I think of the guys pictured here when I think of ten years translating the Gospel According to Mark into the Somau Garia language. Don’t picture for a minute a “brave” and lonely translator sitting alone in his study day after day, bent over the desk, scribbling away. My style of working the text over is all about team work and getting people working together rather than doing it all myself.
When I think of the ten years of translating Mark I think of James, pictured on the left. James leads by force of character rather than force. His soft-spoken word carries weight in his community as does is wisdom. I think of Wilolo, also known as Wai (pronounced “why”). Wilolo is longsuffering, faithful, always ready to help. Ezekiel, in the faded red cap, is the father of the group in many ways. His vision and intense passion has turned his Christian name into a name that characterizes his fiery, prophetic personality. Kenny, in the blue shirt, seems ver stern at first, but softens when drawn into a translation problem to be worked out or giving counsel on how a phrase will be understood by hearers. Sominak you met yesterday. Stanley is kneeling on the right. Stanley has been with us from almost the beginning. He once survived being bitten by a Death Adder while attending a worship service being held during a week of translation. God kept him from dying that night and he is still at work today, helping translate Luke and Acts. The man in the colorful, PNG shirt is named Siramia. Siramia is a natural clown, of the physical sort like Dick Van Dyke used to be in younger days. Siramia has fallen on hard times and needs your prayers.
For five years these men taught me their language and their way of life. I knew nothing of their world. They taught me how to count on my fingers, how to hunt pig, how to carve a garamut drum, how their people see the world and all those important events like birth, finding a wife and death. For the next five years I taught them what I knew about how to translate the Bible and together, we drafted, tested, corrected, back translated, checked, and published the Gospel According to Mark in the Somau Garia language. Together we celebrated on Easter 2007 as we sang and danced and sold copies to the 1,000 people who were in attendance for the event.
In September this year, on a visit to Papua New Guinea, I spent time with them again. Ezekiel and I were talking one day. “Ezekiel, we have ten years to finish the other twenty-six. Can we work hard enough to get it done in that amount of time?” Only God knows but we are marking the next ten years for completion of the Somau Garia New Testament.
The biggest hitch in this plan is building the team. In order for Pioneer Bible Translators to be able to send us, we need to build a team of prayer and provision partners. To that end we are setting aside the days remaining in 2013 to connecting with 40 new monthly financial partners, 40 new special needs partners, and 40 new prayer partners. We started the campaign last Friday. As of this afternoon, God has provided two new prayer partners. PTL!
Thank you friends!