Forced changes

I am filling in temporarily as the director for translation work in Côte d’Ivoire (also known as Ivory Coast). If things go according to plan, we’ll be back in Ghana in a few months.

Abandonned armoured vehicle in Ivory Coast. Photo courtesy of a colleague.

Abandonned armoured vehicle in Ivory Coast. Photo courtesy of a colleague.

Ivory Coast is coming out of prolonged period of conflict and civil war. During a good part of that time, many missionaries and almost all Westerners doing Bible translation left the country. That left the Ivorian translators on their own. Instead of stopping, most of them kept translating. Coming out of the conflict, we have a very different situation than we had going in. There are still outsiders involved, but like Dayle and I, most of them play limited roles.  Ivorians are the translators, they lead the translation programs, provide expert guidance, do the training and provide quality control.

But the change is more profound than than just changing the faces around the translation table. Churches here are picking up the will to do translation. They sponsor translation programs, choose translators and take care of some of the administrative details. Some have been quite active in doing adult literacy among their members. I am working with a group of Ivorian Christians who want to reformulate how Bible translation is done so that it fits their way of doing things. They think that will give the translations even more impact. I agree.

A number of years ago, the head of a successful African mission told me:

David could not use Saul’s armor. The church in Africa will not do Bible translation the way you do.

David was successful precisely because he abandoned the standard way, the “right way”, the king’s way, the way all the experts advised. King Saul told David:

 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” (I Samuel 17:33)

Africa is considered inconsequential by many, just as Saul thought David inconsequential. Might Jesus’ church in inconsequential Africa devise a way to translate the Bible into its 1,800 languages that no translation expert would ever recommend and yet succeed by doing it their way? I believe that is exactly what will happen. The conflict in Ivory Coast forced some changes in Bible translation. Those changes are opening the door to more profound changes. I say: Be on the lookout for falling giants.

The meeting room at the translation center in Abidjan. Bullets came through this roof doing the conflict.

The meeting room at the translation center in Abidjan. Bullets came through this roof doing the conflict.


I came to Africa with pretty well-formed ideas in my head about how my career in Bible translation would work out. It hasn’t been anything like that. And that’s a good thing. This story is about one of the people who caused my career to deviate from the path I had assumed, Marc Zalve.

Mark Zalve preparing a quality control

Mark Zalve preparing a quality control

I was overseeing translation work in a number of languages where missionary-translators were working. In one of them the missionary-translators had to return to their home country, stopping the translation in that language. A short time later I received an unannounced visit from church leaders from that language. They wanted to restart the translation. They proposed that Marc Zalve lead it in the place of missionaries. He was the Director of a Bible School and an ordained pastor.

I agreed to look into it. I had to find funding and convince others that this was a good idea. The first was easier than I thought and the later much more difficult. In the end, Marc Zalve lead the efforts to translate the Bible into his language. Since then, he has helped translators in ten other languages to produce accurate translations.

The fact that an African church was willing to let one of their key pastors leave an important role to work on translation showed me that they were serious about Bible translation. It was but one in a series of actions by churches and individual Africans that did not conform to my well-formed ideas about my career and Bible translation. It took a lot of such incidents to get me to question my ideas and even more to reshape them.

Frempong and Zalve

Frempong and Zalve

This all came back to me powerfully when I ran into Marc again at the Dedication of the Bible into Sisaala in Ghana in 2013. That translation was lead by a Ghanaian, Justin Frempong (on left in photo). Justin was the first Ghanaian to lead a translation associated with Wycliffe in Ghana. To that point, that had been the realm of missionaries. And there was Marc Zalve (on right in the photo), the first to lead a translation associated with Wycliffe in Burkina Faso. When I greeted Marc, he reminded me of the struggle we had together. Not a few opposed this new thing, and some of them had quite a bit of influence.

When I first came to Africa, I thought that I knew all my call to Bible translation. But God was not through unveiling it and I still had more to learn about it. My call shifted from doing translation myself to being involved in mobilizing Africans and their churches to do their own translations. A missionary call, I came to realize, is not a static thing, any more than our God is static or my relationship with him static.

From 60 to who knows

Ed in Cameroon with Daniel Ngwanou

Ed in Cameroon with Daniel Ngwanou

In the late 1990s my responsibilities included finding ways to increase the number of translation projects in Africa lead by Africans that were linked to Wycliffe. At a time when hundreds were lead by Western missionaries, I found 60 lead by Africans. That was better than the dozen or so of only a few years earlier.

Recently, I came across a document I had written at that time. In it, I had written my personal goal of seeing that number go from 60 to 120 in four years.

