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July 2015

MIST Newsletter

ALL, Ministry in Scripture Translation


Since I have  been out of the country since July 12, I don’t know all that has happened at home since I left. But I’ll give a few highlights that I know. 


The day I left, a new Chinese student—a 12 year old girl—came for a four week English language learning program at a nearby school. She was a sweet girl, but quite homesick. She had good English, probably the best of the Chinese students we have had. She left Saturday night (Aug 8) to go with other Chinese students to Disney World, one of the fun perks of coming to America to learn English.

Eric, who was home for most of July, left to be in a friend’s wedding, and then returned to Ohio, where he is an assistant coach at Malone University.

Karen gave a recital Friday night, August 7. I was sad to miss her recital, but I’m sure she did very well. While many music students even at the college level don’t enjoy giving recitals, Karen enjoys doing them and goes way beyond what is required in giving recitals. 

Esther enjoyed her mission trip to Slovenia. She and others from our church were helping out with our denomination’s European conference. 

Jeannette, hopefully is enjoying a couple of days break between the Chinese student leaving and my returning home on August 11. We have a vacation planned for later in August. We will be spending over a week in Hawaii. Jeannette wrote a paper on Hawaii in the 4th grade (a 50 page paper!) and has wanted to go there ever since. With all the frequent flyer miles I have been collecting from my trips to Africa, we were able to pay for the plane tickets totally with miles, making the trip much more affordable. We will let you know how the trip went next month.

Maggie and another Chinese student (Nancy) will be arriving later this month to start school. Pray for their safe travels and a good beginning to their new school year. Nancy will be in the 8th grade, so pray for her to not be too homesick.  


Early July was spent changing over from one program (Toolbox) to a new program (Paratext) so that Jeannette, Sarah and I will be able to work together on the translation into Sarah’s language much more easily. I still have a few things to get transferred over to Paratext. Sarah has been working on typing in her language this month and Jeannette has only had to help her a few times. Jeannette was excited that she was actually able to help Sarah with Paratext. 

Most of my time this month has been spent in Mongu, in the Western District of Zambia. I, along with 4 other consutants have been working with five teams of mother tongue translators who are now working on translating Acts into their local languages. 

I left home in the evening of Sunday July 12 and I arrived at the airport in Lusaka, Zambia at midday on Tuesday July 14, after traveling through Amsterdam, Nairobi, and Harere. I arrived at the Flying Mission Zambia guesthouse and found my room. Three of the other four consultants were already there, and we spent the next three days planning for the three-week workshop in Mongu in the Western District of Zambia. Our fifth consultant arrived and we left on Saturday morning via a hired minibus on our trip to Mongu. In the past, the trip was made by commercial bus, but in the last workshop in October-November last year the bus broke down both on the way to Mongu and on the way back, and we were delayed by at least 2-3 hours each way. It was very uncomfortable, since it was the hot time of the year with highs that could exceed 100º F. This time the ride was more comfortable and much more relaxing than the bus trips in the past. 

As we traveled through the Kafue National Park, we stopped several times to see and take pictures of the animals we saw along the way. In addition to baboons, interesting birds and a variety of impala, gazelles and other similar animals, we saw an elephant munching on the higher branches of a tree. We stopped at a lodge on the Kafue river for a brief rest, and a cup of coffee or soft drink. We arrived at the Mutoya camp in Mongu much more relaxed than in the past, but it was still a long trip. 

The goal of this series of workshops is to give further Bible translation training to the five teams of translators and to translate the book of Acts. The plan is that these mother-tongue translators will be capable of working more independently and closer to full time so they can continue with the translation of the entire New Testament and perhaps the whole Bible. These five language groups all have churches in their areas, but they have to rely on Bibles in English or Lozi, the local trade language. The farther they are away from the central town of Mongu, the less the people can speak English or Lozi, and the less they understand the Bible. Translating God’s word into their own language enables them to better understand the scripture and to apply it to their lives. The Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 says for Christians to make disciples of all nations by baptizing them…and teaching them to observe (obey) all that Jesus commanded. Having God’s word in their own language helps them understand what Jesus commanded them to do and helps them to know what to teach those they are discipling. 

