We have a lot going on,so are dividing our news into two blog posts,one about the family and one about work (see previous blog entry). So now,on to family news. What are all the Mortensens doing? Chaz is busy with his Wycliffe consulting,studies and for-fun translating,but he does make time for other activities. He enjoys weekly rehearsals with the Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus,with a big performance coming up in June. The annual Bach Festival was this week,including an Organ Crawl and a Community Sing. He also attends a weekly men’s breakfast at church and is looking forward to softball starting soon. Our big event this month was Chaz’s 50th birthday,when he was surprised with a trip to Comerica Park to watch the Tigers play the Toronto Blue Jays. His parents and also a friend from Canada joined us for the day. It was in the low 40′s,there was a 2 1/2 hour rain delay,and the Tigers lost,but Chaz declared it a memorable and wonderful birthday.
Helga had a birthday last month,well-celebrated with a family visit before her birthday,then a trip to Grand Rapids after the birthday with Kirsten and Aaron to see the Titanic Artifact Exhibit. It is a remarkable and moving exhibit,which we can highly recommend if it comes near you. When not working on Translator’s Notes or participating in birthday outings,she tutors 3 school-aged students with learning difficulties and a Japanese lady who wants to practice reading,writing and speaking English. She is also studying Japanese,although not very intensely. It’s a good exercise for a middle-aged brain. There are also good times with friends and family and always interesting books to read. She still appreciates the local FREE library. (In the picture below,yes –there is an image over Aaron’s shoulder,that of Captain Smith from the Titanic. The image was digitally added to our photo,as he did not really appear in the exhibit!)
Kirsten is now fully certified (or will be once the paperwork arrives) as a Speech and Language Pathologist in Michigan,after her 9 months of supervised work. She is training in anticipation of the Kalamazoo half-Marathon,which she and Aaron are running on May 5. She is also planning a wedding celebration as she and Aaron are now engaged! We are happy to be welcoming Aaron to the family. Danny is finishing up his year of internship in campus ministry at Lamar University in Beaumont,Texas,and is working on his next step. He had an encouraging interview with Sojourners (www.sojo.net) for an internship this coming year in Washington D.C. and is hoping to get that position. I know he’d appreciate your prayers for that. He has plans to go to Panama in May,then hit the road for a trip with several friends to see a chunk of the US.
Laura is doing well with an AP class and a couple Honors classes,as well as several upcoming choral performances. Her big excitement is her trip to Europe this summer to perform with the Michigan Ambassadors of Music. This trip is possible thanks to a gift from a loving family member and Laura is SO looking forward to it. When not studying or singing she can be found enjoying Netflix,hanging out with friends or cats (at the local shelter),tutoring,and participating in youth group activities.
Chaz,Helga and Laura will be doing a whirlwind trip out west this summer,to Colorado,Wyoming and California,all in 3 weeks,and all on Amtrak! If you are in one of those places but we have not contacted you,it is because there is NOT enough time to squeeze everyone in or to get to where you are! We wish it could be longer,but we need to fit it in between school and Laura’s choir rehearsals,which start July 9.
As the spring snow continues to fall outside,we are warmed at progress and some good news on several fronts. Here is a sampling of what we are doing with Wycliffe Bible Translators,along with some things our colleagues are doing.
The last of three focus groups Chaz has organized in order to do his seminary thesis project concludes this week. The groups have been discussing the Kingdom of God,how people’s perception of it relates to their treatment of those in poverty,and to what extent Bible translation makes a difference. One thing that has surprised him has been how consistent the answers to discussion questions have been,regardless of denomination or age group involved. He aims to finish the draft of his thesis by the end of May and to defend it in the fall.
The Tado and Chami co-translators are working on audio recordings of Matthew in their respective languages. David Pickens,the coordinating translator,is preparing Luke so Chaz can check it in both languages at the same time. This can be done because the languages are very similar to each other and both of the translations have been adapted from the same original translation.
When he has the time,Chaz works on translating Psalms into Embera for possible future use. He enjoys the challenge of synonymous parallelism in Hebrew,which is when two lines of Hebrew poetry say the same idea in slightly different ways. He tries to maintain the same style in Embera,and employs picturesque language when possible. Psalm 18:33-34 reads as follows (literal translation from Embera):
“You make me foot-dextrous like a deer so I don’t slip high on the mountain. You make me hand-dextrous so I can even shoot arrows with a bow made of bronze.”
