Saturday, February 16, 2008

a day in the life

I mentioned in a previous post a bit about VITAL. After being here for 3 weeks now, I know a bit more. This February module (the 9th VITAL module) is finishing translating the book of Mark, the first book they will have completed, and doing some final overall checking. So exciting for me to have my first time here be celebrating finishing a book!

So what does a day at VITAL look like? As I mentioned in my “Praying in Tongues” post, we have a time of staff prayer every morning. Then off to breakfast in the mess hall. Breakfast is usually crackers and sandwich halves filled with jam, peanut butter (not together mind you), and vegemite (a favorite bread topping for Aussies and Kiwis {New Zealanders} ~ it seems to be an acquired taste as most Americans are used to sweet things for breakfast, and vegemite is rather salty). We .

get our food buffet style off a table, and then sit around the edge of the room on benches.

After breakfast we all gather in the large meeting room, the Hall, and sing a couple of songs

and have a short devotional (staff and participants take turns leading the devotional). Then there is a grammar session,

where someone talks about various grammar ideas that would be helpful for the participants to know. Some topics this session have been: participant reference (how often do you mention the person doing the action, and is it a separate word, or just a marker attached to the verb), long sentences (Greek, the language the New Testament was written in, can have some REALLY long sentences that get confusing if you left them that way in your own language, so how do you break them up into smaller pieces), and borrowed vs. foreign words (all languages “borrow” or “adopt” words from other languages and it is ok to use them in translation because we would use them in speech; there are also times when you have to use a foreign word that might not exist in your language (for example “Sanhedrin,” the Jewish court in Jesus’ time).

Following the grammar session, one of the staff will talk through the passage being translated that day, explaining and clarifying difficult parts. Then the language groups gather together, 2 translators with one mentor, and work on an initial draft of the section, typing it into a computer.

At the same time the translators work on this, the literacy workers, one from each language group will meet separately to work on translating simple books that can be used to teach people to read. This module the literacy workers are also working on translating a small Bible study book on the book of Mark, in hopes that people will be encouraged to use the book right away.

Lunch happens, as usual, at noon. The participants are asked to bring certain amounts of food (usually sweet potatoes, yams, taro & bananas) as a type of payment for the module; this helps to give value to the course, and is also a chance for their communities to get involved in helping the translation process. So, for lunch we have sweet potato, rice, and tinned fish (tuna, mackerel) or tinned meat (think something like SPAM) with cooked leafy greens. This is a fairly standard PNG meal.

Then back to work in the afternoon, touching up on the 1st draft, finishing entering it into the computer. Then the literacy workers come in and read through the translation as a first check. After the course, each language group will be given printouts of what they have translated (this is my print out 30 copies for each group) and they are asked to check it with the folks in their village. They would read through it, asking questions to make sure the right message is being conveyed, and also making sure that it sounds like good language.

About three days a week, I’ll drive the 20 minutes into town to pick up any thing that we might need at the store, and to by enough fresh foods (leafy greens, fruit) to last a few days as we don’t have a refrigerator, just a small chest freezer big enough to store a few days worth of meat (did I forget to mention that we do have “fresh” meat for dinner every day ~ the protein toping for our second helping of rice and sweet potatoes of the day). When not running around, I’ve spent quite a bit of time helping our Literacy Coordinator type up all of the translations from the literacy workers, which has been keeping us fairly busy.

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