Northern Translation Brief: 18Nov2019

Our Dear Partners,

A few weeks back we asked you pray for several Naskapi translation projects that were current and nearing completion. Today we are pleased to report to you about the revision of the Naskapi Lectionary (Year A), and some answers to your prayers.

A lectionary is a collection of Bible readings to be read to the faithful during the worship of God. Lectionaries have been used since the fourth century, when major churches arranged the Scripture readings according to a schedule that follows the calendar of the year. This practice of assigning particular readings to each Sunday and Holy Day has continued through the history of the Christian Church.

Since the 1990s, the Naskapi translators have worked with St. John’s Church in Kawawachikamach, with the selection, translation and production of lectionary readings in the form of a printed Sunday “church bulletin” of Scripture. We were guided by the Revised Common Lectionary, which is the pattern used by the Anglican Church of Canada and many other denominations around the world.

The translators worked hard each week for several years to provide printed copies of the Scripture for the congregation

About nine years ago, it was decided that it would be far more practical to produce a book that contained all the readings for an entire year. Even though most of the translation and checking was done, it was still a big job to collect all the readings for an entire year into a book. But this was finally completed and the first book (Year A) was dedicated on Sunday, April 17th 2011.

Rev. Martha Spence and Deacon Silas Nabinicaboo at the dedication of the Naskapi Lectionary in 2011

Since the Revised Common Lectionary provides Scripture readings spread out over a three-year cycle, during the next three years we worked on the production of all three books: Year A (liturgical year 2010-2011) Year B (liturgical year 2011-2012) and Year C (liturgical year 2012-2013).

Year A (blue book) Year B (red book) Year C (green book)

Of course, when Year A rolled around again during Advent of 2013, more copies of the blue Year A books were prepared, and the cycle repeated.

As the years went by, the Naskapi translation team continued to work on their long-term translation goals: the book of Genesis was published in 2013, and translation proceeded on other Old Testament books. During the spring of this year, the book of Psalms was published in Naskapi and dedicated alongside the “Book of Bible Promises“, a topical collection of Scripture readings in Naskapi.

Psalms and Bible Promises books at the front of the church on Dedication Day

Remember that the lectionary readings for each week contain a passage from the Old Testament, a reading from the Psalms, a portion of the Epistles, and a section of the Gospels. A year of lectionary readings contains hundreds of verses from all parts of the Bible.

As usually happens in the course of our ongoing translation work and checking, many of the readings contained in the lectionary are often corrected to make their spelling more consistent, or revised somewhat to make the meaning more clear or natural. These corrections needed to make their way into a new edition of the books.

Therefore, this fall it was decided to completely update the book of readings for Year A, liturgical year 2019-2020, beginning with the next Sunday of Advent, coming this December 1, 2019.

The format of the new book is very similar to the previous books, but every Scripture passage has been updated to its current corrected form. We have also updated the accompanying index and calendar, and included simple instructions to locate the readings for any Sunday in the year. The revision also has a newly designed cover.

We completed the final composition and formatting for the books on November 1. On November 8 we received the first “proof copy” (the book pictured here) and upon review and approval we ordered a supply of 30 books to be printed and shipped to the Naskapi church.

We received notice from the printer that the books were printed, packed and shipped last week, on November 14th, and are now on their way to Kawawachikamach.

There is still a very good chance that these new books will be delivered to Kawawachikamach before the end of the month, which will be just in time for the First Sunday of Advent, December 1, 2019. When they receive their books, the congregation will find all the readings for that Sunday starting on “page 1”.

Thank you for your prayers for this project, which makes the Scriptures in Naskapi available to the congregation in Kawawachikamach every Sunday. Please continue to remember “FedEx” and “Canada Post” this week, as they do their job and get these books “to the church on time”.

Serving you with joy,

Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz

 

Northern Translation Brief: Bill’s head injury after two years

Our Dear Partners

Most of you will remember that a couple years ago I had a serious accident with a tree, a ladder and a chainsaw that almost took me from you. By God’s grace I am still here to live and serve Him in our lives and Bible Translation ministry for First Nations.

From time to time people have asked me about my recovery and so we thought that the two-year mark would be a good time to take stock and take the opportunity to thank you for your prayers.

Briefly it happened like this: On November 7th, 2017, I was about 12 feet up a ladder against a large tree, holding a chainsaw, cutting off a large dead branch next to me. The branch broke suddenly and hit me in the skull knocking me and the ladder to the ground. I woke up hours later in a hospital, with Norma Jean anxiously waiting by my side.

Here’s the butt of the branch that hit me in the head. Somehow, I was underneath this (and, somehow, Norma Jean lifted it off me).