Please pray for energy,focus and organization for Chaz as he daily attends to several projects.
Notes from elsewhere:
Regarding the displaced Tado people in Colombia,one of the translators David Pickens works with has decided not to go back to his village because the illegally armed group wants to “dialogue”with him. So he lives in a town where he is reasonably safe. He is also helping others in similar situations to find places to live. Another translator grieves that the other main village of Tado people is sympathetic to or employed by the illegal group. He says they have lost their autonomy. He says that many young folks simply enlist,being attracted by the opportunity to carry assault rifles. Please continue to pray for the Tado people,for the refugees and their leaders and for the Christians,to remain strong testimonies of God’s love and help.
“Samuel and Adriana Lopez”are Colombian missionaries who speak the Embera language. They have recently started a Bible teaching ministry in a central location where many Emberas come for higher education,shopping,government matters and health care. They have had many delays in their transition to this ministry,and now that they have started,they are receiving only half of the financial support promised by a major donor. “Samuel”was working with one Embera on translating some Bible study lessons but ran out of funds to pay and feed him. On the bright side,our old friend Roberto has talked with Samuel by phone and asked about us. Samuel reports that the Emberas in Colombia want Bibles (there are still 1000 stored in Panama) and literacy training. The Lopezes will switch to literacy training once the Bible study lessons are all translated. Please pray for their financial needs and that God will open the way for them to accomplish their ministry objectives. Also pray for a good way to get the Bibles from Panama to the Emberas in remote areas in Colombia. There is no simple way to do this right now,due to a number of factors.
In Panama,our Christian friend Enrique’s brother was arrested for “having mercy on someone”[details not given] and now that he is in jail the person he helped does not seem to care at all. This is very discouraging for Enrique and his family.
Helga and Translator’s Notes
Helga’s team is small but dedicated. There are 10 people total,only one of whom is able to work full-time on this project. Paul is struggling with a recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s,continuing to work through his limitations. He and Helga had a long talk last week about what he is still able to do,what he wants to do,and how his assignment can be changed so he can still contribute his experience and knowledge to the team. He is determined to keep working as long as possible. Please pray for encouragement and focus for Paul. He is finishing up the volume for the gospel of Mark,which is a HUGE job. Sandy has had to get a full-time,outside-of-Wycliffe job to make financial ends meet. Her husband is in full-time Wycliffe work. Sandy does electronic formatting for TN,which is very time-consuming and detailed work. This she does in her “spare”time! Please pray for strength for Sandy as she meets her work and family demands while also contributing to the TN team.
This week Helga is doing all the team’s budgeting and planning for next year. They continue to get requests for materials that do not yet exist,due to the long and slow process of TN production. When the translation manual for a Bible book does not exist in Spanish,the translators have to read through the English,then translate it “on the spot”for their indigenous translator colleagues,thus slowing down the whole translation process. Please pray that new team members can be recruited,through personal contacts and through networking. Chaz is attending a Bible Translation conference this fall where he plans to publicize TN needs. He also hopes to help out the team part-time once his thesis is done.
We live and work on salary received from regular support from interested partners like many of you. We are currently receiving just enough each month to manage,helped along by some money Helga receives for her tutoring and babysitting jobs. We are thankful for God providing for us always,through his faithful people,and we thank you for your part in this. If you are interested in joining our support team,you can do so online by clicking here: http://www.wycliffe.org/Partnership.aspx?mid=C5FBA4. You may also mail your contribution to:Wycliffe Bible Translators/P.O. Box 628200/Orlando,FL 32862 with a note that the funds are for “Charles and Helga Mortensen”. Also see the tabs at the top of this blog page for more information.
If you live within a few hours of us and would like us to come and talk with you,with a group of friends,or with your church about our work for Bible translation,please contact us. We’d love to arrange a way to meet with you. Our contact information is on the home page of this blog.
Recently I (Helga) had the joy of sending the draft copies of all the Notes for the Gospel of Mark to a translation team in Mexico. (As there are areas of unrest in Mexico,I posted the above warning). Here is a picture of the translation team:Beth Merrill and two Zapotec speakers who are working with her. The Notes came in handy for them as they were attending a translation workshop on Mark. They are continuing work on the book this week. Thanks to modern technology,I can sit at my desk and with a few drags and clicks,and Dropbox.com,I can get the material to the team in just a few minutes.
Beth explained,“We started this translation in 2000,at the request of someone in the community. We hope to finish sometime after 2020. The Zapotec mother tongue translator finished the draft of the New Testament last year,and now we are revising and checking everything.
