Friday, June 12, 2015

On lampstands and sacrifices

Many things in PNG (this is a house wall) are made from natural materials
 “We don’t have words for things like “lampstand” and all the different metals and clothes,” Kosseck explained with a grin. “It was hard work trying to translate those concepts so our community would understand!”

Kosseck, Tuas, and James, three of the Kamano-Kafe translators were gathered together, reflecting on the challenges of translating the book of Exodus into their language.

“We had to look at a lot of pictures and do research to understand the [Jewish] customs,” he continued, “We’d been praying hard that God would give us the wisdom how to translate it all correctly. But, all the talk in the Bible about the animals and how and what parts to cut up on the animals for sacrifices That was easy to translate! It directly parallels our own culture where we cut up animals for our feast celebrations!”

In addition to finishing the translation of Exodus, the team was spending three intensive weeks polishing an audio-recording of the book, to be distributed on hand-held audio players throughout the villages. These Audibibles create a critical link between the traditional oral culture of the Kamano-Kafe, where many people don’t read and write fluently, and the written Word of God.
A local Highlands village (photo courtesy of Jessie Wright)
Tuas, who was the voice of Moses, appreciated how much all his time spent translating Exodus had helped him as a pastor. “Now, when I want to talk about Exodus, the story is in my mind! I know it so well, I can just tell about it off the top of my head.”

“The book of Exodus is a good book,” he said, “It’s similar to the story of when Jesus came to earth as Savior. It creates a bridge, a parallel...and so it’s our goal as a team that this book will help our people understand Jesus.

Over the next year, I'm serving the Kamano-Kafe team as a translation adviser while the primary advisers are in the US on home assignment. This past week I had a chance to meet with the team and begin advising them as they translate the book of Leviticus. It was a lot of fun, but it left me really tired this week, so in the meantime, enjoy this article I originally wrote for The PNG Experience (the blog that chronicles translation and language work in Papua New Guinea). Stay tuned for more Kamano-Kafe stories and videos to introduce you to these remarkable people!