Showing posts with label Bible Translation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible Translation. Show all posts

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Scripture Celebrations Close to Home

When I was in Tanzania and got the chance to go to a Scripture dedication, I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And it pretty much was. Nothing can compare to being with a group of people in person who have never had the Scriptures in their own language before get them for the first time. Or watching as they see the Jesus Film in their own language and huge transformations take place.

So when I got invited to a Scripture Celebration at Wycliffe USA today, I was both excited (mostly to see my dear friends the Bitikofers, who were on my team in Tanzania,) and a little hesitant that the event itself might be a letdown. I was pleasantly surprised, however. While it definitely wasn’t quite the same as being with a language group in Tanzania, it was still an amazing example and celebration of 27 Scripture Projects that have been completed and dedicated in their local communities throughout the world over the past six months. (I was excited to take pictures of a few of them, since I have friends working (or from) many of these countries!
This New Testament translation had to be written in two versions, since the language group lives across a country border and the people have learned to write their language in two very different scripts!
What a blessing to see some of the things I’ve been involved in coming to fruition – and to see how great God is using ordinary little people like myself and my teammates to bring about transformations in hearts and communities around the world, in ways we could never do ourselves.

It was also certainly a pleasure to take part in a celebration where I could actually understand the Scriptures being read - though half the fun of not understanding what's being said during a Scripture dedication is knowing that the words I don't "get" speak to the hearts of so many who haven't "gotten" God's Word before this time. With over 100 English translations of the Bible available, we are beyond rich in our ability to read and comprehend the story of God's grace, if we choose!

One of the interesting aspects of a people group making choices about the book they are translating and dedicating is the unique design and colors they choose to use for the published book. Oftentimes Christians in highly Muslim areas will choose a green cover with a gold border, which is the clearly accepted style for any "holy book" in that region. Another group that lived in the arid desert chose a brown color for the cover of theirs, to show the dry, desolate area that they live in... but made sure the outside of the pages were colored with a rich water-blue to show the contrast of God's ever-flowing, never-running-out Living water that was there's to drink of in God's Word. What a clear picture of God's salvation!

Despite being close-to-(American)-home in Orlando, I had to smile as I heard the chosen song that the recently-translated Bibles (and flags, and individuals representing each country) marched into with. It was a Swahili worship tune that I've sung so often in the past, both with my kids church in Michigan and more often in churches across Tanzania!

And despite having been in the States for about 9 months now, I was still nearly in tears (as I often am) worshiping in English, my own heart language, with a sea of others as we will someday all do around the throne. So many beautiful ways that my heart was captured today, and so thankful for the things I’ve been able to be a part of!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Living My Dream

I’ve been doing a lot of organizing, sorting, and looking back through old stuff the past few weeks. It has been interesting to look back at messages and emails I received after moving to East Africa. People often said things like, “I’m so glad you’re finally getting to live your dream!” And while that's true, in a sense, somehow this comment has always made me stop and think. It’s not because I haven’t been wanting to live and serve in Africa for a long time – ask my college roommates about my frustration with classes when I “could be doing something useful in Africa instead!” (Oh, I was so na├»ve!) I’ve been working towards this for a long time. But the fact is, the only reason Africa or missionary kids were ever on the “hope for” list is because God originally put them there.

Rather than saying I’m living my dream because I’m in Tanzania, or working with amazing kids to support an incredible community working to get the Bible out in languages people understand best, I’d like to say I’m in part “living a dream” because I am simply following God. I feel blessed to have spent much of the last 5 years of my life serving here and bringing many of you along as part of the incredible team that has made this all possible. I’ve learned more about the world, grown in my teaching abilities, become better at helping guide and mold the hearts and minds of children, and have grown in my relationship with God. I'll never be the same.

But the truth is that the only dream I’m living is the one where I seek and follow God.

Trust me, there are great days and fabulous experiences here with amazing friends and there are horrific days where everything under the East African sun goes wrong, just as much and even more so here than in the States. Yes, I’m thankful for the adventures He’s led me on these past 5 years (and well before). I’ve gotten to teach incredibly unique kids from around the world and supported some of the work God is doing here in East Africa through this.