You can read the full account of what happened here:

http://billjancewicz.com/2017/11/11/one-hundred-nineteen-unread-email-messages/

God is Good, All the Time

During these past two years, Norma Jean and I have counted each day together as a precious gift. We both know that God protected me from more serious injury or death, even though the actual recovery period has taken many months. As I noted, the only broken bones were my skull, which received a half-inch depressed fracture at my temple between my left eye and ear, and three cracked vertebrae in my upper back between my shoulders. I also suffered a severe concussion that resulted in dizzyness and disorientation for several months. I was on strong Oxycodone-based prescription pain medication for the first several weeks, but recognizing the dangers of addiction to this medication I chose to voluntarily reduce the prescribed dosage. I was no longer taking this medication by the beginning of January 2018. The severe back and head pain could be reduced considerably by changing to a more reclining position. So I took my desk work to the living room and spent many of my days (and some nights) in a reclining chair. This went on for months.

Because of my dizzyness and disorientation, Norma Jean took over most of the driving. We also had good friends helping to drive us to appointments, and I walked with a cane well into the spring of 2018. The doctors had cautioned us that a brain injury like mine made me vulnerable to much more severe injury should I bump my head again. The fractures of my vertebrae would heal in time, but the displaced bone in the skull fracture would remain that way indefintely.

Gradually, over the full year of 2018, the constant headaches reduced considerably, and I was able to regain some stamina. I started walking without a cane. Indeed by the end of 2018 I had begun to do some physical work, such as operating the log splitter or carrying out minor home repairs. But I did find that I was only able to work a relatively short amount of time, an hour or so, before having to head back to the recliner and do some “other” kinds of work.

Other kinds of work

We are so grateful to God for the privilege of joining Him in His work of bringing His Word to First Nations languages, mainly the Algonquian languages of Naskapi, Cree and Innu. During the weeks prior to the accident, I had begun to work with Rev. Fred Evans as he read and recorded the Cree scriptures in the legacy 1862 Western Cree Bible. Fred, a Cree elder and pastor, lives with his wife in Swan River, Manitoba. He started to read and record the Cree New Testament in November of 2017. By phone and internet connection, I was able to guide Fred through the recording of each chapter of the Bible from Matthew to Revelation. I received his audio files via internet and spent my days (in my La-Z-Boy) carefully editing the audio files, following along in the Cree Bible and listening to Fred’s clear and faithful reading of the text. In general, for each hour of Fred’s recording, it would take five hours of listening and audio-editing on the computer to prepare the files for others to listen to. Our ministry partners, the Canadian Bible Society, SIL International, and Faith Comes By Hearing provided the technical support for this task–but God provided just the right kind of work to suit my physical limitations at the time, as I carried all the editing work for the first six months of the project, which were the first six months of my recovery.

Rev. Fred Evans working at his home during the recording stage for the CreeTalker Bible

Later, I trained our friend Ben Wukasch at the Bible Society to share the audio editing task with me, and so together we had the audio for the entire New Testament in Cree complete by March of 2019.

Read more about the CreeTalker Bible recording project” here:

http://billjancewicz.com/2019/02/03/northern-translation-brief-creetalker-bible/

We continued to supervise, mentor and support the other “Next Generation” translation teams during my recovery. It has been so gratifying and encouraging to see that God in His wisdom was preparing these younger folks to carry on His work as we had to slow down a little during these past couple of years.

http://billjancewicz.com/2018/07/02/northern-translation-brief-the-next-generation-update/

How do I feel right now?

God continues to amaze me every day for His care and healing for me. I am still “aware” each day and every day of ongoing symptoms from the skull fracture and concussion. Real severe “headaches” are much less frequent now, and I treat them with Tylenol. I still have them about four or five times per month. But they usually don’t “stop” me. On good days I can still feel a sensation of discomfort at the damaged area of my skull–not really very painful as far as that goes, just an awareness of some uncomfortable pressure; like the feeling you would get when you are wearing a hat… that’s too small… all day long.

My back pain can act up if I “push” physical activity too much–such as if I am up and doing things, walking, home repairs or maintenance; splitting wood. These days, sometimes I do go beyond a couple hours or so of that kind of activity, and I am sorry I did, afterwards.

I was almost 62 years old when I had the accident. Next week, I’ll be 64, Lord willing. So I feel pretty good and I am so grateful for all of God’s blessings on my life and His work.

Gratitude

Our family members, our friends and supporters, and the church have all been used by God in mighty ways to remind us of His care, and to deliver his care. Many meals were brought in to us during the early weeks of my convalescence, prepared by the women of Simcoe Immanuel church. The men of the church have repeatedly pitched in to help cut, split and haul firewood. We are deeply grateful for these expressions of love and care.

I know that many, many prayers were offered to God for my health and recovery by most of you. God has answered your prayers wonderfully, and He continues to do so. We are very grateful for all He has done and continues to do through you. We praise His Name and once again express our thanks. Thank you for being along side of us during this journey over the past two years.

