What kind of child doesn’t learn their father’s language?

As the article says: “Many of us, as it turns out.”

In our work in Cameroon which is not only Bible translation, but language development, literacy, and community development the passing of languages from parents to their children is an important aspect of whether a language is living and vibrant or on the decline.

Many languages of Cameroon are facing challenges from more dominant languages. Language not only like English and French, but other language of wider communication.

From the BBC: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20230608-what-happens-when-you-cant-speak-your-parents-native-language


Everyone experiences transitions, but it seems like missionaries and their families experience a few more than normal. Our kids have heard about transitions more than they can count: by us, their parents, counselors, youth leaders, and teachers. They are definitely aware of them, but whether they are better at navigating them than the rest of us is still an outstanding question.

But these last few years seems to have been full of various transitions, an anomaly among our past years which were already full of transitions. Even if we have now been in the same location for a while, maybe you can relate.

And honestly, changes are hard.

I recently came across this quote in a presentation about transitions (because we’ve heard about transitions more times than we can count, but we still try to get better at them):

To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, we do not know what a day
may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should be rather an expression
of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God.
Immediately we abandon to God, and do the duty that lies nearest, He packs our life with
surprises all the time.

Oswald Chambers https://utmost.org/classic/the-graciousness-of-uncertainty-classic/

And that’s really it. In all this uncertainty, be certain of one thing: Be certain of God.

I don’t want to say that I’m particularly good at transitions, but one thing I’ve felt really helped get me and my family through all these recent transitions is this one fact. We are certain of God. He has been faithful, he is faithful, he will be faithful. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

What We Started, We Must Finish

Translation projects always have difficulties, but in some areas of Cameroon they are facing exceptional hardships. This blog post from a partner organization, JAARS, highlights what has been going on in a cluster project in Cameroon.

And yet, the translators didn’t give up. “What we started, we must finish,” they said. The translators would hike—sometimes for eight hours—to the village where they worked. They would stay there and translate for two days, then hike back home until the next week, when they would do it all over again.

Sometimes people will mention to us after we share with them about our ministry about “how much we’ve sacrificed”. It’s true, there have been sacrifices. But, when you see the efforts of many of our Cameroonian colleagues who face difficulties well beyond what we have, it makes you think that we have not sacrificed much at all.

AI and Bible Translation ?

Given our roles in supporting Bible Translation in the domains of linguistics and technology, it begs the question about the role of AI and machine learning in Bible translation. This is something that we have been working on more actively recently and will be more and more as we move forward.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

There are currently just a few options for low-resource languages to use for Bible translation. In this context, low- resource languages are those without large amounts of recordings or books written and published and available for computers to use in their learning and analysis. The language communities that we are working with are definitely low on resources from a language technology perspective as there may be no written or published materials in the language at all for use in computer modeling. But as linguistics field work and literacy work is done with a language group, there are ways to help move Bible translation forward using computers to help.

ScriptureForge – drafting of Scripture that is based on previously translated Bible text, currently useful for producing back-translations, which are a necessary step in translation checking for accuracy, clarity, and naturalness. In the near future, the hope is that it could also provide translation suggestions into the target language and learn as it goes.
TBTA – grammatically tagged draft from original Hebrew and Greek. This needs a lot of work to make it natural and clear and takes a lot of preparatory work to label the linguistics tags of the target language, sort of like making a grammar and dictionary for the computer to follow.
FLExTrans – interlinearisation of text, using a closely related language as source and based on good linguistic rules of the differences between the languages to make a good draft.

None of these options are perfect and none of them work as well as something like a chat bot but for undocumented languages or those with little previous development, these are options that are worth exploring and trying out, so that is what we are doing.

Next week, there will be an initial training in Cameroon to explore more how AI can be used to draft an Old Testament in a waiting language using an already translated New Testament using Scripture Forge. Please pray with us for good understanding of the possibilities and limitations inherent in using AI and also for a clear way to bring God’s Word to communities sooner.

Merry Christmas 2023!

We rejoice that Jesus is the Savior of the world and wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
~Romans 15:13

2023 highlights include: trips to Cameroon, Ohio, LA & Arizona, successful remote work, Eila’s graduation, Josiah’s driving, and Thad’s baptism. Our teens are in 9th grade, 11th grade, and 1st year of university – all in Michigan.

Wycliffe World Day of Prayer 2023

Each year on November 11th, Wycliffe Global Alliance organizations meet together across the globe to pray.

It is on November 11 because on that day in 1933, the founders of Wycliffe entered into Mexico and were able to do so because of God’s answers to their prayers. The start of the work in Mexico led to the founding of Wycliffe Bible Translators. So they set aside November 11th each year when Wycliffe organizations around the world meet together to pray to God in a spirit of Thanksgiving, Joy, and Dependence.

The Wycliffe Global Alliance is an alliance of organizations around the world serving together in the bible translation movement. CABTAL (Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy), which is a close partner of our work in Cameroon, is part of the alliance. SIL Cameroon is the organization we work with in Cameroon.

This video provide a brief overview of the day of prayer as it happened in Yaoundé, Cameroon. It is almost entirely in English, but there are small portions in French.

Writing, Reading, Documenting, Standardizing, and Revitalizing the Swo language

“Ecrire, lire, documenter, codifier et moderniser la langue sso” This is the goal of the committe and the work which was kicked off this fall for the next year at the center of SIL Cameroon in Yaounde.

CAM 10 Télévision (a Cameroonian news source) ran a brief segment highlighting this meeting. The video is in French, but you might enjoy it even if you can’t understand all the details.

Fall Scripture Celebration

You are invited to join us for Wycliffe Bible Translators’ Fall Scripture Celebration on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 2 p.m. ET. This event will take place in Orlando, but many will be joining via livestream. 

All around the world, God’s Word is transforming lives as people encounter Jesus in a language and format they clearly understand. Scripture Celebration provides us with a unique opportunity to celebrate the life-changing impact of having access to Scripture. Join to be encouraged and inspired as we rejoice together through live music, videos and testimonies! 

Bible Translation Day is coming

Recently, I learned that Sept 30 is Bible Translation Day! Who knew that such a thing existed?!? But now that we know, let’s celebrate!

One way to celebrate might be to read your favorite passage from the Bible in a few different translations. Or maybe you could pray for the Swo or the Jimi communities who are in the very beginning of their journeys to have a Bible translation that they can understand well. Or you could even think about how you could become even more involved in Bible translation – by giving or going to work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. We would be happy to connect with you and share more about Bible translation. So, please leave a comment or visit our infomation page to send us a note at: www.wycliffe.org/partner/yee and we will get back to you.

Bible book pages open
Image by Pexels from Pixabay