Mozambique, March 2023

Friends and Family,

               Greetings! Some of you may be wondering if we were affected by the Cyclone Freddy that made international news last week.  The cyclone hit a ways south of us, so had no direct impact on us.  I did speak with a brother who had been in contact with a church in Quelimane, the main city that was hit.  He reported that there was a lot of damage done to houses, especially with roofs being blown off, and the city was without electricity for a while.  It is about a 12 hour drive from here, so it isn’t somewhere that I frequent.  I don’t know yet if it is necessary for me to go there or not.

        In other news, the insurgency continues but has been limited to rural areas a good ways north of us.  Life has returned mostly to normal here and people continue in their normal routines.  There was an area north of us where insurgents were seen, resulting in several villages emptying out and fleeing to areas around here.  On Sunday I met one such family in a village nearby.  They had fled to stay with their daughter, who is a Christian.  This is the time right before harvest and many people face food shortages, so having extra family members present places a great burden on families.  I was able to bring them food to help them through this difficult time.  Many of those fleeing have left behind fields that were producing the food they were planning to eat this year.  It is doubtful whether they will harvest any food from those fields.  It risks being lost to thieves or baboons.  Likewise, others who have farms that they usually operate in remote rural areas have decided it isn’t worth the risk and have left those farms uncultivated this year.  This might have serious repercussions in the coming months if less food has been produced in the region than normal.

    The major project I have been involved in for the past month has been in translating Psalms.  We had a weekend seminar where we translated Psalm 91 and we had a two week seminar where we translated 8 other Psalms.  The work was really fruitful and we translated and developed songs for each of the Psalms.  I worked a good bit with Psalm 113 and we first developed a song and then used the song as a base for our translation.  While song writing naturally takes poetic license, it was amazing to see how closely the song resembled the final translation.  Little had to be changed and a lot of the rhythm and sound that was still present in the song was in the end.  Also we had a song that is usable in churches that is based on scripture.  This process was repeated for each of the Psalms that we translated.  This brings our current total to 28 Psalms that have been translated so far.

   In translation one inevitably runs into styles, words, and concepts that are difficult to translate.  Some words in a language require multiple words in another language to convey the idea.  This is especially the case in the Hebrew Psalms.  We found that often what is one word in Hebrew is translated into three or four in English.  So it is a challenge to try to maintain the brevity of each Psalm.  Psalm 113 is a good case in point. Most of the verses have between 5 and 7 words in Hebrew whereas English often is double that.  Compare the Psalm 113:3 in English and Hebrew:

   From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets
      The name of the Lord is to be praised.
   Mimizrach shemesh od mvo’o
      Mehulal shem adonai

So, we try to aim for brevity of language whenever possible though it is difficult when trying to rightly balance this with effectively conveying the meaning.  Likewise we sometimes run into difficulties with words, such as “generation”.  For some reason, this concept doesn’t exist in Makua and the word that people usually use means something more like “a group of clans” though it could refer to “generations” as well.  The predominant usage is for the group of clans though.  Getting to the root of a problem like this usually requires multiple conversations with people and explaining what the idea is that we are trying to convey.  We often take for granted that we have access to dictionaries that we can check to find out what a word means and to find examples of how it is used.  These challenges make our work interesting and often stimulate us to better understand the local language and culture as well as the biblical language and culture.

     I mentioned in my previous update that I was dealing with renewing resident documents for the girls.  Thankfully we have completed both Maggie and Jane’s documents which are good for five years.  This is great because it means that they can come and go freely in and out of the country and that I don’t have to worry about dealing with their documents every year.  This will save both time and money, so we are really grateful for that.

    On another note, some of you may have heard about this case, but in November three missionaries were arrested and under suspicion of providing aid to the insurgents.  They were detained while an investigation was made into their situation.  The “aid” mentioned was vitamins and other supplies for an orphanage down the road from us.  They were imprisoned for almost four months as an investigation was made, but thankfully they have been released.  They are awaiting a court appearance before they will be able to leave the country.  I personally know two of the missionaries and it was a bit of a shock to hear what they have gone through.  We have been praying for them and are thankful that God has answered our prayers.

Praise God for:

• A fruitful Psalms Seminar
• Jane’s 5 year residence document being granted
• Peace in the region
• Good progress with the kids’ school
• The missionaries who been released from prison

Please Pray for:

• The editing process of the recently translated Psalms
• Those affected by cyclone Freddy
• Peace in our province and for the insurgency to end
• The three missionaries to be cleared of all charges in court
• Edmondo, a young man I am studying the Bible with
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