“It helps a lot when Translator’s Notes are available in Spanish for the mother tongue translator to read,both to use in drafting (which we have already done for the books available) and to use in revising more (which is still to be done). When TN is only available in English,then I end up translating it into Spanish for her when some of the commentary brings to bear on the question about the verse we are translating. Translator’s Notes is really the only source I have found that (often) readily answers the questions that translators have,and the suggested options in the display are often helpful in re-wording a difficult passage. We are also working on various OT portions —some of Genesis,Psalms,Proverbs,and the book of Jonah so far.”
Through your prayers and your financial support,you are enabling me to help Beth,her co-translators,and many more like them as they translate God’s words into their own languages. THANK YOU for being a part of Bible translation!
Happy New Year! This entry is a bit late,but we know how many greetings fly around at this time of year,and we wanted to wait until the dust settled so you would have time to read ours. We had a restful and joy-filled Christmas season,enjoying good times with family and friends,accompanied by lots of food. We were thankful to have Danny with us for several weeks,giving us time together as a complete family,something that doesn’t happen very often.
We’d like to introduce you to another translation team that Chaz has been working with as a consultant. David and Penelope Pickens are longtime friends of ours. We met in our early days of work in Colombia,when our children were all very small. David and Penelope met in Colombia when each of them were members of Colombia’s National Symphony Orchestra. They married,returned to live in the US for several years,and then in 1991 traveled again to Colombia to work as Bible translators. They and their three children lived in the jungle among the Tadó people,learning their language and culture. As this was only an oral culture,they had to decipher the grammar and develop an alphabet in order to help the Tadó become literate and translate the Bible into their language. Due to subversive activity in the area,the Pickens relocated to the city of Pereira. In partnership with other missionaries,they now work in translation and literacy for the Chamí and Tadó people groups. These languages are related to Northern Embera,so the Pickens work closely in consulting with Chaz. They exchange files electronically and Chaz reads over the work,makes comments,and asks questions. Together they all make sure that the translation is accurate and readable.
David and Penelope in their neighborhood in Pereira,Colombia (where we used to live)
David’s words: ”Chaz serves as a consultant for us in the Chamí and Tadó languages. Both are related to Northern Emberá,the language in which he and Doug [Schermerhorn] recently completed an extensive Scripture revision. Chaz approaches his consulting work with professionalism and attention to detail;he confessed,‘I am picky.’We are thankful for the ways that we have been able to catch errors and tighten up these translations through his input.
“We have struggled to find a satisfying translation of the term Son of Man. Chaz correctly points out this it is a messianic reference from Daniel 7:13-14. He also wanted our term to communicate more strongly that Jesus was a man who came from God. The Northern Emberá term is The One who Received this Flesh. Because that term was not intelligible in the Tadó language,we attempted The One who Became a Man. However the Tadó said that the term sounded very much like their demons who take on human form! Because of Chaz’s familiarity with the Chocoan cultures,he could readily comprehend their response,and continue to offer other suggestions. Presently we have agreed to use a very literal Son of Man translation,and include a comprehensive footnote in each book where it is used.”
The last time David was in Colombia revising translation with the Chamí and Tadó teams,a friend showed them the Jesus film that was dubbed into Northern Embera last year. David notes that although the men and women did not understand all the dialogue in the movie,they were ecstatic about it. It is very powerful for them to conceive of a Jesus who can relate to them in their own language. They want it! So the Northern Embera translation (that you were a part of publishing) keeps spreading,even to related languages.
Thank you for praying for several Tadó communities whose residents had to flee from their villages because of death threats from the guerrillas. They now live as refugees in a jungle town. One Tadó translator,the Pickens’friend L. has had to move to a larger city,and is applying for a protection plan with the government. He is worn out from bearing the burden of the entire community. Please pray for strength and encouragement for him.
One of the Pickens’other contacts visited another Tado village over the holidays and reported that the 15 or so believers in the church there are encouraged and growing. There was one new convert!
Through your prayers,your encouraging notes and your financial contributions,you are helping Chaz help the Pickens get this important work done. Thank you for being on our team.
