Higby Herald January 2014
It's called the Fulfulde Harmonization Project (FHP), and we’ve been a part of it since before we even began translating the Bible into one of the Fulfulde dialects. The translators meet once a year to work together on certain books and to discuss the best ways to translate key Biblical terms. Each team wants to observe closely what goes on in the neighboring dialect so that their translation can benefit. But it has always been a challenge for team members, living in seven different countries, to collaborate outside of the annual meetings. They've tried zipping their texts and sending them by email, but that was only moderately helpful. Even if they did manage to install the text on their computer, they couldn't know the current status of a book. Is the book of Exodus checked by a consultant, or is it in rough draft? Is it even worth looking at? Has the text changed significantly since it was sent? These questions are all addressed with new technology, and with the right training these problems will disappear.
The FHP training was not like any software training I (Doug) had given before. We didn't use example data, but each team worked on their own Fulfulde Scripture. And rather than teaching all the features of the software, I focused only on those that would enable them to work together effectively. Now, every team will be viewing live copies of their colleagues’ data without any fiddling to do. And if they want to know the status of a book, they just pull up the following progress report (modified to show only two books):
Seeing this, they know that all of Ruth and the first 18 chapters of 1 Samuel are golden and can be used as a model for their dialect. This is just one of the collaboration features they learned. For the rest, we hope to see a net result of progress in the translation and harmonization of the Fulfulde Scriptures. Many other factors can impede the progress of these teams, such as war and sickness. Our part is to make sure that whether they are together as a group or separated by many miles, they have full access to all the resources they need to do an accurate translation of God's Word.
Priscilla and I are grateful for the financial partnership of many of you that allows us to promote these technological advances for Bible translation all over the world. We are especially appreciative for a number of year-end gifts last month that eased our current financial pain. We have been taking some time to go over the books and have to face the fact that our support has declined significantly over the past year. There are several reasons for this, not the least being that several of our financial partners have passed on to glory. But another more sinister reason has become apparent. Our move from Burkina Faso to Germany has been a phenomenal boost to my productivity as Language Technology Coordinator, not to mention Priscilla's full time service at the boarding school for missionary kids.Yet we suspect that our open sharing on Facebook of the beauty we experience here in the Black Forest is telling a different story--one of castles and vineyards and rainbows. We never seem to post images of the mundane—like the cloudy grey sky or Priscilla's windowless office. We are living as frugally as ever--no change in lifestyle or work habits since Africa. So we are taking steps to balance our sharing of personal and ministry news to better reflect the true purpose of our existence here. We value your input, please write and let us know what you think.
It was encouraging to be with the Fulfulde translation teams once again and hear their news. We'd show the group picture, but some of them are working in sensitive contexts and can't risk exposure. God's Word is producing fruit among the scattered Fulani believers and regional conferences of believers are taking place. The report that got my ear was that one of the teams prepared the Jesus film and discipleship materials on micro SD chips and gave them away at one of these conferences. 95% of the believers in attendance had cell phones capable of using the chips! I think that is a greater percentage than you'd find even in the US, making mobile technology even more significant in Africa. I can just imagine people in a Fulani hut, huddling around a small cell phone screen watching the Jesus film in their language. Just amazing!
I head to Togo on Sunday, Feb 2 for Outilingua 2014, the annual workshop for those who provide technical support to the language and translation teams in Africa. This year we have a number of new participants who haven't had specialized training before. Pray for them especially, that they would be able to acquire the necessary skills.
We appreciate you all as partners in the ministry God has called us to--making His Word known to all nations.
Partners in the Gospel, (Phil 1:5)
Doug & Priscilla Higby
Prayer & Praise
Doug & Priscilla Higby are missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Doug is International Coordinator for Language Technology Use, and Priscilla is serving at Black Forest Academy.
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