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

Northern Translation Brief: Linguistics Intern Visit to Naskapi 2018

Our Dear Partners,

After the First Nations Bible Translation Capacity-Building Gathering that was held at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 2014, there were several projects that were prioritized, including work on Oji-Cree, Cree and Naskapi Bible translation projects, along with activities focused on building the capacity of the local communities to accomplish these translation goals. One necessary part of capacity-building includes the recruitment and training of new Bible Translation facilitator teams to work alongside language speakers in their communities in the north.

A key part of the preparation for these Bible Translation facilitator teams is a period of in-field training and language service with the Naskapi translation project. During this time of gaining experience living in an isolated northern First Nations community, the new teams will serve the Naskapi as Linguistics Interns, taking part in the facilitation of a real ongoing language program there.

To help the new teams with a smoother transition to their in-field training period, they accompany us on one of our working trips to the Naskapi community. In August of 2018, David & Avery Standley (and baby Azariah) came with us to visit the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach, as their part of their introduction to the situation in Canadian First Nations, as well as a chance for us to get to know them better.

You may remember that in 2015, Matthew & Caitlin Windsor accompanied us to Kawawachikamach on a similar visit. You can read about that trip at this link here <link>.

And then in 2016, Martin & Alice Reed came with us to Kawawachikamach on their first visit there. You can read about that trip at this link here <link>.

Martin & Alice are now serving speakers of the Western Swampy Cree language in northern Manitoba, and Matthew & Caitlin are serving speakers of the Oji-Cree language at Kingfisher Lake in northern Ontario.

On this year’s trip, beginning last August 18, we picked up David, Avery & Azariah at the Buffalo, NY airport, and from there we drove for the next four days together up through southern Ontario and along the north shore of the St. Lawrence in Quebec to Sept-Iles, were we boarded the train to Schefferville. The train ride this time was 16-1/2 hours, arriving at Schefferville near midnight. We were met at the train by Naskapi translator Silas, who brought David & Avery to the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach in the wee hours of Friday morning, August 24.

Naskapi Translation Team Capacity-Building Workshop

Each workday we met with the Naskapi translation team to work through the various stages of translation for the current active Naskapi Old Testament translation projects, moving them closer to their goals. The team is now working on the books of Deuteronomy (Tshiueten), Joshua (Silas), Judges (Amanda), and Esther (Ruby). They have also just started work on the book of Job as a team project.

We also worked with other speakers and elders on revisions to the Naskapi dictionary, descriptions of the Naskapi grammar and books of Naskapi stories. Retired consultant linguist Dr. Marguerite MacKenzie from Memorial University in Newfoundland was on hand to provide her help and guidance with these projects.

Avery observes Dr. MacKenzie working on the Naskapi dictionary with elder Alma Chemaganish

Silas Nabinicaboo has been working on the first draft of the book of Judges in Naskapi

Tshiueten Vachon has recently begun the first draft of the book of Deuteronomy

Amanda Swappie has been translating the first draft of the book of Joshua in Naskapi

The newest member of the Naskapi team, Ruby Nabinicaboo, is working on the back-translation for the book of Esther

The Naskapi translation team learned more skills in how to use the computer-based translation resources that are available to them, along with reminders of the importance of the several other stages of Bible translation that come after the (1) “First Draft” is made, such as: (2) “Team Checking” of the passage with other members of the translation team to ensure accuracy, (3) “Community Checking” with elders and other members of the community to ensure clarity and naturalness, (4) “Back Translation” so that the text can be reviewed by exegetical consultants, ensuring that the entire meaning of the text is communicated.

David & Avery not only got to be a part of the workshops during the day, but also enjoyed connecting with the Naskapi people in the community outside the office, in recreational sports and community activities.

Avery is a welcome member on the volleyball team!

Azariah got to know some new Naskapi friends as well.

Jaiden, who used to stay with us when he was small, is doing well. He’s 11 years old now and enjoying school.

