Mbugwe Book Celebration

September 4, 2016 in Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language, Mission, Tanzania, Wycliffe

Mbugwe community members listening to the books being read

Last week I had the privilege of joining with the Mbugwe language community in Tanzania’s Manyara Region as they celebrated the publication of the books of Ruth and Jonah in their language. Apart from some old Mbugwe Scriptures that are now out of print, these are the first books that have been produced in the Mbugwe language.

The day started off with a service at the Catholic church, and continued with a parade bringing in the box of books. As the honoured guest at the celebration I then opened the box, and lifted up the books for the gathered crowd to see. I tried to read the first couple of verses of the book of Jonah, stumbling through the Mbugwe words that I couldn’t understand! Read the rest of this entry →

A Kisi Alphabet

December 29, 2015 in Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe

Lake Nyasa at Matema

Last year I had the opportunity to visit a village in the Kisi community on the eastern shore of Lake Nyasa in southwest Tanzania. Although to be honest there is not much of a shore to the lake on that side – for mile after mile the towering Livingstone mountains drop straight into the lake, with just room for one or two houses at the water’s edge. Travelling to the Kisi from Mbeya town requires a 3-5 hour journey by car, followed by 8-12 hours in a wooden boat with an outboard motor, praying for good weather and a calm lake.
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“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 →