No electric meters

In January 2003, I spend a week in the Congolese town of Ariwara helping at an event to help Christians better use the Bibles in their languages. The town had electricity in the evenings but few houses had electric meters. So billing was based on the number of light bulbs in the house – the equivalent in local currency of $2.25 per bulb per month. I was reminded of that because many Ghanaians call electricity “light”, as in “there is no light”, probably because for many people of modest means, light is the principle use of electricity.

Here are some photos of the event in Ariwara, which unexpectedly garnered almost 700 participants.


There are two airstrips in Wamba, but in 2007 neither had been maintained. I had to meet with church leaders to get their input. That meant traveling the 66 miles by road, well, sort-of road. The forest and its rains had taken advantage of years of civil war and resultant neglect to almost reclaimed the space once occupied by the road. What had once been a pretty good improved dirt road was now a rutted, rocky, muddy and lumpy track.

One of the best parts of the road

One of the best parts of the road

We did not have a vehicle. A local development agency would rent us a solid Land Rover with driver. Scarcity had driven up fuel prices. So it was going to cost me over $500 to rent the vehicle for two days and 132 miles. It would have been cheaper and faster to fly.

As soon as we hit the outskirts of Isiro we ran into eroded slopes and muddy holes. We crawled along. Three hours into the trip we had not yet covered 20 miles.

Repairing vehicle on the road 02Fortunately the road got better and soon we were zipping along at 20 even 25 miles an hour, slowing for holes, ruts and large pools of water hiding under huge bamboo stands hanging over the road. I put a lot of physical and mental energy into steadying myself against the unpredictable movements of the vehicle. A noise from the engine brought us to a halt.

This is where the Congolese practice of hiring a mechanic as a driver proves its wisdom. He was able to get us going but there was still a noise. He would make full repairs in Wamba.

Church by road 01We stopped to visit a little church in a small hamlet. Probably a missionary had never preached here. Certainly one had never lived here. Like most churches in Africa, it had been started by African believers. It was a reminder that African believers have taken their faith to the most remote places where they worship the Highest One in very humble surroundings.

We spent six hours in roll, pitch and weave before we reached Wamba.

The plan was to meet with the church leaders for 4-5 hours the next morning then drive back to Isiro in the afternoon. But after the morning meeting, we found that our faithful driver-mechanic had the noise-producing parts of the motor taken apart. Better to wait and get it fixed. The driver got the vehicle back together at about 6 PM and after an hour of testing declared it repaired. I had to catch a MAF [] flight out Isiro at noon the next day, so we set off to make the journey at night.

Road at night 11The bad news? It is impossible to sleep in a vehicle that is being tossed and rolled in unpredictable ways. The good news? The road was so bad that we could go just as fast (meaning slow) at night as during the day.

Whenever I got in a small airplane with a missionary pilot in Congo, I remembered that road trip to Wamba and I thought about the days I would be spending, the back I would be wearing out, and the extra money I would be spending if this plane and pilot were not provided. In fact, translating the Bible would cost more and go slower without those planes. Thank you to all those who support the MAF, JAARS and other pilots and mechanics and those who give toward the purchase of the airplanes. I love the impact you have including the fact that I suffer a lot less impacts.

Slow motion Pentecost

define Pentecost - Google SearchThis coming Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. It commemorates something strange that happened at the Jewish festival of Pentecost two millennia ago. The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit led them to speak. Many people from every country in the world were living Jerusalem. When they heard this noise, a crowd gathered. But they were surprised, because they were hearing everything in their own languages. They were excited and amazed, and said:

“Don’t all these who are speaking come from Galilee? Then why do we hear them speaking our very own languages? Some of us are from Parthia, Media, and Elam. Others are from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, parts of Libya near Cyrene, Rome, Crete, and Arabia. Some of us were born Jews, and others of us have chosen to be Jews. Yet we all hear them using our own languages to tell the wonderful things God has done.” Act 2:4-11 CEV

Bus loaded with boxes of New Testaments destined for a remote area of Ghana

Bus loaded with boxes of New Testaments destined for a remote area of Ghana

This phenomenon, of people “hearing everything in their own languages”, has been accelerating. In 1900, The whole Bible or some part of it had been translated and published in 530 languages. By 2000, that had increased to 2,298. That is an increase of 1,768 languages – a rate of a new languages every three weeks for 100 years! Since the year 2000, the rate has increased further, jumping from 27 languages per year to over 70,” which amounts to a new language every 5 days!