Serving with you,

Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz

Northern Translation Brief: 18Oct2019

Our Dear Partners,

We are rejoicing in the blessings of God this autumn harvest season. We can see His goodness and provision all around us, reflected in the beauty of the leaves on the trees and His care for our lives.

In the Naskapi community, we are pleased to see steady progress toward their goal of translating through the Old Testament. Silas has completed the first draft of the book of Judges, and has gone on to work through the Song of Solomon. Tshiueten has completed the first draft of the book of Deuteronomy, and is continuing on with the book of First Samuel. And we congratulate Ruby who successfully completed several weeks of her program at Mawiomi Treatment Center in Gesgapegiag, Quebec this summer, and is back at her translation desk, working on the book of Second Samuel.

Ruby completes her treatment–continue to remember her in your prayers

Amanda, the fourth translator working on the Naskapi project is on an extended leave of absence working as a conservation officer on the land, and is expected back to the translation desk in early 2020.

I (Bill) stay busy reviewing the Naskapi translation work, and facilitating the composition (typesetting) and publication of their work. I am currently working on the final layout of the book of Exodus in Naskapi, which is due to come out before Christmas, Lord willing. Just ahead of that I am working on compiling a new revised edition of the Sunday Lectionary Readings: These are weekly readings in Naskapi of a different passage from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles and the Gospels that are read each Sunday and Wednesday in the Naskapi church services. The first edition of this collection was prepared and distributed nearly 9 years ago. We would like to have this revised edition finished and published and in the pews of the Naskapi church before the First Sunday of Advent, on December 1, 2019. Pray with us that we can reach this goal.

Dedication of the First Edition of “Year A” Naskapi Sunday Lectionary in 2010

We have been busy in other ways too. During the past year we applied to become a “resource home” with the Ontario Children’s Aid Society. In common terms that means that we have been trained and approved to serve as foster parents for children in crisis. In mid August, the agency called us to say that they had two small boys to place with us. The oldest just turned five years old in September, and his brother is two years old.

The Childen’s Aid Society goal is to eventually place the children permanently with a family member, but in the meantime the boys find care and safety, love and routine in our home with us. Pray for us, that our influence on their lives is positive and nurturing, and that we would have the wisdom and patience it takes to care for little ones in our home again.


In the middle of September we were blessed to be a part of our youngest son Nicodemus’ wedding to Brooklyn, in Langley BC. We are so happy that she is a part of our family now. It was wonderful to have all of our children, our grandchildren Nya and Arion, and Bill’s mom Martha all together with us for the wedding.

Nico & Brooklyn have posted a collection of photographs of the wedding that you may view here if you like:

https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1BWdfOq7UpoDGJ2uNhEbB6GOsZOfyyOnX

Thank you once again for your interest and prayers for the Bible translation ministry that God has entrusted us with.

Serving with you, Bill & Norma Jean

 

 

Northern Translation Brief: Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree VBS 2019

Our Dear Partners,

Thank you for your prayers for the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree Vacation Bible School (VBS) that was held this summer the week of August 5-9, 2019. This is the third year that we have helped facilitate and conduct this “Scripture Engagement” event. This was first proposed in January of 2017, when the Oji-Cree Bible Translation team in Kingfisher Lake expressed their hearts desire to us for the children of their community (their next generation) to hear the message of the Gospel in their own language. Their twofold goals were (1) to have local Oji-Cree speakers and church members gain experience in conducting their own VBS programs for their children and (2) to provide their children with wholesome activities through their summer school break.

This year, the Oji-Cree leaders met with us at the April workshop in Guelph to confirm their desire to have us come and help them again this summer. The topic they chose for this summer’s VBS was the Easter Story, which was woven into memory verses which remind us that even when life is be hard, God is Good, as the theme for the week.

Travel to the North

Kingfisher Lake is an isolated First Nations community in northern Ontario, where the Oji-Cree language is spoken. On Friday morning, August 2nd, the six travelers met with loved-ones and members of the Simcoe, Ontario Immanuel Church for prayers and farewells before we drove to the Toronto Pearson Airport for the first leg of the trip, a 2-hour flight to Thunder Bay.

Ashley & Amy, Bill & Norma Jean, Eric & Elizabeth at Immanuel Church in Simcoe, Ontario

Immanuel Church has been praying and fundraising so that we could send two of our youth, Ashley Booth, and Amy Lewis. Our daughter Elizabeth Jancewicz has been working for months helping with the plans and creating the culturally-appropriate visual images and crafts for the program. We were also very happy that her husband Eric Stevenson could come again this year to help with games and music. Norma Jean was the overall VBS coordinator and liaison with the Oji-Cree team.

