The Weatherheads – Pioneer Bible Translators

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Dear Tammy,

Summer is officially here now! The sun is strong – temperatures are in the high 20 C to mid 30 C range – Canada had it’s Canada Day, the States had their 4th of July celebration. Time to relax? Yes, and also time to still work on translation work. So on the days when it’s not raining (most days), Norm sits in his ‘outside’ office to continue working on language analysis and preparation for upcoming checking sessions.

Akukem Language

In our last prayer update, we shared the good news about how well the Zoom online checking sessions went during the months of April and early May. Norm and the Akukem translation team were able to review and revise Luke chapters 11-17. After this session was finished, Norm continued to review chapters 18-24 and prepared over 400 more questions on the text. In our sessions, we look at every aspect of translation which can include:

1.      Spelling: the team is getting more consistent, but many spelling errors still remain in their drafted translation materials.

2.      Grammar: Norm is getting better in understanding Akukem grammar, and translating Greek or Hebrew Scriptures into a Papuan language often requires a shift in how to express the meaning of the Bible in the grammatical structure of that language.

3.      Comprehension: what might seem clear to one person can be misunderstood by another person, so we have multiple checks on “does the meaning come through clearly?”

4.      Readability: in speech we tend to speak in long run-on sentences, or clipped short sentences, and either of these practices in writing can throw off a reader.

5.      Key Terms: perhaps the hardest aspect of translation is trying to describe or explain a biblical concept from a 1st century Judeo-Christian culture to a 20th century Papua New Guinean living in a remote jungle village.

All of these aspects of Bible translation are certainly challenging. The most important aspect is to allow God to use our best efforts of translation and with the power of the Holy Spirit to see the lives of the readers/listeners to be transformed by His Word. Please continue to pray that we see the light of God’s Word become light and life to the Akukem people of PNG.

Sob Language

Another project which Norm will be working on this summer is to prepare consultant questions on the Sob language books of James, Jude, and Philemon. As mentioned earlier, there are multiple checks which happen for every book of translated Scripture before it is considered ready to be published. After the Advisor Checking is done on a book, which is what we are doing on the Akukem book of Luke, there needs to be a Village Check (for comprehension), and then a Final Consultant Check on the book.

These Sob books of James, Jude, and Philemon have gone through all the checking stages except for the last one. As a trained linguist, and an experienced translator and consultant, Norm has done the final consultant check on many of our PNG language projects. This is an opportunity to help a fellow translator and their team to do one last check, with someone’s outside perspective who has not been involved in any earlier stage of the translation.

These final consultant checks often go quite smoothly, since the text is usually in very good shape by the time the last consultant looks at it. However, it always amazes all of us as to how many final revisions end up being made in this last checking session. During the month of July, Norm will prepare all his questions on these three books, and the plan is to do an online checking session with the national team (in PNG) and their translation advisor (Chris Urton in Illinois), and Norm still here in either Calgary or in Dallas this fall.

As you can see, there is still much to do. Praise God for this good weather, which is so much better for Norm’s body, and for the ability to do all this work for the Kingdom no matter what country we are in or what time of year it is.

Thank you for your prayers and for the faithful financial supporters who stand behind this work. We are all working together to see God’s Kingdom come and to see lives transformed by the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Norm & Jill Weatherhead
Missionaries to Papua New Guinea

Consider supporting this mission work to PNG through online giving:

  • For Canadian donations, click here. (Choose “International Resource Team – Weatherhead” in the drop down menu.)

*Funds will only be accepted for board approved programs and projects. Each contribution will be used as requested with the understanding that when the need for such a program or project has been met, or cannot be completed for any reason as determined by the board, the remaining designated contributions would be used where needed most.