Archive for May 2006
Mi les means I’m tired and I don’t feel like doing anything.
It’s 10 o’clock at night, and I’ve accomplished only a fraction of the work I’d hoped to do this evening. I feel as if I’m stuck in slow motion while everything is speeding up around me, or perhaps as if I’m trying to run through a pool of slowly coagulating gelatin, though I’ve never actually tried that.
The simplest of jobs seems impossible, and things just aren’t getting done. I can’t even begin to describe the complexity of my work situation. I knew it would be overwhelming, but I didn’t know what overwhelming would feel like.
I’m leaving in a couple of days to begin a six-week trip to various parts of the country. Critical pieces of the puzzle are still missing, and the deadline is inching nearer and nearer. I like organization; I like plans. I still have major questions, some of which may not be answered until a few hours before I leave. This is very hard for me.
Meanwhile, I feel ashamed for panicking about my life. Others around me are facing unimaginable trauma and upheaval. But knowing that — and knowing I should be thankful for what I have — doesn’t actually make me feel any better.
Yes, I am excited about the trips. I’ll send more detailed information to those on my email list. If you’re a regular reader of TTB but are not on my email list, contact me if you’d like to be added. Then you can have the inside scoop too.
Meanwhile … mi les.
A strong earthquake shook New Britain yesterday afternoon. New Britain is a large island slightly northeast of ‘mainland’ PNG. At 6.2 on the Richter scale, the quake was as strong as Saturday’s horrific earthquake on the island of Java, Indonesia.
However, we have received no reports of serious damage, injury, or casualties from New Britain. We do have translators working in the area of the quake, but everyone seems to be OK.
We did not feel the quake here at the center, which is several hundred miles from the affected region. We did feel a minor tremor Saturday afternoon, but those seem to happen at least twice a month.
Again, no damage is reported from PNG, or from Tonga, which experienced a slightly stronger quake at nearly the same time New Britain was shaken up yesterday.
Q: “Hey David, here is a way to use an umbrella and keep your hands free.” –T.V.W.
A: Whoa, the rainbow version is 50 percent off! I wonder why? Actually, Papua New Guineans seem to like rainbow umbrellas. It’s fun to drive past an outdoor market and see dozens of colorful umbrellas set up to ward off the sun.
Q: “At what point does a translation project transition to the Old Testament? I know it would be an immense job, but I think you’ve mentioned programs that did it before.” –L.S.
A (short): It depends.
A (long): No two translation programs proceed in exactly the same way. Some translators feel strongly that it’s important to give people the beginning of the story, so they start by translating Old Testament portions or by producing an Old Testament synopsis. In cultures whose religious traditions already esteem Biblical patriarchs like Abraham and Moses, teams often begin by translating Genesis and other Old Testament books.
In other cases, translators begin by working through the entire New Testament. Once the New Testament is finished, some teams continue work on the Old Testament: a few Psalms and Proverbs, several major books, or occasionally the entire Old Testament. Sometimes, the Wycliffe translators stay to assist with OT translation. Other times, mother-tongue translators* carry on with OT translation after the Wycliffe team has left.
* Mother-tongue translators (MTTs) are people who translate texts from other languages into their own.
Shortwave radios are a lifeline — very literally — for our teams all over PNG. Often, they have no other way to communicate quickly with the outside world.
These days, some translators can even access email via radio.
But anyway, you can’t spend too much time here without learning how to use the radio. I used it sometimes last year, but never on my own. That changed this week.
I needed to talk with a couple who work on the island of New Ireland. I’m going out to visit them next month, but I needed to confirm the dates with them, and find out how to get there.
When I arrived at the radio booth, it was empty. I was hoping that someone else would be there — someone who know what to do. The list of call signs on the door did not include the Hutchissons, which did not help my state of mind. I knew I could just use their name if I had to, but I think you’re supposed to make contact using call signs — in this case, a letter followed by three numbers.
As the minutes went by and nobody came, I realized I’d have to figure it out on my own.
I walked over to the radio and turned up the volume. That wasn’t hard, but then the radio started cycling through the different channels over and over. It didn’t stop on any of them, and I stood there puzzled for a moment. Then I happened to notice a little piece of paper attached to the radio unit.
Don’t panic, it said, if the radio keeps cycling through the channels. Simply press the transmit button, and wait.
So I did. The radio stopped on a channel, and I heard a man’s voice. He said he was waiting to hear from Alpha 338, where David Ringer should be standing by. Yay!
“This is Alpha 338 with David Ringer,” I said.
During the conversation, I kept trying to remember the lingo. “Over” when you’re done talking. “Roger” when you understand. When we finished, I said (feeling very professional), “This is Alpha 338 standing by.”
I learned several things from the experience. One was that I really need to memorize the phonetic alphabet. I know a little bit from living with a flight major for four years, but I’m certainly not proficient.
This is Alpha 338, off and clear.
Q: “Do you have cereal for breakfast?” –M.E.
A: No. Though various kinds of cereal are available in our store, I generally prefer toast with peanut butter. This morning though, I had some pancakes that were left over from a previous meal.
So email me if you have questions. I might answer you here, and then you’d be famous!