It took less time than we thought it would and we didn’t have to work evenings. Jonathan Burmeister, long time veteran Bible translator and translation consultant, checked over every verse of Galatians and James in two days. We worked solid Tuesday through Wednesday using a Bakwé person that didn’t participate in the translation process to back-translate from Bakwé to literal French. This way Jonathan, who doesn’t know any Bakwé, could see our translation and check it against the Greek. He often would ask questions of the back-translator to satisfy himself that we were faithfully translating the original. Overall Jonathan didn’t find any real problems and he said that we were doing a good job. He was surprised that it only took two days to check both books. We took a third day to add some more footnotes to both books and discuss the future books that we are going to translate. In all it was a very encouraging time.
We pulled into the village around 5pm on Monday. Not a lot of people were home yet from their various activities, but we did get some shouts and waves welcoming us from the courtyards that we drove by. Tuesday morning we went out early to give our condolences to two families that lost a family member since I was here last November. Then we went around and greeted each family in the village, which is the custom when you have been away for a while. And you have to do it very early. We actually woke up some people out of their beds. Sounds rude, but that is the custom here.
After the greetings, which took an hour and a half, we returned to the house and had coffee and baguettes. Then we worked for 9 hours. I worked with my team checking the first four chapters of Galatians with Mr. Burmeister (a translation consultant). Benjamin worked with Pastor Firmain in another room training him on the new audio equipment we brought out. Later in the day as we worked in the next room we could hear the Bakwé singing and drumming group raising their voices in the recording studio.
We are making good progress and the weather is nearly perfect. Today we should finish Galatians and start checking our translation of James. More on translation checking another time. For now I hear breakfast being made in the kitchen, so off we go for coffee and French baguettes.
It took about 35 hours of travel including the layovers. We were tired as we pulled into the Guest House in Abidjan but grateful for an uneventful trip. All our baggage arrived! It was early evening and we were welcomed by one of our colleagues and offered a hot spaghetti meal and mangoes for desert! After eating and visiting for a while I was happy to get back up to our apartment and listen to the night noises coming in the windows. The frog and cricket chorus is especially good during rainy season, which is in full swing right now! The night was cooler but humid.
We slept well. After coffee and a ‘pain-au-chocolat’ we drove to the Cocody UEESO Church for Lord’s Day worship service. More boisterous than ours, but then we’re in Africa! Clapping, subdued dancing, and singing –all at the same time– is definitely something people here are good at! (I wonder what King David’s dancing looked like?)
After church I took Benjamin to a cook shop in the poorer section of town where we could get a plate of rice and peanut sauce for less than two bucks. No, I’m not trying to kill him; just the experience you now! OK, you do have to wave the flies off your food, but it was tasty and acceptably clean. The cook worked for years cooking for the German embassy folks I’m told.
The rest of this sabbath day we mostly relaxed and wrote home. Tomorrow after a meeting in the morning with my field director we will get in my truck and drive west for 6-8 hours (depending on the road) to the village of Touadji and try to get set up before it gets too late in the evening. A translation consultant is coming out with us to do a verse by verse check of our translation of Galatians and James into Bakwé. We should have some more interesting pictures coming soon.
Our departure date is fast approaching. We leave Friday. Thirty five hours and two layovers after take-off, we will climb out of a state of the art Airbus and enter another world and culture. Working on translation from a distance and making two trips out per year has its benefits. It also has its cons. Aside from the obvious ones, there is one I didn’t expect. The sheer speed in which you change cultures. When you plan to be gone for four years you do much more mental preparation for the transplant. For these short trips, one day you are weed-whacking the backyard and the next day you are eating grilled aloko plantains on the streets in Abidjan. And then after three fully packed weeks of working all hours of the day you are again sitting in your backyard sipping iced-tea and listening to the the neighbor’s sprinklers watering the grass. And your head sort of feels like the sprinkler. Its a lot of fun though.
Benjamin Nieuwsma is traveling with me on this trip and we have a lot we would like to accomplish, including the following: have a translation consultant check my translation of Galatians and James; teach a small group of Bakwé micro-entrepreneurs; setup a wireless network and train our Bakwé colleagues how to troubleshoot it; set up and train in the use of the new audio recording equipment; train in the use of other software; visit each of the Bakwé micro-entrepreneurs.
We will try to update this site with some text and some pictures as our trip progresses, so check back every couple of days.
Last week our Bakwé colleagues met with a number of regional pastors and youth leaders of the Bakwé Harris Church. The Harris Church is an African Independent Church. You can read more about it here. The point of the meeting was to solicit the help of the Harris Church both in translating the Bible and promoting literacy in the church. The leaders were encouraged and promised to help us. They asked us to call another meeting in the near future so that more could be present. Representatives from Kpéhiri asked for us to help start a class in their town (the furthest Bakwé town in the north of the Bakwé region).William Wadé Harris, the founder of the Harris Church, emphasized the importance of God’s Word during his preaching tour in the early 1900’s. Finally today, almost 100 years later, the Book is being translated into Bakwé! But, a Bible that cannot be read is not very useful. This is why we are training teachers and helping start up reading and writing classes in an increasing number of Bakwé towns. We also are preparing to provide an audio recording to go along with all of our printed literature. About 40 titles are now available in the language ranging from health booklets to folktales. Also available are the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of John, and the Epistles of John. Galatians and James will be published this year with Luke and Acts next in line. Some of these publications are now available as PDF files here under the “télécharger” drop-down menu.