Walking to the market with God

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

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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Mbeya Planning Meetings

March 4, 2014 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language, Tanzania

After spending a week in Dar es Salaam and a week in Dodoma, we flew to Mbeya for planning and review meetings with the team serving 13 language communities throughout Mbeya, Iringa and Njombe regions. This project, with the potential to impact 2.5 million speakers of the 13 languages, was started in 2003 and currently has around 70 staff working both in Mbeya town and in the surrounding communities.

Several of the translation teams are moving forward fast and approaching the completion of the New Testament in their languages, hopefully in the next 3 years. At the same time, some of the other languages have recently begun the process of developing writing systems, and are hoping to start translating the first Scripture portions in the next year or two. Read the rest of this entry →

Nyiha Scriptures: “Now I know how my ancestors talked about God”

August 15, 2013 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible translation, Church, Front, Language, Mission, Swahili, Tanzania

Back in May I was privileged to spend a few days with the Nyiha language community in Mbozi District of Tanzania’s Mbeya Region. The Nyiha were the first community that I was involved in surveying in August and September 2004, and since then they have worked with experts from around the world to translate the books of Ruth, Jonah, Mark, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus and Revelation into their language.

The purpose of my recent visit was to see what impact these translated Scriptures are having among the community, and to see what lessons could be learned from the Nyiha that could be applied to translation projects in other communities throughout Tanzania. Read the rest of this entry →

“My people too need the Bible in their language…”

August 10, 2012 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language, Mission, Tanzania

Back in September 2004 I was part of a research team that spent a few weeks with the Nyiha people of Tanzania’s Mbeya Region, trying to answer some questions about how the Nyiha may best be able to translate the Bible into their own language. As part of the trip we ended up also driving south to Zambia and Malawi to connect with the Nyiha and Nyika communities there, who were originally part of the same Tanzanian community but had travelled south several generations ago.

The research trip confirmed that there was a need to translate the Bible into Nyiha, and that there were only minimal dialect differences between the ways that people in the various Tanzanian Nyiha villages spoke. Since then several Nyiha translators have been working alongside translators from other languages of Mbeya and Iringa Regions, to start translating portions of Scripture into their languages. Read the rest of this entry →

Update on the Nyiha translation project, 6 years on…

December 21, 2010 in Prayer, Wycliffe, Africa, Bible translation, Language, Mission, Tanzania

Those of you who have been following our progress for a while may remember that back in 2004 (before Laura and I had even met…) I was involved in a sociolinguistic survey of the Nyiha and Nyika peoples of southwest Tanzania and northern Zambia and Malawi. My diary of the survey trip, which I look back at with some embarrassment from time to time, is in the archives

Several years later, after lots of reviewing by different people, the sociolinguistic report has been published on the SIL International website, along with reports from the Fipa and Sichela language surveys. (Again you can see my diary and some photos from our Fipa and Sichela research trips).

The Nyiha of Tanzania are part of a Bible translation program centered in the town of Mbeya, and have recently translated the first Bible portions in their language for almost 100 years! You can find out more about the Nyiha translation project and those involved here. Some of the other Nyiha and Nyika groups mentioned in the report may be able to adapt these Scriptures into their own languages at some point.

The main question that we were seeking to answer during the Nyiha survey was whether there were different dialects of Nyiha that were sufficiently diverse so as to require separate translations of the Bible. We were able to talk with many people in a variety of villages throughout the Nyiha-speaking area, listening to their opinions and comparing some of the words that they used. Our conclusion was that if the translators were chosen from some of the villages in the center of the area, and stuck to the language used there, then all the Nyiha should be able to understand the Bible well.

It’s exciting for me to see now that not only is the report now available to anyone who wants to know more about the Nyiha people and their language, but more importantly, the recommendations of the research are becoming a reality and the Nyiha are starting to produce Scriptures that can be used throughout the whole community.

Pastor and Retired Pastor reading the Nyiha alphabet chart, August 2004Two Nyiha Pastors reading the newly produced alphabet chart in August 2004