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This book excerpt is taken from “In Search of the Source: A First Encounter With God’s Word,” by Neil Anderson with Hyatt Moore. To purchase the book, visit shop.wyclife.org.

I looked down at the pile in my lap and up again. In the half-light of the place all I could see were eyes and gleaming brown faces catching the fire’s glow. Finally, as calmly as I could, I said, “I don’t know this food. How do you eat it?”

“Let me show you,” Apusi Ali said. He picked up one of the thick, hot larvae and held it up to his mouth. Feigning to take a few tentative nibbles, he said, “You don’t do it like this! That is the wrong way to eat sago grubs.” Then, scooping up a great handful, he said, “This is the way to eat them,” and he thrust the whole batch into his mouth.

He chewed, then he swallowed. As he swallowed, I did too, though my mouth was dry.

Then it was my turn. “Do you eat it with sago?” I asked, stalling as best I could. Sago is no favorite of mine either. Cooked, it’s a rubber, gelatinous mass—like something between tapioca pudding and a sponge. But here I just might need a sponge.

They thought the sago was a good idea. They love it. I thought of dishes I had recoiled from in childhood. What I wouldn’t give now for one of those to trade for any of this.

Equipped with a bite of sago, I took a handful of the grubs, almost like Apusi Ali had done, inserted them in my mouth and chomped down.

As I chewed, everybody watched. I chewed for a long time, mouth closed, expression steady and finally they began to slip down my throat.

As I finished, Hotere leaned across the fire and asked, “Felére? Are they good?”

I paused, then matched his grin with my own and said, “Felérapó. Yes, they’re good.”

With that everybody burst into great cheers. People were slapping me on the back, waving and affirming emphatically, “Of course they’re good. We just wanted you to know they’re good!”

With that came a barrage of offers to taste every delicacy they had. Kayame gave me a piece of braided intestines skewered on a stick. Hotere gave me a bite of boar brains. So pleased they were that I would enjoy their food. But they were especially pleased that I would enjoy o fóe “grubs.” And of course I had to eat some more.

At one point, genuinely interested, I asked, “What are these things, anyway?”

For a moment they looked at me incredulously. Could I be serious? What person in the world would not know what these were? I asked again and Kima leaned forward and said, “Akaoní o foe kaaratapo.”

I only got about half of what he said. I’d heard o fóe in there and akao, the word for a large beetle, but the verb he used confused me. Kaatapo was the verb “to begin,” I knew that, but I had never heard it with the ra in the middle. From other contexts I knew the ra infix, added to the verb “to begin,” must mean “cause to begin,” but I wasn’t sure I had it.

“Wait a minute,” I said. “What did you say?” It had gone by me so fast it was already blurred.

Soké, sitting next to Kima, piped up. Both Kima and Soké are astute with language, and they were always coaching me. Paraphrasing Kima’s message for me, Soké pointed to the grubs on my right then over to the beetles on my left and said, “When these things fly, they fly as these.”

I understood that fine. What they were telling me was that the sago grub is the larval stage of this particular beetle.

“But that’s not what Kima said,” I protested. I needed to hear the exact phrase again.

By that time no one could remember it. It hadn’t been that important. But, groping back, someone finally got it and this time I heard the whole thing good and slow: Akaoní o fóe kaaratapó “these beetles cause these grubs to begin.”

I must have looked like I was catching onto something significant as they were all with me now. “Tell me more about this word, kaaratapó,” I said, and everybody jumped in at once with all sorts of examples.

“You know,” they said, “butterflies begin caterpillars. Flies begin maggots, rhinoceros beetles begin tree grubs.”

When it quieted down a bit, Kima said, “It’s like when the world started.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You know,” he said, “ . . . a long time ago. All this didn’t just come up by itself. It had to have a beginning and somebody began it.”

I looked at Hapele and Isa sitting a little way down from where all this was going on, and they too were listening closely. “We’ve been looking for a word,” I said to everybody in general. “On the first day of translation we got stuck. We were trying to find a word that would describe something like what you’re saying here but we couldn’t find it—I think we’re close, though.”

