The Translation Beat


just me
I was a communications specialist for Wycliffe International and its partners from 2005-09.

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New websites launched as my time with Wycliffe ends

Wednesday, August 5, 2009, 9:30 am

I’m back in the States now and am pleased to announce that just before I left Nairobi, we (the Wycliffe International communications team) launched two new websites: ( explores language communities, global issues and mission worldwide. ( presents information about Wycliffe International, its partners, and their ministry.

I have served as project manager for the development of these two sites since January, and many people have been working hard for a long time to reach this day. Check out the sites!

And with this, my time with Wycliffe has come to an end. Thanks to each of you who have supported me over the last four years.

The Translation Beat will stay online, but this will be my last post here. Thank you again. That’s all for now.

From linguistic analysis to computer repair

Monday, July 6, 2009, 1:49 pm

Last week, I visited a discourse analysis workshop with my friend Jeff Pubols. Jeff works in computer support here in Nairobi, and he was visiting the workshop to perform some basic repair and cleanup on laptops used by Kenyan translation teams.


People with skills like Jeff’s are essential to keep equipment operating so that translators can keep working smoothly and efficiently.

Meanwhile, I was watching linguists working with various translation teams, helping them analyze various features of their language and of the biblical texts that they were translating. (Discourse analysis is concerned with how language works above the sentence level.) It really does take all kinds!


Nairobi home life

Thursday, July 2, 2009, 12:23 pm

Hi from Nairobi, Kenya. I’m living here for several weeks helping out with web and communications projects … which mostly involves sitting in an office staring at a laptop. Life at home is quiet too, but here’s a little bit of what it’s like.

This is the house where, up until today, I have been staying with Tom and Susan. We had to move a few doors down today, but it’s similar enough that you get the idea. (We are staying in the houses of people who are traveling, so we have to move around as people come and go.)


Here’s our (former) front door and the nice little garden inside the gate:

Living room:

My room:

View from my balcony. You can almost see the house into which we moved this morning — all the way down on the right.

We have lots of great fresh fruits available:

And lots of vegetables too. Nairobi’s cool highland climate is conducive to growing a wide range of produce. I made a stir fry with six or eight kinds of veggies:

Another meal — curried potatoes with leftover meats and vegetables. The soft drink in the background is a ginger beer produced by Coca-Cola in East Africa. It’s really good!

Susan saw a display case of camel milk in the grocery store, so of course we had to try it.

The package claimed some remarkable health benefits:

We decided that trying small portions first would be wise:

It turns out that camel milk tastes a lot like hay … or barnyards … or worse. “It’s like licking a camel!” said Tom, who was singularly unimpressed. We decided to share the experience with our friends Jeff and Heather (are we still friends, guys?), who gave it a mixed review. (Incidentally, Heather and Susan are in Togo and Benin now, having adventures. Follow along at Pubols Postscript.)

How big is Africa?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009, 12:30 pm

I would venture to say that most of us have no idea how huge the African continent really is. Some commonly used map projections have tended to reinforce the idea that it’s really not all that big. But. It. Is.

Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity

Monday, June 15, 2009, 1:24 pm

Christianity has very ancient roots in Ethiopia. The New Testament and other sources indicate that Christianity reached Ethiopia during the Church’s earliest days, and in the fourth century, Emperor Ezana converted to Christianity. Oriental Orthodox Churches (which includes today’s Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church) split from other churches in the fifth century (and after another five hundred years, the remaining Church would split again into the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches). The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was part of the Coptic Orthodox Church (Egypt) until 1959.

Because of this long history, the expressions and practices of the church are distinctive. I didn’t have a chance to visit an Orthodox church service, but I did see a couple of churches from the outside.

Ethiopian Orthodox church building

stained glass window

Mary and Jesus

As you would expect, given the long history of the Church in Ethiopia, Ethiopian religious art is also well developed and distinctive. Simple designs, bright colors, and large eyes are well known elements of the art (read more).


See more examples of Ethiopian religious art, including illuminated manuscripts and crosses.

stained glass window

Ethiopian Orthodox church building