We were very happy to also have help from new friends from another church in central Georgia, USA. Almost five years ago, in the fall of 2014 when the Oji-Cree Bible translation project was just starting, Harvest Church provided generous financial support through Wycliffe Bible Translators that enabled the hiring and training the initial Oji-Cree Bible Translation team. Since then, God has been speaking to the people at Harvest Church to find out how they might partner with the Oji-Cree Bible translation project more closely. They sent members of their congregation, Jim & Ellie Fuss, to participate in this year’s VBS program at Kingfisher Lake.

Ellie & Jim Fuss from Harvest Church in Byron, Georgia

Eric & Elizabeth, Amy and Ashley waiting for our first flight from Toronto airport.

Because of flight connections to the northern communities, we spent the night in Thunder Bay at a hotel where we met up with Jim & Ellie who had just arrived there from Georgia. We  got up bright and early to take the morning flight to Sioux Lookout on Wasaya Airlines, a First Nations-owned airline that services the northern communities in Ontario and Manitoba.

Ellie at the Wasaya counter in Thunder Bay

We are grateful to the Lord that the weather was fine for all the flights from Toronto to Thunder Bay, to Sioux Lookout, to the little Oji-Cree community of Summer Beaver, and finally to Kingfisher Lake by Saturday afternoon.

Boarding Wasaya’s Beechcraft 1900D in Sioux Lookout

So, after three planes, six airports, 1100 miles, 14 hours, two time zones, and one sleep all in one and the same Canadian province*, we made it to the Kingfisher Lake community in northern Ontario.

*Jim & Ellie Fuss traveled much farther and longer than we did–more planes, more miles, more airports and more countries!

Vacation Bible School

We were met there at the Kingfisher Lake airport by our good friends from the Oji-Cree community along with Matthew and Caitlin Windsor and their family, the Wycliffe team who have been there for a year now to assist the Oji-Cree Bible translation project. They brought us to our rooms at Mission House, where we all began to unpack, sort and organize the VBS materials, and plan the week with the VBS team.

VBS “plan for the week”

On Sunday, the team went to worship at St. Matthew’s church in Kingfisher Lake, and later continued our preparations for the VBS program.

The team prepared the VBS program for two different age groups each day: Kindergarten through grade 3 in the morning, and grade 4 through grade 8 in the afternoon. Each group had an age-appropriate song time, Bible story, crafts time, snack time and game time during their session every day.

Registration

Every day we met the children at the door, learned their names, and gave them name-tags in the shape of a cross.

Afternoon Attendance

Song Time

Eric led a fun singing time as the children gathered each day.

Bible Story

Norma Jean told a Bible story while Elizabeth drew an extra-large “colouring poster” that illustrated the story. During crafts time, colouring the poster was one of the options.

Crafts time

There were different arts and crafts projects prepared each day that the children could do that were related to the topic or the VBS theme.

One of the major crafts was for the children to screen-print their own t-shirts and sweatshirts, with help from Elizabeth and all of you who contributed to the sweatshirt fundraiser. These were appreciated by all the children and leaders.

Snack time

To keep everyone’s energy up for all these activities, snacks were prepared and served to the children each day. Everyone pitched in with the crafts and snacks.

Game time

Eric was a wonderful game leader and the children had a good time playing old games (musical chairs) and learning new ones (stack the cups and steal the bacon).

Story Review

After game time, everyone sat down to hear Norma Jean re-tell the story, and having the children fill in the details… sometimes with the help of Mrs. Beaver and Mr. Moose!(Elizabeth and Eric).

Answered Prayers

All our travels went reasonably well. Some children came every day, and those that came really seemed to enjoy all the parts of the program. The VBS staff from outside worked together well with the local VBS staff. It was wonderful serving along side Matthew & Caitlin Windsor and their family, now living at Kingfisher Lake for the past year, and continuing their service there as Bible Translation facilitators.

This was also a good opportunity to work with the Oji-Cree translation team on “team-checking” the book of Mark. The team is on track to complete the entire Gospel of Mark by the end of this year, Lord willing.

Oji-Cree Translators Jessie, Ruth, and Mary working with Matthew

Team-checking the Gospel of Mark in Oji-Cree

Prayer Requests

It was wonderful to see Matthew & Caitlin’s new “Tiny House” that had just been positioned next door to the Mission House where the translation project is located (and this year’s VBS). But so far they still are “camping” in their home until they can be hooked up to running water and electricity. Please pray with them for the completion of their new home on-site, utilities and other details.

The Oji-Cree translation team would also like your prayers as they seek to grow their team in numbers and capacity.

Pray for us too, as we consider about how God would have us participate in His work in the Kingfisher Lake community in years to come, and that they will hear as God continues to speak his message in the language of their hearts.

