Translation Brief 04Nov2013 “FAQ”-1

Our dear partners,

A few weeks back we sent out a newsletter [link] to everyone, and from the responses we got from many, it seemed to raise more questions than answers!

So I thought that it would be good to send out some answers to those questions most frequently asked. “FAQ” has become a regular feature on many websites, in an attempt to anticipate those questions (Q) that are most frequently (F) asked (A). Unlike such websites, we had not anticipated the many questions that were raised, but we will take this opportunity to answer those which occurred most frequently since that newsletter.

(1) “Why did you move to British Columbia?”map of 2013 travels west

Most questions like this one were expressions of surprise that we had moved at all! We apologize that we had not made this clearer in earlier messages. Last January [link] we mentioned Norma Jean’s plans to pursue graduate studies of her own to in mother-tongue and multi-lingual education, building on her experience and work with Naskapi and Innu. At that time, she had not yet been accepted into the program at Trinity Western University here in BC, so we were still waiting ourselves for that direction.

At the same time, our son Nicodemus was considering his own transfer to Trinity Western University after having completed two years at Three Rivers Community College in Connecticut. When both Norma Jean and Nicodemus were accepted, our plans started to become more clear.

In order to better serve the Bible translation and language development needs of Naskapi, Innu and other First Nations people groups across Canada, we have been encouraged by our Wycliffe field administration to continue our professional development which includes completing our graduate degrees. Bill accomplished this during five summers at SIL-UND, and earned his MA in linguistics. Norma Jean started her MA program in August here in British Columbia. The program Norma Jean is taking has components that help broaden her insight into language education for First Nations people, which she has already been involved in for several mother-tongue communities [link], [link]

It has also been a great opportunity to be here where we can connect with Nicodemus and encourage him in his own undergrad program.

Another answer to a “Frequently Asked Question” coming soon!

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean Jancewicz

Hand-Ground Coffee

This summer I completed my MA in linguistics, after 5 summers at the University of North Dakota SIL. I also had the privilege of serving on the SIL administrative staff with Rick Barnes, whom I have come to respect deeply and enjoyed working with. On the day of my thesis defense, he and his wife Linda presented me with a congratulatory gift of two large-size bags of Tim Horton’s coffee beans. IMG_5556He told me that he was a bit unsure of whether to purchase “fine” or “regular” grind, so his solution was to just get the whole beans. Rick was beginning to understand something of my attachment to Canadian culture and the connection to Tim Horton’s coffee during our time of service together, so his choice of a gift was particularly appropriate and appreciated.

After moving across-country to our rented cottage in Aldergrove, BC, we began to search through thrift-stores and second-hand shops for basic furnishings and appliances.

I found a small drip coffee maker at a thrift shop when we arrived here in BC. After that, I was on the lookout for a coffee grinder for my bags of beans. Our son Nicodemus had one, but I never could abide the loud whine and roar from a countertop electric coffee grinder, especially early in the morning. The Internet yielded lots of solutions–even suggesting a mortar and pestle. IMG_5557But then, at another thrift shop I found this little wooden hand-cranked grinder. I think that it was meant to be a kitchen knick-knack–just ornamental. But it does indeed contain the required bean-grinding mechanism.

It is nice to fill it with a little quarter-cup of beans in the morning, spend a few (quiet) minutes of grinding and enjoying the aroma of fresh ground coffee. Then after five minutes of brewing and I’m enjoying a fresh cup of coffee and remembering Rick and Linda’s kind gift, and what it represents (congratulations for a successful Master’s thesis defense).


One of the added benefits of the extra time grinding my own beans is that it gives me a few minutes of time out of a day of distractions to think about the people we care about. Can grinding coffee be a devotional exercise? I think it can when the time is spent in gratitude and prayer.

Besides–“grinding your own coffee by hand” should be one of the criteria on the “Man Card“, but maybe to qualify you’d have to use a hammer. The idea of hand-grinding your own coffee beans suits me, and adds to the serenity and routine of our day.

We are working hard at Trinity Western and enjoying getting to know some of the CanIL staff. Norma Jean’s MA program is a full load, but I am also auditing a linguistics field methods class so that I can become better acquainted with some of the new linguistic software tools that help with language development work.

Time for a coffee. Have one with me?

