“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me – and I in him – bears much fruit… –John 15:5
FIRST VISIT TO DAQAN
The first destination on this trip, fittingly, was a visit for the purpose of conducting the very first translation check in the Daqan language. To arrive in the village, Bob flew on a commercial plane for one hour, then rode in a four-wheel drive vehicle for another hour until the road ended at a large river called the Mandai. We unloaded the vehicle and carried the cargo down to a small raft that was powered by an outboard motor, and soon we had crossed the Mandai and loaded my belongings onto a little two-wheeled cart. After a short 15-minute walk, we had arrived at the missionary translator’s house.
The next morning we gathered together in the ‘translation office’ with four native Daqan speakers who had not heard the story of Jonah before. After getting acquainted with them a little and giving them some basic instructions so they would know what our procedure would be, we started working through the translation of Jonah, a paragraph at a time.
Soon it was obvious that the translator had done a very good job of communicating the story in a clear and natural way in the Daqan language, and so we were able to move rather quickly through the book. By supper time we had completed checking all four chapters, and the native speakers were commenting on how moving it was to hear God’s Word in their own heart language! That type of comment is always great to hear, and this time it was a little extra special since three of the four native speakers were not even believers. So we have high hopes that as the team produces more translation, God will use his Word to draw more Daqan people to himself!
My road trip to get to the interior location for the second translation check, in Sekadau, turned out to be much more of an adventure than I expected! If you want to read the whole story, check out our blog entry entitled “An Unexpected Motocross Adventure” https://blogs.ethnos360.org/bob-clark/2017/07/05/an-unexpected-motocross-adventure/
The Sekadau team has already been translating for nearly ten years, and for this particular visit we were checking the books of Ephesians, First Thessalonians, and Revelation. As was the case with my first stop, the translators had done a very good job of communicating the content of those books into the local language, and so we finished checking the 649 verses in seven days.
During my visit there I was able to attend a Sunday morning church service, where the entire congregation leaves their sandals at the door and sits on the floor. A Sekadau believer did a good job teaching from the book of Exodus, and since their language is related to the national language, I was able to follow the general outline of the message. After the regular service was over, the whole group walked through the village and down to the river for the baptism of two new believers (no, the church building doesn’t have a baptismal font!).
SEMANDANG BIBLE DEDICATION!
After those two translation checks were over, I returned to the city for a few days and had a chance to visit the famous equator marker that was built to mark zero degrees latitude. While there I even struck the obligatory pose of planting one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere.
Then after playing tourist for a day I boarded a bus along with about 30 other missionaries and guests, and headed for the land of the Semandang people. There a huge celebration was planned to mark the completion of their Bible translation project after 20 years of faithful work by the translation team. As of last year, the entire New Testament and many significant Old Testament portions had all been checked and completed in the Semandang language, and I had the privilege of serving as their translation consultant for the last several years.
Over one thousand people crowded into and around the church building for the event, including the local congregation, missionaries and believers from neighboring language groups, guests from churches in the US that supported the translation project over the years, government officials, and even a local TV news crew. All were gathered to commemorate the grand occasion of presenting the completed Bibles to the local believers. After the service, a feast was served which featured about 1500 pounds of pork as well as rice and greens. Those visiting from the USA may have been surprised to find that despite the formal ceremony and the huge feast, no silverware nor napkins were provided! After the ‘finger-food’ meal was consumed, a long line formed at the village’s water faucet, where everyone washed their hands before heading to their respective temporary lodging places.
With the celebration complete, we headed back to the bus for our six-hour return trip to the city. Unfortunately the AC was not working, and so the inside temperature was 90 degrees until the sun went down. Then the next day I made my way to the airport to start my journey home, going through Singapore, Tokyo and Atlanta before landing in Indiana 45 hours later!
Each stop of my trip was very profitable, from the beginning of one translation project to the official completion of another. Also, I stayed safe and healthy the entire time. Once again, I am very thankful for all of you who prayed for my travels and my ministry while I was away.