It’s only the first of more than ten, and it’s only a few chapters, but Rick and Anji Zook have begun translating God’s Word into the Lusi language.
“It seems like it has taken a long time to get to that point, but here we are starting on a new journey of many steps,” Rick and Anji wrote.
Beginning with the story of Joseph (Genesis 37 and 39-46), Rick and Anji will first translate all the passages needed for evangelistic Bible lessons. Both will be involved in the translation, but they have not figured out who should do each part yet, and Anji is the first to take a stab at it.
“Right now I am working on doing the exegetical draft, which means figuring out all the pieces of meaning in the source language and the relationships between those pieces of meaning and transferring that into Lusi,” Anji wrote.
“First I read though the whole chapter in Genesis that I am looking at, then I read at least one good commentary. Then I break it into chunks, paragraph-size. Then working a paragraph at a time, I read Translator’s notes (which has information on things like idioms and how other people have translated various phrases), at least four different English versions of the Bible, and one in Melanesian Pidgin, the trade language here. I have also gone to Strong’s Concordance and a Hebrew/English Interlinear version of the Bible among other things.”
With the meaning of the passage clear in her mind, it’s time to translate.
“I think about how would the Lusis convey that same information with the same purpose and style as the original and write down my thoughts in Lusi, noting areas which I may need to dig deeper, or try for a more specific word, or for a more natural way to say a particular idea/phrase, or a better connector,” Anji wrote.
“It is a job of a thousand decisions. Thankfully this is not the final product. It will be honed and tested along the way.
“Sometimes I get stuck. Sometimes I bounce things off of Rick for a second opinion. So then I start again, back to the larger picture then down into juggling the details, trying not to drop any balls.”
It takes as long as it sounds. On a recent day, Anji got through 13 verses. “This is not going to be a quick job or journey, but hopefully it will go faster as we get better at it,” she wrote.
The result is a very rough draft, with ten or more steps to go before it is finalized. Those steps include getting a lot of help from the Lusi people, to ensure that the translation is clear, and checks with a missionary experienced in Bible translation, to make sure it is complete and accurate.
The goal, as Anji put it, is “Scripture that will speak life to the Lusis.”
Pray for the work to gather speed, but most of all, for the result to be a clear and accurate translation of God’s Word for the Lusi people.