Culina New Testament Celebration

Culina New Testament Celebration

Here is a brief report on the Culina New Testament celebration that was held on July 22, 2015.

Dycks' Digest

Celebration of God’s Word in Culina in Peru
For many days before the dedication of the Culina New Testament, people planned and made preparations—cutting the airstrip, setting up the stage and shelter and decorating for the event. Food had been prepared for everyone and was served in various locations in the village.

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On July 22, 2015, in the village of San Bernardo on the Purús river, approximately 300 Culinas gathered to celebrate the arrival of the New Testament in their language The Culinas dressed in their best for the celebration and were very happy to receive the New Testament. It showed in their faces, their dress, and in their singing and traditional dancing.

Culina New Testament celebrationCulina New Testament celebration

The celebration lasted from 10.00 a.m. until 1.00 p.m. with Scripture reading, sharing, singing and dancing. José Vega, pastor of a local Christian radio station gave a message. Our Director, Jim Roberts and the…

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Boyer’s February 2014 Newsletter

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.

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The seven men who came to Pucallpa for the read through

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.

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Abrán, Fermín, Noba and Ahuano. (L-R)

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.

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Victor, Erima and Lázaro (L-R) reading in the office.

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!

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They’ll have to cut down a lot of palm trees to re-thatch this roof! 😦

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
Matthew 21:18-22

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!

Peru’s Independence Day, Culina Style!

Celebrating the 28th of July

I sometimes forget how years ago the way the Culinas of San Bernardo celebrated holidays was with a lot of drinking, dancing to loud music that went all night and people getting hurt. It hasn’t been that way for over five years. Well, they haven’t stayed completely straight all that time, but since there was “revival” in the church, the holiday activities now mostly revolve around the church.

Recently some non-church going people and their families moved back to the village after being away for several years. While discussing the up-coming holiday at a church meeting one Sunday, the leader Dani said, “They may have their parties and do whatever they want, but we are going to have our celebration with the believers!” And that’s just what happened. A few had a little drinking party one night but they didn’t bother the rest of us. The celebrations over the rest of the weekend were enjoyed by all.

Visitors Arrive, Soccer Tournament Begins

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On Friday, Culinas from downriver in Brazil started arriving for the holiday. Two boat-fulls of people came up from the villages of Apohui and Santa Julia, traveling five days to get to San Bernardo. Other Culinas from downriver passed by going to the village of Alberto Delgado upriver from us. On Saturday a soccer tournament started, with teams from the different village playing against each other. Women played women, too. The soccer field had been newly cleared and leveled, so there was very little grass and there had been no rain to wet it down. So it was a real dust bowl!

Lantern Parade

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While a lot of people were playing or watching the games, others were at home making balsa wood structures for tissue paper lanterns that the kids would parade with that evening. Jim had given out the colored tissue paper the day before to all who wanted it.  In the evening when it got dark, we called everyone to our yard and passed out the candles to put in the lanterns. Once everyone’s candle was stuck in place, we lighted them all and the parade began. It was a joyful parade with lots of whooping and hollering! Every now and then some kid’s lantern would catch on fire and burn up! After traversing from one end of the village to the other, everyone gathered on the cement and a bunch of winners were proclaimed.

The Music Begins

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Right after the parade, everybody gathered on the cement where lights, loudspeakers and a keyboard were set up. Chairs had been brought out from the high school so everybody found a place to sit and the next celebration began. Benito and Fermin played songs on the keyboard and sang while Dani did the MC’ing. Dancing groups from San Bernardo and the other villages did their choreography while we all watched. Then everyone was invited to get up to dance and sing along. I got the kids going in a circle and then stepped out to take pictures after we pulled Pepe into join us. Everybody seemed to be having a good time. Sometime before 10 p.m. the program ended, so that everyone could get some sleep and have energy for the next day’s activities.

Sunday Morning on the 28th

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The first activity of the day was a ceremony in the patio of the high school. All the elementary students turned out wearing uniforms and shoes! (They usually don’t wear them to school, so we didn’t know that they all had them.) There was the flag raising and national anthem, a speech by the chief of the village and then a parade. The students had tissue paper flags they had made the day before to carry in the parade. They marched down a dusty path keeping time with a big drum. Adults also marched in groups, and one impressive group of men had painted their faces, dressed as soldiers and carried their shotguns. By the end of the parade the big drum fell apart in pieces!