The workshop went well. Except for four or five mother tongue translators, all five teams arrived on time. Due to a variety of circumstances, some of the teams did not come with all the drafting of Acts 1-6 and 8-10 completed. Throughout the workshop, the translators worked hard, as did the consultants. All of the teams finished the consultant check of at least the first three chapters of Acts, and those chapters were printed in booklet form for them to take back home with them. 

There was a problem in the printing of the Gospel of Luke in the five languages represented at the workshop. An older version of Luke that did not include changes from the last two workshops last year was used for typesetting, and three of the five books were printed. Two of them only had minor changes and could be used, but one needs to be reprinted. The other two languages were re-typeset and will be printed later this year. The printer, a Christian, raised the money from donors for the printing of Luke in these five languages. He was waiting on the funding for the fifth language. 5,000 copies of each of the three were printed, at a cost of over $6,000 for each language. The reprinting of the one language will probably be at the same cost, although there may be fewer copies printed, and at this time we do not know where the money will come from. Pray for the funding for the one that needs to be reprinted, as well as the one that is yet to be funded. 

Part of the previous set of workshops from 2011 to 2014 was the translation of the Jesus Film script into each of the languages. So far, none of the languages have been scheduled for recording, and they are all very eager to do the recording to get the Jesus Film into their languages. Pray that the scheduling can be done and the recordings made soon.

Four of the five consultants had some challenges getting home. Husband and wife team Philip and Heather got stranded in Sweden because their plane from Africa to Sweden was delayed 13 hours. At first they could not find their luggage in Sweden, but it showed up an hour later in another holding area. They arrived home in two days rather than the one it should have taken. Jim and I arrived in Atlanta to find that our luggage had been left behind in Johannesburg, South Africa when our one hour layover turned into a 30 minute layover. Our plane from Lusaka to Johannesburg was 30 minutes late leaving. At least one of my two pieces has been found and will be delivered to my home soon. I do not yet know if Jim’s suitcase has yet been found. 

The next workshop in Mongu, Zambia will be October 26-November 12. The mother-tongue translators have 8 chapters along with about 20 verses from another to draft, team-check, and back translate before the next workshop. Pray that they will be able to finish all of this.

You may ask if it is worth all the expense and time and other resources for the consultants and translators to travel to these workshops to translate the Bible into languages that have10,000 to 25,000 speakers. I’ll share one story from the Makoma language I am working with in Zambia:

There was one man among the Makoma people who was very opposed to the church, to Christianity and to the Bible being translated into the Makoma language. But God worked on his heart over time and now he is a believer and an active supporter of the church, the gospel and the translation of God’s Word into his language. His conversion is even more significant, because he is what is called an “African doctor”, a person we in the past have called a shaman, or a witch doctor. And he is not the only “African doctor” who has become a believer in Christ in the Makoma area because of God’s Word in their language. And many others also are followers of Christ and are growing in their faith through God’s Word in their own language. 


  • Continue working on getting Sarah’s language set up in Paratext
  • Begin consultant checking on Acts with Sarah
  • Begin preparation work for the next Zambia workshop
  • That Jeannette and I will enjoy our vacation in Hawaii


  • For the safe travels of all the consultants and translators for the Zambia Acts workshop and for the work done there
  • That I am getting closer to having Sarah’s language set up in Paratext
  • For the effect of God’s Word in the Makoma language 


  • For the translators in the Mongu workshop to get all the translation work done before the next workshop
  • That we can complete the conversion of the data in Sarah’s language into the Paratext program 
  • That all five languages in the Mongu workshop will have the book of Luke printed soon and
  • That the funding for the printing and reprinting will be found and
  • That the recording for the Jesus Film in the five languages of the Mongu workshop can be scheduled and completed soon so that they can have the Jesus Film in each of these languages

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.


Neil and Jeannette

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