Linguistics Internships

Some have asked if the new teams that God is sending to work with us are our “replacements”. Well, not exactly. It became clear that God is at work in many First Nations language communities across Northern Canada, and that for us to simply move on to just one other language project after Naskapi would not nearly begin to meet the need,

Tshiueten getting to know Azariah

besides the fact that the Naskapi team still requires continued support. So in answer to your prayers God has called additional Bible Translation facilitation teams like the Windsors, the Reeds, the Scotts and the Standleys to help serve in some of these other First Nations Bible Translation projects. And these are not all, either. See this post for more about these “Next Generation” Bible translation teams: <link>

Since the languages are all closely related, and the values and culture of these language communities share a lot in common, their planned in-field training period serving in a linguistics internship with Naskapi for several months will continue to support the Naskapi project in significant ways, moving the Naskapi team closer to a sustainable level of capacity, while also giving the new teams the practical skills and experience that they will need to work in the language communities that are still waiting for God’s Word in their mother tongues.

This will also enable us to leverage our own experience so that we can support these new teams as mentors, while God continues to use us to assist the other language projects where we still have the privilege to serve.

The Standleys hope to begin their Linguistics Internship with the Naskapi project sometime in the next year or so, and be ready to move on to another related language community, such as Innu, or Cree, who even now are still waiting for the scriptures in their own language.

Prayer Requests

Please continue to pray for David & Avery (and little Azariah) as they continue their steps of preparation and seek adequate support so that they may move to the north and begin their internship.

Pray for us that we will be sensitive to God’s leading and faithful to His call as we provide guidance to these new teams.

Pray for the First Nations language communities that we have already begun to work alongside of, and for those who are still waiting to have the message of God’s love and hope in their own languages.

Pray for the Naskapi team as they work toward their Old Testament project goals and learn to work in their own language program with more and more confidence and ability.

Thank you for your own interest, support and encouragement for this work that God is doing in minority First Nations language communities in Canada.

Serving with you,

Bill and Norma Jean

 

Northern Translation Brief: 15Aug2018

Our Dear Partners,

In just a few short days we will be journeying north again to the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach outside Schefferville, Quebec. We return to work with the Naskapi translation team there on their Old Testament translation, Scripture engagement and literacy projects.

As many of you know from our previous Translation Briefs, the Naskapi Bible Translation project has been not only the inspiration and motivation for other First Nations communities to begin their own translation projects, but the Naskapi project is also a place where Next Generation Bible translation facilitators can gain practical experience serving a project as Linguistics Interns. Two new young teams recently starting their service to other First Nations translation projects, the Reeds and the Windsors, have completed their internships at Kawawachikamach with the Naskapi.

This August we will be bringing still another young couple interested in serving in First Nations Bible translation with us to visit the Naskapi project. David & Avery Standley, and their son Azariah.

A “Skype” call with David & Avery last week

David & Avery are from Olympia, Washington, on the west coast of the United States. They both completed their undergraduate degrees in linguistics, and have also taken the field linguistics courses at CanIL (the Canadian Institute of Linguistics) at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC.

They will be traveling with us and their new little baby boy, Azariah, who is just 3 months old. They are flying here from the west coast to meet us for the first time this Saturday August 18, and we will be driving with them up to Sept-Iles, Quebec, to take the Thursday, August 23 train to Schefferville.

David & Avery are just visiting the Naskapi community with us this time, but if things work out, they are hoping to do an 8-month internship at Kawawa with the translation team eventually.

Besides Bible translation, we are also working with the Naskapi translation team on literacy projects, and are just in the checking and review stage of a new children’s book based on a traditional Naskapi story about Kachimayichasuw, mysterious mischievious beings that are said to throw rocks at Naskapi tents and steal supplies.

We will work with the Naskapi team until the first week of September, and return home around September 9, Lord willing.

Checking copy of “The Sneaks who Stole the Sugar” in Naskapi, illustrated by our daughter Elizabeth

Please remember us in prayer for safety and travel mercies during the long days on the road, for productive and instructive times with the Naskapi translation team, and for God’s continued leading and guidance in our lives, the lives of the Naskapi translators, and David & Avery.

