Category Archives: Satellite
Mother tongue translators. Who are they and where do they come from? And how do these BGAN things work?
As mentioned in a previous post, our boss is in Cameroon deploying BGAN satellite terminals. Bruce posted again, sharing a little about his Nigerian and American teammates. May I encourage you to take a moment and read about these Godly servants, people that have sacrificed much, that the Gospel may go rapidly forward? You’ll be glad that you did.
His second post, Tchouvok, is equally fascinating. It’s not pretty to read because he’s simply sending text from Cameroon. But, read to the end and you’ll have a much better understanding of how a BGAN satellite terminal is indeed, accelerating Bible translation.
I hope it encourages you as much as it has me.
The boss, accelerating the process of getting God’s Word in the mother tongue, the language that speaks to the heart. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Have you ever seen the program called, “Undercover Boss?”. I have and I can tell you that it’s not my boss. You see, each episode features a high-ranking executive or the owner of a corporation going undercover as an entry-level employee in their own company. The executives alter their appearance, assume an alias and fictional back-story, and then spends approximately one week undercover, working in various areas of their company operations with a different job (and in most cases a different location each day). They are exposed to a series of predicaments with amusing results, and invariably spend time getting to know the people who work in the company, learning about their professional and personal challenges.
At the end of their week spent undercover, the executives return to their true identity and request the employees they worked with individually to corporate headquarters. The bosses reveal their identity, and reward hard-working employees through campaign, promotion, or financial rewards, while other employees are given training or better working conditions.
My bosses, David Reeves and Bruce Smith, frequently gets their hands and feet dirty by going into the remote regions and fields of the world to perform service just like the rest of us. It’s not the exception, but the rule. These men are great writers, articulating their experiences so clearly.
May I encourage you to take a moment and read Bruce’s most recent trip to Cameroon (starting with Bruce’s January 30th Younde to Belel post). He is a part of a Wycliffe Associates Tech Advance wrapping up a deployment project that was started back in November when the first team deployed 9 TAKs (Translation Acceleration Kit). These kits contain a BGAN satellite terminal, a solar panel, large batteries, a charge controller, and a netbook computer with an external USB powered monitor. This second team will finish the remaining 3 TAKs installations in northern Cameroon.
Take five minutes to read it. I dare you. I think you’ll gain a much deeper perspective and appreciation of the travel, BGAN satellite terminals deployment, and training challenges we typically face.You’ll be glad you did. Serving in the field is my bosses norm. I don’t think that Bruce and David will be invited to the Undercover Boss series anytime soon.
You often read about the excitement we feel when we deploy technology to accelerate Bible translation. But, have you ever wondered about the mother tongue translator’s reaction?
Recently, Mark Hancock, a member of our team, went to a South American country and installed a BGAN satellite for someone living in a remote region. Check out this video as he describes his reaction to this new tool. And, while you’re at it, check out the scenery, the house, surrounding this couple. We have so much, don’t we? Our colleagues have so little. It really is amazing.
I love technology, not for technology’s sake, but for some of the ways it enhances our lives and makes it more productive. Yes, I’m also aware that technology sometimes complicates life, like when your computer won’t work like is should, when your email is hacked and your system starts sending out embarrassing messages, or in my case, when I carry the phone but can never seem to get it out of my pocket in time to answer a call.
- someone living deep in the jungle using a BGAN satellite terminal
- sends an email with attached translation data
- via a communications satellite located (I’ve heard) 22,000 above the earth
- to a translation consultant located thousands of miles away!
What’s even more amazing is that the consultant can send the corrected translation data back the NEXT day as one would do with any email.
Formerly, sending and receiving translation data via the post, hand carry, or other methods would take days, if not weeks or months. One translation consultant said that sometimes he would not hear from one of his mother tongue translators for a year! And now the process can take as little as a day. It’s amazing.
I praise God for this new technology. Take a few minutes to watch these video and I suspect you will too.
Here is just a sampling of the pictures taken on my most recent trip to Nigeria. Additional photos have been uploaded to Google’s Picasa photo viewer (here) and even more photos from other team members will forthcoming in the future.
I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed the trip.
It was about 95 degrees out and we were hot and sweaty. My colleague, Phil Harms, and I packed our luggage in the back of a Toyota minivan and, with expensive satellite terminals and luggage piled high behind us and our driver and translation consultant in front of us, we proceeded out the drive. We were finally deploying BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) satellite terminals for the purpose of accelerating Bible translation. This is what the nine of us came for. The countless hours of preparation, the numerous weekly meetings, printing and sorting documentation, purchasing the materials, vaccinations, and all other miscellaneous preparations all led up to this moment. It was happening.
So why was I so nervous?
We were told that Phil and I were headed to southern Nigeria. Not “south south” Nigeria, as they call it, because this the area where the oil is produced and people are kidnapped for ransom. We were only driving “south”, a mere 11 hours away, and the translation coordinator would be coming to meet us.