That is not as dramatic as if it happened on the same day and at the same place, like it did at the festival of Pentecost. Instead, today we have a slower-motion Pentecost. But, unlike the event being commemorated this Sunday, it is spread over the world. What the new, slow-motion Pentecost lacks in immediacy, it gains in geographic spread.

Congolese ladies in Bible study in Kisangani

Congolese ladies in Bible study in Kisangani

But the real wonder is not the number of languages. It is the impact the translations are having. On the broadest level, we have the assessment of Ghanaian theologian Kwame Bediako:

African Christianity today is inconceivable apart from the existence of the Bible in African indigenous languages.

Then we have the assessment of leaders about what is happening in their areas where translation is being done:

“Some people are gradually shifting away from the evil aspects of the culture,” Lefa language of Cameroon

“Drunkenness is reduced and people cooperate together better. Now my job is easier.” Unbelieving community leader in Ghana

Pokomo man (Kenya) with 5 New Testaments

Pokomo man (Kenya) with 5 New Testaments

At the narrowest level, we have the statement of people.

 “I have read many times the book of Jonah, where God tells Jonah to get up and go to Nineveh. But when I read this in [my language] it is like God is standing right next to me and speaking to me! It makes me realize that God is close, and that he speaks directly to people.”
Tanzanian man

“I came to know the Lord four years ago, but I was still living with my idols. No one in the church had taught me that I needed to abandon them completely. My pastor preached many sermons but had never spoken of that. Listening to Scriptures, I heard Jesus say you cannot serve two masters. In Thessalonians, I heard how people left behind their idols to serve the living and true God. I called the pastor and explained my situation to him. He was very upset that he had not taught me about such things. That day I repented and handed over my idols. Since that time, I have had peace in my heart.”
Man from southeast Mali

“I used to lie, slander, and quarrel. That has changed.”
A young mother in Mali

At that festival of Pentecost many years ago, they were surprised, excited and amazed at “hearing everything in their own languages.” The slow-motion Pentecost of our day calls for that same response. It’s time to be surprised and amazed and to get excited.

If you liked this, you might also like The day tribal ended.

Don’t forget the heroes

A few months ago I was intrigued by the following news article.

Jewish and historical groups in Poland have called for a special day be put in the Polish calendar to remember the thousands of Poles who aided Jews during WW II.

The Association of the Children of the Holocaust, the Jan Karski Association and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews have addressed an appeal to President Bronisław Komorowski to initiate a Day in tribute to Poles-holders of the Righteous among the Nations medals.

Those who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust deserve a special place in the nation’s memory and historical debate, the appeal says. Read more

Map of eastern Africa

Map of eastern Africa showing Rwanda, Congo and Kenya

Something similar is needed for Africa. We see the horrors in Africa, such as the genocide in Rwanda in which radical Hutus killed almost one million Tutsis. We rightfully ask why? How could such a thing happen? Those are excellent questions, but we should ask other questions too. If you take time to read about the genocide in Rwanda, you will notice that those killed are described as “Tutsis and moderate Hutus”. The fact is that many Hutus died protecting Tutsis from the murderous rage of the  radicals in their own Hutu ethnic group (or tribe). The movie, Hotel Rwanda, illustrates just one such case.

I was in Kenya when the 2008 election crisis caused ethnic clashes. One of my colleagues, a Kenyan who gave me computer support, was saved from certain death by people of the ethnic group which were supposedly against his ethnic group. They harbored him against the attacks of their own people.

Ed and Congolese graduate

Ed and Lamumba (not his real name) graduating with a degree in Bible translation

When I worked in Congo, we sponsored a Congolese Bible translator for advanced translation studies. I’ll call him Lamumba, as it still is not safe to use his name. When he came out of Congo to start the studies in Kenya, he told a harrowing story. In his area there was a tribal war going on. One tribe would take control of his town and then kill or imprison people from the other group, then the other tribe would take over and do the same in reverse. When the militants from his own tribe were in control, a believer from his church, but from the other tribe, was imprisoned. He took that person a meal in prison. Incredibly, people from Lamumba’s church, who were from his own ethnic group, perceived that as aiding the enemy and sought to kill him. He had to sleep in a different house every night to avoid them.

