Posts Tagged ‘Tanzania’

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 TheTask.net by Steve Pence, Language Team Administrator, Mbeya, Tanzania)

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

Rendering God’s word clearly in the beautiful language of Kinga

Monday, February 6th, 2017 by Camilla

‘Lord, we ask you now for wisdom to render your word clearly into the beautiful language of Kinga.’

In the Mbeya cluster project’s offices in southwest Tanzania, Bible translation consultant Samuel Mubbala opened the day’s work with that prayer in his soft mellow voice. At the table also were Kinga pastors and translators Saul Lwilla and Zakayo Swallo. A draft of Hebrews 10 in Kinga shone brightly, projected on the wall. Their laptop computers were open, ready to edit the text.

To make a translation of God’s word ready for people’s hearts, it must be carefully checked. Samuel has been checking the work of other Bible translators since finishing a translation in his own Ugandan mother tongue several years ago. Today his job would be easy. Lwilla and Swallo are nearing the end of the Kinga New Testament project and their work has become very good.

Today’s work on Hebrews 10 began by simply reading. Samuel read aloud slowly in English. Saul followed him, reading the Kinga draft. Both spoke with feeling, clearly savouring the great truths of covenant and sacrifice. After each section was read, they discussed notes from Samuel’s study of the draft. Should the Kinga word for ox be used for bull? Should we say ‘the first covenant’ or ‘the old covenant’? In some African languages, God’s glory can be confused with shining. Does Kinga have this problem?

But the problems and notes were few. Yes, the work was very good. Good enough to impact these three men even in the midst of their checking. While reviewing covenant theology, Samuel suddenly became very personal.

‘When we come to Christ, something is…’ Samuel hesitated, obviously searching his own heart. ‘Something is “installed” in us,’ he continued. ‘We receive a new person and a new life. That is why [God] said, “I’ll make a new covenant. I’ll write the laws in your heart.” And we call that [being] born again.’

Lwilla and Swallo smiled and laughed, knowingly.

For two more days, these three African brothers continued smiling and laughing and thinking together very carefully through the remainder of Kinga Hebrews. Still, the text was not yet ready. Reviewers in the Kinga community must also agree. And as the Kinga New Testament approaches completion, the entire manuscript must be reviewed and typeset.

It will soon be planting season on the Kinga mountainsides. Good seed will receive summer rain and grow. The same will soon be true of God’s seed; his word ‘in the beautiful language of Kinga.’

This blog post is adapted from a story which originally appeared on Wycliffe Global Alliance’s website. Read the original story here.

Discover more stories from the Mbeya-Iringa cluster project!

Hark! The Nyiha team is singing…

Monday, October 31st, 2016 by Camilla

Helen Eaton works as a linguist in the Mbeya Cluster Project, which serves 13 language groups in south-western Tanzania. She writes:

Christmas has come very early in the Mbeya office this year. Earlier this month the sounds of While Shepherds Watched in the Nyiha language were heard drifting through the office, along with a certain amount of giggling from the singers, it has to be said. The singing was not a case of the heat of Mbeya in October affecting our sanity, but actually an indication that we were hard at work, since our task for this week was to check a Nyiha hymn book.

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The three Nyiha translators Helen works with

As well as breaking some spelling rules (eg using contractions) to make the songs singable, we were pondering whether to update some of the words in the hymns, especially if they are very hard to understand. Wherever we made changes, we had to check that the words still fit the tune, and that’s where the singing came in. Most of the hymns are not Christmas carols, so we were mainly able to do this with a straight face!

We spent three full days on the check and were very glad to reach the end yesterday afternoon. When a translator working on another language realised what we were up to, he told me that once we’d finished the Nyiha version, we should do a version in his language too, as they would love to be able to sing hymns in their language. I have a feeling that this might not be the last time I get to spend my workdays singing songs!

Read more about the amazing stuff going on in Uganda and Tanzania at thetask.net!

New Scripture launch in Tanzania!

Monday, September 5th, 2016 by Camilla

One of our friends on the ground, Mark Woodward, writes about the recent celebration:

‘Last week I had the privilege of joining with the Mbugwe language community in Tanzania’s Manyara Region as they celebrated the publication of the books of Ruth and Jonah in their language. Apart from some old Mbugwe Scriptures that are now out of print, these are the first books that have been produced in the Mbugwe language.

