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October 2015

MIST Report

ALL, Ministry in Scripture Translation

Family

We have several projects we need to do around our home including repairing some rotten windows and getting gutters installed on part of our house. I was working on getting all those things set up before I left for Zambia on October 21. We now have those projects set up, but there is still work to do on them before they are finished. 

 

Our children are all doing well and are continuing on in the things they have been doing.

Since I have been out of the country since mid-October, I’m a bit out of touch with what has been happening at home. One of the exciting things that along with Jeannette I helped get rolling, but Jeannette and others have taken over, is a Chinese Bible study, using the chronological teaching (or Firm Foundations) materials from New Tribes Missions. The material starts with Genesis and looks at God, creation, the fall of man, and God promising a savior (the Messiah), and then traces the promised Messiah through Old Testament prophecy passages, and then concludes with the birth, life, death and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus, in the Gospels. This presents a “firm foundation” for understanding why we need a savior and who that savior is. As you know, we have two Chinese students staying with us now and have had four other Chinese students who have stayed with us. We desperately have wanted to share the Good News of Jesus the Messiah with them, but their English was very weak and our Chinese was non-existent. As we pursued the idea of the Chinese Bible study, God led us to a Chinese man who had been in the US for 20 years, and had been active in his church as a Bible teacher. He has been very interested and  concerned for the Chinese junior high and high school students (he has a son who is in the 7ht grade). He was very willing to teach this Bible study and the youth pastor at our church was very interested in hosting it, so God brought all the elements together. Before I left, Jeannette took over making the preparations and just yesterday she sent me this following report.

Last night we had the first meeting of the Chinese Bible study. We had nine kids, five guys and four girls. It is hard for me to say how it went because it was all in Chinese. But I drove one of the girls home after (our two students went to youth group) and she said David was good and funny. She also said she has a hard question she wants to ask him. She is a believer already, but I think it is great these kids have someone with whom they can really communicate. David seems to care deeply for these kids and most of them already know him because of his connection with two private schools in the area—perfect. It is as if God planned this all along—hmmm.

Praise God. 

 Work

Since the last translation workshop in Zambia, which ended in mid-August, I have been trying to get some things set up so that Jeannette, Sarah and I could  better work together. One part of that was converting a dictionary database to work in Paratext. I finally finished that just before I left for the current workshop in Zambia. I am looking forward to all three of us working together on Sarah’s language. Jeannette and I both will be able to do exegetical checking with Sarah as well as preparing the scripture she drafts to get it ready for exegetical checking. 

Currently I am in Zambia, as a part of the Mongu Cluster 2 Project. The Seed Company is an organization that supports mother tongue Bible translation projects around the world through training native speakers to translate the Bible into their own language and supporting those translators in whatever ways are needed, including with tools for Bible translation, financial support, computer support, and translation consultant support. 

Five language groups are part of the Mongu Cluster 2 Project. Mongu is the largest town in the Western District of Zambia, a very poor part of the country. We meet at a Christian camp near Mongu. The five language groups in the project are Makoma, Fwe, Shanjo, Kwamashi, and Kwangwa. I am working with four other consultants to help train the translators and to do consultant checking for the Scripture that these groups translate. When we consultant check the translated passages, we look at each verse to determine if it is an accurate translation of the original Greek. The translators do not know Greek, so they work from a variety of translations in a variety of languages that they understand. 

We are focusing on translating the book of Acts in this series of workshops. The translators are doing well and very committed to the work. They are serving basically as volunteers, but they do receive a small stipend for the time they are here to cover personal expenses and to provide for they families at home while they are here. 

We had a setback at the beginning of this workshop—all five project computers (one per language) were stolen sometime between the last workshop that ended in August and this one that began in October. We did not lose any data, but without a computer for the teams to work with, they had to use the consultants’ computers and so the progress was less than we had hoped for. Bible translation is a work that helps lead people to Christ. All of us consultants had said that the missing computers are a part of the enemy’s attempt to stop this work. Pray that the computers will be replaced by the next workshop and that we can move ahead at a good speed with the work.

The language I am working with is Makoma. There are three translators, Evans, Geoffrey, Nasilele. All three of them have been at the workshop, but problems at home has kept two of them from being able to attend the whole workshop. Nasilele’s husband is a pastor and they also have a business. Shortly before the workshop, the business was robbed and her husband ended up in the hospital with sever heart pains. She was not able to be here for the pre week, where just the translators came to be able to get more work done ahead of time. Evans arrived for the pre week, but in the second week of the workshop, he learned that his 18 year old son was in the hospital, with some serious illness. He had to go back to his home area to help take care of his son. By these things our enemy has tried to slow down the work. 

One other struggle for this workshop has been the heat. Many of the 14 days so far have had highs of over 100º, with some days being as high as 105. There is no air conditioning at the camp where the workshop is being held and that has cut into how much we can get done. Pray for the last four days of the workshop (Nov 9-12) that the highs will be much lower that the projected 99º to 103º so we can finish the workshop well. 

Plans

  • Finish the October-November 3 week workshop in Zambia. (We have one more week, and I should be home by November 10)
  • Begin getting Acts ready for exegetical checking, and begin checking it with Sarah
  • Take a few days to recover from the heat of the workshop and the jet lag (8 hours ahead of home) 

Praise

  • That the Mongu project translators have been able to get a lot of Acts drafted and we have been abel to check a lot of what they drafted
  • That I have been able to get the dictionaries set up in Paratext so that Jeannette, Sarah and I can work together much more easily
  • For God’s love, His salvation of all those who believe in Jesus Christ, and the Bible that tells us about Him

Prayer

  • That we would have computers for the next Mongu workshop in March 2016
  • That the temperature will be more tolerable here in Mongu for our last week
  • For safe travels for the 17 translators, the five consultants and others who have been helping with the Zambia Mongu workshop

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

Neil and Jeannette

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