Northern Translation Summer 2013 Newsletter

Our dear partners,
Thank you for your prayers for us during the past few hectic months of work on Naskapi language projects and our service to others as part of our Wycliffe assignment. During the first four months of 2013, we were working mainly in northeast  Canada at our home in Schefferville near the Naskapi community of Kawawachikamach (Kawawa). Norma Jean has served the past few years in the Naskapi school in the Naskapi language curriculum department, in support of teachers who teach in the Naskapi language in elementary school. The curriculum department is responsible for providing the Naskapi language materials that are used to help Naskapi children learn to read and write their own language.PastedGraphic-1
Over in Labrador on the coast about 240 miles east of Kawawa is the Mushuau Innu community of Natuashish, close relatives of the Naskapi. We were invited to conduct training workshops there and at the other Labrador Innu community of Sheshatshiu for Innu-speaking classroom assistants, and to help them to begin setting up their own curriculum department at their schools there in March. Norma Jean conducted education and material production classes, while Bill provided computer training and also began to explore adapting the Naskapi scriptures to the Mushuau Innu language by audio.
Naskapi Language Specialists
The first few months of the year had Bill also very busy with a remarkable opportunity to recruit and train four new Naskapi language specialists to work full-time in the Naskapi community on translation and other language development work. IMG_5040aThe four that were selected and hired by the Naskapi Development Corporation were Amanda, Kissandra, Kabimbetas and Jimmy. These four were trained in using computers to do Naskapi translation work, and in daily reading and writing practice, with a view to working more and more independently on translation projects of their own. Also, in April Bill taught another section of the McGill University teacher-training class, a dozen Naskapi adults who are  working towards their Bachelors of Education (B.Ed) in order to teach and/or prepare Naskapi materials at the Naskapi school. This four-year program started in 2010 includes undergraduate-level university courses provided for the most part right in the community. Bill has been teaching adult literacy principles (reading and writing in Naskapi) along with Naskapi grammar to enhance their reading success. The four Naskapi language specialists-in-training also joined the McGill students since what they needed to learn was pretty much the same thing that Bill was teaching there.
Professional Development and Academics
Since beginning to work with Wycliffe we have always been strongly encouraged to keep our education and linguistics skills current, but that was not always easy to do, with the full-time work on the language project and raising a family. But since the publication of the Naskapi New Testament in 2007, our Wycliffe administration has urged us to follow through by working towards advanced degrees in our fields of service. So, back in 2009, we enrolled in studies at the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) at the University of North Dakota (UND).

English: Merrifield Hall on the campus of the ...

English: Merrifield Hall on the campus of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bill began his studies towards a Master of Arts (MA) in linguistics, and Norma Jean took the “Mega-Literacy” courses there that summer. This was also the summer that we moved back to the Naskapi community to focus on Naskapi literacy training and Old Testament translation. For the next five summers, we would return to the University of North Dakota SIL where Bill continued his graduate-level course-work in linguistics. We decided that it would be best for everyone if only one of us were enrolled in graduate school at a time, so Norma Jean served as director for childcare services at SIL for the past four summers, rather than course-work. Bill completed his MA course-work and successfully defended his thesis this summer in North Dakota, and graduated with his MA in linguistics from UND on August 2. The title of his thesis is “Grammar Enhanced Biliteracy: Naskapi Language Structures for Facilitating Reading in Naskapi”, which researches how teaching Naskapi grammar might assist those who are learning to read in of 2013 travels color
As already mentioned above, Norma Jean’s expertise and service to the language communities focuses on the area of education and curriculum, and, like Bill, wants her academic studies to contribute to her service in a significant way. She found course-work that focuses on multi-lingual education theory and practice in the MA-TESOL program that is offered by Trinity Western University, in Langley, British Columbia. She applied for and was accepted into this program, which is a 12-month, full-time course beginning in September of 2013. Besides the course-work, she will also be doing practical projects and internships, which may include periods of service in the Naskapi or Innu communities to apply the principles she will be learning.
While TESOL generally refers to “Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages”, Norma Jean’s focus will actually include methods of teaching literacy skills in the mother-tongue; such as teaching Naskapi speakers to read and write Naskapi better, or teaching Innu speakers to read and write Innu better, which will also result in their overall success in their language skills in other languages. The educational principles and strategies for these goals are similar, and can be applied to our ongoing language development work in these and other minority-languages.
…to be continued tomorrow (on page 2)