Sylvester Nkrumah (Ghana) and Uche Aaron (Nigeria), part of the first wave of national translators in Wycliffe's work in Africa

Sylvester Nkrumah (Ghana) and Uche Aaron (Nigeria), part of the first wave of national translators in Wycliffe’s work in Africa

I am pretty sure that goal was met, although I don’t have data to prove it. The increase was probably only attributable to me in very small part. When I saw that old document, what struck me as more important is that the goal now looks silly. Today, it is the norm that programs to translate the Bible are lead by Africans. Programs started years ago by Western missionaries are winding down and a few new ones are starting here and there. They are the exceptions.

We thought that having more Africans doing Bible translation was something that needed to be promoted. In a way it did. But mostly so that our ways of working would accommodate it. Hindsight allows us to see that it was going to happen anyway. God was making it happen.

I used to be concerned with finding God’s will for me. I now understand that includes getting behind a trend in which I see God’s hand and running with it. At a minimum, I don’t not want to buck a trend only to find later that it was God’s doing. But what I really want is to set unnecessary goals because God is going to accomplish them anyway. By setting the goals, I’m not making them happen, I’m just showing my alignment with God’s actions.

The Party Line

Some time ago, I listened to someone in missions aviation tell the story of the introduction of the first helicopter. At the time, the party line was that helicopters were too expensive to operate, and so were unsuitable for missions aviation. He then told an amazing story of the need for an aircraft to go into a place where it was not possible to build an airstrip and God’s amazing provision of a helicopter well under market price. And so that particular party line about helicopters faded into history.

Ed with Congolese translators he was consulting

Ed with Congolese translators he was consulting

The party line is an interesting concept. People in organizations, especially political organizations, are expected to “toe the party line”– to say in public only things that follow the party line – the organizations policy or mission.

I have been there.

I was living in Burkina Faso doing Bible translation under the model where each person raises support for their ministry. The Wycliffe website says:

Wycliffe missionaries do not receive a guaranteed salary from our organization. Instead, they rely on God to provide through the gifts of interested individuals and churches

Because of this model, we had very little money for anything but the ministry of each missionary. At the same time, young people from Burkina Faso were coming to me saying that they felt God calling them to ministry. They wondered if their might be a place for them in Bible translation. They were mostly university students engaged in their churches and campus ministry. I told them the party line which went like this:

It is great that you want to serve our Lord. But we don’t have any way to involve you in what we are doing because of our financial structure.

It was more elaborate and polite than that, but you get the idea. I would also pray with them and send them on their way. I had come to Africa with a call to do Bible translation. My call, or rather my understanding of my call, did not include finding ways for Africans to be involved. No, I was going to do the translation myself.

Meanwhile, more and more young, educated Burkina Faso Christians kept coming to talk to me. Their stories became more and more compelling. Worse (or better!), the call of God on their lives was evident. One day, one came with an incredible story. You can listen to it here.

Samy Tioye and Ed

Samy Tioye and Ed

After hearing his story, I knew that I could not give him the party line. I could not say to someone with such a clear call of God for Bible translation on his life that I could not be involved with helping him move that forward. I came to the conclusion that party line had become out of step with what God was doing. Today that has changed, but changing it required some doing.

Having a party line for a ministry is actually a good idea. It gives direction and helps keep us focused. The thing is, we have to always pay attention to our circumstances because God might be using them to shift our party line, even one that is longstanding and justifiable. The Bible is full of stories of God changing the party line, including when he did that with the Apostle Peter. The trick is to be less thickheaded than I was. God had to put me in front of the same situation many times before I recognized it as His doing.

If you liked this, you might also like Why Nationals, Nessiel Nodjibogoto, or Undeserved.

The first Wycliffe translators from Madagascar in our home in Nairobi

The first Wycliffe translators from Madagascar in our home in Nairobi

John Agama

Who spreads the Gospel to places where it has never been? Missionaries, right? Actually…

Protrait of John Agama

Portrait of John Agama painted by the son of a missionary. it is hanging in John Agama Hall on the GILLBT Training Centre in Tamale, Ghana

This is a portrait of John Agama, now deceased. He was the national chief of police in Ghana for a number of years. He was also a leading Christian and was nationally known as such. While the Gospel was preached in the southern parts of Ghana, from which John came, even from the early 1800s, in the mid 1900s it still had not penetrated into the northern parts. This concerned him.

So along with some other leading Ghanaian Christians including William Ofori Atta, they invited Wycliffe members to come to Ghana and they asked them to concentrate their Bible translation efforts in the north, which they did. The first came in 1962, exactly 50 years ago. I could tell a similar story for other countries where the work of Bible translation got started through the initiative of national Christians. Missionaries came and led the work, but the vision for it came from within the country and nationals did much of the real translation with the training and quality control supplied by specially trained missionaries.

