jeudi 15 août 2019

Birthday treats

Despite Marc and I not feeling at our best, I still had a great birthday weekend with our friend Miriam.

jeudi 8 août 2019


Our kids are in their last week of school holiday. They have been pretty good at occupying themselves since we got back from Cotonou.

mardi 30 juillet 2019

Gloria in excelsis!

A pastoral couple, good friends of ours, had a worrying time recently with a difficult pregnancy. However, while we were in Cotonou they rang to announce the good news of their daughter's birth. They named her Gloria, wanting to give the glory to God.

We were back in time to attend her Service of Thanksgiving at their small church, and rejoiced with them to see both mother and baby healthy. (In the photo the parents are in the centre in matching clothes.)

(not so) rainy season

We knew the rains had started late this year as we'd really only had one
good rainfall when we left for Cotonou at the beginning of July. But we
hoped they would have started to come regularly by the time we got back.
However even now at the end of July the rains are neither as regular nor
as abundant as the crops need. It doesn't matter much to us if our
garden fails, but our friends rely on their fields as their main source
of food and income, so for them it is crucial to have the necessary rain.

A few photos from Cotonou

Holiday fun!

vendredi 28 juin 2019

The lost hen

Yesterday afternoon I went out to visit some friends with Eve. When we got back I was surprised to see one of our hens, Fabienne, but not her constant companion Mildred. Simon confirmed that she had disappeared a couple of hours earlier. We thought maybe she was somewhere in the compound, or just perhaps had got out of the compound, but if so would be back later. However, when she wasn't there at the usual time I give the hens grain, and then didn't appear in her usual roosting spot, we began to worry more.

This morning I was ready to give up hope, thinking that maybe she'd been stolen - a common occurrence in the village. Then Simon came to say he'd heard something in our outside storehouse and was going to get the key to look in it. I told him that I'd stood at the open door yesterday evening and called Mildred, but had heard nothing. But when he checked, there she was! What a joy to hear Simon saying, "Mildred!"

I have always understood the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin on an intellectual level, but today I really felt a similar joy. Mildred is "just a hen", but she was lost and is found!

Mildred when she had just arrived in May

jeudi 27 juin 2019

On with the New...

In February, I wrote to my dad to tell him a bit about the work the translation team was (and still is) doing correcting the New Testament. I thought others might be interested to hear about what kind of things we are working too, so here are a few examples. Not the boring typos, though we are hoping to get as many of them corrected as possible, but the bits where we have found problems in the meaning of the translation.

What we've been doing is reading in Monkolé, then I get one of my colleagues to back-translate (give me a very literal translation into French) and I look at a very literal translation from the Greek (since my Greek is not strong!).

In Matthew 3:16 the NIV says, "As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him." but we had, "As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him." I checked with the Greek and my translators' manual to check that in fact in Matthew's Gospel it is Jesus himself who sees the Spirit of God descending, and so we replaced "John" by "he".

Matthew 5:25 says, "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison." For the word "officer" we had "zandaamu" which is used in Monkolé from the French "gendarme" since there obviously isn't a traditional word for it or for "officer of the court" as it would be in this case. I would have left it as such, except that last year the President of Benin abolished gendarmes! He mixed the gendarmes and the police together and called them, "La Police Républicaine". So in a few years time, people might not even know what "zandaamu" were! So we decided to go with "polisi" instead.

I only discovered while doing this work that of the two words for "sin" which I knew about, one is against God, the other is against other people. Which is quite tricky really, since biblically sin is always against God and sometimes also against other people! But in the Lord's Prayer, we had to say "forgive us our sin-against-God, as we forgive those who have sinned-against-people against us" (as it were, obviously it's just one word each time in Monkolé). And even this seems not quite right to me, since we also need to ask God to forgive us our sins against other people … but it seems to me that this is the closest we can get in Monkolé without giving a theology lesson in the middle of the text!

We had a problem with the Good Samaritan, because in the second greatest commandment, in Monkolé we say "love other people as you love yourself" because the word you might use for "neighbour" also means "friend", and the whole point is that we aren't just talking about loving your friends. But therefore, the scribe ended up asking Jesus, "Who is another person?" which sounded very odd! So we changed it to something more like, "Who is another person in my case?" Not ideal, but better than what we had!

I have likened my work to ironing before, and it does feel like we are doing that at the moment, just ironing out little wrinkles in the translation of the New Testament. Re-reading the New Testament has also given me renewed respect for the team who translated it in the first place. There are some very nifty translation solutions in there.

People ploughing in the field next door to our house last week: