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Archive for May, 2012

Halfway through

I just finished page 70 of 134 in the Haitian Creole text of Proverbs, so technically I’m more than halfway through the material in preparation for next week’s workshop. The translator flies up on Saturday, and we begin the workshop on Monday. It will go for 2 weeks. There’s a high school girl coming at the end of the first week to gain personal exposure to our ministry to see if it’s something she might want to do for the rest of her life.

Please pray for me as I continue to prepare and then as we begin on Monday. It looks like I’ll be doing more workshop preparations in the evenings and over the weekends from here on out. It takes me about 30 minutes per page of material. I have around 65 pages left, so you can do the math and see that there’s still much remaining.

While keeping on top of that, I’m also checking into a possible candidate for the part-time Administrative Assistant position we have open at BI. Of course, then there’s all the other things that come up, including evaluation of a new language possibility in India, discussion about our translation philosophy, and many other issues.

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I finally had time to begin my preparations for the upcoming Haitian Creole workshop that begins on June 4. I’ve been anxious about that, because I know I have much preparation to do. We want to cover all of Proverbs and also go through training on our Bible editor program called Bibledit. Having it in this program will greatly facilitate the translation work and the publication process.

Well, before I began to work through the material, I compiled all the files on Proverbs that the translator had sent. 134 pages! And I just finished page 1! Lots more to do. I have 7 more working days to go through the material before the workshop begins, so that means I need to prepare around 20 pages a day. Not possible! At least if I can finish a good portion of it, then I can work on the rest in the evenings during the workshop. More grueling weeks are on the horizon for me!

I just checked Proverbs 1:7 where the Haitian Creole says, “Knowledge begins with the fear of the Lord.” The English translations have something like, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” So is the Haitian Creole equivalent? It may seem to be so if you just look at the English. But the Hebrew word for “beginning” could mean “starting point” or “chief portion” (i.e., controlling principle). Which is it? Well, actually, both are true, so the translation should allow for both. The Haitian Creole doesn’t seem to allow for both, but maybe I’m not fully understanding the translation, or maybe there are constraints in Creole that keep such an ambiguous translation from being possible. We’ll see at the workshop!

I really enjoyed my time at Lake County Baptist Church (and I found out that they use “Church” now in their name instead of “Temple”) on Sunday. Pastor Warren and his multi-national congregation received me so kindly. I was also blessed and challenged by “The Church for God’s Glory” Conference at First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, on Monday. I returned home on Monday evening.

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Well, this grueling week has finally come to a conclusion. The second week of the Basic Linguistics course definitely had a different flavor than the first week. By the end of the first week there were 17 As and 3 Bs in the class, but then Monday came. Monday was evidently a very difficult day for the students, as it dawned on them that they had yet another week of summer school. In addition, some were beginning to see fog rolling in and clouding their understanding of the material.

During the first week the focus was more on teaching them the sounds of languages and helping them learn how to produce them. They had an oral exam on the English consonants at the end of the week. But then over the weekend they began to get into phonological analysis, and some began lagging behind. I also lagged behind some in my grading, so it wasn’t until Wednesday that it became apparent that the students needed more demonstration of how to do phonological analysis. So I set aside Thursday’s entire class period to go through various problems. I praise the Lord that by the end of that day the material was finally clicking in the minds of most of the students, and they were beginning to see clearly how valuable this material is for their future ministry.

Knowing phonetics (the sounds of languages) and phonology (the sound system of a particular language) provides them with the tools they need to become as proficient in the language as the nationals and to completely lose their foreign accent. It gives them the know-how to gain an instinctive feel for the language. Not only will they know exactly where in the vocal apparatus to say the sounds, but they will also know the reasons why the pronunciation of the dictionary form of the word alters in actual speech. They will also have the tools to analyze suprasegmental features of the language (e.g., intonation, tone, and stress). With that knowledge they will have a feel for the “rhythm” of the language. And those who will teach English as a second language will be better able to explain what’s going on in the language they are teaching!