Serving with you,

Bill & Norma Jean for the entire Kingfisher Lake VBS team

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Translation Brief: 2019 Translator Workshop Participants

Workshop Participants / First Nations translators

Ruby Nabinicaboo Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
Amanda Swappie Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
George Guanish Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
Tshiueten Vachon Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
Ruby Sandy-Robinson Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
Maggie Mokoush-Swappie Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
Robert Swappie Kawawachikamach Quebec, Naskapi
Ruth Kitchekesik Kingfisher Lake Ontario, Oji-Cree
Peter Kitchekesik Gillam Manitoba, Swampy Cree
Sandra Fox Big Trout Lake Ontario, Oji-Cree
Mary J. Mckay Big Trout Lake Ontario, Oji-Cree
Maryann Miles Shamattawa Manitoba, Swampy Cree
Rosemary Thomas Shamattawa Manitoba, Swampy Cree
Jimmy Thorrassie Tadoule Lake Manitoba, Dene
Linda Hagedorn Black River Manitoba, Ojibwe

Thank you for remembering these in during the workshop. Pray for their families back home, for their travels and health, and for God’s work in their lives.

April 7-12, 2019 Guelph, Ontario

Northern Translation Brief: 2019 Translator Workshop Staff

Workshop Staff

Meg Billingsley (staff) consultant/instructor
Carletta Lahn (staff) Scripture Access Team Leader
Myles Leitch (staff) consultant/instructor
Ben Wukasch (staff) Mission:Literacy books facilitator
Dolores Sand (staff) Mission:Literacy books facilitator
Matthew Windsor (staff) project facilitator, instructor
Caitlin Windsor (staff) project facilitator, instructor
Hazel Windsor (3 year old) (staff child)
Eli Windsor (1 year old) (staff child)
Martin Reed (staff) project facilitator, instructor
Alice Reed (staff) project facilitator, instructor
Grace Reed (10 month old) (staff child)
Terri Scruggs (staff) Project Liaison
Ruth Heeg (staff) consultant/instructor
Jeff Green (staff) consultant/instructor
Steve Kempf (staff) consultant/instructor
Bill Jancewicz (staff) coordinator/instructor
Norma Jean Jancewicz (staff) coordinator/instructor

Observers, Guests

Mark MacDonald (guest) National Indigenous Bishop
David Standley (observer) Wycliffe Canada candidate
Avery Standley (observer) Wycliffe Canada candidate
Azariah Standley (1 year old) (observer) Wycliffe Canada candidate child
Beth Scott (observer) Wycliffe Canada Intern
Tom Scott (observer) Wycliffe Canada Intern
Josiah Scott (1 year old) (observer) Wycliffe Canada Intern child
Brandie Green (observer) Wycliffe Member Care advisor
Susanna Muntz (observer) Wycliffe VP External Relations and Engagement
Ruth Ciglen (observer) Runnymede Church partner
Don Richardson (observer) Runnymede Church partner
Chris Richardson (observer) Runnymede Church partner
Abe Koop (observer) Wycliffe Engagement Team advisor
Debbie Koop (observer) Wycliffe Engagement Team advisor
Trevor Kitt (observer) Wycliffe IT candidate

Thank you for remembering these in prayer now and during the workshop. Pray for their families back home, for their travels and health, and for God’s work in their lives.

April 7-12, 2019 Guelph, Ontario

Northern Translation Brief: Psalms-The Book of Praises in Naskapi

Our Dear Partners,

On the 3rd Sunday of Lent, March 24th, 2019 there was a special service held at St. John’s Parish, Kawawachikamach, for the dedication of the translated book of Psalms in the Naskapi language. This is another important milestone for the work the Naskapi translation team does in making the Bible available and accessible in their own language Work began on the Naskapi Bible translation project in the 1990s. The Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC) partnered with St. John’s Parish and Wycliffe Bible Translators to build a translation team that sought to fulfil the vision of the late Joseph Guanish, long time chief of the Naskapi Nation, former president of NDC, and mentor and inspiration to the team and the community.

He lived to see his vision begin to be fulfilled with the publication of the New Testament in the Naskapi language in 2007, followed by the dedication of the book of Genesis in 2013. The Translation of the Psalms into Naskapi was initially a part of Lectionary Readings for Sundays and Holy Days (2012), using the Psalter included in Bishop John Horden’s 1889 Book of Common Prayer in the Cree language as the primary source material. With the present publication, the Naskapi Development Corporation is pleased to present all 150 Psalms to Naskapi readers for the first time in a single volume. Our prayer is that these Scriptures would bless the Naskapi people for generations as they have blessed millions of God’s people around the world for thousands of years.


