|Translator’s wives from all over Tanna Island learn about Bible translation first hand |
Lead by Vanuatu Bible Translation Secretary Serah Markton and assisted by SIL Literacy consultant Lyndal Webb, the workshop attendees came from three different language groups from all over the island. Several ladies from the isolated and distant villages in the south of the island traveled the rough and slippery roads to reach the workshop location at Lamakaun in the north. Mendy Nehrbass, SIL translation advisor and a speaker of the Nivhaar language of the south, helped interpret some of the sessions for the ladies, several of whom had never had the chance to go to workshops before. This workshop was the first of its kind, as it was held not for the island’s male mother-tongue translators, but especially for their wives.
Together, the women learned the importance of understanding the meaning of the Bible text, and in turn the importance of being able to understand the Bible in your own language. The workshop began with a study based on selected verses from Isaiah 40 aiming to present a Biblical view of God. The question was asked; Is your picture of ‘god’ the same as this Biblical picture of God? If not, in what ways does it differ? The study continued to look at Isaiah's description of God's relationship with humankind.
This Bible study clearly challenged the women who attended and as they met in their own language groups they began to discuss some of the typical thinking of their communities which they realized was not consistent with the Biblical text. This led to a discussion of Bible translation as a means to assist people have a clear understanding of God's Word.
Another aspect of the workshop was to help the participants gain some skills to read a Biblical text for meaning. An activity using illustrations was used and the participants considered what questions were raised, how they could be answered, what predictions could be made, and what information was missing. This method then was applied to a study of Mark 1:40-42, going through the same process and ultimately working on establishing the main message of the text. One of the participants commented, “Our preachers trick us each week. They don't teach us from the Bible like you have taught us to do; reading and really thinking about the meaning. They just say anything!!"
Many of the women who attended the workshop are married to men who are working on Scripture translation for their own language. The translators for the Nivhaar language group were greatly encouraged by the women's report as they saw that they now understood what the work of Bible translation was all about. One translator commented after his wife arrived home, “It must have been a good workshop. Now my wife understands about Bible translation and wants to support me now as I do the work!”
by Lyndal Webb
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