Mbugwe laughingThe day started off with a service at the Catholic church, and continued with a parade bringing in the box of books. As the honoured guest at the celebration I then opened the box, and lifted up the books for the gathered crowd to see. I tried to read the first couple of verses of the book of Jonah, stumbling through the Mbugwe words that I couldn’t understand!

Immediately people came forward with money to buy the books, but they were asked to be patient until the celebration had finished!

Emmanuel Shishe, one of the Mbugwe translators, then read part of each of the books, and spoke about them in Mbugwe, which was also translated into Swahili. The atmosphere was electric as people responded to what was being said in Mbugwe, and there was a lot of joy and laughter!

After several more choirs and much drumming and dancing, I was asked to address the gathering, and to respond to the speech given by the chairman of the Mbugwe language committee. I thanked all who had been involved in the project – translators, international linguists and advisors, church leaders, the language committee and many others who had volunteered their time – and reminded us that if we are to proceed with producing more materials, it has to be a communal effort. We are all like parts of a body, and the body cannot function unless every part does its job.

Several of our office team were then given gifts, with some of us also given Mbugwe names (I was given the name “Tajala”) to commemorate the occasion. The Mbugwe clothes we were given signified being born into the community, and the stick signified becoming an elder. The two-pronged end, and dark and light colours, were said to represent the coming together of different people from different places, to serve the Mbugwe community together.

Afterwards all 100 copies of each book were quickly sold, with requests for more to be printed as soon as possible. Our hope is that the books will be well used, and that the community will continue to drive the project forward as we seek to work together in translating more books into the Mbugwe language.’

This blog post originally appeared on Mark’s own blog. Check it out for more pictures from the Mbugwe Scripture launch and more great stories from Tanzania!

Where faith comes by hearing: making audio Scriptures in Tanzania

Monday, January 25th, 2016 by Nick

The majority of people in the world belong to oral cultures. For them, faith literally comes by hearing. With this in mind, one of the tools we use to share Scripture with these communities is audio recordings of Bible stories! So how does Scripture go from words on paper to audio?

Jo Clifford shares a great step-by-step account of one of the many trips she takes to record Scripture, this time to Mpanda in Tanzania. From invitation to hanging blankets over wooden frames, this is a brilliant window into the world of Scripture audio recording:

‘I regularly receive requests from various language projects to do audio recordings of Scripture. A couple of months before a trip I need to prepare the script of the audio recording – taking the Scripture text and dividing it up into the different characters (narrator, Ruth, Boaz, Jonah etc). Then copies of the parts are given to the different people who have agreed to read for us, so they have time to practice. I discuss with those hosting the recording work what location might be best. The preference is for somewhere quiet, with power if possible (otherwise a generator is necessary to run the equipment). I also ask if there are blankets available for soundproofing the studio structure as well as some wood to make the frame. I bring the rest of my recording equipment.

When I am recording I rely on others to help me. I explain the recording process to the person who has come to read the part. Before we start recording I always get people’s consent to use their voice.

JoC recording3

Jo at work

I usually ask for at least one translator of the language being recorded to be present to follow the reading and make sure words are read correctly. I have the text so I can generally follow along, but I don’t know the languages and some languages incorporate tone to express meaning.

Before a reader begins, I often paint a picture of the context to help them think about what they are reading. To get the most realistic recording, I often ask if there is special way of saying something in their culture which signals for instance an attitude of prayer or of showing fear or celebration.

At the time of recording I will do a rough edit of each clip. The same evening I will go through all that has been recorded that day and edit each clip, taking out breaths, clicks from lips smacking together and any extra space between phrases and sentences.

JoC recording2

Editing audio recordings

[Then] I will start to put all the clips together to make each chapter and will add the sound effects.  I will play it to the translators who speak the language to check all the text is correct, that they like the sound effects and that I haven’t edited something out by mistake!

When the translators are happy with the audio, then I can produce the MP3 tracks which can be made into CDs, or be put onto a mobile phone, uploaded onto the language website and put onto the language Scripture app.’

Interested in finding out more about the work of Wycliffe and how you can be involved? Come along to one of our one day events First Steps!

Access, engage, understand, be changed.

Friday, September 18th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

It’s great for people to have God’s word in their heart language. However, sometimes that’s not enough. Those who’ve never had access to God’s word before often need help to know how to use it. This is where Scripture engagement specialists come in.

