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This past Christmas contrasted with the Christmas of 2015, which was spent in hot Africa and so I'm sending you these pictures of our spectacular winter in Slovakia. (It hasn't been this snowy for years.)

I wasn't specific about the place of my assignment in my latest newsletter and I was considering either Tanzania or the Philippines. In the end I have recognized that I should go to the former. What led me to this decision? I have already spent 9 months in Tanzania which will boost my adaptation to both the place and the culture. When I was there I learnt some Swahili, it is a fairly easy language, but there's still a lot to improve. Tanzania is a good place to take the first steps as a Bible translator as I will work in a team, where the work is already well organized. I can learn a lot and gain valuable experience for the future. The last, but not least significant argument, is that a quite urgent need emerged; a family that was supposed to go there and assist with the translation can't attend the work and I am a perfect substitute for them. There were pro-Philippine arguments as well. The translation work is very well organized there and the experience from a brand new environment might also be useful. I am guessing though that my home culture is probably closer to the Philippine than the Tanzanian culture.
I plan to go to Tanzania at the end of April. To be able to do this, I need to have expenses covered either through received gifts or via promises. I will spend 20 months in Tanzania and then will come back at the end of the next year. I will spend the first three months studying Swahili as this is the lingua franca and we use it to communicate with local translators and especially when travelling to rural areas. You can use Swahili practically everywhere in the country, the knowledge of the language is not sufficient to understand Bible well enough or to communicate one's own personal feelings or thoughts.
After the mission trip I plan to continue with my MA study in England in the first half of 2019. It will be an opportunity to learn even more about the translation work and to reflect on my experience from the field. After 2 years in an overseas mission and the study I should be more experienced and independent in translation work.

The big picture (continue)

In my last newsletter I wrote about people who use more than a single language in their everyday communication depending on the occasion. This is the case in many parts of the world. In some places people talk different languages, but they understand each other. Most Slovaks understand the Czech language and vice versa. They might even be able to talk the language of the other party, despite never learning it (it does not mean that the quality reaches the stars).
Let's imagine a situation of 5 people: Alice, Bob, Carol, David and Zoë (initials A, B, C, D, Z). Everyone speaks a different language. Alice and Bob, Bob and Carol and Carol and David understand each other almost perfectly. However Alice and Carol have a sense of a slight language barrier and so do Bob and David. Alice does not understand David at all and vice versa. Zoë understands every language to a certain extent, Zoë's an eavesdropper and no one understands her language.
 
And now let me ask a couple of questions:
- How many languages do these people talk in total?
- Are those different accents, dialects or languages?
- If we are to translate the Bible, should we make a translation for each of the languages or should we translate only some of them and leave the others to use what's available?
- Do Alice or David speak only a different accent? (It might be likened to the different forms of English throughout the world or even within a single country) If it is only a different accent, shouldn't we use a single writing system for both?
- If people from David's language community don't like Carol's people, would they use the Bible in the language/accent of the other community?
- If we decide to translate the Bible to each of the languages, could the translators cooperate? Therefore the translations could proceed much faster. They can help each other and if there are issues in one of the translations, it is likely, that there would be similar issues in the others as well.

I'd love to answer these questions simply, but each of these questions is very specific and while in one case we answer it one way, in another one a different answer might be more appropriate.

An even greater story (continue)

Bible translation is not a solo project. On the field we work in teams. And in the same way there is not a solo ministry. Yes, it is me (or just a small group of people) who have studied linguistics. There are only few people who would travel to Africa or elsewhere and many times we will call it Roman's trip or someone else's, but it is our common ministry, our common call. It is an opportunity for us, the Christians, the Church of Christ, to minister to our brothers and sisters, who need to understand the Word of God, just as we, Slovaks, and many nations around the globe have received the gift of our writing systems from Christian missionaries in the past, in order that the Scripture could be translated to our languages. I am honored and it is a great privilege, that I can stand in this ministry together with you. I am grateful for all your prayers, your financial support and your care when I was with you. I want to encourage you to continue to serve with me, so that I can have the privilege of serving with you.

I read a book "Angel Tracks in the Himalayas and other short stories" by Gary Shepherd who worked as a Bible translator to a language community in Nepal. He wrote in the book:
I am acutely aware of our desperate need to have faithful partners who "look after the baggage" when we go out to do battle with the Kingdom of Darkness. King David made it clear at Ziklag that: "The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike," (1 Samuel 30:24). In the spirit realm, I believe that principle applies as well, for those who pray for others.

Prayer requests

Thanks
  • for meeting many precious people; I haven't seen some of them for years,
  • for the time spent in my home church and for the Church of Christ,
  • for everyone whom the Lord has called into the ministry together with me as a financial or prayer supporter,
  • for the opportunity to talk about the ministry and to point to the need for the Word of God in a language we understand,
  • for the opportunity to spend the Christmas with my family,
  • for the opportunity to serve in Tanzania and to answer the need that has arisen there.
Pleas
  • for the discipline; I would like to devote some time to learning Greek and Swahili before approaching the field,
  • for the people and churches which I meet, so that the Lord calls others to this ministry either as an overseas missionary or as prayer and financial supporters,
  • for non-linguist to join this ministry. It is so necessary to translate the Bible from the mother tongues to people's hearts. We need people who would by God's grace find ways to deliver the Scripture to its recipients.
If you had any question or you were interested in meeting me, you can e-mail me at roman_meszaros@wycliffe.sk.
You can support me financially:

from the US:
    https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/give-to-the-ministry-of-my-wycliffe-missionary
    ID: 0-991002-00
    Name: Wycliffe Slovakia
    After clicking 'Give', put my name (Roman Meszaros) in the note section on the following page.

from the UK:
    https://www.wycliffe.org.uk/give/
    On the webpage please fill in the member or project information with "Roman Meszaros-Wycliffe Slovakia-305138".

from the EU:
    IBAN: SK10 3100 0000 0044 4000 6607 (SBERBANK)
    Please enter my name in the payment reference.

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