And slowly, over the past year or so, the dream God has put in my heart has been changing. And since my “dream” or hope is to seek after and follow God, I’m excited for the next stage of this dream to come to light.

So come late July of this year, when I head on “furlough” after two years of teaching in Musoma, I’ll be leaving Tanzania without plans to return. At least not right away… who am I to say what the future holds?

So what does this mean? I would love to have you join me in praying about what’s next! I’ll be going on a regular furlough with Wycliffe and will continue to need regular financial, prayerful, and emotional support during this time... even more so, since cost of living will be higher. I will be living in Holland, MI through December in-between traveling and meeting with churches and supporters, reconnecting with family and friends, processing all that’s happened the past five years and taking a required online class. I’m currently exploring options with Wycliffe about continuing to serve Bible Translation from within the States after furlough, and am excited about some possibilities that have come up, but I also know I need some time to process the past five years and lots of prayer before making any big decisions on what’s next.

So in the meantime, I’m sorting, preparing to sell most of what I own here in East Africa while thinking about what I'll need to start over in the States, putting curriculum records together from all I’ve been teaching, and enjoying my last few months as a slightly-confused-American-misplaced-in-the-Land-of-Tanz. I would love your prayers both for where God is leading and for good transitions along the way.

In case you missed it, here’s a copy of my latest newsletter – including the kid section for any of you with little people! Looking forward to seeing many of you soon!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pure Zanaki

Written by Misha S. (for more stories and information on where I'll be headed... go to

When we finished drafting chapters 12-20 of Genesis, we traveled to a small Zanaki village named Mirwa to read the chapters aloud to people and see if they understood them or not and to get help with a few difficult words. In Mirwa, we were fortunate to have a large group of people, mostly non-Christians, who wanted to listen to the stories about Abraham.

The group was very quiet when we were reading, except sometimes they'd tell us to go back and read a paragraph again, not because they hadn't understood, but just because they liked it so much they wanted to hear it again! When we finished reading, they exclaimed, "We thought people weren't speaking pure Zanaki anymore, and that people in town and young people were starting to look down on our language and to prefer Swahili, but here you are reading such good Zanaki! We're so glad to hear our language being used so well, just the way it really is."

A few of the older people in the group said, "Long ago we heard a Christian pastor read to us from the gospel of Matthew, which was the only book of the Bible translated into Zanaki. We thought that when that project ended after just one book, nobody would ever write in Zanaki again. Thank you for your work to remember our language and to write it! We are not Christians, but we think you are doing good work to translate the Bible. These are good stories and the way you have written them in such pure Zanaki...ah, that is sweet to hear."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This is Very Good

written by Misha S.  For more stories, go to

Tanzanian churches are attended by people from various language groups, and because the Bible is in the national language of Swahili, prayer is always in Swahili. During a recent orthography workshop, when an elderly pastor from the Zanaki language was asked which language he used when he prayed alone, the pastor thought for a moment and answered, "Swahili. I always use Swahili. I don't think I have ever prayed in Zanaki. Yes, I am sure I never have in my whole life."

He readily agreed that it would be possible to pray in Zanaki and he believed God would understand Zanaki, but since the prestigious national language is the language of the Bible, it simply never occurred to him that he could use his mother tongue for prayer.

After they heard this testimony, the group of Zanaki speakers spent an hour doing a different sort of work. They discussed a list of prayer requests for their upcoming Bible translation and literacy project. Just before beginning to pray, however, they were asked to pray in their own language. They were startled, but agreed.

In Tanzanian fashion they all prayed aloud and simultaneously. Passionate prayers tumbled out as all seven participants asked God to bless the Zanaki project. At one point one woman simply sat smiling and crying, listening to the others pray in her language. When their voices all quieted, one man closed with a Zanaki, "In Jesus' name, amen." They lifted their heads and everyone had tears running down their cheeks. Tanzanians don't often cry in public, but every one of the seven was wiping their eyes. The elderly pastor who had just prayed and heard others pray in Zanaki for the very first time could not stop smiling.

One Zanaki man said, "Let's do this again. This is very good."

Monday, January 23, 2012

Looking Back at Great Work!

I just saw the below post on a FB page dedicated to the work of Translation in Musoma, Tanzania.  That's where I'll be heading in June... where I'll be teaching the children of the translators and supporting the work you see here! 

