Posts Tagged ‘Mbeya’

Choir links translation team to community

Monday, March 20th, 2017 by Ruth

Recording worship music in the mother tongue can be a great way to cause a language community to get excited about a new translation project.  Here’s a window on what is happening near Mbeya, Tanzania, describing a choir from the Bungu language community recording with Wycliffe member Jo Clifford and team:

Choir recording (photo: Mary Pence)

The voices seemed to soar in the tall church, as if filling a cathedral. Traditional lines of melody wove skilfully together. Chants arose like medieval prayers. Then, suddenly, in an amazing fusion with African tradition, drums began, then metal whistles followed by trilled yells, as if everyone were celebrating a wedding.

Jo was impressed with the choir’s preparation. They moved quickly through the first group of songs. All had been written or translated into Bungu expressly for this day. All had solidly worshipful themes: ‘Let Us Love All People’, ‘Come to Me All Who Are Troubled’, ‘Father Please Receive Our Gifts’, ‘I Am the True Vine, You Are the Branches.’

After the first set, everyone stopped to wipe their sweat and listen to the playback. Jo’s crew handed out bottles of water. A breeze through the tall windows felt good. Outside, a schoolboy drove a herd of goats through the churchyard. The largest stopped to scratch his hide impiously on one of the church’s front steps.

Among all the percussion instruments, only the whistle seemed store-bought. Animal skins stretched over tin buckets became drums, struck by fists or a thin branch. Soda caps strung on a wire were shaken. An empty soda bottle struck with a steel opener made a sharp, far-ringing clink. One woman twisted a three-legged stool — its leg bottoms had been shaped to scrape over the surface of an overturned earthenware cooking pot. Different sized pots achieved different sounds…

Choir recordings like this are important for the project because they can be done before Scripture translation, during those first slow years while linguists build alphabets, and local speakers train as translators. An audio CD is something the community can see and hold (and hear), long before any Scripture portion gets printed. And every choir wants to produce its own recordings — it’s one of the ultimate things a church choir can do here in Tanzania. So offering this service puts the project in very good standing in the church community.

But most of all, it lets people know that, as Jo says,
“God speaks their language.”

(Read full story on by Steve Pence, Language Team Administrator, Mbeya, Tanzania)

You can read more about Vernacular Music and Arts on the Wycliffe blog.

Investing in the Future of the Vwanji and Malila

Thursday, June 18th, 2009 by Mark

Last week we posted about Matt and Liz – Wycliffe UK members who are serving as literacy workers in Tanzania. The basic literacy workshop that they were preparing for has since taken place… here’s what Liz has to say about it:

Take place it did… we had 8 preschool teachers arrive in Mbeya to take part – 4 women from the Vwanji language area and 4 men from the Malila language area. They stayed for 2 weeks and were very happy and touchingly grateful to receive this time of training (some had had no specific training whatsoever in how to teach preschool children before starting their jobs!) and the resources that we had prepared for teaching mother tongue literacy (some have hardly any resources whatsoever – no books to guide them or the children, no games equipment or toys and some even have no blackboard or chalk). We tried to come alongside them, equip them and encourage them in the great work they do as it literally can be a thankless task. They struggle with ungrateful parents, little or no pay, huge classes of mixed ages and abilities and little or no resources. I certainly couldn’t do it! We also tried to instill in them the importance of teaching mother tongue literacy as well as Swahili and inspire them in the job we were calling them to do. They left with a box of resources each, thankful hearts and a realization that what they had been called to would not be easy but would be rewarding and eventually could make a huge difference to their communities. […]

We are still very much working out the process from here on and the best way to go about things (it really is a trial at the moment!) but we will not leave them on their own. However, only time and a lot of hard work will tell whether this program really works and produces children who can read and write well in their mother tongue before taking the next (easier) step to learn to read and write in their second language, Swahili. read more

Please pray for Matt and Liz as they come alongside these pre-school teachers, encouraging them and giving them resources as they invest in the children, and the community as a whole. As portions of the Bible start to be translated into these languages, these children could be among the first to ever have the privilege of reading God’s word in the Vwanji and Malila languages.

Joys and Difficulties of Life Overseas

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 by Mark

Matt and Liz Wisbey are literacy workers in the southwest of Tanzania, working with speakers of 10 different languages in the Mbeya and Iringa Regions of the country. They have shared recently about a workshop which is currently in progress:

This week and next sees Liz leading our first Basic Literacy workshop. As I write she is teaching 8 playschool teachers from two of our language groups how to teach their children how to read and write their mother tongue.

A lot of time and hard work has gone into preparing for these two weeks, and the following work and follow-up, and so it is very exciting to finally see the books in the teachers’ hands and the teachers learning these new skills. read more

While helping people to learn to read and write in their mother-tongue for the first time can seem extremely exciting and rewarding, it can also be very tough for a young couple working in a completely different culture. Matt recently posted about some of the challenges they face:

Being a missionary (read ex-pat, anyone living across cultures) can be a lonely business.

As we leave our home culture and dive head long into a new foreign culture we leave many of our safety nets behind. Some of these nets can be found in this new culture, others cannot. Some can be found in the small ‘ex-pat community’ that inevitably exists in any reasonably sized town, others cannot.