When we react in horror to ethnic clashes, as we should, we should also remember that God probably has his heroes right smack in the middle. There will be many Hutu martyrs for Jesus in heaven who died defending Tutsis against the attacks of their fellow Hutus. There are other Congolese, like Lamumba, who helped fellow believers in spite of the tribal clash that should have separated them. Some probably died for it. The instigators of the ethnic conflict in Kenya are going to be tried in the International Criminal Court, but no official body is looking into the stories of those in their ethnic group who acted against their machinations.

God remembers, and one day he is going to put on display the righteous acts of those who suffered to do right, and thereby thoroughly humiliate this world (Rev. 17:8). Don’t find yourself listening to the stories and saying, “Oops! I really should have expected that,” or, “Oh! How wrong I was to condemn all Africans!”

Cloth and meaning

In West Africa, the cloth you wear carries a message, but not at all in the same way that it might in the USA..

Assistants to a seamstress

Assistants to a seamstress

While some people wear western cloth and western-style clothes, most people wear cloth made in their country, or a neighboring country. It is light weight cotton, printed in bright colors and sold in stores and even little open-air markets in rural areas. New designs are constantly coming out. When they do, they often acquire a name packed with meaning. Few clothes are ready-made. The cotton cloth is quite inexpensive. Plus, there are tailors and seamstresses everywhere. You can hear the sound of their treadle machines (from China) in the most remote areas. Tailor-made clothes are cheaper than store-bought! So men and women pick out a cloth they like and have it sewn into a design they like.

Some people will choose cloth specifically because of the meaning of its name. So a young woman vying with another for a young man might get an outfit made of cloth named “I will win over my rival.” Her friends and family, and more importantly her rival for the young man, will know exactly what that means and to whom it applies. I learned this when a neighbor pointed out the meaning of a cloth I had just bought for my wife. The colors and design were nice, but the meaning did not fit. (I cannot count the number of things I have learned about Africa by making a mistake!)

Cloth of the Ladies of Charity of the Association of Chadian Churches

Cloth of the Ladies of Charity of the Association of Chadian Churches

The designers working for the textile manufacturers are constantly at work. If you are willing to pay for a modest-sized run, you can work with one of their designers to produce a design you like. So a company, or a church, or a civic organization can have cloth made with its logo. Because cloth has meaning and because you can have it made with your logo, it can be used for advertisement. You can have thousands of people walking around displaying advertizing your brand, your church or your organization.

Cloth for the Shalom University of Bunia in the Congo

Cloth for the Shalom University of Bunia in the Congo

Even people who do not know how to read can identify which cloth is associated with which church or other organization. People like to buy the cloth associated with their church or civic group. So the women’s organization for a church denomination might have cloth made and all the ladies who have the means will have an outfit made of it. It shows solidarity. Because of this, having cloth made for your organization is a source of revenue. The textile manufacturer will sell you a whole run at wholesale and you resell it to your members at retail. They pay no more than for any other cloth, and you get money for your activities.

Chairman of the GILLBT board in the 50th Anniversary GILLBT cloth

Chairman of the GILLBT board in the 50th Anniversary GILLBT cloth

The Ghanaian organization I work for is celebrating its jubilee year. Of course, this could not be commemorated without 50th anniversary cloth. Staff worked with the textile company to produce two potential designs which were shown to the staff and a winner selected. All of the staff bought the cloth. At the first 50th anniversary celebration, people were dressed in almost as many different styles as there were people, but made of the same cloth. Over the coming months people who want to show their appreciation for GILLBT’s work in Bible translation and literacy in Ghanaian languages will buy the cloth and have outfits made so that they too can make a public statement of support.


I have had fun imaging what might happen if we did the same in the US. One might see Republican and Democratic party cloth next to each other in the checkout line.

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Failing states

Journalist and others are using the term “failed state” to designate a country which has lost control of all or part of its territory. When a state is unable to control its territory, then armed gangs and rebel movements often take over. The economic decline in Congo and the conflicts which happened between 1996 and 2002, but which are still continuing in some limited parts of the country, created a situation where the LRA could move in and create havoc. There was no effective armed forces or police force to stop them.

