A day in the life of a translator

POSTED ON 2013-06-05
  by Cathy Hedvall

Bible translation often comes down to the nitty gritty process of poring over every word and phrase and then having it checked and rechecked.

It’s often a mystery to the average person how someone can translate the Bible. Maybe you picture a very studious reserved hermit-type person sitting at a computer all day.

That’s not always so for Cori Gervasi as she works with the Sekadaus to translate the Scriptures for them.

Her day might include helping with a delivery of a baby, holding the flashlight or getting her hand squeezed till it’s numb. Little Hosea was one of those exciting moments.

She might head to a regional conference where she gets to enjoy fellowship and teaching from the Word with other missionaries.

Often going for a walk around the village she gets to see the harvest of rice, vegetables, fruit, eggplant, bananas and pumpkin. It doesn’t take long before she has so many goodies to haul home that one of the ladies has to loan her a basket.

The fun of being involved with the children in a programme of games, memorization and study is a highlight for Cori each week.

Recently she got to celebrate the life of Grandpa Happy, who apparently died of tuberculosis. This was a particular joy since many of his siblings and children are believers.

Cori gets to see and take part in more weddings among believers, in contrast to the peer pressure of weddings to whoever comes along at the time.

She loves to translate songs to sing for the people and part of that process is going out into the village to rehearse it. “I’ve only finished translating it and need to run out later today to make sure it doesn’t say anything embarrassing,” she writes.

While there are many diverse and even fun parts about a translator’s job, there is still the nitty gritty hard work and stressful process of poring over every word and phrase and then having it checked and rechecked.

Recently there were 300 verses to check for correction and printing. It was unclear how many or even if any of the Sekadau translation co-workers would make it to help.

Pa’Eta faithfully showed up to work very hard in his own very gifted manner. He was there without any other Sekadau to help for the entire long hard process even though he is, “a very industrious man with a lot going on. His willingness to help is not due to a lack of anything ‘better’ to do,” as Cori put it.

She clearly communicated that partners like him are how God is providing for this long hard process.

Leoni’s Grandpa, Ke’Oni, often helps “with his dogged determination and steadfast desire to serve the Lord,” but wasn’t available this time, Cori said.

Cori writes, “We just printed up the first ‘official’ book of translated Scripture. It has portions of Genesis and Exodus that are approved for distribution now. I’m pretty excited about getting those books into the hands of our Sekadau teachers and other believers!”

Each check means more corrected Scripture that can be used by the Sekadau for their own formulation of lessons to teach or study individually. It provides more material for children’s Bible stories to be printed for use by families.

Let’s pray for Cori and her partners as they press on in the exciting life of Bible translation.

Want to learn more about English-language Bible translations? Get the new book by NTM missionary Dave Brunn.

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