July 2015 Balama, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique
Most Excellent Theophilus,
We have been back in Balama for two months now, getting back into the swing of life in rural Africa, back to the translation desk. Ah, the glories of sitting at a desk for ten hours a day! It has been a challenge to get our little house cleaned up, but nothing that a sack of lime and few cans of paint couldn’t solve. (Except for the roof, but that’s another story… and we have five more months till the rains.)
The town hasn’t changed much since we have been gone. The biggest changes are the arrival of electricity and internet. This is largely due to the massive investment in the nearby graphite mine. The high school across the street now offers classes up through grade 12, and with electricity, night classes as well. Water? Well… that’s where water comes from, the well, and still carried by hand into the house.
But it is the advent of electricity and internet that has allowed us to move back to Balama again. Gone are the days of hiding out in the village to learn the ways and customs of the locals. Now, as a translation consultant, I have responsibilities that take me to the far corners of Mozambique and beyond, and I need to be constantly in touch with several translation teams as I was in the past while serving as field director.
It has been a challenge to get back into the routine of working with the Meetto translation team again. Jacob and Amisse have been on their own for a long time and to have me close at hand is relief for them in many ways, but also a bit awkward. The Meetto NT is completely drafted, but there remains a lot of checking by exegete, community and consultants, before it can be published. This phase of the work can be very tedious and requires extreme discipline to be able to finish. Pray that we’ll be able to find a good rhythm and be able to work through the material and see the NT complete in good time.
We are very pleased to have a new couple working with us in Balama. Sam and Elizabeth Pflederer arrived in Mozambique in March and moved to Balama with us in May. Pray for us as we seek to be good mentors to them. The Pflederers write a good letterer. You can read it at the following link: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/b896d3224658fe4af211dfa7d/files/Summer_2015.pdf
Pray too with us as we explore new methods checking scriptures orally in order to obtain a broader contribution from the community at large. Ultimately, we know that the scriptures will be listened to far more than they will be read, and so we are looking at new ways of working throughout the drafting and checking process that would lend themselves to the translation of a Bible that is understandable and pleasing to the listener first, but also to the reader.
Our world is small and birthdays come but once a year, but not many people get to enjoy a 90th birthday party. Susan and I didn’t want to miss Dad’s party. He turned 90 on July 11th. What a day to remember! Our thanks to those who specifically helped to make it possible for us to attend.
Our children are doing very well. Laura is teaching in Buffalo and just weeks ago completed her MA. Congratulations Laura! Mary and Steven have moved to Cincinnati. Emily is doing an internship at a rehab center in Niagara Falls and is living with Laura this summer. Andrew spent the last school term in Seville, Spain and the summer in Mozambique, doing an internship with Mozambique Fresh Eggs in Nampula. It was pleasure to have him so close for a few months.
Susan and I need to attend several conferences and staff meetings in October and November, and as such will be returning home October through December. We look forward to seeing many of you then.
Frustration we have in spades, but we are encouraged by the fact that God sent us here and has kept us alive this long. He certainly has a purpose to perform in us and through us. Thank you again for joining us as we strive to bring God’s word to the people of Mozambique. And so we continue to…
John and Susan
May 2015 Nampula, Mozambique
Most Excellent Theophilus,
I don’t often get nostalgic about African cities. Today I’m in Nampula at my favorite café, sipping a “stronger than death” expresso. Inside, the café resembles a scene from a Humphrey Bogart movie; smokers caressing their coffee cups and gossiping about everything that matters in the city. I am on the veranda where the air is clearer. At the next table sits Phil, the man who seems to know everything, pumping a newly arrived businessman for information while getting his daily caffeine fix. Across the street is the cathedral. I’m sorry I don’t have more reason to frequent that building. It is without doubt the most tasteful piece of architecture in the entire country and acoustically is one of the best buildings I’ve ever been in. Keep in mind, I live in Africa and don’t frequent the cathedrals or concert halls of Europe.
We have lived in Nampula since 2006. The city has doubled in size since then, now up to around 800,000 denizens. A city that is in massive growth will show certain growing pains, the details of which I leave to your imagination. Nine years ago there were five flights a week servicing Nampula, all going to Maputo, the capital. Today there are at least seven flights a day, with daily direct flights to Johannesburg and Nairobi, and frequent flights to many provincial capitals. The city water system was designed back in the 60’s to accommodate 50,000 residents. Last year they upgraded the system so now most people in the city have access to water not far from their home. Nine years ago the highest education was grade 12 at one high school. Today there are six universities, including a law and medical school. Nine years ago motorcycles were a rare sight, as expensive as a used car. With a change in licensing law, 50cc motorcycles proliferated and now are almost as common as pedestrians. It is rare for more than one person in a household to have a paying job and so most residents still live under thatched roofs, cook over charcoal fires and faithfully go to school and dream of a better life.
But this has been our home and now it is time for us to leave and move back north to Balama where we were before 2006 and where the Meetto Bible translation program has continued on in our absence over the past nine years.
The biggest challenge in recent months has been to divest ourselves of our mission center in Nampula. We give thanks to God for YWAM who have agreed to purchase the facility and keep it operating as a training center for missions. On June 1st they take over, and we, along with another mission, will maintain our head office there as renters. Please pray for a peaceful transition and also for the many staff workers that we had to let go through the transfer.
Our next job assignment is not so much to return to the Meetto translation program as it is moving into a full time consulting role. As a translation consultant, I will have responsibility to support several other Bible translation programs in northern Mozambique and beyond.
Our children are doing very well. Laura is teaching in Buffalo and will finish her MA this summer. Mary and Steven have moved to Cincinnati. Emily is in Buffalo living with Laura this summer doing an internship at a rehab center in Niagara. And Andrew is in Nampula, Mozambique. He spent the last school term in Spain and is now doing an internship with New Horizons and Africa Fresh Eggs in Nampula. Susan and I are, as always, weary of moving, but excited about what God has in store for us. We need to attend several conferences and staff meetings in the October and November, and as such will be returning home early October through December.
“The road goes ever on and on…” But we know that he who has called us is faithful and will bring it to pass. Thank you again for standing and kneeling with us as we press on to bring God’s word to the people of Mozambique.
John and Susan
Photos are courtesy of Jared Smoker, who grew up in Nampula and now lives in Lititz, PA. You can find more of his photography on line.