Though the teaching is over for this module, the work still continues both for me and the students. They have two final exams to complete by Monday. And that means I have more grading to do.

But for now I need to turn my attention to my furlough meeting at Lake County Baptist Temple in Waukegan, IL, on Sunday, and to the “Conference on the Church for God’s Glory” at First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, on Monday. Then I can get back home and try to make up for lost time as I prepare for the Haitian Creole OT workshop that begins in two weeks. The stress level has been quite high for the past few months and won’t let up until mid June, if I can make it that long!

My meeting at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Huntley, IL, went very well. I was so pleased to see how that church is alive, though at one time, Pastor Carlson wondered if it would ever survive.

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I began preparing for this Basic Linguistics course I’m teaching at Maranatha in early March, after I returned from my trip to Asia. I have devoted every afternoon since then to preparations, and I even spent some time in the evenings getting ready the past few weeks.

Well, then the first day of class finally arrived! Monday morning! I was thankful to hear that the class size was reduced some, though I didn’t like that some students would be missing out on the learning experience. But it made teaching the class much more manageable, primarily because of the oral quiz and oral final exam.

I was probably as nervous on Monday about teaching this class as I was for my first day of teaching in Cameroon in 1998 or my first day of teaching at BJU in 2005. In fact, I may have been more nervous. I think it was just the newness of the whole situation and my relative unfamiliarity with the course material. But once I began teaching, the Lord helped everything to click in my mind so well. By Tuesday night I had finished preparations on the last outstanding bit of lecture material, and I had taught a few classes, so I could finally start to relax a little.

It really helped me to relax knowing that I had such a great group of students. Sometimes in this class the students are quite overwhelmed and wondering what application the material has to their lives. But these students are catching on quite quickly and have been noticing how valuable the material will be for their future ministries. Some want to teach English in China, so they are thankful to learn exactly how to describe the way in which the vocal apparatus produces the English sounds. Others want to serve as missionaries, so they are thankful to be exposed to the sounds of other languages.

I praise the Lord for helping everything to come together so well. I was quite anxious about things, but now I’m quite calm and confident in the Lord. I look forward to one more week of teaching. The last week will be quite intense, partly because I will be preparing the students for the end-of-the-course assignments, including an oral final exam that I will need all of Thursday and Friday afternoons to administer.

Tomorrow I’ll be driving down to Cornerstone Baptist Church in Huntley, IL, to speak at Paul Carlson’s church. Paul and I knew each other back when we both attended Bethel B/C in Schaumburg, IL. I look forward to being at his church (first time was in 2007). It will be a privilege to celebrate Mother’s Day with him and his people.

I wish I could be with my mom and my family tomorrow, but I know my mom will be with me “in spirit.” If it weren’t for her, I surely wouldn’t be doing the ministry that I’m doing now. Thank you, Mom, and thank you, Lord, for giving me such a wonderful Mom!

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I’ll let you in on a little secret. Sometimes I like to use my blog just as a way to keep track of significant items that I bump into along the way in my ministry. So, sometimes you are basically just peering over my shoulder, so to speak, as I write these things down.

Someone asked me today what the current status is of our project load. We are working with 37 languages in 14 countries. There are 18 NTs being written and 16 OTs, and 3 Bibles being revised. We are also working on 21 literacy projects.

And then there’s a quote I wanted to share. It’s from someone who is very interested in joining us and who did an internship with us recently:

I already believed translation work was where God was leading me, and the trip did nothing to dissuade that. But it did really give me a better idea of what translation consulting was like. I had heard many accurate things about the work, but seeing it firsthand was very helpful. I also got to see some of the more boring or unpleasant things that aren’t as likely to be mentioned, including things like tiredness, tediousness of the work at times, paperwork, problems with some of the translators and projects, politics, and such personal dangers as looking at the Bible only intellectually and forgetting to rely on God in it. So the trip helped me get a realistic view of what consulting can be like and what to expect and prepare for.

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