How Do You Eat an Elephant?

Supplied by Antoinette van der Meulen, who recently consulted on the Lambya translation project in Malawi. TWFTW has a huge need for consultants to keep up with the translators’ fast work! If you’re interested in this, please contact us.

The bus-trip from Lilongwe to the far north of Malawi wasn’t for sissies. Once there, internet access was difficult, but otherwise staying in Chitipa and working with the Lambya team was very enjoyable. We got a move on with the Psalms, starting from Psalm 36 where we stopped last year. It’s usually the little words that cause the problems: an incorrect article, conjunction, adjective or prefix can completely change the meaning of a sentence. People are usually nervous about Psalm 119, but it was eventually not too difficult. One finds synonyms for words: law, the law, laws, commandments, instructions, teachings, commands, ways, and ordinances, and then one approaches the task as one would eat an elephant, “one bite (or verse) at a time”. And before we knew it, we had completed the Psalms.

And before we knew it, we had completed the Psalm. It’s pleasant work; I particularly like the Psalms of praise.

Because I was staying in their town this time,
 the Lambya translators could stay at home.
 Pastor John stays outside the town, is 82, and
 rides 15km by bicycle to work each morning,
 and then home each afternoon. A local church
 supplied us with a free office as their contribution to the Bible that they will receive when the translation is complete.

The Life & Times of Translation Consultants

The Word for the World is currently working on 111 full scale Bible translation projects, each one representing a language. For 111 projects, there are only 10 full-time translation consultants! They have their plates full checking the translations against Greek and Hebrew, usually in person, but sometimes over Skype or email.

Barry Funnell, one of TWFTW’s international consultants, travels approximately 10 times per year to Asia and Africa doing consultant work, which totals about one third of the year in time away from home. He also has been doing Skype consultation in between with the Roma team from Slovakia, as you can see in the video.

Mary* is another consultant with TWFTW and has just returned from a trip to Asia, where she worked with six language teams to check their Gospel of John. The Paratext computer programme enables Mary to check six languages simultaneously because she can look at an English word-for-word translation generated by a computer of all six languages even though they are written in a script she can't read or understand. Please pray for Mary as she goes to Malawi soon to check Psalms and other Old Testament books in the Lambya project!

Please also pray for Nel Claassen, who will be in Ethiopia in May consulting on the Pentateuch, and who will also be doing an email consultation on a project in Southeast Asia. We thank God for technology that makes what we do more accessible and efficient!

If you would like to know more about becoming a consultant, visit our Volunteer page at twftw.org/volunteer.

Veronique Krüger

*Pseudonym