Katherine, a Scripture engagement specialist working in Tanzania, explains why her role is so important:

‘In parts of Tanzania you can find a church on every corner – while there is much faith, there can be, at times, little knowledge of God’s word and many people who go to church do not img73have a Bible. Helping people to access God’s word and then to engage with it, understand it and be changed by it is therefore vital.

In my Scripture engagement work I am often involved in training Sunday school teachers and find that many do not know the Bible well themselves, some don’t have a Bible, and a large number struggle to find the main teaching point of a story or think how to apply it to the lives of children.

Sometimes I visit Bible colleges with my colleagues to encourage the students to consider using their local languages more in churches. We often challenge these trainee pastors by asking if they understand what ‘phylacteries’ are, but they have no idea as the word used in the Swahili Bible makes people think it is referring to a magic charm. This highlights again the need for deep engagement with Scripture in a language that is clear and meaningful.’

  • Please pray that God will give many a passion to see translated Scriptures transform hearts and lives.
  • Ask God to prepare both Tanzanian and expatriate workers to come alongside the local church, helping them to grow in Christ through the use of mother-tongue Scriptures.
  • Pray that God provides workers for these specific vacancies around the world.

Pray for Scripture engagement activities around the world using our prayer resource ‘Encountering God’s word’.

Not too remote

Friday, January 16th, 2015 by Jo Johnson

A recent letter from a colleague in Tanzania reads, ‘Pray we would be able to secure funding to start the translation of the Kisi, Manda and Pangwa New Testaments.’  Wondering what had provoked this request, I decided to investigate.

Pangwa Team membersI discovered that whilst translation work has been happening in Mbeya in several related languages since 2003 using a cluster approach* Kisi and Pangwa have not been developed nor had any Scripture published. Manda did have a translation published in 1937 but it is no longer available or adequate for the needs of the community, since the language has changed so much since then.

The need for translation in Kisi, Manda and Pangwa has been clear since sociolinguistic surveys were done in 2002, but the communities are remote and too far from Mbeya where workshops for ten other languages were being held. It simply wasn’t possible for the Kisi, Manda and Pangwa languages to be part of that cluster project.

The good news is that from 2012 workshops have been held for these 3 languages to help them develop a writing system. The district capital, Ludewa, was used as the hub for these workshops. This has worked to an extent, but the Manda, and particularly the Kisi, find travel to Ludewa a challenge, as there are no direct roads from the lake shore up the steep escarpment to Ludewa town. While some Kisi and Manda have made the 8-hour walk up the mountains for workshops, it has become clear that Ludewa is not a viable centre for a language development project involving the Kisi and Manda.

The work that has been done is appreciated by the Kisi. Language development has demonstrated to them that their community and language are valued by the outside world:

‘We don’t have any roads or phone network, and the only motor vehicles we have are boats, but to see these Kisi calendars makes us so happy that our language is being developed!’

However without committed funding, personnel with translation expertise, and creative solutions to the geographical issues faced by these projects, they cannot move forward and start translation.

Please pray:

  • That funding applications will be successful and that God will provide all the necessary finances needed to start translation in these 3 languages.
  • For planning meetings in February that God will give wisdom and guidance in planning for translation to start in these projects
  • For the right personnel to become available to serve the communities as translation advisors and consultants

Find out in this 3 minute video the Big Things God is doing in Bible translation in Tanzania.

*A language cluster refers to languages that may be linguistically related, and/or from similar geographic regions or cultural backgrounds. Speakers of these languages work together, sharing expertise, training and resources, to develop their languages and work on translation into each language.

Thinking outside the box

Friday, December 5th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

Sometimes we consider the needs around the world and feel overwhelmed. Maybe we even consider how we can go and make a difference and then doubt that the skills we have would be useful.

Here are the stories of two British teachers who instead of going overseas to be teachers, used their teaching skills to make a difference as literacy specialists.

Barbara tells us:

img87‘I spent over twenty years as a teacher in London. Later I became an advisory teacher leading in-service courses for teachers. Helping children, young people and adults to develop and enjoy using their literacy skills was one of the best aspects of my different roles.

When, in 2002, I stood in front of 25 educators as a literacy specialist, I had had the year-long Wycliffe training in which Literacy was one of the components. However, in order to facilitate the development of a mother tongue education programme I leaned heavily on the experiences I gained from teaching. I used the skills I developed through teaching to help participants to develop their writing ability in the mother tongue and to write stories that would appeal to new and developing readers. Some of those stories became books now being used in schools.’