Shortly after the parade the bell was rung for church. We carted all the benches of our house over to the church to add extra seating. The building completely filled up with all the downriver people coming in too. Benito played the keyboard and the girls danced up front while everyone sang. Some people from the neighbor village of Salon had previously asked that we serve communion, since they hadn’t taken it for a long time. So Jim and I prepared it and Ahuano led the ceremony. Noba preached too. Then we dismissed and went home to prepare for lunch.

Potluck in our Patio

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The day was very hot, and there wasn’t much shade anywhere midday. So the people decided the best place to serve the food would be under a bit of shade in our patio. That way we could pull out some of our tables to set the pots on, too. God had provided a tapir for Alan and a deer for Mesia when they went hunting on Friday, so there was meat to go in the rice and noodles Jonatan had given out to be cooked for the meal. People also brought yuca, bananas, fariña and drinks. There was enough food for all, and some people even came back for seconds or to scrape the pots clean.

Afternoon Soccer games and All-night Service

While the adults continued their tournament in the dust bowl, the kids played soccer on the grass airstrip. No one had organized any other games for the kids, which probably would have been done in the morning had there been no church service. But nobody complained. I was happy that I didn’t have to attend to sick people the whole weekend, as I remember doing on one 28th holiday years ago. Jim and I were able to go out and take pictures, visit with people and watch the soccer games.

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In the evening a gathering was called on the cement again, for more singing, dancing and presentations. Ahuano preached a good message and Cossohui, a chief from downriver, gave a talk. The Brazilian Culinas kept setting off firecrackers in the middle of the cement and all the people. Not a San Bernardo tradition and not really appreciated by all those around! After awhile, Jim couldn’t stay awake anymore so he went home. Pepe and I left just before midnight. They kept up the music and celebrating all night long. It got cold and foggy and some people went home, but a lot stayed up until daybreak. In the early morning towards the end of the time I could hear Benito playing the same song over and over again. Maybe he was too tired to change songs by then!

Saying Good-by to the Visitors

The Brazilian Culinas had brought items to be given out as prizes for the soccer tournament, like shampoo, underwear, soap and perfumes. They had some leftover so someone suggested there be a volleyball game in the morning on Monday before the Brazilians left for home. Not too many turned out for it, though, because some people were probably already taking naps to catch up on their missed sleep! After an hour of attempting to hit the ball back and forth, they gave up and decided it was time to go home. After saying good-bye, they loaded everybody back up in their boats, set off a few firecrackers and were off for downriver. The rest of the day was very quiet! Lots of ZZZzzzzz’s going on!

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The Command Party “Dosseniji”

Independence Day was to fall on Sunday, July 28th. The Tuesday before at an early morning town meeting the people decided to start celebrating early with a traditional command party they call “dosseniji.” The women and girls picked up sticks and went from house to house singing to the men and pounding their sticks on their houses telling them to go fishing. The men got their gear together after breakfast and took off together in several canoes to a favorite fishing spot upriver. At some point along the way one of them shot and killed a large paca whose organs were used as bait. They fished all day long and didn’t return until late afternoon.

While the men were off fishing, the women and girls got their carrying baskets and machetes and took off in canoes to a field upriver. There they dug up a lot of yuca, filled their baskets and came back home. During the morning, a cold storm blew in and the temperature dropped quickly. By the time the men returned, they were half-frozen! They started calling “Jo, jo, jo!” as they approached the village in the canoes, giving a signal to the women so they would know it was time to get together to receive them. The men arrived at the port, got their strings of fish ready and then paraded up the hill to the village single file.

The women and girls had gathered on the cement soccer court and they lined up and began singing. As the men walked up to them they dropped their strings of fish in a pile in front the women. Then they went on home. After the last man left his string, the women rushed up to the pile and each grabbed a string of fish. Then they went home to cook the fish and get plates of food ready with fish and yuca to serve to the men. Or so we thought.

Everyone waited for the call to get back together to eat but it never came. The chief must have thought it was too cold to gather back at the soccer court to eat. We went out to check what was going on and discovered that everyone just ate at home with their families, sitting around their fires to keep warm!