“If we took the word for God, Kóto,” I went on, “and added ne to indicate God as the one doing the action, then added ra in the middle of the verb, changing it from ‘to begin’ to ‘to cause to begin,’ what you’d have is: Keké nale alimó Kótóné saró haetamo Kaaralipakalepó, ‘In the beginning God caused the ground and the sky to come into being.’”

They nodded in unison.

“Just like that?” I asked. I could hardly believe it was falling into place.

“Just like that,” they said.

Just like that God created the heavens and the earth. And just like that He had just given us a way to say it.

Eight people standing in a canoe spear fishing on the Sepik River. Huts on stilts in background.

Eight people standing in a canoe spear fishing on the Sepik River. Huts on stilts in background.

Translating Together

While some of the early heroes of Bible translation, like Martin Luther, worked in isolation, the work of Bible translation is best accomplished in community.

Translation that is accurate, clear and natural requires understanding the text’s original language, as well as the language it is to be translated into. Good translation relies on cultural awareness of the community that is to receive the translation, as well as the peoples and customs of those for whom the original Scriptures were written. These are only a couple of the many things that must be learned and carefully thought through if any translation project is to be successful.

Today, more than ever, Bible translation is a shared task. It is accomplished by people working together. One method of working together involves multiple translation teams — often from the same geographical region — coming together in a workshop setting to learn more about almost any subject that will help them produce high-quality translations. In these encouraging settings, mother tongue translators study and learn together. They apply what they have learned and review their work with consultants. And often, they leave a workshop with publishable portions of Scripture.

Ed Lauber, a strategic planning consultant working in Ghana, Africa, said, “It is impossible for any one translator or translation team to have all the skills and knowledge necessary to carry the work forward successfully.” Ed has been involved in designing, implementing and evaluating workshops in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burkina Faso. He has also taught at translation workshops and witnessed the kind of progress they inspire.

“I was teaching at a training workshop for national translators in Burkina Faso,” he said. “They were grappling with the same translation problem when one of the students — not one of the staff, mind you — came up with a solution they all could use.” The solution had to do with how the passive voice is used in many of their languages. It was a solution that didn’t just help the translation of one verse, but all the times the passive voice is used in the Bible. “That one solution could save days, weeks, perhaps even months of work because the passive voice occurs many times,” said Ed.

In an article highlighting the value of workshops and working together Naana Nkrumah, a translation consultant with the Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation, wrote, “Bible translation requires the use of all our human faculties. It is therefore teamwork.” According to Naana, every translation project will tap into the skills of different people, all of whom are working toward one goal — an accurate, clear and natural Scripture translation that remains faithful to the original text. He further underlined his point with a Ghanaian proverb which says, “Wisdom is not the preserve of any one person.”

Prayer partners too, are essential to the progress made through workshops. Jeff and Peg Shrum are linguists and translators helping to facilitate a Bible translation project in the Takwane language of Mozambique. Peg has participated in workshops alongside national colleagues, aiding in their comprehension and application of the teachings. When she reflects on the fact that people are interceding on her behalf, she says it helps her feel like she is part of God’s team. “Sometimes when one is geographically isolated, there is the temptation to feel like the Lone Ranger,” said Peg. “But knowing others are bathing a workshop in prayer makes one feel like part of something big that God is orchestrating. It changes everything.”

Please join us in praying for the many translation workshops taking place all over the world. Through these meaningful and instructive events, translators are elevating their work and speeding God’s Word to those who have yet to hear it. Thank you!

This article originally appeared in Wycliffe USA’s Intercessor publication.

Ethiopia Bible

“The Bible is my life,” says Dereje Tilahun of Wycliffe Africa as he lifts his Bible in his language, Amharic, and presses it against his chest. “I cannot live without it.” Dereje feels strongly about bringing the Bible to all 80 plus languages of his home country of Ethiopia. And he is committed to helping people enjoy Scripture on a regular basis.  Dereje manages a group that prepares and distributes printed materials, recordings, and videos that assist believers in understanding and applying the Bible to their everyday lives. He believes that his own life was “built by the word of God,” and now he wants the same for others. Read more about Dereje.

