I am at the end of my second week in Nigeria. Things continue to go well and I am looking forward to our third week here, and then seeing my family again!
Work in a developing country is always a challenge, and we have daily reminders of that as we deal with the electricity. Electricity from outside regularly turns on and off throughout the day. It seems to be mostly off, but I can’t always tell. The NBTT has a generator that can be turned on to power the compound when the outside electricity is off, but there are significant amounts of time when neither the generator not the outside electricity is on. Since the generator uses fuel, they do not run it in the middle of the night, for instance. And they especially don’t want to run it when there is outside electricity coming in.
the result of all of this is that our meetings are frequently, and sometimes quite inconveniently, interrupted by power outages. Since we are using a minimum of paper in this meeting, all the information is shared electronically, and the presentations are projected on a screen for the audience. Once the electricity goes off, it is quite difficult to continue what we are doing.
“What is the problem?” you might ask. We could just turn on the generator then and continue with the program. That works when the person that runs the generator is present, is awake, can be found, is not away on a trip, etc. But we persevere. And good things are happening.
I observed two translation teams this week. The first three days of the week I spent with two Kamwe men and their consultant. Another man was there being trained for something, but I could find out what. The first day we met and they went through a chapter of Leviticus, chapter three, I believe. One of the translators read the verse in Kamwe. Another would translate that translation into English. Then the consultant would ask questions about the translation. They worked so quickly that they finished the chapter in about two hours.
I was particularly impressed with this young lady working as the consultant. The group was working in English, but she knew the target language of Kamwe well enough that she could converse with them in that language. In addition, she would talk at times to the other young man there for training in a third language that the two Kamwe men did not seem to understand. And then, when there were difficulties at certain points she would read from the Camerounian Bible to give them other examples of translation options. This, and she knew Hebrew extremely well.
When I pointed out to her the next day that she was working in four languages besides Hebrew, she smiled a little shyly. “Did I?” When I counted off the languages and then paused, she said, “Oh, you forgot about Hausa. We used that quite a bit.” I believe it was a desire for accuracy more than pride.
The second day that I spent with the group they got hung up on two verses in Leviticus 4 that dealt with sin that came from mishandling things devoted to God. They had great difficulty in getting the right sense for the things devoted to the Lord. They tried many options, but they all fell short for one reason or another. They struggled through two hours like this. The translators apologized repeatedly for taking so long with these concepts. They were embarrassed, I think, because they were afraid I though they were going too slow.
At the end of the two hours, we began to pack up our things to leave. I asked the consultant if I could say a few things to the translators. I told them that the previous day they flew through about 35 verses of text, but that today they could only do two verses. But then, I reminded them of the text they were translating. It concerned the guilt that would attach to a man who mishandled the things of God. I reminded them that their job there was to translate the Word of God into their native Kamwe language. They were handling the things of God. It was crucial for them to not mishandle it, but to treat it carefully.
There is serious work being done here these three weeks. I am humbled to be invited to be a part of it. My prayer is that God would be honored by the correct handling of his Word, and that many people and peoples would come to know him by reading and studying his Word in their language.