Arriving at our first location and meeting our mother tongue translator colleagues, the Lord stilled my heart. The warm reception, the smiling faces, the eagerness to receive and use this new technology suddenly cast away all the fears, the uncertainty, the anxiety I was feeling.
I trained the mother tongue translators how to set up and use the BGAN while Phil worked on their computers, installing software and cleaning the system of viruses. The process went smooth and the translators were excited to supplement their local, sometimes unreliable connectivity for something more stable and dependable. They were incredibly excited, as much as we were. We repeated the process for the Mbolizia language project, the second village we visited. You can tell by looking at the smiles on the face in the picture below how thrilled they were to receive this new technology.
We arrived back at the NBTT (Nigerian Bible Translation and Trust) center and immediately received feedback that the program was a success. “This is fantastic,” a visiting translation consultant exclaimed. “I have already received an email from the translator with some attached translation text. In this past, this would have taken six months or more!” I’ve recorded another translator’s comments on video. You can view it here. It was working. I’m stoked!
God is using this technology to accelerate the Bible translation process and people all around the world are taking note, even CNN!
I returned to the US physically tired but mentally and spiritually exhilarated. The Lord is indeed using us and this new technology to complete his mission.
Here is the latest from Ken:
“It’s now 9:45 Wednesday evening and we just returned home from dinner. We drove 11 hours today from Jos to the south of the country in an area called Abapliki [Abakaliki]. The roads were quite interesting to say the least. Similar to what we’ve experienced in Mexico and Indonesia where people pass all the time, there is the added excitement of road potholes big enough to swallow an elephant. A little exaggeration, to be sure, but they make people go around them – at 30, 40, 50, 60 mph! So, when passing, one not only looks for oncoming traffic but for potholes as well. It was not uncommon to find us in the back flying from one side of the car to the other as the driver swerves from one side of the edge of the road to another. And I mean that in all sincerity. I never felt in total danger but there were times when my breath was taken away.
We were also stopped frequently along the way, either by the police or the military. It seems both were looking for money. At one stretch, we were stopped it seems every quarter of a mile. Each had the ability to question the driver, demanding paperwork, etc. We were told that they were primarily seeking additional food money, Indonesian style. Often times, they would ask who the white people in the back were and the response was, “missionaries.” That seemed to calm their spirits and each time we were told to drive on.
We arrived here and were met by Joseph, the pastor translator. He had arranged for us to spend the next three evenings in a guest house built by the Dutch. The area is very hot with high humidity so just placing my luggage in the room caused my shirt to be drenched. I took a quick shower and immediately began sweating as I came out of the shower!
The room is fairly nice though, has a fan, and even an air conditioner! I suspect they will turn it off though sometime during the evening. We’ve had to spray it for mosquitos and that smell is still hanging in the air.
We went to dinner with Pastor Joseph, the translator coordinator, John (who was with us in the car all the way here), and the driver. I had gari, their staple food. It’s a series of dough, half mooned shaped, that you pick up with your fingers, roll in a ball, and dip it in a bowl of what looks like spinach, other vegetables, with fish in it. I thought I had ordered fried rice and fish but got this instead. Figure that one out! However, it wasn’t bad at all. I’m glad I tried it.
Tomorrow, I’ll train Joseph and another translator on the BGAN satellite Phil works on cleaning up his computer from the viruses, installs Thunderbird and sets up the email account, and installs Pidgin chat. Once that’s done, we’ll have Joseph try from scratch turning on the satellite and sending/receiving email. We’ll eat at another guesthouse for lunch and dinner tomorrow and return to this guesthouse to sleep. Then’, Friday morn, we’ll travel /2 hr. to Niger and start training them. Saturday morning we’ll drive back.”
As I was writing this post I received a text message from him that said they had a long but good day setting up the BGAN for two translators that have been working 20-30 years. It was pouring rain but he was in his room. He asked that we pray for the sun to come out or else they would have to stay an extra day before driving to the next village. It is from 1/2-2 hours away (not sure, got two different memos about the driving time).
Tomorrow is a repeat of today, with training on the BGAN as well as cleaning up their computer. Then the next day, if all goes as planned, the long drive back to Jos.
Thanks for praying!
I’m all packed up and have tested the BGAN satellite equipment. My backpack and computer bags are ready.
Although I’ve traveled extensively, I feel a little nervous about this trip. Weight restrictions, travel connections,travel safety all come to the forefront. Last night though, as I lay in bed, I felt this overwhelming peace that people were praying.
I leave the house at 1:00, meeting a colleague to drive together to the airport for a 5:00 Charlotte airport departure.
So, I’m expecting good things. I’ll keep you informed but please keep praying.
There have been times in our ministry history when we truly have felt carried along by the prayers of friends, family, and supporters. I am hoping that this will also be the case during this upcoming trip to Nigeria on June 4th through June 17th.
This is my first time to Africa and I would be less than honest if I didn’t communicate that I am somewhat nervous. I’m not quite sure why other than the realization that there are many connections to me made, a lot of technology that needs to be configured and operating properly, and a great deal of country to traverse.
But, through it all, I am truly expecting great things from God. Will you pray for me and help make that happen?