Sunday, July 20, 2008


So, we were watching “The Two Towers” last night and what do we see running down the stairs from the upper room but... another rat! This one was the size of the one Rob saw first. So there are at least two. Argh. Rob and I tried to herd it out the front door but no luck. Ran into the kitchen, like the other one. Rob goes upstairs to see where it came from and, lo and behold, a hole in the thatch roof. They had chewed their way in!

I'm pretty frustrated. Obviously the landlord will have to come repair it but who knows how many rats are already in? And we put out the trap he gave us last night, unset with raisins on it, to get them used to eating off of it without fear. When we came out in the morning, the raisins weren't even touched. Smart rats. Phooey.

Rob noted that this is the second time we've had a nasty vermin encounter at a time in my work that should be particularly joyful. Like, first week of Bible translation work into another language after years of working to get to that point? Cobra. The last week of first round of successful checks of the whole gospel of Mark? Rats. He thinks I should be careful not to let these annoyances steal my joy. I think he's right. I just need to find a way to not be bothered by the rats, even while I am actively trying to deal with them.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Yesterday had a few rough moments. First of all, my last pair of pants from North America gave way in the seat area (i.e. big hole beneath the pocket) so I'm back to one pair of pants again. Sigh. Gotta buy something today before we head back to Gabane (we're internetting in Gabs today).

Also, Rob was startled by a live rat on the kitchen counter last night. It's the first we've seen, though he certainly has heard a few in the next-door office (remember, where the snake lives/lived?). Not sure what we're going to do about that. It was chewing on our loaf of bread. I commanded it to leave the house and never return before we went to bed. We haven't heard any sign of its presence today.

Then, all last night (well, much of it, until about 2AM), the annoying dog next door was barking, barking, barking. We simply could not sleep. Rob prayed that God would shut it up - and He did, within minutes. Remarkable.

So, yeah, I'm tired and crotchety today. I think the worst part for me is that we're housesitting, with no real sense of even which country we'll be living in 4 months from now, so I can't just go out and do what any sensible person would - get a cat. That kind of “hands tied by circumstance” feeling can be pretty draining sometimes. Rootlessness itself is draining.

But Sarah and I are finishing our first round of checks of Mark next week. I am hopeful that, when all is said and done, the snake, rat and rootlessness will all result in something worthwhile. And Sarah, Rob and I are celebrating next Friday by going for a tea-tasting at The No. 1 Ladies' Opera House. Nothing like free-flowing hot drinks on a cold winters day.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Further adventures

We did watch a bit of “Jesus of Nazareth” again today, the scene with Jesus being brought before the priests for judging (Mark 14). Also the scene where he is arrested in Gethsemane. Sarah got to see the high priest tearing his clothing (ceeri in Shiyeyi) and the disciples waking up groggily with drowsy eyes (ragyigyi in Shiyeyi). For each scene, she looked for the equivalent in the Shiyeyi text. Kind of a cool change of pace from our usual schedule. In fact, I've been thinking lately how we might shake things up a bit. I've been feeling like we do a lot of sitting and staring at the same screens for 5 hours each day because... well... that is what we do for 5 hours each day. At least watching “Jesus of Nazareth” is a different way of engaging the text. Also interesting was what wasn't shown in the movie, we noted those things as well. For example, in the Judas-kiss scene, they didn't show the slave getting his ear lopped off (or subsequently healed) or the young man running away naked when they grab his linen wrap. That was actually why we whipped out the old J.O.N. in the first place today, actually. She thought the young man running away naked was a funny idea and wondered if they showed that part in the movie. I couldn't honestly remember and then couldn't concentrate on anything else until I knew for sure. So, just before lunch, we checked. Nope - no nude sprinters in the J.O.N.

Tomorrow, she's taking a “professional development” day, trying to arrange a college program for August. Her first plans fell through so she's on to her backup plans. I figured she'd concentrate better on Monday if she had Friday to get things in order, eh?