The girls singing to Cesar in front of his house

The girls singing to Cesar in front of his house

The paca rodent Alan shot

The paca rodent Alan shot

Women returning with yuca

Women returning with yuca

The men returning home with fish

The men returning home with fish

Women with fish to take home to cook

Women with fish to take home to cook

Eating the fish around a patio fire

Eating the fish around a patio fire

Seventy times seven

Visitors from Tushmo

Visitors from Tushmo

Jim and I often get tired of people who repeatedly come to our door asking for help. The requests we’ve had over just the past week have been medicine for someone who’s sick, gasoline for a boat so a man get back to work fishing, documents needed for ID cards which children must have in order to have health insurance, food, payment for water or electricity, passage for moto-taxis to get around town in, items students need for their studies and diapers for a handicapped child.

We are rich Christians in a poor world! We need to be patient, loving, generous and kind. Sympathetic, responding like Jesus did, always ready to encourage someone, pray for someone, give someone what they need.

But we often fail. Our human nature gets in the way. Knocks at the door or desperate phone calls often come at inconvenient times. We’d rather continue what we were doing before the interruption came. We may be preparing breakfast, working in the office, watching a good movie or sleeping. We say, “We are here to help the Culinas and these people are not Culinas!” “Our job is Bible translating, not ministering to the poor around us!” And there comes another “but.” We may think we should be doing one thing but God may intend for us to do something else. (What verse is that? I can’t find it right now.)

These people who come are not hurting us. They are not stealing from us. They don’t slander us, they love us and thank God for us! But we get tired of them. We wish that our financial help would help solve their problems and then they wouldn’t come back. But that doesn’t happen. They never have enough to get ahead. They lose their capital that they were working with when there is an emergency, like a sick child, the birth of a baby, the death of a father, the robbery of their boat.

One day as I was pondering this frustration God brought two verses to mind. One was in the Lord’s prayer. “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” The other was when Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

It occurred to me that the same principle of forgiving should also apply to the people who bother us by repeatedly asking for help. Seventy times seven is 490. But I don’t think Jesus meant 490. I think he said that to mean infinitely. Like God can forgive us repeatedly and doesn’t keep a record of how many times it’s been. And sure, God brought us to Peru to minister to the Culinas and we usually do that graciously, but he is taking care of a lot of needs our neighbors in the city have by allowing them to come to us, too.

So my prayer is this:  Lord, help us to be patient. Help us to be gracious and generous. Help us show your love to the people who come to us, whether they be Culina, Shipibo, Junikuin, Sharanahua, or mestizo. They are people you love, and most of them love you, too.

A needle in a haystack

The idea of “looking for a needle in a haystack” is a good description of what Jim and I are doing right now as we’re in the process of looking at Biblical key terms. It’s like we’re going through a concordance of words and checking each verse we’ve done in Culina to see if the term is expressed the way we want it. Right away in the words that start with “a” Jim found an old term for angel that we had neglected to catch and change when we revised Revelations. For years we’ve been changing the former “God’s Word bringer-downer” to “God’s heavenly sent one,” but there in Rev. 22:16 we found we had Jesus saying he would send his word “bringer-downer.” So we got that corrected, and could see the use of the key term program we’re using.

But on some other terms, the translations are not so specific, and we are just not sure what to do! For example, for the term “nations,” we have it translated over a dozen ways! We’ve got non-Jews, Samaritans, people of the whole earth, those who live all around in different countries, people who live in other countries, etc., etc… So do we need to be more consistent and change some of the terms? Or do we just say “We’ve got it covered” and leave them as they are?

Having inconsistently translated terms is not a big deal for the people, because they are going to understand what they’re reading. But if someone comes along who compares English or Spanish Scripture to Culina, they might be critical of the translation and by making negative comments they could cause the people to reject it! Things like that have happened in other languages!

So we continue searching, considering, pondering, asking questions and looking for the needles that don’t belong in our haystack. Needles can do damage to children playing in the hay or animals that eat it. Pray with us that we can find the ones that need to be gotten out!Image

A long, hard wait for Alicia

Alicia got sick in January, shortly after we left the village. She passed a lot of blood and thought she was having a miscarriage. Some of her family encouraged her to go to the shaman to be cured, but her older brothers, Noba and Pablo, encouraged her to follow God’s way and NOT go to the shaman but rather to the medical post. So she took their advice and ended up being evacuated to the city of Pucallpa.