In this new year, it is amazing to reflect on all that God accomplished through the work of the Mara Cluster Project in 2011!
Here are just a few of those things:

- 3 Luke dedication events
- 4 other books of Scripture published
- Multiple literacy workshops training 4-8 writers in 8 different language groups
- A shellbook workshop, which resulted in a large number of booklets translated into 8 different languages
- Church leader workshops in 4 different language areas
- Construction of new office building completed
- 6 language committees formed
- Bible Weekend services in 9 different village churches
- Language research in the Suba area
- Translation of the JESUS Film started in 1 language
- Training for 9 Tanzanian staff at GTA & i-DELTA in Kenya
- English courses for 6 Tanzanian staff
- 6 new staff added
- Guests from around the world, including a large prayer team from Austria
- 2 courses taught by Mara Cluster staff at a local Bible college
Check out the FB page, and "like" it to keep updated on what God is doing HERE!  And know that your support and prayers are impacting this work in critical ways...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Kids Change Things!

I've been working on a website to get kids, youth, (and adults) connected and involved with missions for a while now... kind of my creative energy outlet from studying last term.  The site flowed out of my passion for kids, and my frustration with the idea that kids are too little to make a difference.  In fact, I think we need to empower kids and teens of all ages to make changes in the world through actions and through prayer right NOW.  Not in ten years or when they grow up, but today.

My hope is that kids around the world will be able to share and connect with each other and see how God might be encouraging them to do something for Him.  It's also a place where people of all ages can find ways to get connected with missions and pray for language work going on in Musoma.

"Don't let ANYONE look down on you because you are young, but SET AN EXAMPLE for the BELIEVERS in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity."  - 1 Tim 4:12

So... check it out.  Take a look around.  And let me know if you have ideas of how I can make it better.  It's a work in progress for sure, and I'm excited to see if and how God might use it in the future as it continues to develop.
Go to the "Pray for Tanzania" button on the left to learn more about the language project I'll be supporting in Musoma.  Check out some amazing materials (from Wycliffe and other organizations) that I've linked to the Parents and Teachers section for teaching kids about missions.  Try your hand at learning a few new words in Swahili. :)  And learn about the families I'll be working with in Musoma via the link on the right.

Also, if you think this site is worth sharing, would you take a minute to do that?  It could be via FB, your blog, email, word of mouth, or whatever else strikes you.  The goal is to get kids - and adults! - connected, encouraged, and empowered to do the great things God has prepared for them to do!  I appreciate your help in whatever way that might look :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Solid Rock UMC

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to talk at my grandparent’s church.  Maybe I should say my “extended family’s church,” since half my mom’s family attends, and she grew up there.  It was my “home church” in Indiana when we were there visiting family for a weekend, and I’m pretty sure that’s where I learned to light the candles… to read the Scripture in front of everyone for Advent… and learned the game of circling all the vowels in your bulletin when you’re five to keep from being bored when the pastor uses big words.  ha.  (Then again, I still doodle or do something with my hands to pay attention when people are talking… so maybe I was listening back then after all!) 

I remember getting back at Christmas from Tanzania one year ago; my first time back in the States in a year and a half.  My first church service in the States was at this church.  And despite the fact that my church in Dar is in English, I sat there trying to hold back tears as I realized just how much I missed sitting in an American church service, where I wasn’t trying to consider cultural nuances in the sermon, translate in my mind how the message impacted me but also how it would come across to the multicultural community of people around me, which slide we were on and wondering just how technology or power failures would wreck havoc this week as I helped with media technology… and a million other little things.  Sitting back in this church – despite not having been there for a long time – was a refreshing moment of “home.”  Comfort.  Familiarity.

Anyway, back to the point.  Last week, Solid Rock UMC trusted me with the floor.  For the whole service.  They let me do the children’s mini-message (which is always fun), and then put me down for the “message.”  Thankfully, my message didn’t have to be anything profound (I’m not quite adept yet at putting together a 3-point sermon for preaching, despite all those amazing masters Bible classes I just finished…) but I DID get to tell about my experiences teaching overseas and what God is doing in Tanzania with Bible Translation.  Despite spending the latter part of New Year’s Eve nervously practicing my presentation, I actually had a really good time the next day.  Only one person fell asleep for a bit, and most people seemed to enjoy themselves and be really interested, so I figure it went pretty well. :D

I'm so thankful for the chance to spend Christmas with family this year... and to share with family and friends what God is doing around the world!