John Agama

John Agama

We see a similar story for one of the largest churches in Ghana, The Church of Pentecost. It was started by James McKoewn and has grown to be one of the largest churches in Ghana. It has been self-supporting from the beginning. It now runs schools, clinics and even a university which it funded only with money it raised in Ghana. It has outreach in at least 80 countries worldwide, all funded from within Ghana. James Mckoewn as the only missionary it ever had. All of the other pastors and evangelists have been Ghanaian. James McKoewn did a marvelous work, but he only did a very small percentage of the evangelism and discipleship himself. He concentrated on mentoring a small group of Ghanaians who evangelized and each developed their own small group to mentor. We see the missionary, McKoewn, but the majority of evangelism and discipleship was done by Ghanaians and they carried the vision long after Mckeown was gone.

Church of Pentecost Council 1954

Church of Pentecost Council 1954 James McKoewn center and his brother on the right. Courtesy Church of Pentecost Canada

I met a man in the town of Tamale whose father was the first pastor from the Konkomba people. The Konkomba resisted the Gospel for many years. As the first pastor this man was persecuted, reviled and rejected. Threats were made against him. The man I spoke to remembered growing up in a household that the community at large rejected and insulted. They were though to be traitors. People believed that by rejecting traditional religion they were putting the community at risk from spiritual forces. So they were thought to be a threat that needed to be expunged. But his father stuck to it.

Some of us read and are inspired by missionary biographies. That is great. Unfortunately, there are many, many untold stories of their first converts who suffered as much or more and who did more to champion the Gospel than the missionary and for a longer time. Not that the missionary failed, but by the nature of things the nationals had more impact and stayed longer.

Today in northern Ghana there are many places where the Bible has been translated and the missionary has left. But dedicated Ghanaians are doggedly, without pay even though they have little themselves, running night literacy classes so that their fellow believers can read the Bible and even so that non-believers can have the benefits of knowing how to read. They do this year after year. There is no missionary to tell the story to those who sent out the missionary. But the story will be known in eternity. It will, I believe, be shouted from the rooftops.

One of the lessons of these observations is that missionary impact is extended greatly when the skills and vision are passed on to nationals. Asking a missionary how many converts he has made is okay, but it might also push the missionary to do more primary evangelism to please his supporters, but long-term and sustained impact will come from mentoring and training a small group of local people.

Tipping point

In April 2009 we witnessed a dedication of the first dictionary in the Ndruna language and the first publication of five Epistles.  Among the speakers was a traditional Ndruna chief.  This older and vigorous man told how from the time he was a child his father, the chief before him, and others had tried to write the Ndruna language and translate the Bible into it.  Every attempt encountered insurmountable problems.  They did could not figure out how to write the language.   When they tried to do translation, the result was not understandable.  Even as a child he was so interested in having a translation that he and his father decided that he would go to the only church school in the area – a Catholic school where the prayers were all in Latin.  I was amazed as he recited in Latin the prayers he had learned as a child.  He said that he still did not understand them.

He went on to tell how a person sent out by Wycliffe came to help them with linguistic research.  That research allowed them to write the language without problems for the first time.  Then educated Ndruna men were chosen as translators.  They were given specialized training and the translation.  In the photo you see Ed those translators and others.

The the chief said that he hoped that the translators would continue to received help from the outside.  But, he said, he had complete confidence that the translation would be completed and be done well even if help from the outside stopped.  Now, according to him, the translators and others finally had all the knowledge and skills they needed.

The exuberance of the Ndruna traditional dance being performed by the women matched our sentiments – we were thrilled.  This is exactly what we are working toward – that Africans will have enough training and skills that they feel confident in  doing the work on their own.  We also hope that the chief’s confidence will be contagious.  Hearing this story, other languages, other community leaders and church leaders might dare to get involved in translation in their languages rather than sit and wait for someone to come and help them.

There is an old saying that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him to fish, you feed him for his life.  I would add that if you teach him well enough and give him enough confidence, then he might even teach others to fish, multiplying your efforts many, many times.  That is our hope and prayer – that the chief’s words show that we are at a tipping point where the Ndruna and others will have the confidence to go beyond translating for themselves to encouraging and teaching others.  Then we will see the start of a self-sustaining Bible translation movement in Africa that will multiply our efforts more times than we will know or can count.

If you feel the way we do, or you want to know more, see our website, subscribe to this blog, talk with us on Facebook, or sign up to support us through prayer or financial support.

Nessiel Ndjibogoto

Nessiel is the man who leads the organization I will be working with. A few years ago he told us an interesting story about his life. His mother had carried four pregnancies to term and lost the baby at birth or shortly thereafter. Her fifth pregnancy was Nessiel. So when he was born she named him Nessiel, which in her language means “He won’t last”.

A few years ago Nessiel went to visit his now aged mother. She told him that now that he had given her grandchildren it was time to reconsider his name! Nessiel responded by telling her that he was involved in Bible translation in the languages of Chad of which there are over 120. He told his mother that man might call that task “It won’t get done”. So he wanted to keep his name to show that God’s evaluation of a situation are not the same as man’s.

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

Chad trip

I (Ed) will be in Chad from October 20 through November 1 plus a travel day on each end. Chad is a country in Central Africa with plenty of challenges. I will be in N’Djamena (pronounced n-jah-MAY-nah) and Moundou (pronouced moon-due).

Here is a map.

I will be working with a Chadian Christian organization which does Bible translation. Wycliffe is partnering with them. They have a great vision, good skills and the confidence of the churches in Chad. What they lack is the capacity to manage their budget well. They also want help with managing funding which Wycliffe sends them to the legal standards required. My job will be to work with them to develop a plan for both of those and to make a recommendation to Wycliffe concerning future partnership with this national organization.

Pray for good interactions, for transparency and for clarity. I will be doing almost all of my work in French, so clarity is an important thing. While I can say anything, I sometimes struggle to say it with the right nuance and tone.

I’ll post more as I am able. I am not at all sure what internet connection, if any, I will have in Moundou.

For more information on Chad and the national organization I will be working with see:

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

Christmas decorations and graduations

On the day before the 4th of July, Dayle went down to the section of the local grocery store which has Christmas decorations. Here, that section is up all year long. She bought some red garland and a string of gold-colored stars. Then she went to the greeting card section and bought a card – a graduation card. Any person here would have found this sequence of events completely normal.

Garlands of all colors

Garlands of all colors, but especially red, are what proud family members and friends drape on graduates at the end of graduation ceremonies, often accompanied by piecing ululations from the ladies.

One would think that a ceremony introduced to Africa from the “West” would follow western traditions, and it does. But Africans have infused the ceremony and surrounding events with their own unique elements – such as Christmas garland hung on the graduate. There are other surprises. After the graduation there is, of course, a party. The party involves food, music and sometimes dancing. The dancing is not usually the man-and-woman kind of the west, but a group dance without partners – kind of like a free-for-all line dance without the lines. But the real particularity of the party is who throws it. The person who plans the party, who pays for it and who invites family and friends to come is — the graduate! The graduate gives a speech at some point during the party. Most of that is spent thanking teachers, family and friends for their support.

The fact that the graduate organizes and pays for the party is a window into the culture, the economy and African aspirations. Only a very small percentage of Africans graduate from college. Getting a college degree is, therefore a great achievement. A Congolese man told me that graduation from college with an advance degree is the second most important ceremony of a person’s life – after their funeral! Furthermore, a college graduate is seen as a resource by the whole extended family, village or community he or she comes from. So they all contribute money to the cause of anyone who gets into university. Few families can afford to send a son or daughter without the support of the extended family , village or community.

So, it is logical that the graduate organize and pay for the party. After all, he or she has made it this far because many people sacrificed something to help him or her financially.

The party we went to was for Fortuna Tioye. A wonderful lady from Burkina Faso who received a Master of Arts in Christian Education degree. How we got invited to her graduation, and ended up being the guests of honor at her party is a story that goes back to 1996. I was working as an advisor for a group of Burkina Faso Christians getting involved in Bible translation. We were working with a church in the southwest to get a translation of the Bible going in the major language of the area. When we laid out the qualifications of the person to lead the translation effort they said “We don’t have anyone like that.” We encouraged them to keep looking until we got back to them in a few months.

In the meantime and unbeknownst to all of us, Sami Tioye, a speaker of the language, a Christian and university graduate with a degree in linguistics, was teaching French at a high school in another part of the country. It is a long story how it all happened, but one day Sami Tioye walked into my office in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and asked about serving as a Bible translator for his language. When he told me his educational background and desire to serve God however, I was floored. Here was a young man who surpassed all our requirements. The Lord just stuck him in our path.

Sami has shown such outstanding ability and commitment that he was selected to do a doctorate in translation at the Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology. His wife, Fortuna came with him and in addition to raising four young children and supporting her hubby in his doctoral studies, has gained an MA!

A cake and satisfaction

We were at her party eating the best chocolate cake in the world while Fortuna gave her speech; still in her graduation gown and cap with several bright red Christmas garlands hanging around her neck. I thought, Sami and Fortuna are going to do much more good in Africa than Dayle and I ever have or will. I had a great sense of satisfaction about our efforts and vision to help African Christians get involved in getting God’s words in their heart languages.

(This post was originally published 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)