As Christianity grows around the world and especially in Africa, more and more Christians live in countries which do not provide them with adequate security. More and more are being harassed by rebel groups, armed gangs, organized crime syndicates or even rogue elements of their own police and military. Martyrdom has received some needed attention in recent years. What has not yet been noticed by many is that the number of Christians around the world subjected to criminal or rebel violence is multiple times greater than those persecuted for their faith.

Our situation mirrors that. It is highly unlikely that we will be detained, harassed or killed for our faith. It is much more likely that we will be the victims of criminal violence or be harassed by elements of the police or military who do not respect human rights. I am not an expert, but that is probably true of most missionaries in the world today.

For more information on failed states see:
Failed States Index 2009

Effects on Bible translation

The LRA attacks have not yet had many direct effects on our work. We have had to delay a few activities and move a few others to safer places. As you can see from the map, the area where the LRA is carrying out attacks is not that far from one of the main centers of our work, Isiro. In addition, there is a camp for displaced persons there. Isiro is not under threat.

The churches we work with have been heavily affected. Pastors have been driving from their homes was well as tens of thousands of church members. As you can imagine, finding ways to assist them is a priority for the other members of those churches and their church leaders. Bible translation is understandably and rightly being sidelined for the moment in their priorities.

What can you do?

First, you can pray. Ask the Lord to protect his people. Ask him to thwart the plans of those who do harm. If you want to do something concrete, I suggest that you consider Samaritan’s Purse whose leader, Franklin Graham, highlighted the LRA threat to the Zande people in a recent letter which you can see at We are in the process of selecting Zande who will serve as Bible translators and that process has been slowed and made more expensive by the LRA attacks.

More about the LRA

The LRA (stands for Lord’s Resistance Army) is a rebel group which started in Northern Uganda. Its leader, Joseph Kony, says that he wants to set up a government based on the ten commandments. But his actions are far from those advocated by the Bible. The LRA conducted a twenty year reign of terror in northern Uganda, pillaging and abducting tens of thousands of children who they force into service. They were driven out of Uganda a few years back and have taken refuge in northeastern Congo. They have also attacked villages and towns in Sudan and the Central African Republic. For more information see

(This was first posted on another site. It was republished here in March 2012.)

Peace Turned to Disaster

Attacks in northeastern Congo by a Ugandan rebel group, the LRA, has displaced at least 320,000 Congolese, perhaps as many as 120,000 of them in the last month. Those displaced are mostly farmers who now have no access to their fields resulting in malnourishment and a threat of starvation. You might think, “Oh, more bad news about the Congo”, and I would understand. But the fact is that the area in question has been peaceful unlike some other parts of the Congo. So people who were able to take care of themselves and their families through subsistence farming, and who were going about their lives in peace, have been harassed and chased from their homes by a rebel group to which they have no tribal, ethnic, ideological, political or other link. Their only “fault” was living in an area where the LRA felt they could operate because it is remote and offers good cover.

You can
Testimonies of Fleeing the LRA
Lord’s Resistance Army spreads fear and threat of famine in Congo
Some 125,000 flee east DR Congo rebel attacks
Ugandan Rebel Group Motives Unclear as Terror Campaign Expands

(This was first published on a different site. It was republished here in March 2012.)

The helped are now helping

On Friday August 21, I received the following message from a friend of mine who works at the Shalom University of Bunia, Enosh Anguandia. Enosh, pictured above with his wife, Elizabeth, is the Academic Dean for the university. In addition, he leads efforts to involve the churches in the area to do outreach. Those churches have been the beneficiaries of missionary outreach for decades. Anguandia and the Shalom University have a vision for taking these churches beyond being recipients of outreach. They are mobilizing them to reach out themselves, even though they feel weak and poor. The mobilization started with a Global Prayer Day in 2006. Here is what he wrote:

“Dear Friends,
I am writing to tell you of our own contribution to the suffering of the victims of LRA attacks. I have just finished packing collections for the victims of the LRA attacks in northern Orientale Province of DRC. This is part of the Global day of Prayer initiative. On Pentecost Sunday, May 31, we requested churches from all protestant denominations in Bunia to donate clothes to families in Haut Uele and Bas Uele districts of the Orientale Province who had lost everything while fleeing the LRA aggression there. As I write this message, I just finished packing 351.5 kilograms (773 pounds) of men’s and women’s clothing, men’s and women’s shoes, and laundry soap. . We have asked the UN in Bunia to airlift all that to Dingila. UN entrusted the task to MEDAIR Bunia, who sent an official to take the weight.

