8 Jul 2013

Volunteering at Wycliffe

Two weeks ago, I volunteered at Wycliffe's national centre in Kangaroo Grounds. Wycliffe is a non-government organisation which translates the Bible into languages that have no written Bible. 

Wycliffe was founded by an American named Cameron Townsend in 1934 after a mission trip to Guatemala where a native Guatemalan man asked him "Why doesn't your God speak my language?" when he was distributing Spanish Bibles. He named the organisation after John Wycliffe, who translated the Bible from Latin to Old English in 1382. Priests and other members of the Catholic Church at that time, thought he was starting a cult. 

Figures about languages in relation to the Bible (2013):

Section                                Number of languages
Complete Bible                  around* 518
New Testament (only)       around 1275
Some scripture                   around 1005
Currently in progress         around 2075
None                                    around 1967

Altogether, there are around 6877 living languages. *Around because linguists have discovered some languages are dialects and vice vera. 

Day 1. 
When I first arrived, I had an open mind, and didn't know what to expect. I was taught the basic history of Wycliffe; what its goal is and about EQUIP training. Later that day, I did a basic language class which included learning to pronounce different sounds in the international phonetic alphabet (such as clicks, the Indonesian 'p' sound as well as the 't' and 'd' sounds found in Indian languages), doing language puzzles and a language understanding game, where I was taught the names of objects in a language (in this case, Northern Tanna) but not allowed to verbalise the name. Then, I had to  show my understanding by picking up the object the teacher called out. At the end of the day, I helped set up a conference room and set out towels, soaps and letters in the guest lodges. 

There was a heavy fog on the morning that I arrived at Wycliffe National Centre

Wycliffe and EQUIP national centre

Wycliffe's plan to translate the Bible into every language
World map wallpaper which I couldn't stop looking at throughout the week
A - Z of New Zealand

Jessica (who is on work experience) and I doing a language game.

There were many rabbits around the area. 
One of my jobs was to set up lodges for foreign visitors. 

The views from Kangaroo grounds are great! 

Day 2. 
On my second day at Wycliffe, I had trouble finding my way around the area. Luckily my supervisor taught me a technique to remember where each building was: use something in the garden as a landmark, she said. So, I chose the spider web in the round-about tree near the building to help me remember where my point was.

I helped move old Bibles from the library to the classroom because of renovations. It was interesting comparing the decorative differences in the Bible covers. Bibles in languages like Greek, Russian and Ukrainian had quite decorated covers, while the Yiddish, German and Hebrew Bibles had a more formal cover with 'The Bible' or 'Holy Bible' written in calligraphy and most Bibles in Pacific or African languages had a plain simple covers. 
The spiderweb was my landmark.
Ancient Hebrew scroll 

I found it interesting how yellow the sunset was.
Day 3. 
On Wednesday, we did some gardening, then I helped tag and test electrical equipment (mainly power cords and fans) which taught me basic information about how they work (before then I had no idea). Towards the end of the day, I scanned documents in the finance area. 

Scanning documents
Coloured map of Indonesia
Waiting area with various tribal/islander souvenirs

We put plastic sleeves around the baby plants so the rabbits and kangaroos won't eat them.

Day 4. 

Thursday morning, we finished gardening, then i went to a farewell meeting which felt like a church service because we sang Christian songs normally sung at church. Rob (who was leaving Wycliffe) talked about his time there and why he and his wife were leaving. For lunch, we had a barbecue, which gave me another opportunity to cook. Then, I spent the rest of the day scanning more documents.

Day 5. (Last Day)

Because Friday was my last day at Wycliffe, I was allowed to interview some staff about what they do there. I learnt about their work and why each job is important. Then, we finished up scanning documents. Jessica who another student volunteering and I actually scanned one-third of all the documents in that area. I gave my supervisor a gift and a thank you letter for allowing me to volunteer there. 
I taught Jessica how to write basic words in Korean. 
One of the areas where I interviewed staff. 
The Network Minister showed me one of the servers they have
Goodbye photo

Overall, my experience at Wycliffe was insightful and taught me great deal regarding missions, language and culture. I would like to go back to Wycliffe someday, hopefully to study.

For fun, here's a language puzzle that I did at Wycliffe:

Lotuko language (Africa) —
1. Idulak atulo ema. = The man planted grain.
2. Idulak atulo aful. = The man planted peanuts.
3. Abak atulo ezok. = The man hit the dog.
4. Ohonyo eito erizo. = The child ate meat.
5. Amata odwati sari. = The girl drank water.
6. Ohonyo odwati erizo. = (Try to figure out what it means)
7. How would you say "the child drank water" in Latuko?
8. How would you say "the dog ate peanuts" in Latuko?

Please write down your answers in the comment section. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

Please have your say and write a comment.

Comment rules:
#1 Please write something relevant to the post.
#2 Please don't include a link to another webpage unless receiving permission from me.
#3 All offensive or mean comments will be deleted.