Wednesday, May 15, 2013
That sounds simple enough to translate, right? But it's worth noting that this little sentence found within the first two verses of Ephesians poses some difficult problems. The words by themselves aren't that difficult. Key terms such as 'peace' and 'grace' have already been ironed out. So what's the problem? The problem is that where Paul's purpose was to express a God oriented well wishing in the context of a greeting, it actually comes across in the Mibu translation as though he is already starting to teach or exhort. While I'm sure that Paul did want them to know about grace and peace, he certainly wasn't expounding on the ideas or even exhorting them to do anything here. It was simply a well wishing as part of a greeting. As it is now, this is not a faithful rendition of the text into the Mibu language.
Stepping back and looking at it some more, it's clear that the problem has to do with the whole of these first two verses which form the opening of the letter. You see, each language has it's own patterns and structures for communicating ideas. The Greek language had a certain pattern which clearly indicated the opening of a letter, with greetings, introductions, well wishings, etc. Well the Mibu language will have a different pattern for the same ideas to be communicated just as clearly. In the Mibu language, this will look very very different than the pattern for the same in Greek. Our job is to get these ideas restructured in a way that comes across the same way in the Mibu language that it did in Greek.
Add to the problem the fact that currently there IS NO standard letter writing genre in Mibu! It was only recently that the Mibus began to read and write in their own language. Patterns for letter openings and greetings are only just beginning to emerge. For now, we're mostly shooting in the dark here. With each attempt at translating a letter opening, and each process of checking and refining, the 'standard' gets better and better, communicating more and more clearly and effectively. Sesi and I have to 'invent' the right form to make this work! Since last week's first check for comprehension, we've revisited the section with this in mind and have what seems like the best letter opening yet, which further checking will either affirm or contradict.
Once this form takes the right shape and the letter opening and greeting come across clearly for what they're supposed to be, then the pieces within, such as, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ," will be easier to iron out so that rather than come across as an abrupt jump into teaching, it will fit in the context more appropriately as the well wishing God inspired it to be.
We find it possible to translate all the words accurately, yet put them together in a way such that the author's purpose fades into ambiguity. Yet the purpose is fundamental to every successful communication. As you can see in the above example, we find that often it's not just finding the equivalents of words and phrases and ideas, but presenting them in such a way that the purpose is kept clear that presents the biggest challenge in translation.
Posted by Geoff and Shannon Husa at 8:48 AM
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Being the only expat family serving in a ministry where the workload could keep three families busy, takes some prioritizing to make things work. The big push for us has been staying in the background as much as possible as far as the church is concerned and focusing on bible translation. God's word in the Mibu people's language is foundational to all the rest of the church development efforts. It's easy to get bogged down in other details, important though they be, and see translation become one of those 'closer than they appear' objects in the rear view mirror. Our goal as the only full time family here right now is to keep the translation in the forefront of our efforts.
Since mid-January we've been working on translating Ephesians. Finishing the first half of the letter last week felt like a major accomplishment for Sesi and I. The task wasn't without it's great challenges what with seemingly impossible long sentences, difficult concepts and logical connections that seem far above my pay grade! Relief might be a word to add to how we felt when we finished; Not because we don't enjoy the work, but because of its difficulty, and because all throughout you're concerned that you're going to hit an insurmountable wall, or make a really bad mistake navigating through it all. When you do eventually finish, when you're convinced that God's word is accurately represented in the Mibu language, a sense of relief can certainly be added to that of accomplishment.
Now it's time for another step. It's time to put the text to the test. Yesterday we began checking these first 3 chapters of Ephesians for comprehension and possible misunderstanding. This involves working with several people, reading portions of the text and having them tell back what they heard, asking them questions about the main point, specific terminology used, flow of thought and other details that indicate the text is being understood. This is where we find that while the text might be accurate in the sense that it contains all the details of the original, it may not actually be communicating those things very clearly. There may be confusion or misunderstanding. The point being made may prove elusive. Or... what we really hope for is that the text is indeed communicating clearly, where large portions can be read, understood, and talked about clearly. It's a rare thing that all this comes together really well on the first check. But yesterday, when we checked the the first two chapters we found things going very smoothly with only a few places that needed corrections, and the few corrections that are needed were pretty easy to pinpoint!
Please pray as we continue the checking process, with chapter 3 today, and further checks with different people over the coming week or so. Also be in prayer as we begin to get ready to move into translating the second half of Ephesians. It's a huge and difficult process. We need your continued prayers for all the work that remains!
Posted by Geoff and Shannon Husa at 8:07 AM
Saturday, February 23, 2013
The biggest and most obvious benefits of this airstrip for the Mibu community is a more consistent means of selling their coffee, and at a much fairer price. Currently the Mibus work all year on their coffee, only to be faced with the question after harvest of whether or not they'll even get paid. And if they do get paid, it's often not even half of what coffee is normally sold for. It's a rather hopeless situation, especially when faced with whether or not you want to hike over 11,000 kilograms of coffee on your backs, two days down the mountain! Other benefits include the possibility of selling their oranges (domestically available oranges are a rare find in this country and the Mibus have a huge harvest of them) and also increased ability to get seriously ill people to a hospital in town. There's no doubt an airstrip is a huge asset to the community. It's only a matter of actually building it. Again, it's a huge task.
Just the other day, we calculated that the people here have managed to move 300-400 tons of dirt in the last couple months! An astounding amount of work done with just 5 shovels, some bush knives, two heavy iron bars for digging out rock, and a whole lot of water. That's right... water! The Mibu people built two dams near the top of the area they're working right now. Each dam fills with around 3000 gallons of water or more. While it's filling with the runoff from the rain we get almost every day, people are digging and filling a ditch with loose dirt and stones. When full, the dammed up water is released, powerfully coursing it's ditched path down the mountain taking maybe 10-15 tons of dirt at a time and depositing it at the bottom, in a retaining wall. This method builds up areas quickly and with much less effort than manually lugging the stuff down.
