Safwa Scripture Celebrations

October 11, 2014 in Africa, Bible, Bible translation, Church, Front, Language, Mark, Mission, Tanzania, Wycliffe

Safwa Scripture Celebrations

At the end of August, I flew to Mbeya in southwest Tanzania, to be attend the dedication of several books of the Bible in the Safwa language. The books of Ruth, Jonah, Mark, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, are the first to be published in Safwa, and were greeted with much singing, dancing and joy by the crowd assembled in the town of Mbalizi, about 30 minutes drive from Mbeya.

Various honoured guests were present, including a Member of Parliament, local businessmen and traditional Safwa community leaders. The celebrations included performances by choirs and bands, and speeches by various guests, the highlight of which was our German colleague, Andrea, giving her speech entirely in Safwa, to the amazement of all! Read the rest of this entry →

Why I won’t be tipping cold water over my head

August 22, 2014 in Culture, Justice, Mark, Mission

Maasai herdsmen at a water pump

Anyone who has been on social media in North America or Europe over the past few days cannot help but have seen the phenomenon that involves people filming themselves tipping ice-cold water over their heads, apparently to raise awareness and/or money for charity. Although the details vary, the first step is generally that someone is challenged by a friend, to either give $100 to charity, or to tip a bucket of ice-cold water over their head to be released from the obligation to donate (or in some cases to give a lesser amount). This person then challenges several more people, and the cycle continues…

While the idea has become hugely popular (as my Facebook and Twitter feeds testify), and apparently successful in terms of raising money (with this report suggesting $41 million has been raised for A.L.S. research up until August 21st), I have to say it makes me feel uncomfortable. Read the rest of this entry →

Back to Tanzania, via the UK

July 30, 2014 in Front, Life, Mark

Mark's US Passport

After many months of waiting, at the end of June I finally became an American citizen! It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m American, and I have a lot of work to do on my accent, but we are happy that we will be able to come and go freely from the US for the rest of our lives without worrying about visas and residence permits.

Soon after my oath ceremony Laura made her way to Tanzania, via Switzerland and Qatar (since she missed a connection after being delayed by a thunderstorm on the east coast of the US), where she has been settling in for the last month. She has been working in the head office of our Uganda-Tanzania Branch, seeking to support our colleagues as they live and work cross-culturally, and also providing training in child safety policies for staff throughout the two countries. Read the rest of this entry →

First Scripture portions drafted in Bende and Pimbwe

June 8, 2014 in Africa, Bible translation, Front, Language, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe

Bende Choir Recording Workshop - Mwese village

Many of you will remember the Bende and Pimbwe language communities that we were working with from 2012-2013 in Katavi Region of western Tanzania. Over the past year since we left Katavi, our colleagues have continued to work with these communities, helping to devise and test writing systems and preparing to start translating the first portions of Scripture into these languages.

We are always excited to hear news of what is happening in Katavi, and wanted to share with you a couple of stories written by our colleague, Karin.

At the end of the short orthography testing workshop in the village of Majimoto (Pimbwe area), I asked the participants to write stories in Pimbwe. This is not only a good way of practicing their Pimbwe writing skills but it will also help me to gain more insights into the language and continue with the analysis. We would also like to publish a small booklet with stories written in Pimbwe. Most participants wrote folktales or about personal experiences. But one group took out a Swahili Bible and started translating a passage from the gospel of Mark into Pimbwe. That really excited me and touched my heart. It is my hope and prayer that it won’t take much longer until we can officially start translating the Bible into Pimbwe so that the people will get God’s word in their mother tongue.

Read the rest of this entry →

Worth more than many apples

April 18, 2014 in Africa, Bible translation, Front, Mark, Tanzania, Wycliffe


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: Read the rest of this entry →