Friday, March 1, 2019

Consultant Checking 61% Complete

Yesterday we completed a two-week-long consultant check of the books of Acts and 1-3 John. To refresh your memory, a consultant check involves translating our Enga translation back into English and submitting it to an experienced translator who is well-versed in Greek, who then checks the translation for accuracy. The consultant not only reviews the back-translation into English, but also asks two checkers from the language group questions about each verse of the translation to make sure that the translation is communicating clearly and accurately. We were blessed to have with us Pastor Joe Perai and Pastor Timoti Pesone from the Christian Life Church in Enga as our checkers. Now that we have completed the book of Acts and 1-3 John, we have sixty-one percent of the Enga New Testament consultant checked!

Checking the books of Acts and 1-3 John
Pastor Joe
One of the things I enjoy about consultant checks is the opportunity to get to know Engan Christians who are not a part of the translation team. It was a delight to spend time with both Pastor Timoti and Pastor Joe. I was particularly impressed by Pastor Joe's life story. He grew up at a time when Enga still had very little influence from the outside world, and he told me that he only began wearing western clothes in 1980. He has no formal education, but he taught himself how to read, starting with the Enga language, and then moving to Tok Pisin, and finally learning how to read in English. As he read the Enga translation during the check, I quickly realized that he was one of the best Enga readers I have ever heard. During our time together, Pastor Timoti kept referring to Pastor Joe as a human Bible concordance, and the consultant was impressed by his Bible knowledge. At one point the consultant tried to keep asking Pastor Joe more and more difficult questions, just to see if he could stump him, but Pastor Joe knew the answers to all his questions. Now, a consultant check is not really about testing the biblical knowledge of men like Joe, but about checking the accuracy of the translation. Nevertheless, it was encouraging to see an Engan Christian who had such a deep desire to immerse himself in the Scriptures. Please pray with me that the Enga translation we are working on will have a role in producing many more people like Pastor Joe who thirst after the things of God. And please join with us in praising the Lord that we now have more than half of the New Testament consultant checked.

Pastor Joe Perai

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Furlough Plans

After a three-year term in Papua New Guinea, we will be returning to America for a one-year furlough this summer. We will depart from Papua New Guinea on June 24 and make our way to Singapore, where we will enjoy a six-day stopover before heading back to America. On July 1, we will fly from Singapore to Pittsburgh, where we will be staying with my (Adam’s) parents until early December. We plan to spend our first two weeks in America just getting adjusted to the time zone and taking care of basic needs like getting a vehicle and phones and going to doctor’s appointments. Then we will be taking a road trip to various places on the East Coast, including Vermont, Boston, New York, Washington DC, and central Pennsylvania. Then, in early December, we will drive cross-country to Southern California, where we will stay until our return to Papua New Guinea at the end of June in 2020.

We would love to see family, friends, and supporters during our time on furlough. We know that many of you have very busy schedules, so please consider this an open invitation to contact us ahead of time so that we can put something on the calendar.

We would also like to ask for your prayers for housing in Southern California from mid-December 2019 until the end of June 2020. We would really like to be close to Martha’s dad in Sylmar, California, but it can be difficult to find short-term rentals at a good price, especially ones that are furnished. If you happen to know of any short-term housing options near Sylmar, please do let us know. Otherwise, please keep us in your prayers that we would find a good place to stay that will enable us to be close to Martha’s family.

During furlough I will still continue on our translation work as we are coming closer and closer to completing the New Testament. Our goal is to finish, record, and publish the New Testament during our next field term, so please pray for endurance. 

The kids have grown a bit since our last furlough!
Translation Progress
Over the last three months we have continued to make good progress on checking the New Testament translation. During our last village stay, we reviewed all of my notes from my advisor check of Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. I never expected that we would be able to finish reviewing my notes for all of those books, but we did! Since that time, I have been busy back-translating those books, a tedious process, but a fruitful one that helps me to identify any further edits that need to be made and which also prepares the books for being checked by an outside consultant. In addition, I have prepared my advisor notes for Romans and 1 Corinthians to check with the team. We praise the Lord for enabling us to make great progress! At the same time, we ask for your prayers as the process of checking the translation and creating back-translations into English can be quite tedious and draining.