Periodically I get feedback from people using Translator’s Notes around the world and that is great encouragement for our team to keep working. Just last month I,along with two other formatters,got the volume of commentary and translation helps for 1 Timothy finished and ready for uploading to the “Translator’s Workplace”software website. This . . . →Read More:The use of Translator’s Notes
Thank you for your prayers,expressions of support and inquiries about these dear people in Colombia. Here is some news (slightly edited) from the Pickens:
Update on the T. community evacuation:Liam,our T. translator and a community leader,reports that the 350 members of his community are being housed in several of the county . . . →Read More:Update on T. people
We write this on behalf of a community of the “T”people in Colombia who speak a language related to Northern Embera. Our long-time friends David and Penelope Pickens are translating the Bible for these people and Chaz does regular consulting for them. Many people the Pickens know and have worked with live in this . . . →Read More:Urgent prayer request
We wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving day! We are thankful to be in the work of helping Bible translators and we are especially thankful for YOUR interest and support of that work. Our special thanks for:
-family to enjoy Thanksgiving with -Chaz’s progress in consulting in the Gospel of Matthew for 2 translations . . . →Read More:Thankful!
As the weather gets colder here in Michigan,we are enjoying brilliant fall colors all around us. As the weather cools off,our activity level is heating up,with work and church and school activities,as well as times with friends. So what is everyone doing?
Chaz –I continue as consultant for a Bible . . . →Read More:October update
Chaz’s main job for Wycliffe Bible Translators since our return to living in the US has been as a translation consultant,helping teams through the process of translation,making sure the work is understandable and correctly done. Here are two of the Bible translators that Chaz has been helping this year,Tim and Louise . . . →Read More:Consulting for translators in Guatemala
Here’s a new tool being used to further Bible translation:
The “Translation Acceleration Kit”is a new tool that Wycliffe Associates is providing to Bible translators. Each of these state-of-the-art kits includes a small portable netbook computer,satellite communication terminal,solar panel,battery,and power supply. Supplying national translators with these kits means that . . . →Read More:Acceleration kits
Here’s the mission trip report in two parts,first the prayer request,then the result,both in Chaz’s words:
Monday evening [August 13] on the anniversary of the Embera Bible dedication I received a call from Panama. It was Felipe,the vice-president of the Embera church association,just calling to say hello. He told me . . . →Read More:Embera mission trip
We read this story recently in a colleague’s letter and had to pass it on to you. It’s a perfect picture of why linguistics is an integral part of Bible translation. Even you non-linguists will understand it! Thank you,Kevin and Anita,for sharing this.
“…here is the story from Cameroon,entitled “One Little Vowel” . . . →Read More:One Little Vowel
Here’s a link to a short (about 8 minutes) documentary about the filming of the Jesus film in Embera,done in Panama by Cru earlier this year. You will see Doug,Chaz’s partner,and several of our Embera co-translators and friends. Enjoy!
We’ve just completed a month with Danny and took him to the airport on Friday,July 6. The month was full and way too short! In between the fun activities of a Michigan summer,friends and family,we are keeping up with our Wycliffe work as well. We wanted to share some “epilogues”,so to . . . →Read More:Two epilogues
Hello dear family and friends,
Here is our latest graduate! Chaz and Laura and I were privileged to be able to attend and celebrate with Danny,who is obviously excited He will join us in Michigan for a month before starting his summer job at Pine Cove Camp in Texas. This fall he will start . . . →Read More:May for the Mortensens
Rapid Word Collection:an updated approach to dictionary creation
Ask someone for his word for “roof” and you will collect one word. Ask him,“What are the parts of a house?” and you will get “roof,wall,door,window,eaves” and other words that you wouldn’t expect. In one language there is a word for . . . →Read More:Rapid Word Collection
Hello friends and family,
We were one happy group this last Saturday when we cheered for Kirsten as she received her M.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She will soon start her first job in Battle Creek as an “SLP”= speech and language pathologist. Here are a few pictures,with proud family,grandparents and . . . →Read More:Graduation and Guatemala
We have received a number of inquiries about the usage of the term “Son of God”in Muslim contexts around the world. There have been lots of stories circulating about how Wycliffe translators are handling this issue. Here are some resources.
(February 15,2012) To view online:http://www.wycliffe.org/SonofGod.aspx
Wycliffe USA remains committed to the divine . . . →Read More:“Son of God”
Remember our telling you about the Proclaimers,the portable solar-powered MP3 players,that would be sent to villages for people to listen to the Embera Bible in audio version? They are on their way! The majority of them will be distributed this coming week,Easter week,during the annual Holy Week conference that the Embera . . . →Read More:Delivery of the Proclaimers