The church in Bunia and around is awakening to missions vision through this initiative of the Global Day of Prayer we helped initiate in 2006.

Blessings in Christ,
Enosh Anguandia”

A couple days later Enosh Anguandia wrote that “donations keeps coming in even after I sealed the bags.”

I am so encouraged to see these churches going to the next level of maturity. Life in Bunia is not easy, but here are Congolese Christians reaching out in the middle of their own distress. Below is a map showing the area affected by the LRA rebels and here is a good article about the LRA attacks and their effects:

(This was fist posted on a different site. It was republished here in March 2012.)

A Month in Congo

Dayle and I were both in Congo from April 1-29, 2009, in the towns of Bunia then Isiro.  We plan to update this blog every few days.  Look for the Easter edition to appear a few days after Easter.  We hope to report in detail on the Easter service we attend.  The purpose of the trip is to lay the groundwork for starting translation in many more languages in 2-3 different parts of the country.  We will need wisdom, tack, an ability to really hear what church leaders are saying, not to mention good health and safety.

Good news

Sunday April 26 Dayle and I celebrated the end of something a bit different.  For two weeks the simple church in the village of Abone had housed an event which could save many lives.  About 25 Christians from around the area were trained to use a book about HIV and AIDS.  The book tells the story of a young girl who is orphaned when her parents die of AIDS.  The scientific facts are brought in alongside a Bible-based message about preventing AIDS and caring for those suffering from the disease.  We have Congolese  translating the book into local languages.  The translation is done for the two languages around Abone; Mangbetu and Mayogo.  Those trained will return to their home villages and use the book there in their own language thus guaranteeing that the information will be understood and increasing significantly the chances that it will change behaviors.  After the celebration a makeshift recording studio was set up under a tree.  Each group sang songs they had composed about HIV and AIDS which were recorded for use with the book and on the radio.


One of the songs goes:

AIDS is in our villages
AIDS is in our homes
It does not have a cure
No medicine can drive it away
We must protect ourselves
We must protect ourselves

Translating a book on AIDS into a local language is not as easy as it might sound.  A number of the concepts do not have words in the local languages.  So the translators had to use the same principles and techniques we use in Bible translation for similar situations – how do you translate “You sins will be white as snow” where there is no snow?  By using these same Bible translation techniques, we are able to get life-saving and life-changing information about HIV and AIDS into a language everyone understands.  A person’s mother tongue touches the heart in a way other languages do not – something that is very important if one is aiming at changing behaviors, as one is with AIDS education.

We are increasing using the power of the mother tongue and the techniques of Bible translation to put other documents into local languages to give people life-critical information.  One of the realities of Africa is that many Africans are cut off from such information because of language barriers.

Going to church.

This cute little boy is headed to church in Isiro. (The picture is from a previous trip.)  He is carrying his stool on his head to sit on during the church service.

He is the son of Pastor François Atulu, who is responsible for Bible translation in one of the churches in Congo.  I was on my way to church with him and his family one Sunday when I snapped this photo.

There are LOTS of children in church services in Congo.  Like many African countries, half of the population of the Congo is 15 years of age or younger.


Scientists are saying that two volcanoes in eastern Congo are showing signs of erupting.  We will be several hundred miles away from them, but a team of Congolese translators live and work in Goma at the foot of one of the volcanoes.  You can see an early news story at:


When Dayle and I arrived at the Bunia airport on April 1, Dayle introduced herself to the driver sent to fetch us.   She asked him, “Who are you?”  He responded, “I’m the driver”.  But Dayle, of course wanted his name so she asked, “But what is your name”.  “Bahati”, re responded.  His reaction is typical of a preference for titles over names in Congolese society.  The wife of the most prominent MAF pilot here is known as “Mrs. Pilot”.  When we lived in Burkina Faso, I was known up and down the street we lived on as “Matthew’s Father”.