Summer time is just around the corner, and you might even now be wondering how you’re going to keep your kids busy for the next few months. Well, we thought we could help you out (at least a bit) by giving some fun activities to keep those kiddos entertained!

Kate and Mack are your kids’ newest friends from Wycliffe, and they’ve been traveling all around the world. And as they travel, they share their adventures through free downloadable activities. You can either choose to sign up to travel with Kate and Mack and receive new activities twice a month (visit Wycliffe.org/A-Z) or you can download all of their recent activities here.

We have a lot of fun things to share in the upcoming months, so you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled!

  • In May we’ll be sharing Travel Kate, a great way to get your kids to think about friends and family living in other places around the world or the country. They can help Kate and Mack travel — by envelope!
  • In June we’ll be sharing “Summer Around the World with Kate & Mack,” filled with fun facts, crafts, games and more to keep your kids entertained for hours.
  • And in July, we’ll have five awesome recipes from around the world, shared by some of our very own missionary kids!

So look no further — we’ve got lots to keep your kids busy during these summer months, and we hope you’ll travel with us!

Travel with Kate & Mack

Kate and Mack also have a book, activities, card games, map, pins, and more available for purchases here.

We all have something we’re waiting for, something that we look forward to with eager anticipation. Usually it’s something short-term, like a birthday, holiday or maybe even retirement. But there are people all around the world who are still waiting for the best gift of all: God’s Word in their own language. Some have waited for decades. And this summer, you can help end that wait in 54 languages around the world. Join us in bringing words of hope to these language groups in 17 different countries. Visit wycliffe.org/changedlives to learn more.

By Melissa Paredes

It’s one thing to learn how to read the Bible in your language; it’s another to understand and apply it. That’s why Bible translation, literacy and Scripture engagement must work together to bring about true life change.

In Uganda, workshops are helping equip leaders with the knowledge to share God’s Word with others in their own language.

Mr. Muuda Joseph speaks the Lugwere language. Recently he attended a workshop about the Gospel of Mark with other local church leaders. After the workshop, he shared, “For me this training workshop is a big blessing. … I had never had such an opportunity to read Scripture in my own language. This is the best day in my life. I now feel like ‘God is a Mugwere.’ His Word speaks to me more clearly than I have ever felt before.”

Mr. Muuda particularly enjoyed the discussion about confession and repentance from sin. Team members shared that it was wonderful to see the attendees discussing issues in their own language and reading the Bible for themselves. Since they were able to read God’s Word in their own language, difficult concepts and expressions were easier to understand.

Now the church leaders have promised to go back to their local churches and begin Bible study classes. They’ll also promote use of the Bible in their own language so that people can understand with greater clarity and ease. Praise God that people are gaining deeper knowledge and understanding as they study the Bible in the language they understand best! God is not just for English-speakers; he’s God of the Mugwere too.

Mugwere

Workshops are one way that people are able to help share God’s Word with people in a language they can understand. Learn more about how you can help support translation, training and Scripture use in 54 different projects around the world here.

We are thrilled and honored that Wycliffe USA’s film, “Arop: Sacrifice, Tragedy, Transformation” placed third at the International Christian Film Festival last weekend! The documentary chronicles how God used a devastating tsunami to change the face of Bible translation in Papua New Guinea.

On July 17, 1998, three massive tidal waves struck the northern coast of Papua New Guinea, killing more than 2,000 people and destroying Arop and other coastal villages in a matter of seconds.

“Arop” is based on the book “Sleeping Coconuts,” the true account of Wycliffe translators John and Bonnie Nystrom, who had lived among the Arop people for 10 years before the tsunami hit. In the aftermath, the Nystroms and the Arop translation team members saw an opportunity to transform their approach to Bible translation. The new method involved local translators from 11 language groups working together on simultaneous projects.

“We don’t have enough translators like us to go around,” Bonnie explains in the film. “God is raising up local people to do translations in multiple languages so the expertise that we can bring can be multiplied.”

The full 30-minute film is available at www.wycliffe.org/arop. There you’ll also find an opportunity to receive related discussion questions for your family or small group.

3rd place Best Documentary award

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