Northern Translation Brief 20April2013

God is doing lots of good things here in Kawawa this spring, I just want to highlight a couple of them. Back in February, I received some remarkable news from the directors of the Naskapi Development Corporation (NDC), where I have been working with Silas over the past two decades plugging away at Naskapi Bible translation, and other Naskapi language development projects (New Testament, Naskapi children’s books, church lectionary readings, Naskapi dictionary… such things).
The directors decided that to better serve the community, they should increase the translation staff–they decided to quadruple it!–and so, I was invited to recruit and hire persons for two to four new “Naskapi Language Specialists-in-training” positions to continue the Naskapi translation work beyond the projects we already have underway. So, in February, we posted the positions, that carry a modest (for Kawawa) salary, but include the possibility of becoming a life-changing career for the recruits with “the right stuff”. On the last week of the posting, I interviewed four bright young Naskapi people: two women and two men, all of them between the ages of 25 and 30.
After testing their baseline skills in Naskapi, I prayerfully decided to hire and train all four of them, and began to work with them at the office on March 1.IMG_5041
Since then, Amanda Swappie, Kabimbetas Noah Mokoush, Jimmy D. Shecanapish and Kissandra Sandy-Dominique have made tremendous progress surviving my instruction and applying themselves with daily practice, as they are learning to read Naskapi fluently, type and transcribe Naskapi syllabics into the computer, learn the various computer-based translation tools that help us today in language work (parallel Bible tools, dictionary and digital audio tools, commentaries and grammars), and study the structure of the Naskapi language.
The NDC office has been regenerated with the youthful enthusiasm of these new recruits, and we have started to refer to them as the “Fantastic Four“. They are learning to work both as a team and independently, and have improved on many levels during their current probationary period of employment.

IMG_5040aFor the first three weeks of April, I was once again given the wonderful opportunity to serve as the guest instructor for the Naskapi-McGill teacher training program, teaching another section of the Naskapi Language Foundations course (Naskapi IV) to the cohort of about a dozen undergrad Naskapi students enrolled in the McGill University program. I was able to bring the “Fantastic Four” with me into the classroom to audit the grammar and literacy training that is being provided to this bright group of students.
And now, this week each of the “Four” will be starting on the adventure of translating a portion of the Old Testament into Naskapi–they are each beginning on a different “historical” book (Joshua, 1 & 2 Samuel, and Kings), which, Lord willing, they will all be working through for the long-term, as they continue to learn the skills and art of crafting a translation of the Bible into their own mother tongue.
All this while at the same time I am in “thesis mode” as work through the write-up of my own MA in linguistics final project. Our plans are to leave Schefferville at the end of this week as we begin to make our way over to SIL at the University of North Dakota where I am scheduled to defend my thesis this summer. If a candle had more than two ends I guess I would be burning those as well.candle-both-ends
But I am so deeply grateful for the privilege of working with our new “Naskapi Language specialists-in-training” (the Fantastic Four) as well as the Naskapi-McGill teacher-training class. Seeing God at work in the lives of so many people here in the Naskapi community is exciting and humbling at the same time.
We know that you will want to remember to pray for each of them by name, but even if you can’t remember their names, just bring the Fantastic Four working on the Naskapi Old Testament to the Lord, and He’ll know who you are asking about. Remember us too, as we have many thousands of miles to travel in the next month or so (and all the loose ends to take care of, and a thesis to write…)

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean


Summer Translation Brief

Our dear Partners,

Greetings from the University of North Dakota where we have been living and working for nine weeks this summer. Bill is enrolled in an MA program in linguistics at the graduate school here, and Norma Jean is serving as the program’s Director of Childcare. Jaiden is still with us and keeping us on our toes as we serve him and his family as his Foster Parents.

By mid-August, we will be on our way back to the Naskapi community in Northern Quebec where we continue to serve their translation and language project.

Some important milestones for our family this summer: We gained a son-in-law at the beautiful wedding of our daughter Elizabeth to Eric Stevenson on July 16 at our home church in Connecticut. It was a wonderful, happy day and God has answered so many of our prayers.

