the girls had their hair braided and the boys
headed over to visit Samuel’s farm. In the evening we did our daily devotionals.
Every evening we look at a part of Jesus ministry as an example for our
own lives and ministries. Each team member takes a few turns during the
trip to lead the devotional, share a bit about the passage and ask a few
discussion questions. We talk about the day, sing some songs, do some
bible declarations and pray before bed.

Tuesday 8th
This was the first of our 2 day family visits. We spilt the team into 2
groups, the first group headed to Madame Pierre’s house, she is the lady
who is doing the cooking for us. They headed out to the market, peeled
Yams, pounded FooFoo, ground Tomatoes to make the sauce and eventually ate
it all. They also made Bean cakes, which are white beans cooked off,
added to flour and water, whisked up then deep fried. The second group
headed to Samuel’s house to spend the day with his family, they also
headed off to the market, then they made the dough for doughnuts so that
it would rise. They learnt how to sweep, to wash and how to cut up fish
to cook, and rice, all done on a charcoal fire! After lunch, everyone
gathered at Samuel’s house to fry and taste the doughnuts. Late in the
afternoon we all headed back to the guesthouse for a debrief looking at
how much vocab we had learnt. We talked a lot about the lifestyle and
everyone’s simple lack of ‘stuff’. Just before dinner arrived, the tailor
and seamstress turned up to take our orders, joy was had in trying to
describe what wondrous creations had been drawn and making sure all the
correct measurements were with the correct designs and the correct cloth!
The prices were excellent and everyone was excited to see how they would
turn out!

Wednesday 9th
Today the two teams swapped houses so that everyone could get a full
experience, but also to be able to compare the two houses and lifestyles.
When Madame Pierre isn’t cooking for us, she runs a hair salon in town
with a good number of apprentices. Her husband used to be the keyboardist
for the translation team but now runs a women’s development NGO in Bassar.
They are quite well off in comparison to Samuel’s family. They are also
a bit older and have been working for much longer! As if the day hadn’t
been long enough, we had an early supper and then headed out by motorbike
relay taking the team to the Church of Pentecost on the road out of town
for a 1800 service. Much fun is had on the bikes and an evening service
quite suits the team! At the start of the service there was literally
about 8 people and the team in the church. As the sun went down, it got
darker, and after only a couple songs it was time for Tim’s 3rd preach.
Just as he started to preach, one of the ladies on the front row handed him
a torch, it became apparent there was no electricity in this church
building! Not exactly a carols by candlelight and certainly a new
experience having to preach whilst holding notes and a torch to see them!
Samuel was in good form and the team appreciated only having to sit through 1
translation this time. The pastor however was not an Ncham speaker and so
he had someone sat beside him translating from Samuel’s Ncham into his
native Ewe! I guess that is not so uncommon here. The motorbike relay
home was a little more exciting, in the dark and also the rain! Just as
the pastor was saying the closing prayer the rain fell, and boy was it loud.
As soon as we stepped outside we discovered it wasn’t as bad as expected,
the tin roof made it seem a lot worse!

Thursday 10th
At every church service we have made an offer to the congregation to
reduce the price of the Ncham new testament to make it more affordable for
more people. When it was first published it was 1000cfa (approx 800cfa =
£1) then they reduced it to 500 because no-one was buying them, so we
made the offer to reduce it to 300cfa and cover the extra costs ourselves.
Thursday morning was the day we had set for people to come to the
translation office to buy the New Testaments or any of the 4 Old Testament
book that have been published. It seemed like a long morning 0800 – 1130
but at the end of the morning, 150 had been sold! It was a tremendous
encouragement to the team, and also to the translators. Word had even
spread so that a few people from the Catholic Church bought some and even a
non-believer who was fixing the car of another guy who was buying bibles,
wanted one! The only downer was half the team getting sun burnt. So
the afternoon was spent slapping on the after-sun, drinking lots of water
and relaxing!

Friday 11th
Due to sun burn problems some of the planned excursions were put on hold,
a few did make it out to visit the bakery. They met with the baker and
then headed out towards the mill. The wheat gets ground in one room, then
in the next room, it is made into dough. Every baker has their own
recipe, and ours likes to add a bit of nutmeg which of course must be
ground before adding. Water and yeast and sugar and salt and a tablet of
bicarbonate of soda is all mixed up and then slowly added to the flour in
the mixer. The mixer has three parts. 1 – the motor linked to 2- car
axle with a fly wheel on it, adapted to take a dough hook instead of a
drive shaft. Which sat in 3- the bowl with a raised middle which sat on
a pillar so the operator could turn the bowl whilst the hook mixed the
dough. When everyone has had a good debate and is happy, it is pulled
out and slapped though a machine that can only be described as a giant
wrangler, which kneads the dough. From there, into a cloth sack and onto
a motorbike, off to the bakers house where it is made into 200 loaves of
bread. Some of which took the form of crocodiles, an elephant and even a
mobile phone! Post lunch was time to rest before we headed out to the
local gospel Radio station. Not something a team has done before, but
GREAT fun. We introduced ourselves live on radio and after a little
explanation as to why the team was here, we introduced ourselves in Ncham.
We then sang a couple of songs and got REALLY hot in a tiny studioesque room
in the back of someone’s house! The station covers 4300km2 which is
pretty large, but no-one can know the number of listeners. Having
motorbike relayed the team back to the guesthouse; Tim and Samuel go off
to the station to record a sermon. A wonderful opportunity to give the
gospel and make an appeal, encouraging people if they have responded to go and
find a church to get involved in. As we settle into Devotions the tailor and
seamstress arrive with the finished clothes. The team are very pleased
bar 1 dress that isn’t finished yet, due to some design questions and
discussion!

