March Rowbory News: Luke before you leap

The Rowbory/Nigeria Family Blog

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March Rowbory News: Luke before you leap

Listen to (or download) the audio version here. Ideal if you’re not sure what the Ishɛ words sound like.

Luke 8:22-52 Fear and Faith
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.”… One Tuesday we considered much of Luke chapter 8 from verse 22, noticing how Jesus showed his followers how they should turn from agõõi iwei (hearing fear) to ajẽhẽ ijii (trusting) him. Fear is very familiar to us all… (Read more)

Before David’s (45th) birthday last Saturday we enjoyed celebrating leapling colleague Rachel’s 7th birthday (born 29th Feb 1996), and we’ve started this leap year trying to leap ahead in Ashɛ translator training and literacy, and also in homeschool. Read to the end and you’ll hear something of the range of interesting visitors who have stayed with us – eight since October.

David: Equipping Ashɛ to be translators

Since the New Year I’ve focussed on training and equipping the Ashɛ team, helping them discover and take on board the linguistic skills, patterns of teamwork and technical understanding they need to do translation well. It’s encouraging to me that the neighbouring Waci and Miyã teams are following a similar path, and I meet up to compare notes with Richard (and Anna and Rachel) who work with those teams.

The 3 teams, Ashɛ, Wachi and Miyã, are studying traditional storytelling and starting some Greek study and other Bible background. These go hand-in-hand, because for us to have a really good discussion of the best way to translate the New Testament, the translators need a sense of how Greek connects with or differs from their languages, and how the history, culture and geography of Israel matches their own place, or not. We shared olives, olive oil, flatbread, and more. The translators tasted grapes for the first time and are still chewing over what to call them in Ishɛ language, “How would you describe this to someone who had never seen or tasted it before? What would you compare it with?”

Studying Ashɛ storytelling went up a notch when we collected more dynamic stories told by older women, who often were pre-literate. English makes heavy use of wee connector words like ‘and’ and ‘but’, but Ishɛ doesn’t. In one story of 240 clauses we saw only 23 conjunctions (always ‘ni’), and a story of 280 clauses only needed 16 conjunctions. We knew from the recordings, that these stories were captivating, so it would be a bad mistake to simply translate English ‘and’ (or Greek δε and και) as ‘ni’. It’s vital to bring the translation team along on this journey of discovery to understand what makes the stories flow and fit together. Another technique often used in Greek (and English) storytelling, mentioning information earlier than normal in a sentence, turns out to be used very rarely and for only limited purposes in Ishɛ storytelling. Again, we would be badly letting down our Ashɛ listeners and readers if we unthinkingly follow Greek patterns of word order and neglect the right ways to highlight turning points and surprises in Ishɛ.

Repetition, repetition, repetition, draaaaaaaw—-ing words out and using other kinds of intonation we don’t have symbols for yet, all play a vital role, but we need to figure out how to use these tools appropriately!

Alongside all this I’m very excited to have a colleague Bridget on board since November, helping research and write up how Ishɛ consonants, vowels and tones all really work, within and between words. With all the other translation checking, project organisation, community engagement, literacy and translator training work I’ve been doing, I couldn’t give it the focussed attention that it needs. Bridget told the Ashɛ team that being white, some people jokingly call her Farin Gada, or ‘white bridge’ in Hausa, and that has firmly stuck as her nickname! ‘Farin Gada’ also has experience helping translators craft Bible stories orally, giving our team another effective tool for understanding and translating the Bible even if it ends up in written form. 

So, while everyone on the team would love to make progress by leaps and bounds, this leap year, we’re definitely making steady tortoise-like progress, and we’re doing it together.

Julie: A leap year for homeschool

Now that we have been back in Nigeria for several months, the homeschooling routine is well-established and the girls have been getting on well. One of the things we enjoy about homeshooling is how it enables the girls to develop interests in addition to the subjects they have to do. For Rebekah, that interest was learning lots of modern languages which she’s been able to continue at boarding school. Elizabeth loves maths and has been getting into some computer programming. Abigail enjoys history and has recently taken up Latin and Greek and often wants to know which  language English words come from. Helen has been enjoying learning about the human skeleton and a bit of UK geography — she can now show you where Anglesey is and is very amused that there is such a place as the Scilly Isles.

If you were to drop in on a typical day you would find them scattered about the house, working away in various places, and occasionally up a tree, or being ‘trapped’ by a cat and being unable to escape back to their desk. Sometimes a musical mood takes over and out comes Elizabeth’s French horn or trumpet, and Abigail’s clarinet, or someone sits at the keyboard.

Give thanks to God for many answers to prayer:

  1. Rebekah’s making good progress at boarding school, freeing Julie to give Elizabeth, Abigail and Helen more attention. The homeschool girls are well motivated and making good progress.
  2. Several Ashɛ training events, arts, storytelling and literacy events have taken off well expanding our involvement in the community.
  3. As I’m often pulled in different directions advising the Ashɛ project in many areas and helping mentor colleagues, I’m grateful for Bridget helping study and write up the way Ishɛ uses sounds.
  4. We got tenants for our Glasgow flat in January, which is very welcome financially.

Join with us to ask God for: 

  1. Good preparations for the next round of Easter Mark Drama performances in Kano and around Jos; getting the cast to really internalise Mark’s gospel well is crucial and there are no short-cuts.
  2. Bridget to get the data and insights to help Ashɛ writers distinguish words that are easily confused.
  3. Pray as a family here and in the UK we would help each other love and trust the Lord Jesus more each day.
  4. As our translation organisation grows rapidly and tackles many new projects, pray for cohesion, clarity, calm and discernment sitting at Jesus’ feet together.
  5. Smooth visa applications and travel for David Forbes accompanying Rebekah on her Easter visit.

Thanks for your support and participation in building God’s worldwide kingdom.

Love from David, Julie, Rebekah, Elizabeth, Abigail and Helen


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