I was called to go meet her at the airport and along with a nurse who accompanied her, we took her to the hospital. It took a few hours to get her through emergency and get her a sonogram and then get her admitted to the hospital. The doctor who took the sonogram surprised us by declaring that she had not been pregnant. OK, so what happened to her was due to some venereal disease. She confessed that she had been sleeping with a man for a month. He was off on a trip for a few months, but had said he wanted to come back and marry her. But after all she suffered with her sickness, she wanted nothing more to do with him!

She felt better after a few days of strong antibiotics and was released from the hospital. We took her to the hostal that is sponsored by the municipal government of the province (county). There she would live and wait for a flight to go home on. Unfortunately, however, there were no flights. None sponsored by the municipal government anyway.

So thus began a long, unpleasant wait to go home. She was not alone, however. Another Culina family of four had been in the hostal since before Christmas and couldn’t get home. Another woman her age who was part Culina and part Sharanahua was also there waiting. Everyone complained that they did not get enough to eat at the hostal. They often asked us for money so they could buy extra food. Sometimes we had them come and work for us so they could earn something. Most of the time we just gave them the money. They complained and complained about the crowded conditions and other problems. Food would run out, gas for the stove would run out, a water pipe or something would break and they’d be without water for a day, etc. etc.

Alicia was really homesick and worried about her four kids back home. They would call by phone and tell her they needed her. One day she and her friend apparently came to our house just to complain about their situation. Alicia said that if she hadn’t followed the advice of her brothers to follow God and come to town, she wouldn’t be suffering here waiting to go home. So was she wishing that she had gone to the witchdoctor instead? After I had had an earful of that I dared to say to her that if she hadn’t sinned by sleeping with that man, she probably never would have even gotten sick in the first place. So she should look at her suffering here as a result of her sin, not a result of doing the right thing afterwards.

Well, after that visit I was sorry that I hadn’t been more sympathetic and sincerely prayed together with them. I had gotten upset over a really minor thing, that being that the two of them had come to our house agreeing to pay the moto-car driver 3 soles instead of 2 soles which is all it should cost. They always arrive and ask at the door for the money to pay the driver. And we always tell them “If someone won’t bring you for 2 soles, then don’t come with him!”

So because that ticked me off and because I resented them taking up my time again after they had just been here the day before for money, I wasn’t in a mood to think about praying. Oh Lord, please forgive me. It was a perfect opportunity and I blew it.

Well, one day a flight did finally materialize. In fact, there were 4 flights, mainly to take teachers back out to the county because it was time for school to start. The municipality was granted only 25 spaces on the last flight. And all the Culinas at the hostal were on the list. Finally things were looking up! Jim went to the airport to see them off the morning of the flight and suddenly it was cancelled! The plane had to go do something in another town. Wow, was that a disappointment for all! The Culinas had also lost the bedroom they were staying in at the hostal, so they were out on the dining room floor for the night. That day the water was off at the hostal, and the bathrooms were a horrible mess!

Alicia and her friend came here in the evening to get some rice and eggs from us for their food and Alicia called home to San Bernardo. She covered her face with a pillow as she cried on the phone to her family. She begged them to get together and each put in some money to send to her so she could pay her own way home. Before they could answer today whether they could do that or not, we got a call from her at the airport. She was on a flight and she needed Jim to go pay for her extra cargo!

Apparently the mayor found out that there was space for one more passenger on an 18 passenger flight and he decided to put Alicia on. I think perhaps her brothers were praying back home because they didn’t have any money to send her! Actually, they were probably all praying all along, as well as our prayer partners who we kept updated on this saga. The other Culinas are still stuck in the hostal but Alicia is now back on the river and on her way back to San Bernardo! I hope she is thanking the Lord as we are!

Alicia with her four kids, Julio, Neyda, Eugenia & Quique. Tomboy sister Meque on right with Lili's daughter Francia

Alicia with her four kids, Julio, Neyda, Eugenia & Quique. Tomboy sister Meque on right with Lili’s daughter Francia