Good friends, a community of people who you can share your joy, your despair, your hopes and your fears with, are the hardest things to find.

Yes if you want a network of people who you know, who you can ask for help or advice and who know the practicalities of your life, then this is possible. However I believe there is something deep inside of us that needs more than this. This need varies from person to person, from character to character, but I would argue this need is there in all people somewhere. read more

Take a look at Matt and Liz’s blog to discover some of the realities – both joys and difficulties – of living and working overseas.

Hearing God speak Nyakyusa

Friday, March 20th, 2009 by Mark

A large number of the 2,300 language communities still without scripture are what are often called oral societies, meaning that important information is passed on orally rather than through writing, often in the form of stories.

Jonathan is working in Mbeya in southwest Tanzania, helping translators in 10 languages record audio Bible portions in order that their communities can hear God’s word in their own language for the first time.

Friday came and it was a day of final recording for the Nyakyusa language for the same two books as above. While picking up Gordon M. (Nyakyusa) at the office, one of our team leaders gave me a special thanks for sending the cassettes with them. All 20 sold in less than 10 minutes! That’s amazing considering the economic struggles that people group has due to their geographical location. Then, the other team leader e-mailed me that afternoon and said another Sangu pastor wanted 10 himself! That’s on top of another 20 the translation team leader asked for! read more

Do you have audio and video editing skills and a desire to see the lives of individuals and communities transformed through knowing Jesus? Get in touch with us to see what possibilities there might be for you to help see God’s message of love translated into languages and lives!

Stuck in the Mud

Friday, January 30th, 2009 by Mark

Many of the languages that are still without any Scripture are spoken by people living in relatively remote areas. Transport within these areas may be difficult, or even impossible at some times of the year, meaning that work in translation projects has to be planned accordingly.

Matt and Liz and Katherine are involved in a translation project in Mbeya, Tanzania, where speakers of ten languages are working together to translate the Bible into their languages. They had an interesting trip last week to the Kinga language area up in the mountains:

So, on Thursday we set off to the Kinga language area, together with Matt Wisbey and Frank (a Tanzanian colleague) who had Literacy work to do there. We knew the roads on the most direct route wouldn’t be good as a result of the rains, but we took that way anyhow, despite my anxieties due to having got stuck on that route the previous year! And sure enough, we came to a slippery, muddy halt a couple of times. However, with Matt’s good driving, the faithful Land Rover’s low gears and the help of villagers who seemed to have been waiting for the next vehicle to get stuck, we were soon on our way again. read more

Liz explains the reason for the trip:

We were going to Makete for a purpose, not just for the fun of Tanzania’s roads. Matt was intending to spend time with our Kinga Literacy workers to help them with computer problems, discuss strategy for the future and encourage them in their work. We had brought along Frank, one of our Tanzanian colleagues from the office, to help with these tasks. Me (Liz) and Katherine, from the Scripture Use Department, were engaged in another task – holding a two-day workshop for teachers of Sunday Schools (for children) in the Makete area. We were sharing the speaking as well as giving the teachers ideas for games, memory verse learning, interactive story telling and teaching that applies to the children’s lives. read more

Please pray for safety for national workers and expatriates as they travel in often dangerous conditions, enabling God’s message of love to be translated into languages and lives.

A 70 year wait for scriptures

Monday, June 30th, 2008 by Mark

Mike and Oriel, working in Mbeya, Tanzania, recently emailed the following encouragement about scriptures that are starting to be translated into several languages in the region, as well as the faithfulness of one man who had been waiting quite a while to see them…

On the work front there have been some real encouragements as the books of Ruth and Jonah have now been printed in five languages and three more will follow shortly.

The other week we went up a very windy track (60+ hairpin bends) for several hours to a people group 9,000 feet above sea level to take these books in their language and meet the team there. It was great and there was a real excitement for them to hear something read in their own language.

One retired 88 year old pastor said that people said at his age he should be preparing to die, but he wasn’t because he felt it is so important to get on with the work so that people can hear God’s message and respond before Jesus comes again. We understand he was at a meeting of the language committee in 1939 (when he was 18 or 19 years old) where they were already discussing getting scripture into their own language. What faithfulness!

For more about the Mbeya-Iringa cluster project, take a look at

Family life in a new culture

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008 by Mark

Jonathan and Dana are Wycliffe missionaries from the US who have recently moved to Mbeya in southwest Tanzania. They each have blogs, as well as a family website with news about what they’re doing.

Jonathan is working as a Vernacular Media Specialist – someone who helps make Bible portions in local languages available in a variety of different media, including video and audio. Dana is a full-time Mum (although being American she would probably say Mom) to baby Asher.

Do take a look at their blogs, which give a great insight into life for a young family settling in to completely new surroundings. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to leave your home country and work with Wycliffe overseas, Jonathan and Dana will help you think through some of the issues involved and hopefully make you realise that you don’t have to be superman/woman to do it!

Dana’s recent post about going to church for the first time is typical of some of the practical dilemmas many people face in their first few months overseas.