How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

ᑕᓐᑕ ᒐᒋ ᐅᒋ ‍ ᐸᔭᒋᑕᑦ ᐅᔅᒋᓂᒋᓱᐤ ᐅᑦ ᐃᓯᑥᐅᓐ?
ᐊ ‍ ᐃᔭᒂᒥᓯᑦ ᐊ ‍ ᐃᔅᒋᔄᒥᑭᓂᔨᒡ ᒋᑦ ᐃᔨᒧᐅᓂᔪᐤ᙮
ᒥᓯᐛ ᓂᑕᐃᒡ ᔅᒋ ᐅᒋ ‍ ᓇᓂᑐᐛᔨᒥᑎᓐ:
ᐅ ᐊᑲᐎᔾ ᓇᐊᔨᒥ ᒐᒋ ᐅᓂᒥᑎᒪᔭᓐ ᒋᐎᓱᐛᐅᓇ ᐅᒡ᙮
ᒋᑦ ᐃᔨᒧᐅᓐ ᓂᒋ ‍ ᑲᑕᓐ ᓂᑕᐃᒡ,
ᒐ ᐊᑲ ᒋ ᒥᒋᑐᑕᑕᓐ᙮

–Psalm 119:9-11–


The book of Psalms is one of the books of the Bible that give us wisdom on how to live well. It is a collection of raw, honest prayers poured out to the Lord that cover a wide range of life experiences. Each was composed in response to a real-life situation or celebration. Together they cover the full spectrum of human emotion, from exuberant joy to agonizing pain.
The Psalmists invite us to express our true thoughts and feelings to God. We do not have to hold anything back. We are not alone in the ups and downs of life. Instead, we have the assurance that God is faithful and good, and His presence is with all who trust in Him.

The translation team expressed to us how proud they are of this accomplishment, and the Naskapi people are also grateful to have still another part of the Bible available in their own language. Continued work on translating the Old Testament into Naskapi is still an on-going project that we are committed to, and provides them with another way of preserving their language, and know and love God better.

Psalms books at the front of the church on Dedication Day

Our friend, the Rev. Silas Nabinicaboo, the deacon at the Naskapi Church, asked us to tell you:

“The Naskapi community and St. John’s Parish would like to express our deep thanks to all those who have been dedicated to this project. The early drafts of Psalms were prepared and reviewed by the late Joseph Guanish, and work continued on this project over more than fifteen years by myself, joined by Naskapi Language Specialists Amanda Swappie, Ruby Nabinicaboo, Tshiueten Vachon. We are filled with gratitude to everyone who provided their guidance, and assistance, and to all who gave their support for this project.”

Please join us in praise and thanks to God and congratulations to the translation team at Kawawachikamach for this accomplishment!

Serving with you, Bill & Norma Jean

Deacon Silas Nabinicaboo tells about the new book of Psalms at the Dedication Service

Prayers of dedication for the new books

Young Naskapis who learn to read at school can now read the Psalms for the first time

Older Naskapis expressed their gratitude after having waited many years for this day

People of every generation will treasure “Psalms: the Book of Praises in Naskapi” for years to come

The Book of Psalms in Naskapi is also available to the general public through online sales:

http://www.lulu.com/content/21310118

 

Northern Translation Brief: CreeTalker Bible

Our Dear Partners,

The Scriptures are a verbal message from God, in words. We sometimes call it the “Word of God”. God has gone to great lengths to communicate His love to us, both in words in a Book, and in giving us His Son (the story of which we also read about in a book… in Hebrews 1:1-2).

Sometimes, there are barriers to undertanding this message. Often we think of the enterprise of Bible translation itself as one means of overcoming this barrier, and you would be right. Each of us reading this now has benefitted from someone having translated the Bible into your language, English: the language I am writing to you in, and which you are reading. But this communication also assumes that in the course of your life you have had the opportunity to read English fluently. To many, the Bible still remains a closed book if they have not adequately mastered literacy.

1862 translation of the Bible in Western Cree

Pictured above is a page from the Bible in Western Cree, opened to Matthew chapter 5, the Sermon on the Mount. This book belonged to a believer who invested years of his own life to learn to read and understand what is written in this book, and as a result he was blessed with the skill to grasp the hope and love that this message communicates in the Cree language.

But the reality is that among speakers of the Cree language (and indeed, many other First Nations languages) there is only a small minority who have learned to adequately read their mother tongue. It is true that First-language literacy education continues to gain ground among children in communities that are developing indigenous language curriculum in their schools. But for some, literacy in their traditional language remains out of reach.

But we all know that one way we can overcome this literacy barrier quickly is to simply have someone read a book TO us. This is why in many languages where we serve in Bible translation ministry there are also important efforts to make the Good News of the Scriptures available in non-print media. For the old translation of the Bible in Western Cree, this began with the CreeTalker project.