Oh, and a quick update.  Thanks to some incredible people and churches who have either up'd their monthly contributions or chosen to start giving the past couple of months, I am now officially at 40% of my monthly funds.  I am so thankful for what God is doing!  I still have quite a ways to go in order to get the required 100% I need to go back in March... or later, if need be, according to funds.  If you'd be interested in joining my team, click here for more info... or let me know how I can get connected with your small group, church, or friends who are excited to learn more about what God is doing around the world!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Roadside Customers

This is one of the languages I got to "support" (by teaching the daughter of translators) while working at HOPAC in Dar.  I love how it illustrates the hunger people have for God's Word!  Check out more stories of what God is doing at

(Written by Margaret B.)

The Gospel of Mark is available in the
Rangi Language as a book
and as a cassette.

After an exhausting but fulfilling final day checking aspects of Genesis with a group of older people, we began the journey along the very rough road back to Kondoa.  As I drove along, a man waved to me to stop the car. He wanted to buy our Rangi 2011 calendar!  After one or two more kilometres, another man stopped us; he wanted the calendar too!

We drove a little further and saw an older man running from his house to the roadside. Older people do not run in Rangi culture, so I began to think he needed help with a real emergency, but no; he wanted to buy the Rangi calendar, Mark's gospel and also our cassette recording of the Easter stories from Mark's gospel.  He was delighted with his purchases and began listening immediately.  His delight is evident on his face in the photograph.

Pray that more and more Rangi people will have both the desire and the opportunity to read God's Word in their own language.  Pray also for the continuing work of Bible Translation (and support!) that goes on across Tanzania every day.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Want that for ME!

Another story coming from the region I'm hoping to head to in March.  God is working in big ways!

(Written by Misha S.)

Following their usual routine for checking chapters of translated scripture, the Zanaki team went to a village to read Luke 13. A small group of local people gathered to listen, and one of them read the chapter aloud.
Local people listening to a portion of Scripture being read.

One woman in the group listened intently to the passage about Jesus healing the woman who was crippled by a spirit for eighteen years (Luke 13:10-17).  She stayed during the whole checking session, listening to everyone else.  After the others left at the end of the day, she approached the two translators.  She said, "I want your religion!  I am like that woman who was healed; she had so many problems, but Jesus healed her.  I want that for me!"

In that village there was only one local church, so the translators went and found the pastor.  It turned out that the woman and the pastor were neighbors!  Bringing the pastor to the woman, the translators explained how they'd been reading the newly-translated Zanaki scriptures aloud and that she'd listened and identified with the woman Jesus healed.  The pastor began talking with her, telling her more about the Jesus she'd heard about that day in Luke 13.

One of the Zanaki translators
The translators had no idea how God was going to use the passage they had just translated to touch a woman's life, but they were very happy that he had led them to check that particular chapter in that village!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Twice is Nice!

A story from the Translation work going on in Musoma, Tanzania... where I hope to go in March to help teach the kids of the missionary translators in that area!  (Written by Misha S.)

Note: To read more stories and learn what God is doing in Bible Translation in the Tanzania and Uganda, go to

Rukia reading Genesis
When Rukia, the Ikizu Bible translator, went to a village to read a chapter of her draft of Genesis aloud to get feedback from community members, several people gathered to listen. They were quite surprised to learn that Scripture was being translated into the Ikizu language, but even more surprised to learn that their language could be written.

Rukia began reading and everyone listened very carefully. They were nodding and smiling, following along with the story. She continued reading all the way through the end of the chapter. But as soon as she finished, they suddenly asked her to go back and read the final paragraph again. Rukia immediately thought, “Oh no, what did I mess up in my translation?”
Ikizu speakers listening to their own language being read!!!
After hearing the final paragraph once more, one man in the group leaned back and said, “Thank you, Rukia, for repeating that part of the story. It was just such good Ikizu and so sweet to our ears to hear our language being read that we all wanted to hear it again! We’ve never heard Ikizu being read aloud before!”