“The people back home will not believe these books exist!”

June 17, 2015 in Africa, Bible translation, Front, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe

Visitors from Malawi

Three unexpected guests arrived in our Mbeya office this morning, asking to talk with the project manager. They were speakers of the Ndali language, and had traveled from the north of Malawi, having heard that we are translating parts of the Bible into the Tanzanian dialect of Ndali.

After introducing themselves they presented a letter, asking that they be kept informed of the progress of the project, attend advisory meetings, and have access to the books that are being distributed. Their desire for Ndali books was obvious, as they explained how they use Scriptures from the neighbouring Ngonde language in church, despite it being difficult for them to understand.

Seeing some of the Bible books that our office has produced in Ndali, their eyes lit up with excitement! They pleaded that they should at least be able to take home a sample of the books, as they think through how to build a sustainable distribution network. “The people back home will not believe that these books really exist!” they exclaimed, “except there are three of us, so they’ll have to believe us!” Read the rest of this entry →

Walking to the market with God

February 24, 2015 in Bible, Church, Front, Mark, Tanzania, Theology

Sukuma Babu and Bibi reading Scripture

Having moved around quite a bit over the past few years, we have had the privilege of hearing many different church leaders in three countries and two (three if you count American) languages, reading parts of the Bible and teaching what it may mean. While we have certainly heard some excellent teachers making fine points about various parts of the Bible, when I think back over all the sermons I have heard (and taught) in the past few years, I struggle to think of any “fact” or “teaching” that has really impacted my life. And I really have to try hard to remember any “application” from any of those sermons. OK, maybe I have a bad memory, and I’m sure I have dozed off in church too many times, as all male Woodwards are prone to do from time to time.

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Safwa Scripture Celebrations

October 11, 2014 in Africa, Bible, Bible translation, Church, Front, Language, Mark, Mission, Tanzania, Wycliffe

Safwa Scripture Celebrations

At the end of August, I flew to Mbeya in southwest Tanzania, to be attend the dedication of several books of the Bible in the Safwa language. The books of Ruth, Jonah, Mark, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, are the first to be published in Safwa, and were greeted with much singing, dancing and joy by the crowd assembled in the town of Mbalizi, about 30 minutes drive from Mbeya.

Various honoured guests were present, including a Member of Parliament, local businessmen and traditional Safwa community leaders. The celebrations included performances by choirs and bands, and speeches by various guests, the highlight of which was our German colleague, Andrea, giving her speech entirely in Safwa, to the amazement of all! Read the rest of this entry →

Why I won’t be tipping cold water over my head

August 22, 2014 in Culture, Justice, Mark, Mission

Maasai herdsmen at a water pump

Anyone who has been on social media in North America or Europe over the past few days cannot help but have seen the phenomenon that involves people filming themselves tipping ice-cold water over their heads, apparently to raise awareness and/or money for charity. Although the details vary, the first step is generally that someone is challenged by a friend, to either give $100 to charity, or to tip a bucket of ice-cold water over their head to be released from the obligation to donate (or in some cases to give a lesser amount). This person then challenges several more people, and the cycle continues…

While the idea has become hugely popular (as my Facebook and Twitter feeds testify), and apparently successful in terms of raising money (with this report suggesting $41 million has been raised for A.L.S. research up until August 21st), I have to say it makes me feel uncomfortable. Read the rest of this entry →

Back to Tanzania, via the UK

July 30, 2014 in Front, Life, Mark

Mark's US Passport

After many months of waiting, at the end of June I finally became an American citizen! It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m American, and I have a lot of work to do on my accent, but we are happy that we will be able to come and go freely from the US for the rest of our lives without worrying about visas and residence permits.

Soon after my oath ceremony Laura made her way to Tanzania, via Switzerland and Qatar (since she missed a connection after being delayed by a thunderstorm on the east coast of the US), where she has been settling in for the last month. She has been working in the head office of our Uganda-Tanzania Branch, seeking to support our colleagues as they live and work cross-culturally, and also providing training in child safety policies for staff throughout the two countries. Read the rest of this entry →