Jacob, senior mother tongue translator for the Mwaghavul project in Nigeria, just emailed his consultant another draft of the Old Testament passage he’s working on. Later today or tomorrow he’ll check back and probably find a response in his inbox. The rapid feedback will allow him to improve his translation and quickly move on to the next passage.
Sooner rather than later the Mwaghavul people will have the Old Testament in the language that best speaks to them, and evolving technology will have contributed greatly— not just to the speed, but also to the quality of the translation. Jacob’s laptop and email program have been important tools for several years, but suddenly his ability to communicate with Wycliffe’s Seed Company consultant, Bob Carter, has greatly improved!
Gone are the days when he would pack up his laptop, climb on his motorbike, ride nine hot, dusty miles to his brother’s house, sit out back on a stone bench he built for the purpose, and hope that the cell tower in his line of sight would give him enough signal to send and receive email. At best he could email Bob once a week. He’d get Bob’s response the next week after another nine-mile ride (one-way), and if all went well he’d send his response the following week.
But now he can sit in the Mwaghavul project translation office and send email to Bob without ever leaving his desk. Instead of connecting to the internet via the cell tower in his brother’s village, he connects via a geostationary satellite, using a BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) terminal that works anywhere. Power to operate the 8”x10”satellite terminal comes from the small gasoline generator that also powers his laptop.
Jacob’s new satellite connection was provided by a Wycliffe Associates (WA) team, working in partnership with The Seed Company (TSC) and the Nigeria Bible Translation Trust. Worldwide, sixty-seven translation teams are now using this very new technology, including the Yawa team I wrote about in October 2010.* Fifty-four of these units were installed by WA.
Our WA colleagues are enthusiastic about funding and installing more of the systems, as well as training mother tongue translators to operate and maintain them. For teams like Jacob’s, only the satellite connection is needed, but for teams who are not yet using computers, WA expects to provide a full kit, which includes the BGAN, a netbook computer, a solar panel, a battery and a charge controller.
What a great example this is of the five strategic themes of Vision 2025: urgency, partnership, capacity building, creative strategies and sustainability. As several partners work together to provide cutting edge technology in a user friendly way, they are building the capacity of our mother tongue translator colleagues and accelerating the work in a way that speaks clearly to the urgency of finishing the Bible translation task. I praise God for that!
Editor’s Note: This article by Wycliffe USA President and CEO Bob Creson was adapted from a recent newsletter to worldwide personnel.