Eric and Elizabeth will make our house in Preston their new home as they begin their lives together.

Bill has made good progress on his Master’s degree in linguistics–Lord willing, two more summers of university work should allow him to complete the program. Meanwhile, the rest of the year we will continue to work on the Naskapi and other related language projects.

This summer Nick also completed his State GED, earning his diploma. We are grateful to all our friends who supported him as he reached this goal. We are proud of him and eager to see how God will continue to lead him in his life.

Finally, in the past few months we have completed some important publication goals for the Naskapi project: The first edition of the Naskapi Lectionary Readings (Year A) which contain a considerable portion of Old Testament Lessons in Naskapi, was published in time to be used in the Naskapi Church at Easter. Also, Norma Jean and Elizabeth collaborated on another Naskapi literacy book “Little Lost Caribou”, which was published simultaneously in Naskapi and in English by Eric and Elizabeth under “Pocket Vinyl Productions”.

In spite of the busy summer, it has been a joy see all our children and our grandchildren again. Ben and Tamika are still in Baltimore with their children Nya and Arion, and Nick is staying in Preston with Eric and Elizabeth.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean

Little Lost Caribou

The newest edition in the Naskapi children’s book series has recently been published: “Little Lost Caribou” is a story of a little caribou as he tries to find his family. He is helped along the way by various animals that also live in Naskapi territory. A great book for children to learn through repetition. The story is by Norma Jean, with brilliant artwork by our daughter Elizabeth. The Naskapi translation was done by the translation team at the Naskapi Development Corporation. These books are published in two editions: One in “Naskapi only” (with an English translation at the end, in an appendix) and the other in a diglot, containing both the Naskapi and English text on the same page. Elizabeth and Eric have published the Naskapi and English version on their “Pocket Vinyl” publications page here:

The Naskapi versions of the books that will be used in Naskapi homes and at Sachidun, the Naskapi Childcare Center, are available at this website:, along with all the other Naskapi books that we have produced so far. Also at this website are the “Big Book” versions of these, 12″ x 12″ coffee-table sized books that are used by schoolteachers to read to an entire classroom of Naskapi children.

We are into our second week at SIL at the University of North Dakota: Norma Jean is director of childcare, Bill is taking courses toward his MA in linguistics and Jaiden is being a pre-schooler. Over 100 other students are here preparing themselves for cross-cultural language development work all over the world. Time to hit the books again.

Blessings, Bill & Norma Jean

Northern Translation Brief 20May2010

Our Dear Partners,

Here are a couple matters for prayer as you think about us. First, just about a week ago Quebec social services placed a small Naskapi boy named Jaiden in our care. Jaiden is three-years-old, sweet, cute and happy; and we have been friends with his grandparents and his mom ever since we first came to Kawawa. At the grandfather’s request we welcomed him into our family because of a crisis in his own family. We speak mainly Naskapi with him, so it is good practice (and at times stretching!) If it becomes necessary, we are prepared to bring him with us to SIL school at the University of North Dakota this summer, but the details are in God’s hands.

Next, regarding SIL school, I (Bill) must leave Schefferville by this Friday’s train in order to travel cross-country and arrive there in time to begin my Masters’ program there. I will be driving alone, and must arrive by Thursday May 27. Any prayers for a safe and on-time trip are appreciated! Norma Jean stays on in Schefferville (with Jaiden) until school is out on June 23, and then flies out to Grand Forks ND to meet me on June 23 and 24. At the SIL school, after she arrives, Norma Jean will be on full-time volunteer staff serving as the childcare coordinator there for the children of other SIL students. Browse an interactive Google Maps version of this map here.

Norma Jean will continue to get mail at home in Schefferville until June 22, and our mailing address through the summer (until the first week of August) will be:

Bill & Norma Jean Jancewicz
2901 University Avenue Stop 8217
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks ND 58202, USA

After summer classes we will return to Schefferville via Baltimore (a visit with Ben & Tamika and our grandchildren) and Connecticut (a visit with Nick and Bill’s mom).

Also, keep praying for the translation team staying behind in Schefferville, especially Tshiueten and Silas, and they continue work on bringing the Good Book to the Naskapi in their own language.

Serving with you, Bill and Norma Jean