In contrast, Liz’s story goes like this:

‘I was a teaching assistant (TA) with primary school children for two years before my husband and I went to work in a project in South West Tanzania as literacy workers. There were many differences between my TA work in Sheffield and literacy work in Tanzania, as you can imagine!

In Tanzania I was primarily focused on a Basic Literacy programme with preschool children. I was mainly involved in preparing resources and training teachers to deliver them, rather than interacting with the children themselves as I had done previously. However, I used many of the same skills; preparing lessons and working out how to use the resources available to engage children with literacy. Most importantly, my aims were ultimately the same and I was excited about enabling children to reach their full potential and all the opportunities being literate would open up for them, not least to be able to read the Word of God.’

Please join us as we pray:

  • For God to call many to literacy work, especially those who already have transferable skills.
  • For those who are actively considering if God is calling them to work overseas with Wycliffe. Some of those will be attending First Steps events early next year. Pray they will clearly know what God is calling them to.

See where in the world you could go to make a difference as a literacy specialist.

This Jesus can speak our language!

Saturday, September 6th, 2014 by Ruth

The story goes that, back in 1917, Wycliffe founder Cameron Townsend started out in his missionary career offering Spanish Bibles to locals in Guatemala.  A Cakchiquel man, finding material in Spanish incomprehensible, challenged him with, “If your God is so great, why can’t he speak my language?”

This heartbreaking question provoked a dramatic response. Townsend himself went on to translate the New Testament into that man’s language within 10 years.  And nearly 100 years later, following Townsend’s footsteps, God has raised up hundreds of individuals and partner organisations with one vision: to see God’s word translated into every remaining living language, so that this question would be forever answered.

In 2014 – 6,918 languages worldwide.  Only 513 languages with complete Bibles. 1,576 languages still remain with no known Scripture, representing around 98 million people.

Where translation work is underway, the exclamations abound.  People are hearing God speak their language for the first time.  Take this recent showing of The JESUS Film in the Mara area of Tanzania:

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Jesus Film premier, Mara Region

Our SIL Kabwa and Zanaki translators translated the script for these films and were instrumental in finding the voice actors needed.  We are praising God for the tremendous response to the film premiers which took place in April.  To illustrate a little what the response was like, let me tell you what our office’s Partnership Officer, himself a Zanaki man, Pastor Willy Futakamba- reported after the Zanaki Jesus Film Premier. 70+ adults (children were at least another 70) came forward in response to the Gospel message given along with the film. The next day 3 men who had been at the film tracked Pastor Futakamba down at his home. “We now can see that this Jesus can speak our language.  We want to become Christians.  Please tell us where we should go and what we should do.” They were ready to completely leave their previous lives behind and were seeking out a Christian community for which they could join.  God has truly blessed these premiers.  Pray that He will continue to bless these films as they will be used in evangelism around the Kabwa and Zanaki communities. (source: TheTask.net)

 

” The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It never needs a furlough, and is never considered a foreigner.” Townsend, Cameron — Founder, Wycliffe Bible Translators 

You can help to give the story by praying, giving, going, or telling others.

Cheers in church!

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 by Ruth

When was the last time a Bible reading in your church moved the whole congregation to shout, clap and cheer?  Only a few weeks ago in Luhanga, in the Sangu community of Tanzania, that’s exactly what happened!

Andy, writing on theTask.net, tells us the whole story:

The whole passage of the prodigal son was read by a Sangu translator to the receptive church congregation. (Mbeya Cluster – Tanzania)

I was invited to preach in a church in Luhanga in the Sangu area. My plan was to preach about the prodigal son, a story found in Luke 15. The little church was packed with people. 200 adults and 60 children were counted (as announced by the one who led the service).

When my time to preach came I started with some explanations and then read a few verses in Sangu (Luke 15:1-2). The people liked me reading their language and clapped and cheered.  A bit later Abedy, one of our Sangu translators read the whole passage of the “prodigal son”… (full story)

Freshly printed Gospels of Luke in the Sangu language had been delivered to the translation office in Mbeya, just at the beginning of July.  But the translators at the Luhanga church were caught totally unprepared for the many in the congregation who wanted to buy their own copy.  The copies they had with them were snapped up, and Abedy had to return the following week with extras.

God’s word is heard most clearly in the language we understand best… and in the Luhanga church, they heard him loud and clear that week! Find out how you can help to give the story.