The CreeTalker project

In the fall of 2017, at the request of Cree speakers in Saskatchewan, Pastor Mark Ramshaw contacted us about the availability of the Cree Language Scriptures in audio, so they could listen to and hear the Word of God in Cree. While the Canadian Bible Society and Wycliffe Bible Translators have been working for some years on a new Contemporary Plains Cree translation, and most of the Cree Scriptures that have been published recently also have an audio narration, Pastor Mark and the Cree speakers he represents were actually interested in an audio recording of the old Western Cree Bible, that was first translated by Rev. William and Sophia Mason and published in 1862. This edition was later revised by Rev. J. A. Mackay in 1904 (New Testament) and 1908 (Old Testament).

This Bible has been reprinted many times over the past century by the British and Foreign Bible Society, and is still much loved and revered by people in many First Nations communities across Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

After making some inquiries, it was found that no audio recordings of this Cree Bible were yet available. So Pastor Mark stepped out in faith to establish the “CreeTalker Project” which would undertake the production of a spoken audio version of this edition of the Cree Scriptures.

Pastor Mark secured some donations to purchase the recording equipment that would be used for this project.

Pastor Mark Ramshaw with the new digital audio recorder for the CreeTalker project

Rev. Fred Evans, Cree speaker and longtime preacher and evangelist in the Cree language, graciously agreed to be the “voice” for the CreeTalker Project. Bill helped Fred & Mark to facilitate the technical end of setting up the recordings, best practices for file handling, editing software, and a quality control procedure.

Rev. Fred Evans was dedicated to the task of reading the Bible in Cree for the CreeTalker project at a special service with Pastor Mark in early November 2017

By December 2017, Fred had begun to read and record the old Cree Bible in his home in Swan River, Manitoba, starting with the book of Matthew. As Fred finished his recording of each chapter, he would send these files on to Bill by Internet connection, and he would listen to Fred’s recording, take care of the audio-editing of the sound files while reading along with the Cree text, and look after sound enhancement and overall quality control.

Rev. Fred Evans recording the old Cree Bible in his home

Over the first 9 months of the project, Rev. Fred has recorded nearly 80 hours of “raw” (unedited) audio files, creating one computer sound file for each of the 260 chapters of the New Testament. For every hour of this recorded audio, it can take from four to six hours of editing work, carefully following along with the printed Cree text, removing false starts and mistakes, making the pauses and phrasing consistent, and bringing the sound quality and volume to adequate levels.

Listening to the chapter and editing the sound file, helping Rev. Fred sound his best

By mid-August 2018, Rev. Fred completed all of the “raw” (unedited) files when he finished reading the final chapter of the New Testament. He completed his reading of Revelation chapter 22 with a heartfelt “Hallelujah, glory to God!” and then this prayer: “…Let these words fall into the hearts of those who sit in darkness, to bring light, to bring hope. Thank you Lord, in your Name, Amen.”

Over the past several years, the Canadian Bible Society has been working toward a new reprint of the text of this legacy Cree Bible, and has digitized the text and is preparing to re-publish it to make it accessible in both Cree Syllabics and in the Standard Roman Orthography. Pastor Mark contacted the Bible Society early on in the project to coordinate the audio distribution and production.

In the spring of 2018, Ben Wukasch began to work at the Bible Society offices. Bill went to set Ben up with the software and training so that he could help with the audio editing task too. Since May 2018, both Ben and Bill have been doing the sound editing for Rev. Fred’s recorded chapters.

Ben Wukasch working on Cree Scripture audio editing at the Canadian Bible Society

Synchronized Scripture App

In February 2018, Bible Society leadership asked Bill to work on a “demo” of a Scripture app that would integrate Fred Evan’s narration and the written text of the Cree Bible, synchronized so that users could hear Fred read while following along with the text. By the month of March, a working version of the CreeTalker Scripture app was ready to be tested on a limited basis. At that time, the entire book of Matthew was ready to hear and see in the demo format.

Each phrase that is being played back is highlighted making it easier to read along

Using specialized software that integrates the printed text of the Bible with the audio recordings, each verse is timed to highlight the spoken word so that the user can read along, following the words on the screen. The software then creates an “app” and talking EPub books that can be installed on smartphones, tablets or computers, which will enable users to take the Cree New Testament along with them and listen to Rev. Fred read the Scriptures to them whenever they like.

Rev. Fred reading his Bible at home

This two-minute video provides a demonstration of what the Bible app or talking eBooks will be like when the project is complete (turn on your audio to hear Rev. Fred’s narration).

Video demonstration of the Western Cree Bible on iOS or Android devices

Ben and Bill estimate that they have a little over a month of editing work to do on the audio files before the entire New Testament is ready.

We appreciate your prayers for them both as they complete this work, for Cree speakers who hunger and thirst for access to the Word of God in their language, and for the prayer offered by Rev. Fred to also be answered in a mighty way: “…Let these words fall into the hearts of those who sit in darkness, to bring light, to bring hope. Thank you Lord, in your Name, Amen.”

