Wednesday, November 5, 2014

“The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

We have a group here that arrived Tuesday night from the U.S., Tanzania, France, and Germany.  They are all part of SIL which is the parent group of Wycliffe Bible Translators, and they have a big office in Musoma with about twenty missionaries all working on Bible translation.  The Bible has been translated into Swahili for some time, but these folks are translating it into the 120 or so tribal languages of Tanzania.  Every Tanzanian speaks their tribal language be it Jita or Sukuma or Chagga or whatever.  Then, all who have been to school also speak Swahili which is taught in the schools.  Those who go on to secondary schools and university also speak English, so most Tanzanians are bilingual with many being trilingual.  Still, there are many, many who only speak their tribal or mother tongue.  Before I could preach in Swahili, I preached in English which in some churches turned a twenty minute sermon into an hour sermon as it was first translated into Swahili and then into Luo or Jita depending on where I was.  Most of our staff are Jita or Sukuma.  The group that is here is dubbing (altering the dialogue of the movie) the “Jesus” movie from English into Jita, a local tribal language.  I know only a few words of Jita (and Sukuma) because I always want to be able to greet people in their mother tongue, but these folks are tackling a herculean task because Jita is not a written language, so they have to do a lot of work with local speakers to find the right words to use.  The technicians are using John’s computer lab and will be here for about two weeks.  We, and the Anglicans, have churches that are all Jita, so we are very excited about being able to use this film locally as soon as it is ready.  We have about four non-Africans here and another four Tanzanians who will be here for the duration.  They loved our set up and are working now to set up the equipment to begin.  The main technicians were delayed by a car breakdown outside of Mwanza but got here late last night.  Now, the real work begins.  We can’t take pictures of the work because the main video techs work all over the world in some very sensitive regions, so pictures of them could put them in harm’s way in some places.  We are honored to be a part of this.  This is hard work.  In the past, we have hosted other SIL groups working on translations of local languages, and we stand in awe of their dedication and commitment to this very needed service for the Word.  We have had to move the preschool over to the church for the time they are here because our young students are very, very noisy which is usually very welcome but not when quiet is needed.  Sometimes, you just get to be a small part of a much bigger work in the service of our Lord, but there is no such thing as a small service—if it is in the Lord’s name, it is always huge.  Amen.
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