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Sarah BuchananThis is the second of a series (currently a series of two, but you never know) of guest blogs from Sarah Buchanan, a PhD Translation student at Queen’s University, Belfast who loves languages and the Bible!

Sarah asked my colleague Marlene in the Wycliffe Bible Translators office in Belfast to help her access a Bible translation workshop in Africa. This is Sarah’s second Encounter story from that trip…

 

Marc KousiballeLet me introduce you to Marc, an ethnomusicologist and Bible translator from the San Maya people group in Northern Burkina Faso.

I first met Marc as he stood at the front of our morning worship at the translation workshop. He played his guitar and led some singing, then shared his thoughts about sowing and reaping spiritually from 2 Corinthians 9.

Marc comes from a family of 15. His family was greatly impacted by the life of one lady, whose name will probably not be recorded in any great volumes of Christian history. She was  an unassuming female missionary who came to his village and gave his aunt a wheelchair, which she so desperately needed. There was something so consistent and pure about this lady’s character that although uninterested in Christianity, many of his family started going to church, and now all but two are devout Christians. What a beginning.

Wheelchair

Marc was one of the brightest children in his class so he continued his education as far as he could. He ended up teaching Mathematics at the University of Ouagadougou. Yet after some years in the capital city, there was a sense of unrest in his heart, and when he was approached to take up a temporary teaching post in his village, he accepted and returned.

While back in Tougan, Marc was approached by SIL about a Bible translation project that would use the translation for the Southern San language, and adapt it for the people in the North and West. The team was looking for the most educated people to complete the project. Marc fitted the job description and he had peace about accepting the role. Meanwhile, he got involved with working with the youth in his village as he worked on the project. Then Marc met his bride and had a son, who is now 2 years old.

Marc’s wife, a schoolteacher, shares his vision and helps him teach a Sunday school, welcoming the young people of the village into their home, although sometimes Marc has to say “can you please go home now” to the young people who would stay just as long as they used to before he had a family! Marc continues working on the Bible translation and developing other projects, borne out of his own vision and passion for the people of his community. Marc is taking courses on Scripture Use through SIL, which help him as he travels from village to village after harvest time with a small projector, creating dramatic productions of Bible stories with the local people, and sharing the good news. He writes songs in his own language with local instruments, as this speaks more powerfully and maintains the traditions and language of the San Maya people.

No doubt, things are not always easy for Marc and he worries about his wife who has to take a dangerous journey by motorbike to work at the school, yet he has a deep faith and prays fervently as he seeks to make innovative plans to share God’s love and impact his community. He plants ground nuts and sesame, employing teenagers in his village and thereby teaching them new skills. Marc dreams of building a storehouse to increase this enterprise, and of setting up a library with the funds to help educate the young people: he asks us to pray for the young people and for these two projects.

Marc’s story inspires me in a few ways. The testimony of the lady shows me the importance of living a consistent and authentic life. His own story reminds us of the power planting the seed of God’s word in different forms in peoples’ heart language, and it challenges us to pray for our brothers and sisters in West Africa, while asking, what does God want us to do in our own communities?

Sarah with the other workshop participants in Burkina Faso

Sarah with the other workshop participants in Burkina Faso

I would love to post more of Sarah’s Encounters En-route stories from her trip to Burkina Faso… what about it, Sarah? Meanwhile look up Sarah on her translation Facebook page

In this post, Sarah talks about ethnomusicology, Bible translation, teaching and Scripture Use – see roles with Wycliffe in these areas

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Sarah BuchananThis is the first of a series (currently a series of two, but you never know) of guest blogs from Sarah Buchanan, a PhD Translation student at Queen’s University, Belfast who loves languages and the Bible!

Sarah asked my colleague Marlene in the Wycliffe Bible Translators office in Belfast to help her access a Bible translation workshop in Africa. Read on…

 

In June 2014, I had the privilege of attending a Bible translation workshop in Burkina Faso for 10 days, with the help and encouragement of Marlene Ferguson and others in the Wycliffe office. Let me introduce you to a couple of people I met there, over the next few blog posts.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso

Struggling with French and straining to understand the West African dialect I think I managed a Bonjour as I sat down on the plane from Paris. Sitting next to me, this middle-aged man from Mali with a friendly demeanour was my first impression of Africa. We started talking about family and respective countries. Why was I going to Burkina? Who was I staying with? Did I realise Burkina Faso was known as the furnace because of its heat, even among Africans? He helped me with my TV and headset as I get incredibly confused with anything technological.

A little while before landing, the flight attendant handed out cards to fill in all the whys and wheres of one’s trip. I diligently filled mine in, worried that I might write a dash or a full stop in the wrong place. I noticed Mr Traore didn’t have a pen, so I offered him one. He declined politely. I waited and wondered and then I realized, much slower than I should have, that he hadn’t read the in-flight magazine or any books; that he hadn’t read anything during the whole flight. I had heard about illiteracy but had never met anyone who couldn’t read or write, nor had I really considered the implications. Eventually he handed me his passport and asked me to fill out his form.

Ouagadougou International Airport

Ouagadougou International Airport

We arrived in the early evening, and entered a room in an airport with a few desks, a number of insects, and a mass of people. Suddenly my heart sunk and my imagination fuelled a state of panic with the realization that I had forgotten one very important item: my vaccination card. What am I going to do? There isn’t even a British Embassy in Burkina. I froze for a moment, managed “J’ai oublié mais j’ai eu les vaccinations”, and waited some more as a sea of travellers poured into the airport in front of me. Eventually, I got a nod to walk on through, praise God.

By this time, I felt a bit disorientated…until I heard the call, “Fille!” It was Mr Traore, who moved me right to the front of the queue beside him, signalling to others that I was his friend. He guided me through the next hour that ensued, switching from one queue to another, until we were able to walk through into the arrivals area where a taxi driver waited to take me to the SIL centre.

Sometimes it’s the simple meetings that are most memorable. You might see nothing special in this encounter, but I do, just like many of the encounters that happen in Belfast or Ballymena or Ballygawley contain something special we choose not to see because we’re busy thinking about the next job on our list. In this case, I met someone that I wouldn’t usually encounter and struggled to communicate, yet I see acts of hospitality in the invitations I received: the invitation to converse, the invitation to listen to Mr Traore’s family and story, the invitation to share (my family, my faith, my interests). I was invited to help in a very small way, and in return, to accept help on this part of the journey.

Meanwhile statistics on illiteracy left the pages of NGO leaflets to take on shape and form in real life, albeit in a passing moment.

I see God’s provision and protection in this encounter, and am reminded that even when there is much misunderstanding (linguistically, culturally, politically…) there’s usually the possibility to learn and gain something from another person who is quite different to us, as we have to strain our ears and listen more closely.

Look out for Encounters En-route number two soon and look up Sarah on her translation Facebook page

Sarah focussed on literacy in this post:find out more about literacy and other roles with Wycliffe or investigate Two Week Stint in the south of France this summer which has both literacy and linguistic tracks.

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