This preference for titles over names is even true among people who know each other well.  The afternoon of our arrival Dayle and I are standing in front of one of the main buildings of the Christian university where we are staying.  We are catching up with two of the professors we know well.  We see the Rector’s wife coming, who we also know well and who is a close friend of the families of the professors we are taking with.  One of them says, the Rector’s wife is coming.  Dayle looks up and says, “Oh, its Feli!”.  In those two sentences I heard the Congolese preference for title and the American preference for first names.  The staff here almost always call each other by a shortened form of their title.  So they are “Rector”, “The Academic” (for the academic dean), or “The Administrative” for the Administrative Secretary.

This preference for titles helps in some translation tasks and even gives the Congolese an edge in understanding some parts of the Bible.  “Jesus the Christ” makes a LOT of sense to them, for example, whereas we make it sound like a name – Jesus Christ.

I try to enter into the culture, but it is quite a shift to leave my anti-formality and “pro-friendliness” feelings and use titles.  I tend to fill the use of titles with the meanings it has in my own culture – formalness (instead of friendship, or perhaps even stuffiness.  Sometimes even the simple stuff in cross cultural work requires effort, and even after doing it for 30 years.

Dayle in Bunia with Ed

Here we are on the campus of the Shalom University of Bunia.  We look across the plains of Ituri province to the mountains in the distance.  It is beautiful.  But even more beautiful are the feet of the Congolese here preparing to bring the Good News in the form of a translation of the Bible to the many peoples of the Congo who don’t have it.  Yesterday I spent two hours with Kabucungu Hand-jinga, the head of the Bible translation department here.  He is just bursting at the seams to get translations going in more languages.  I wanted to tell him to move ahead on everything.  It was so moving.  But, I had to put some realism into his enthusiasm or he would have translation expanding so fast the trainers would be totally burnt out.  That was really hard – dampening that kind of enthusiasm.  Lord, send more people.  Lord, make Kabucungu’s vision come true.

Ngagupai:  I love African names.  It is fun to run Nessiel Nodjibogoto, Mbainodji Nektobkor or Kabucungu Hand-jinga off my tongue.  Friday evening I met with Pastor Ngagupaï, pronounced Ng – gah – goo – PIE.  It is a great name, but I can’t help having a little fun with it.  I wonder if he has neighbors named Coconutpai.  In any case, none of these names are Asamericanaasapplepai.

Ngagupaï speaks the Zande language.  There are millions of Zande speakers spread over three countries: Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic.  There is a translation of the New Testament in Zande; done many years ago.  But many Zande find it very hard to read.  So much so that few even try.  The alphabet does not represent the language very well.  It has five vowels, but linguists think that there are at least seven and perhaps nine.  In any case, the church leaders want to have a translation in Zande that everyone can read and understand.

Nagupaï was THRILLED to hear that Zande is a high priority.  He wanted to know what to do. and the next step is to choose the translators and train them.  So we prayed for Pastor Ngagupaï and the Zande translation and sent him off.  He has his work cut out for him.  The Zande area is big, the roads are poor and a rebel movement, the LRA, has come into the area and is causing lots of problems.  Over 1,000 have died in their attacks and over 100,000 displaced.  Travel is dangerous because of LRA attacks There will be hard choices to make.  Some of the best translators may already be beloved pastors or teachers.  People will miss them if they are reassigned to translation.  In many ways this next and very important step – the choice of the Zande translators —  is out of our hands.  It is in the hands of Ngagupai, other church leaders and, of course, the Lord.  Even an injection of money probably would not help that much.  It is not a task we could call Aseasyaspai

We found this rhinoceros beetle outside our door in the morning.  I wanted Dayle to put her finger next to him so that you could tell his size in the photo.  She was, of course, reluctant.  Here finger was not quite close enough in the photo, so I fixed that with a little photo editing.  Some local people believe that this beetle is poisonous and you can see why.

I spent two days with this group of fun guys.  They are all involved in Bible translation and they are all smarter than I am – two PhDs and five MAs, all in translation and related domains.  So here we are talking about what training and education we need to give to Congolese translators to ensure quality translations and out comes stuff like, “we must have a a spiritual calling and give spiritual service”.  One of these men lost a son in a tribal conflict with a tribe of one of the other men.  I think that I get to meet some of the best people in the world.