While this airstrip, and the responsibility of building it, is entirely the Mibu people's, we support it as members of the community ourselves and are committed to providing some help while being sure not to overstep our bounds and making it our project. As part of this commitment Sun Valley Community Church has agreed to send a small team of people here to Mibu to work alongside the folks here in Mibu for about 10 days, helping carry out the plan that the Mibus have devised. It's a great chance to support their efforts, and also to be an encouragement to them. The details of the trip are still being ironed out. But so far it's looking like the trip is going to happen the last couple weeks of July.
While we may not be certain of all the details yet, there is one detail we are certain of... We need volunteers! We need people like you who want to invest some of their time and labor helping the community and the church in Mibu. Would you consider being a part of this team? It would be a great opportunity, say for a father and his capable son(s) to work together, or a single person, or a married couple. Whether you're younger, or older, maybe God has something here for you! It's a great chance not only to help with a real material need, but also to interact with the believers here with whom the people of Sun Valley Community Church have a long and fruitful partnership history. Can YOU dig it?
If you're even remotely interested be sure to take advantage of the chance this Sunday (tomorrow) to ask more questions about the trip. Look for Theresa Board and Lori Bastian out on the courtyard at the Sun Valley Community Church, Tempe campus sometime Sunday morning and get all your questions answered. Or if you're unable to make it Sunday morning, you can call Theresa at 480-299-8864.
(In the bigger picture, up toward the top of the hill is the double dam. Leading down from that is the ditch where excavated dirt is thrown. Toward the bottom are the retaining walls which fill with the dirt. In the other picture, a closer view of the retaining walls filling with dirt.)
Posted by Geoff and Shannon Husa at 7:30 AM
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Since God's word first began to move through the people here in Mibu and other nearby groups, the church meetings, at least here at ground zero, have always consisted of a mixed group. There have always been a number of folks who wanted to remain identified with the former religious system at the same time as being identified with the truth of Jesus as seen in God's word. This former religious system is very legalistic, teaching folks all the stuff they had to do to please God. Get baptized - go to heaven. Give offerings to pay the 'pastor' (who is nowhere around until he comes to collect, by the way) - go to heaven. Do communion just right, with a special person to officiate and only the special wine and bread - go to heaven. Follow God's 10 laws of the bible - go to heaven. And if you have 2 wives, you might as well not even try cause you're going to hell... but we'll take your offerings anyway. This is a system that masks itself as Christian, but is very anti-christian, going against everything that Jesus stands for. In fact, for those in Mibu who have tried to follow God's word for what it says, much of the persecution they've experienced has come from this supposedly Christian group.
Those who identify with this group are typically found sitting on the sidelines, listening but not hearing, following what's going on but never 'in', always commentators, but never experiencers. To them, meeting with the church is just a religious thing that you do. It's tradition. Nevermind that God is actually speaking to us through his word and is interested in a real, loving relationship. Just give us a list of things to do. These people invariably complain and cause doubt and division when the church wants to follow God's lead. A fair number of these sideliners are still involved in the talk and the fear of sorcery and such.
Over the years, a couple things have become clear. One is that there is a distinct fundamental difference between them and the church. The other is that, small as this group is, they have a detrimental effect on the church's ability to grow and mature in who they really are because of Jesus.
We've always been hesitant to push separation too hard, not ignoring the need, but not forcing it to happen either. When it happened, we wanted it to be something that arose out of the conviction of the local church... not just something they were told they need to do. Well the time for that seems to have come! Recent events have polarized the two groups in such a way that after several meetings with the leaders of the church, and a little encouragement from us, it was decided that the church needs to make a decisive separation from this other religious group. They met together with and communicated to those of the other group that they're seeing the other religious system does not accord with what the Bible communicates to us, and that the two groups meeting together is harmful. Those who aren't interested in following God's word, but some other system, should meet separately and not intermingle in the church meeting. The church leaders even stood strong in this decision when recently some big-wigs of this other religious system came in on a whim and just started doing their thing. The church, kind of taken aback by the distinct difference of these peoples' teaching and by the force with which they were trying to impose it, met with their leaders and flat out told them that they were not interested in having that kind of teaching here. Standing up to the big-wigs was something the church had always been hesitant to do in the past. But it clearly was time and they stood their ground, despite being ridiculed by the religious leaders of the other group.
This is a good move and a big step for the church here. It shows a growing sense of their identity in Jesus and an awareness of the things around them that blur that identity. We would ask for your prayers that this separation would remain relatively peaceful. The church leaders have been very graceful in how they've handled discussions with these other folks, and both sides are in relative agreement that it should happen. The church leaders haven't been angry or spiteful in the discussions. Just coming from a heart of wanting what's best for everyone and maintaining the peace. Our prayer is that with the church more clearly distinguished, they'd be able to move forward in their relationship with God without quite so much of the murkiness that that other legalistic system brings. The plan is that some time in the future here foundational gospel lessons would be taught by the church especially for those from this other religious group who might begin to show an interest.
Posted by Geoff and Shannon Husa at 4:30 PM
Monday, January 14, 2013
Please be in prayer that Chris Walker's plans to come back in sometime in February would work out.
Posted by Geoff and Shannon Husa at 12:56 PM
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Posted by Geoff and Shannon Husa at 6:44 AM
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
In the picture here Mootooke is talking about the test scores publicly after a recent church meeting.
Posted by Geoff and Shannon Husa at 4:58 PM