Meanwhile, Rob and I are trying to nail down our plans for the next month. The rough schedule goes something like this:

August 1 - leave to drive to Sangwali, Namibia
August 2 - arrive in Sangwali
August 3 - Namibian Wayeyi Cultural Festival, plus meetings with various Wayeyi leaders
August 4-12 - PLANS UNKNOWN (probably stay somewhere in Maun or Sepopa)
August 13 - arrive in Gumare
August 14-15 - Shiyeyi Writers' Workshop
August 16 - leave to drive back to Gabane
August 17 - arrive back in Gabane
August 18-28 - PLANS UNKNOWN (do things in Gabane area)
August 29 - leave to drive to Shakawe
August 30 - arrive in Shakawe
August 31-September 6 - LBT Southern Africa Retreat
September 7 - leave to drive back to Gabane
September 8 - arrive back in Gabane

The 10 days that we're back in Gabane aren't an issue. Rob has recording work to do with Pastor William and I have Shiyeyi analysis to work on, probably making a final editorial pass at the Shiyeyi Bible Stories as well. It's the 8 days that we're staying in the Delta that need work. I'm trying to figure out which is the best town to camp out in, where I could set up the most meetings with local Wayeyi. Maun would be a more functional base of operations, especially for Rob, who really needs consistent electricity while he's working on music and preparing his presentation for the LBT retreat. However, Sepopa would put us closer to the area where we would live, if fully assigned to work with the Wayeyi long-term. We could get a better feel for the area, scope out living situations, meet potential co-workers, etc. Dunno yet.

Actually, we don't have accommodation for Sangwali yet either. There is a lodge nearby, 30 km from the festival site (Lianshulu Lodge). There is also a campsite adjacent to the festival grounds. However, we don't actually own camping gear in this country and are hesitant to buy any at this stage in our assignment determination process. Be a bit of a bummer to invest in a few hundred bucks worth of gear for a 2 night trip and then have to leave it all here because we're assigned somewhere that we don't have enough luggage allotment to carry it all to.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Go ahead, make my day...

During translation this afternoon, Sarah laughed when she was reading a certain passage, the part about Jesus healing the slave's ear after one of his disciples lops it off during Jesus' arrest. I asked what was so funny. She told me about the “Jesus” film in Setswana, which was shown in her village a few years ago when she was in grade school. She was just remembering the Setswana voice of Jesus in that film. Apparently the Jesus character was a big hit with the children for his fearless voice. She imitated it for me, shades of Dirty Harry, to my ears. Still, not wanting to jump to any cultural conclusions, I asked what kind of man would have a voice like that. She said that it would be a man who didn't fear anything. Yup - Dirty Harry.

Interestingly, the most quoted scene by the small boys in Ikoga is the scene where they ask Jesus about the rightness of paying taxes and he asks for a coin, gives a little object lesson. They go around huskily saying to each other, “Fa a le jalo ntshetsang Kaesare, dilo tse e lang tsa ga Kaesare, le Modimo tse e lang Modimo.” (Luke 20:25) Frankly, I'm impressed that they remember that after just one hearing. Sarah has commented a couple of times, actually, that she'd like to see that film more. She wonders why they only came to show it once.

Before she left, I got out my “Jesus of Nazareth” dvd, showed her a few scenes. We started with the dance of Salome (the one my sisters and I imitate to this day). She enjoyed it; it certainly brings the whole Herod-John-Herodias situation to life. Then, before she left for the day, I showed her the “Talitha koumi” scene. We had had some talk during the translation of that account in Mark about why keeping the Aramaic words as they are happens in all language translations. But, today, when she “saw” Jesus, saying the words, as soon as she heard him say them, she said, “Oh!” She recognized the phrase and, suddenly, including it in the Shiyeyi translation made sense. It occurred to me briefly that perhaps we could be watching little “Jesus of Nazareth” clips for each appropriate translation passage. Rob pointed out to me how horrified most translators would be at that idea. I'm on the fence, actually. I think that particular film does a lot of “fleshing out”, particularly in cultural setting.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Excuse me?

The Shiyeyi word for 'the making of excuses' is shikutaako. The example that Sarah gave for shikutaako was of a boy in her school who would steal all the time. You couldn't leave anything lying around or he'd just take it, no matter what it was. He was at one of the drumming churches in the area, where they prophesied over him that he was witched and that it is why he steals all the time. Now, he still steals but, when caught, he says, “I can't help it: I am witched.” As if that made everything explainable and OK! Everyone at school calls him “I'm witched” because he says it so often. We laughed pretty hard when she told me this one.

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