Easter worship service

Dayle and I felt like we really celebrated Easter.  The church service we attended was a wonderful and joyous celebration.  I have posted a detailed description at Easter_2009

Life is hard for most people here in Congo.  These two ladies are wives of theology students at the Christian University.  They have to go up this hill each morning and bring back about 45 pounds of clean water, so that they can cook, drink and bathe.  When we were in Burkina Faso, the ladies carried everything on their heads, but here many use tump lines over their foreheads to support the weight.

We are so glad to live in an era of technology, especially when it comes to communications.  In the evening on Easter we were able to make phone calls to our son Mark and to Dayle’s parents using Skype.  Only two cents a minute from the Congo to the USA!

Dayle and I attended the dedication of five books of the New Testament and a dictionary in the Ndruna language. At one point the “Chief” of the area gave (in photo) a history of translation work in Ndruna. He said that as a child the only primary school near enough for him to attend was Catholic. In the religion class he was taught to pray in Latin. He even recited a few lines he still remembered from those many years ago. He was disappointed and frustrated that he could not understand anything of what he was praying. So in 1942 he and some others decided to try to translate the Bible into their language – Ndruna. They had all kinds of problems because they did not know enough. Today, he said, he is so happy even though it has taken many years, because the translation is very understandable and all the Ndruna can know God’s Word. He is also convinced that the work will be completed, because the translators are so well trained that even if the assistance from Wycliffe is cut off, they will be able to continue on their own.

This is forty dollars in Congolese francs.  The largest bill is 500 francs which is worth 60 cents.  In Isiro, where I am writing this, most items of any value over $20 are priced in dollars while local produce is priced in Congolese francs.  So we do not often need to carry around chunks of money this big. The Congolese franc has lost about a third of its value against the dollar in the last year and inflation is just below 60%.

On Wednesday April 22nd, we connected with Pastor Atulu and walked around Isiro to get to know the town.  We stopped at this shop, which was the only place ot get a cool drink – cool cokes at about $2 per bottle.  Dayle and I offered one to Atulu, who otherwise would never by one.  This shop is one of the biggest in town and you see about half of it in this photo.

It is the begging of the rainy season here.  It is quite dramatic when the storm fronts laden with rain come through from the east.  The good thing is that we can see it coming for 10 minutes before it hits, So there is time to take clothes off the line or get home.  Before the rain comes the air gets still and the humidity, which is already high, goes up.  If feels heavy and the slightest exertion causes me to break out in a sweat.  With the rain comes wonderfully cool air.  The rains often come in the late afternoon or evening, so we are blessed with cool nights for sleeping.

(This blog originally appeared in a different format. It was republished in March 2012)

Contingency Planning

Congo Blog – Feb 23-27

I will be in the Town of Bunia Monday – Friday, February 23-27.  I will leave our place in Nairobi at 5 AM on Monday morning and be in Bunia about noon.  The purpose of the trip is contingency planning.  It is a well-defined process for identifying and ranking the dangers in a specific environment, finding ways to mitigate them and then making plans for each danger in case it happens.  The dangers range from acute sickness or accident to armed robbery to civil war.   We will be doing a part of the process with Congolese who know their environment better than we do.

This exercise sets the stage for our placing more and more people in the Congo including Dayle and I and moving our office entirely into Congo.  Pray that we will have wisdom, insight and a process in which our relationships and words please the Lord.

I hope to update this blog every day of the week in the evening Congo time, so in the morning US time.

Contingency planning participants

These are some of the participants at the risk evaluation phase of the contingency planning.  We are working with Congolese colleagues and Congolese from churches we work with.  They know the situation best and can therefore best help us determine which risks are the most likely.

My room at the Rector’s house

The Rector of the university has me staying at his house across the street form the University.  It has simple furnishings.  My rooms is simply furnished but it has all that I need, including the most important item – a mosquito net to protect me from Malaria.

Shalom University of Bunia

The Shalom University of Bunia is hosting our contingency planning.  It is a Christian university and the one which offers a degree in Bible translation.  We helped with the definition of the curriculum for that degree and we find funds to provide scholarships to worthy students.

(This blog originally appeared in a different format. It was updated in March 2012.)