School Activities
Now that Bella is a sixth grader, she is at the middle school and can participate in school sports, and so we have a very busy household. She is on the girls’ soccer team and continues to play both trombone and piano. After being apart from Jacob for eight weeks during the last school term as he stayed in the youth hostel, we are glad to be together as a family again for this school term. Jacob exceeded all of our expectations and made the A team for basketball this term. He is one of two eighth graders on the team. Besides one tenth grader, the remaining five players on the A team are all juniors and seniors. Jacob also continues to go to the gym regularly and is getting quite strong. Asher is in third grade now and does not have quite as busy a schedule as Jacob and Bella, which gives him a lot of time for playing with his friends. 

Bella playing the trombone
Martha Tutoring
After spending 25 hours over Christmas break watching training videos in the Barton system of reading and spelling, Martha is now tutoring elementary school students who need extra help in those areas. Martha is also a part of the spiritual emphasis committee for our organization’s upcoming biannual conference. This is in addition, of course, to all that she does to keep the household running. So please pray for strength and energy for Martha as she volunteers her time to be a blessing to others in the community.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

What Kind of Animal is the Beast?

Have you ever considered what the “beast” in the book of Revelation looks like? Have you ever considered what kind of animal the “beast” is? Do you even think of the “beast” as an animal, or do you associate the “beast” with a person? And when you think of the “beast,” do you forget, as I do, that Revelation 13 actually describes two beasts?

If you are like me, you have probably never given any consideration to what kind of animal the “beast” is, and you have probably considered the “beast” to be more of a man than an animal. After all, in English we can use the word “beast” to describe a person. For example, we might describe a cruel and inhumane person by saying, “He is such a beast.”

However, the Greek word for “beast,” which is θηρίον (thērion), refers very definitely to animals, particularly wild animals. These animals were created on the sixth day along with the domesticated animals and the things that creep upon the ground. But unlike the domesticated animals such as cows and sheep, and the small animals that creep along the ground such as mice and lizards, the beasts are large, dangerous animals that live in the wild, such as lions and bears. So the word “beast” simply means “wild animal.” 

An artist's rendition of the first beast in Revelation 13
A great advantage of the English language is that it has words like “beast” and “animal” that describe large categories of things. However, languages like Enga do not have large category words like that. When they describe an “animal,” they use the specific word to describe the specific animal that they are talking about. Sometimes such categorical words can be created, by saying things like “things that have four legs” or “things that move” or “things that are alive,” but often such created categorical words do not work well in translation.

Although Enga does not have large categorical words like “animal” or “beast,” words such as “pig” and “dog” do cover smaller categories of animals. For example, the word “pig” describes any four-legged animal that has hoofs of any kind. So when animals such as cows, sheep, and horses where first introduced into Enga, the Enga people called them “pig cows” and “pig sheep” and “pig horses,” with the word “pig” describing what type of animal it was. Similarly, the word “dog” describes not just dogs but also cats, because both animals are similar in that they have four legs and claws and hunt for food. Similarly animals like lions and bears could be described as “dog lions” and “dog bears.”

A fascinating component of language learning is the discovery of how different languages and cultures classify things differently. English speakers would never describe a cat or a lion or a bear as a type of dog, nor would they describe a cow or a sheep or a horse as a type of pig. Nor would English speakers classify mice and lizards in the same category as did speakers of classical Hebrew. The words that we use shape how we see the world and what categories we put things in.

So as I was reviewing the translation team’s draft of the book of Revelation, I was eager to find out what sort of “animal” they would envision the beast to be. Now, different members of the team translated different chapters of Revelation, and so I found out that some of the translators were calling the beast a “wild pig,” while others were calling it a “wild dog.” In researching the “beast” more closely, I discovered that the first beast is described in Revelation 13:2 as being like a leopard and having feet like a bear and a mouth like a lion. That solved the problem right there. According to the Enga system of animal classification, leopards, bears, and lions all fall into the “dog” category, so the beast is obviously a “wild dog.” In English, something that resembles a leopard and bear and a lion defies specific categorization, but in Enga such an animal is clearly a type of dog.

So beware of receiving the mark of the wild dog on your foreheads or your right hands. Actually, since Enga has no word for “hand,” but simply classifies the hand as part of the arm, you should be careful not to get the mark of the wild dog anywhere on your arm at all. And since Enga has no word for “forehead” but simply uses the word “head,” you should also be careful not to get the mark of the wild dog anywhere on your head at all.