by Mark

Language Matters

February 28, 2012 in Life, Prayer, Wycliffe, Mark, Bible translation, Front, Language, Mission, Tanzania by Mark

Our time at Swahili language school in Iringa is continuing well, and we are starting to look ahead to our next move west in a week or so! We had originally planned to stay in Iringa for four weeks, but have extended that by one more week so as to give Laura as much time to continue with classroom learning as possible.

Laura is really enjoying the classes and is making excellent progress, having covered the majority of Swahili grammar and learned a lot of vocabulary too. She is able to converse more and more each day, and is encouraged by how much progress she has made in just three weeks here. You can even see her speaking Swahili for yourself… Read the rest of this entry →

by Mark

Sangu Bible celebrations in Mbeya, Tanzania

May 24, 2011 in Prayer, Wycliffe, Africa, Bible translation, Church, Language, Mission, Tanzania by Mark

After many years of hard work a couple of weeks ago the Sangu people of Tanzania’s Mbeya Region were able to celebrate the publication of the first ever books of the Bible in their language. The books of Jonah, Ruth, Mark, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon have all been translated and are now available in the Sangu language.

Our friend and colleague Danny Foster was at the dedication ceremony and celebrations…

When I arrived on Friday at the town’s main market, I was welcomed by the chairman of the local Sangu language committee as they were making preparations for the celebration. I immediately got the sense that Saturday was going to be a party! I headed further out into the plains and stayed with a local rice farmer who is a good friend of mine and also works as a translation reviewer. That night we sat under the stars and talked about two journeys: the two-day journey of a crazy man from Dar es Salaam to the Sangu Plains on a motorcycle and the 14-year journey for the Sangu people to see their first dedication of Scriptures!

The next day we went back to town for the celebration. Everyone was there. The dedication was attended by the area MP, government officials, the Sangu chief, and a crowd of locals who were drawn in by the music and festivities. I even noticed a number of people from the neighbouring Sukuma and Masaai tribes taking part in the celebration. Several churches provided choirs who sang and danced with what can only be described as full-on joy! For me, it was a party like no other! Finally a small package containing Ruth, Jonah, Mark, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon was cut open by the Mbarale District Council Chairman and then prayed over by all the local pastors. Read more

Sangu dedication

Take a look at Danny’s blog for more about the ceremony, and a video of some enthusiastic Sangu dancing!

Please continue to pray for the Sangu, that they would use the translated Scriptures and that communities would be transformed as they engage with the Bible. Pray also for the Sangu translators as they continue the long and hard work of translating other parts of the Bible.

by Mark

A Visit, and Looking Ahead…

April 25, 2011 in Life, Prayer, Wycliffe by Mark

A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit friends Tim, Jeana and Micaiah in British Columbia, Canada, who we’ll be working with in Tanzania in the future. It was our first visit to Canada which was exciting (having previously only flown over it, and seen its mountains in the distance on honeymoon…!)

The weekend was a lot of fun as we were able to get to know each other better, and to think ahead to the new translation project that we’re hoping to be part of together. Tim visited the area – Katavi Region in western Tanzania – last year as part of a language survey team, and to meet the church leaders who we will be working alongside, so it was good to see some of his photos.

Laura enjoyed talking with Jeana especially about the need for member care in Tanzania, helping people to thrive physically, emotionally and spiritually in what can be a stressful cross-cultural environment. As Laura continues with her program in Psychology and Family Studies here in Oregon she is excited to look ahead and see how what she is learning may be able to benefit our friends and colleagues in Tanzania.

I’m sure Tim, Jeana and Micaiah would appreciate your prayers as they prepare to return to Tanzania in the coming months. They and several other families will be joining the church leaders in Katavi Region as they embark on the early stages of making the Bible available to the various language communities in the area. Please also remember to pray for the church leaders and for the people that they lead, as they witness to the resurrection of Jesus among the communities of Katavi Region.

Our hope is to join the team at some point next year after our studies are finished, but we’re still talking to various people about plans at the moment so would appreciate your prayers for that. Thanks!

Tim, Jeana and Micaiah

Tim, Jeana and Micaiah

Micaiah's Card

A beautiful card Micaiah made for us all on her own...!

by Mark

Ikizu Bible translation: Hopes and Challenges in northern Tanzania

March 4, 2011 in Prayer, Wycliffe, Africa, Bible translation, Language, Tanzania by Mark

Our friends Andrew and Michelle are working alongside translators and literacy workers from nine language groups in Tanzania’s Mara Region, an area that I was involved in a linguistic survey of back in 2005 and 2006. Since I was there the languages have been analysed, alphabets developed, and the first parts of Scripture published in many of these communities.

Andrew and Michelle have begin a series of blog posts focusing on each language group in turn in order to help people around the world to pray for the communities and for the needs of their staff in the translation project. They have started with the Ikizu and Sizaki peoples, who speak languages that are close enough to be able to use the same written materials.


There are about 132,000 Ikizu and Sizaki people, a few of whom are pictured here. While Ikizu and Sizaki people consider themselves to be different people groups, their languages are very closely related, and Sizaki is considered a dialect of Ikizu. There are a few minor pronunciation differences, but their vocabulary and grammar is essentially the same. The groups get along well, and the Sizaki (who are significantly fewer than the Ikizu) seem happy to accept the Ikizu writing system and Bible translation as their own.

As with all the groups in Mara (Mara is a region of Tanzania), there are Christians, Muslims, and people who practice traditional religion. Roman Catholic is the largest denomination, followed by Seventh Day Adventist. There are also Mennonite, Anglican, and a variety of small Pentecostal churches. Some villages have no churches at all and people have to travel to another village on Sunday if they wish to attend. In the traditional Ikizu religion, the sun is the main god, and deceased ancestors play an important role. There are various taboos to follow and special places to worship, such as groves of trees.

When the translation project began, there were two Ikizu translators. One of them has recently moved away and we are not able to hire another one right now. Rukia, the lone Ikizu translator at this point, is pictured above. Unfortunately, she has recently been plagued by health problems. Medical care in Musoma is a bit lacking, so Rukia really needs prayers for her health.

The Ikizu translation of Luke is almost ready for beginning the publication process. There are just a few final checks that need to be done. Unfortunately, with there being only one ill translator working on the project, these steps might take longer than planned. The book of Ruth and some tracts are also in process. A committee of Scripture reviewers and a language committee have recently been formed, each having their first meeting in February. Read more

Please pray for the Ikizu and Sizaki peoples, and follow Andrew and Michelle’s blog for upcoming profiles on other language communities in Mara Region and the challenges they face.

by Mark

An Introduction to Bible Translation and our Work

February 1, 2011 in Life, Prayer, Wycliffe, Bible translation, Tanzania by Mark

A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to speak at one of our supporting churches, Calvary Chapel of Petaluma, California. If you’d like to know more about what God is doing through Bible translation around the world, and the small part that we play as we work with Wycliffe Bible translators, you can listen to our talk…

Mark and Laura at Petaluma, January 16th 2011