Serving with you, Bill & Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief: Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree VBS 2018

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 July 23-37, 2018. This “Scripture Engagement” event is the second in a series that got its start when the Oji-Cree Bible Translation team in Kingfisher Lake expressed their hearts desire for the children of their community, their next generation, to hear the message of the Gospel in their own language. This year, the Oji-Cree leaders met with us in March to confirm their desire to have us come and help them again this summer. The topic chosen for this summer’s VBS was the life and teachings of Jesus, with the two greatest commandments as their focus ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mark 12:28-34) and “Love One Another” 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, July 20th, 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.

Eric Stevenson, Amy Lewis, Bill & Norma Jean, Elizabeth Jancewicz, Jacco DeBruin

Immanuel church has been praying and fundraising so that they could send two of their youth, Amy Lewis, and Jacco DeBruin. 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. This year we were so happy that her husband Eric Stevenson could come to provide help with games and music. Norma Jean was the overall VBS coordinator and liaison with the Oji-Cree team.

Amy and Jacco wait for their first flight from Toronto to Thunder Bay

Because of flight connections to the northern communities, we spent the night in Thunder Bay at a hotel and 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.

Elizabeth & Eric

Amy and Jacco

Due to weight limitations on the smaller plans to Kingfisher Lake, Jacco volunteered to surrender his bag as “low priority”, which meant that most of our priority VBS supplies could arrive on time. Jacco’s bag did arrive in Kingfisher lake two days later.

The weather was fine for all the flights from Toronto to Thunder Bay, to Sioux Lookout, to the little Oji-Cree communities of Summer Beaver and Wunnumin Lake, and finally to Kingfisher Lake by Saturday afternoon.

Bringing welcome treats to Kingfisher Lake

 

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.

Vacation Bible School

We were met there at the airport by our good friends from the Oji-Cree community along with Matthew and Caitlin Windsor and their family, the Wycliffe team newly assigned to assist the Oji-Cree Bible translation project. They brought us to our rooms at Mission House, where we all began to sort and organize the VBS materials, and plan the week with the local translation team.

100 Hoodies!’

On Sunday, the team had an opportunity to do a “dry run” of the VBS program when the local church leaders invited Norma Jean and the team to teach Sunday School at the Mission House. We were able to meet some of the children who would be attending the VBS program during the week.

The team planned the VBS program for two different age groups each day: Kindergarten through grade 3 in the mornings, 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. Besides help from the Oji-Cree translators and the Windsor family, we also had assistance from ministry workers with Northern Youth Programs (Ann & Lynnette) as well, who were in the Kingfisher Lake community for several weeks of service.

Registration

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

back row: Eric, Norma Jean, Bill, Caitlin, Hazel, Ann
front row: Elizabeth, Amy, Jacco, Lynette

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 crafts 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 “hoodie” sweatshirt, with help from Elizabeth and all of you who contributed to the hoodie 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 (blob tag).

Story Review

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

Answered Prayers

All our travels went reasonably well. More children came every day, and really seemed to enjoy all the parts of the program. The VBS staff from outside worked together well with the local VBS staff, and along with the ministry workers from Northern Youth Programs as well, who were in the community for several weeks of service. It was wonderful serving along side Matthew & Caitlin Windsor and their family, now living at Kingfisher Lake and beginning their service there as Bible Translation facilitators.

When we met with the Oji-Cree translation team leaders, they said that they were pleased with the program and asked us to consider having another program like it in the summer of 2019.

Prayer Requests

Matthew & Caitlin are still looking for permanent lodgings in Kingfisher Lake. Please pray that God would meet this need soon.

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

Pray for us as we think about how God would have us meet the needs and requests of the Kingfisher Lake community in years to come, and as we begin to plan our next trip north, to the Naskapi community in Northern Quebec at the end of this month (stay tuned!)

Serving with you,

Bill & Norma Jean for the entire Kingfisher Lake VBS team