Saturday 12th
The few who made bread, rise early (see what I did there?) to go and bake
it, but upon arrival we find it has already all been baked, they started
at 0100 and were done by the time we go there at 0630. A little
disappointing, but we did leave with 3000cfa worth of
bread we had helped make
which is probably far too much bread for a small team to eat! We didn’t
want that much, but we didn’t have the right amount of money, and so they
piled more bread onto the pile!

Sunday 13th
We headed out early to go to Tatale (tan-ta-lea) at 0730 to go visit a
church. Tatale is an Ncham speaking town over the border in Ghana.
Languages aren’t always restricted to country boundaries in fact there are
more Ncham speakers in Ghana than Togo. They are slightly different
dialects, but the Ghanaians can fully understand and read the Togolese.
We crossed the border fine, and got to the church to find everyone
emptying out and carrying everything to town. After further investigation
we find that one of the church members died early in the morning and the
whole church is going to run the funeral and the burial. So we go and
find a different church to attend and share there instead! We hung out
for a long while eating our packed lunch at the first church waiting for
the pastor to turn up so we can have a brief meeting with him before
heading home.

And so here we are!

08 Jul

Togo Team Update 4 (July 1st – July 6th)

We have been busy, hot, tired, wet and excited but not all the same time!
Tim’s throat infection has cleared up, and bar a wee headache here and
there we are all in good health.

Tuesday
We managed to get out in the morning to visit all the people we were
supposed to see on Monday. We started with a Mototaxi relay up to the
traditional chief, only to find he had popped out to see the Prefet. 90
minutes later he arrived back to welcome us in his ‘palace’. It is the
one situation requiring the best practised etiquette. The team did really
well, helped by Samuel doing all the hard work for us! From there we
visited the Prefet, he is the government representative in the area,
responsible for the implementation of policy. He is not however a
representative of the people to the government like our MP’s at home. From
there we visited the Police chief, who was very happy to see us, and even
happier to identify that Ryan Giggs who plays for his team, Manchester
United, was from Wales like Richy and Beth! From there we headed up the
road a bit to visit Christof at his house. He is one of the translators
and he has been off sick for 8 months dealing with cancer. From there
home for a late lunch!
In the afternoon we relaxed and played lots of cards!
PRAY for Christof, Samuel’s prayer is that he will get
to know God for sure before he dies.
PRAY for the rest of the team working without him and trying to
sensitively plan for the future.

Wednesday
After a relaxed start to the day and a quick supply run, we headed down to
the translation office to spend some time with the team learning more
about the process they go through to do the translation. They were in the
process of checking the first draft of 1 Samuel 29. The first translator
had translated from French and a couple of other versions into Ncham. The
checking process gets more people involved and compares the text to the
original Hebrew to make sure it is as accurate as possible. There is
plenty of discussion over terms and words and meanings until they agree
the correct way to explain the situation in Ncham.
In the afternoon we started to do some language learning. Basic greetings
are a little complex. There is morning, afternoon and evening greetings
in both singular and plural. There are a few changes required with
respect to generations too! The team did great and then we did a small
walk about to practice our greetings.
PRAISE for being able to start speaking Ncham.
PRAY for patience as we move on from basic greetings.
PRAISE for 1 Samuel now done in second draft!

Thursday
Anthropology is the study of people and culture and at a very basic level
is about observing and for us, comparing. So first thing in the morning we
headed out for a long walk around town, practising all our greetings as we
went. After the walk we stopped and had a fab discussion about the
difference between Bassar and home, and some of the culture we had
observed and how people dress and behave and what work they do. IT is
HOT and sticky by the time we get home, thank God for running water today!
In the afternoon we do our second bout of language learning looking at
things like yes and no, please and thank you, sorry, excuse me, and my name
is, and what is your name. These are a bit harder and take more
practice, but we get there and have even been given Ncham names!!
PRAISE for being able to safely go around town, welcomed by so many people.

Friday
Folks are feeling a bit tired, a bit sick of red sauce and ready for a
break. It is okay, people get by with the delightful thoughts of Kara on
Saturday, a swimming pool and some shopping! After breakfast we do a walk
around another part of town, and attempt to draw some maps. This helps us
to recognise what is at the centre of town and get some idea of what
people might consider important. In Bassar, it is the market! Afternoon
is spent sleeping by most and relaxing by the rest.
PRAY for the energy levels of the team

Saturday
Had a day over in Kara which is about an hour and a half away from Bassar.
Kara is the home of the SIL headquarters in Togo, also the home of
Sheila Crunden. SIL is Wycliffe’s partner in Togo, they are involved in Bible
Translation and literacy work out here. Sheila is a Wycliffe UK
member working here in Togo and she was part of the Ncham New Testament
project way back in the 70’s. It was wonderful to hear her testimony
and hear how God has challenged her and used her here in Togo, a great
encouragement to the team. We picked up Becky that we met on the journey
up last week and headed to the market to buy cloth. It was a nice market,
not much hassle and a vast array of cloth. Lunch was at the hotel Kara,
chicken and chips went down a treat and were followed by a swim in
the hotel pool!
PRAISE for the opportunity to chill out for a day.

Sunday
This morning we were at the AOG (Assemblies of God) church that Samuel attends, it was like 3
½ hours long, lots of choirs and groups singing, 45 minutes of sermon by
Tim, but only because he was translated into French and then into Ncham!
Then there was a massive storm which made it almost impossible to hear
what was going on. We eventually discover the pastor teaching about
communion, which then followed! The afternoon was spent sleeping and
chilling, and the evening meeting we were going to attend got moved until
Wednesday. We also made an offer to the people in the church to buy
discounted New Testaments at the office on Thursday. We shall see what
comes of that later in the week!

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