One of my favourite parts of my new job is the fact that I get to hear reports of what is happening in Tanzania’s Dodoma, Katavi and Mbeya Regions as our colleagues are working alongside 20 language communities. While a lot of what happens in our project offices is often routine – analysing phonemes or grammatical constructions, drafting and checking Scripture passages, filing finance records, maintaining IT networks etc – it is always exciting to hear of how the work is impacting the lives of individuals and communities as they engage with materials in their local language.
Recently I heard the following account, told by the Team Leader for the Mbeya project, Pastor Mwaikokesya:
Last week a very old man, an Mzee, came to our compound selling apples. They were not very good apples, and they were very small.
First I said “No, Father,” but I wanted to encourage him, so I told him I would buy one apple.
“Take two,” he said. “They are very good apples. I raised them myself.”
So I took two apples, but I paid him for three. Then I asked him “Mzee! Do you go to church?”
“Yes, I go to church” he said.
“Mzee, do you know Jesus as your Savior?” I asked him.
“Yes, I know Him” he said.
“Then I have a gift for you.” I told him. I went back into my office and got a Scripture portion in his language. The old man was Kinga, so I gave him a Gospel of Mark in Kinga. He thanked me and left.
About ten minutes later there was a very loud knocking at my office door. It was the Mzee. He held out to me a big pile of apples in both hands.
“You must take these,” he said.
“Me? Take your apples? No! Why?” I said.
“You must take them. The book! The book you gave me. It blesses my heart! I will keep it always.”
And then he said “I have no way to know what such a book is worth. Truly it is worth more than many apples.”
You can take a look at some of the materials that are available online in the Kinga language, with hopefully more to be added soon!