Christmas 2018

Our dear friends and family,

We have been looking forward with gratefulness to celebrating the birth of Jesus this year. It has been an especially challenging year, as we continue to recover strength, wellness and stamina after Bill’s accident with the tree, ladder and chainsaw on November 7th 2017. Even though the time required can be discouraging, we rejoice in your prayers for us with a dependence in God’s blessing and His sovereignty, and assurance of His love.

We wanted to remind you all of how God continues to lead us in our work in Canada: As you know, it’s been more than 30 years now since we first moved to Canada to work with the Naskapi community at Kawawachikamach in Northern Quebec. We raised our family there and we both served the community as a linguist and as a teacher. We worked alongside community members in language development, literacy, and Bible translation. It was 11 years ago this year that we helped their team to complete the Naskapi New Testament. God continues to speak through His Word to the Naskapi community, and their hunger for more scripture in their language continues to grow, along with their own capacity to accomplish the ongoing work on the Old Testament themselves.

‘He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

–Isaiah 40:29.

Moreover, the Naskapi have inspired and motivated other First Nations communities that do not yet have scriptures in their own languages. For the past 5 years, after much reflection and prayer, our vision that God would multiply His work by raising up a team of younger Bible Translation facilitators is being realized. Two teams now serve as we have in several other communities, while increasing the number and capacity of First Nations translators themselves through mentoring and training workshops. The Naskapi project has grown to become an important training location and inspiration for the new teams whom they have invited to serve internships there in Kawawachikamach.

Meanwhile, God is also at work in other communities that speak closely related languages–in Oji-Cree in northern Ontario, Innu in Labrador, Plains Cree in Saskatchewan, and Swampy Cree in Manitoba–and our vision of seeing of several new Bible Translation and language development projects get started is becoming a reality. Matthew & Caitlin Windsor are now working full-time as language project facilitators with the Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree community. Alice & Martin Reed are now living and working among the Western Swampy Cree communities in Northern Manitoba. Tom & Bethany Scott have just completed their internship with the Oji-Cree translation team this fall, and David & Avery Standley have just joined Wycliffe Bible Translators in November, and are preparing for service in one of the communities still waiting for access to the Scriptures in their own language.

Our continuing role is to mentor and support these new teams and projects. Bill’s accident and recovery period has shown us that these translation projects are in God’s hands, under His control, and not ours. We actively support and guide the new teams using current communication technology, while the new teams begin to carry more of the on-site tasks, working in the local language communities.

The Naskapi work also continues in Northern Quebec, which we still support at a significant level. We are helping them with the final stages of typesetting and layout for the books of Exodus and Psalms in Naskapi. In addition, we are planning with our team members the next First Nations Translator training workshops in April 2019.

We are grateful to God for our home here in southern Ontario. It is a place for the new teams to come for rest and renewal and also gives us time with them to discuss project goals and challenges. It also provides us a place from which we can travel to assist in the communities in the north.


Thank you again for your continued care and prayers for us, for your interest in Bible Translation and reconciliation with our First Nations brothers and sisters. Thank you for your many gifts and reminders of your love and care for us in these days of restoration, recovery, and dependence upon God.

Serving with you,
Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz

Northern Translation Brief: 23Oct2018

Our Dear Partners,

On Sunday, October 14th, a special service was held at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Quebec City to honour and recognize the Naskapi speaking congregation at Kawawachikamach.

Many members of St. John’s Church, Kawawachikamach were on hand to participate in this service

The Anglican Diocese of Quebec (of which the Naskapi parish is a member) presented a celebration to commemorate a change in the status of the Naskapi church.

During the summer, we were informed about this change, which (in the words of council) is as follows:

The Diocesan Executive Council, gave its formal and unanimous approval to making St. John’s church, Kawawachikamach, a region of its own. This means that the Naskapi parish will have guaranteed representation at both our diocesan Synod and the Diocesan Executive Council. This does not address all of the issues surrounding the fuller participation of Naskapi Anglicans in the decision-making bodies of our diocese, but they believe it is an important step along the way, and is in keeping with the Anglican Church of Canada’s wider efforts to support Indigenous self-determination within their church’s structures.”

The Bishop (Bishop Bruce Myers) also extended his personal invitation to us so that we might present the story of Naskapi Bible Translation at that celebration. He said that this would help to raise awareness of the Bible translation project in the life of the diocese and to highlight the evident growth in the Naskapi church and lives of the Naskapi people because of receiving the Scriptures in their own language.

It was a special treat for us to see and speak with a number of our Naskapi friends who were on hand for the service and reception. We are so grateful to God for the work that He continues to do among them.

The weekend of October 25-29 we are off to the 50th Algonquian Conference in Edmonton, an academic conference where we will be presenting a paper about translation.

Thank you for your prayers for us!

Serving with you,
Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz