Trip to the village in October 2013
Jim and I went back to the village with plans for getting answers to some remaining questions we had and to write up a few more entries for the New Testament glossary. We also had to select five people we wanted to come back to Pucallpa with us to be part of a committee to read through the whole New Testament one final time. Before we left Pucallpa we had set up both our house and the Culina house out back for hosting 7 or 8 extra people. Besides the five committee members, our translation helpers Noba and Ahuano would be with us as well.
The “Read Through”
The five committee members we ended up selecting were all men who were in their late twenties to early thirties and each represented one large family group or village. In mid-November we all came to Pucallpa on two flights and settled in to the various beds, hammocks and mosquito nets. We started having our main meals at lunch time at a little restaurant a few blocks down the street, but quickly gave that up and cooked at our house with the help of a couple different ladies. We assigned chores to all the guys and rotated them each week so that everyone had something to do to help out, for example: buy bread at the bakery, shop at the market, set the table, clear the table, wash the dishes, take out the trash, etc. Most of the evenings the guys got comfortable in the couches and chairs in our living room and watched movies – shirts off, fans on and feet up style.
As we read the New Testament, we didn’t go straight through but alternated between short books and long books, and ended by reading Revelation. We had a chart of each book and its chapters on the overhead for the office as well as on paper for the dining room, so as we finished chapters and books we colored in the charts. It helped us see what progress we were making and how much more we had to go.
Our days were full, reading from about 8 in the morning until as late as 6 some afternoons, but the guys worked well without complaining. We laughed at each other’s reading blunders and praised those who caught mistakes in the text. When something was found to be awkward or incomprehensible, we projected the text on the wall and worked on it together to find a better expression. Old words that are no longer used and words deemed “downriver dialect” were changed to something more agreeable to everyone. Some verbs that we had always written with a space in the middle lost the space. Another type of verb had its middle space moved to a different place in the word. Oh my! That just gives you a bit of an idea about what went on as we read through the whole New Testament. (For another example, see the anecdote about the fig tree.)
On Thanksgiving Day, Jim and I went to a dinner with 60 other missionaries from this area working with several missions and we had a nice time. Meanwhile, the guys read through the 130-plus glossary entries by themselves and ate out at a restaurant.
After five weeks we finished all the reading and five of the guys were able to get home before Christmas on the SAMAir Cessna plane. The other two missed their commercial flight before Christmas and so were delayed until the 26th of December. As a result of that disappointing event, both Jim and I now have cell phones so that in the future we hopefully won’t miss any announcements like a change of flight date. We’re finding that those phones come in handy for other reasons too!
After Christmas when the guys had all gone home, the pressure of everything on us was greatly alleviated and our work pace slowed considerably. We still had lots of notes from the reading to go through and double check to make sure the files of the Scriptures were updated correctly. Then there was the rather lengthy glossary, which we thought we could wrap up in just a few days, but instead it seemed like we would never finish it. We worked on all those details throughout January and into the second week of February. Finally, on Valentine’s Day, we finished all the edits and went to town to celebrate by eating ice cream!
For the next couple of months
The New Testament and glossary was then sent via the internet to a colleague in the States, Kathy Bergman, who is working on the typesetting. Kathy ran several computer checks on the text and found many issues to question. She doesn’t know the language, but the computer checks she does analyze patterns in the text and flag anomalies. It is interesting to see what the checks find, such as misspelled words, wrong punctuation and quotes that have a beginning but no ending quote mark. For the next month or so, we’ll be answer-ing Kathy, picking out illustrations, making decisions about the text, finding a design for the cover, and reading the whole New Testament over again at least one more time! There are also other matters that our administrator has to deal with, such as reporting on approvals of the text and handling the request for funding. We hope that by the end of March both Kathy’s and our parts will be completed and the files can be sent off for publication. Might that be optimistic? Maybe so, but it’s what we’ll be aiming for!
Back to the village
Once the layout is completed we will go to the village for a month, hopefully in April. There we need to pay the people who have worked over the past months maintaining our yard and the airstrip. Then we need to oversee the re-thatching of the roof of our house. We also look forward to encouraging the believers with the good news that the New Testament is on the way to the printers!
Trip to the USA
It has been over four years since we were in the States for a home assignment (what we used to call “furlough”), so in May we plan to return for a period of five to six months to spend time with our families and to visit friends and churches. We have ministry partners from Dade City, Florida all the way to Eagle River, Alaska, and we would love to visit each one of you, but it is not really feasable in the time period we have. Our preliminary plans are to make our way in June and July from Jim’s folks in Atlanta north to Minneapolis, then south to Dallas. From there we plan to head west to California by early August to spend time with Cindy’s folks and visit people there in September and October.
Special prayer request
Something we have talked about and written about since we were on furlough last time is the fact that special difficulties often seem to surface when translations near completion.Over the past couple of months, two of our colleagues here in Pucallpa have slipped, fallen and broken bones. There but for the grace of God, go I! (says Cindy, who herself has had several bad falls and whose mom recently fell and broke her wrist).
Another example is what happened to colleagues of ours, Bob and Nancy Weber, translators for the Rapa Nui of Easter Island. The Webers are at the same stage in their translation as we are, doing final checks and preparations for publication. A couple of weeks ago a lightening bolt struck the island’s power and telephone grids and gave both of them an electric shock through their laptop computers. Praise God that both they and the computers survived unharmed! However, several other pieces of equipment were damaged and will be expensive and hard to replace quickly due to the distance the island is from the mainland, Chile.
If you are one of our prayer warriors and you have internet access, we encourage you to check out this article from Wycliffe: “How To Pray for Translations Nearing Completion” at: wycliffe.net/resources/prayerresources/tabid/107/Default.aspx?id=1364.
So please pray for us and the Webers during this crucial time in the translation.
The parable of the fig tree
Jesus wanted figs and the tree he went up to did not have any so he told it that it would never bear fruit again. “Immediately the tree withered” it says in the NIV translation. The Culina word we had used for withered meant to dry. Looking back over revisions of the verse from years ago, we see it went from the form tada tajari to tada tade, indicating Matthew was there and saw it, to tada-da-da najari, indicating the process of drying up. But in reading it through with the committee, one of the guys said “That’s the wrong word” and everyone agreed. Tada tajari is used for things that are wet, like clothes, rain on the ground or our hair after a bath. Dseqqueri-ri nade was the word we needed, which is the word used for grains, grass or leaves drying up. Yep, we knew that, but it didn’t come to our attention until the read through!