Friday, November 17, 2017

Roma and Sinti . . . Recording for Roma and Sinti

 How many languages can you sing in? These kids sing in at least three:  Calderash, Sinti, and German. They live in Germany. Calderash and Sinti are both Romani languages they speak at home.

They recorded songs in their home languages to put on a bilingual CD of Bible stories. Their songs split the Sinti version of the Bible stories from the Calderash version.

The tall girl in the middle is the one who inspired all of this. Her mom started reading her Bible stories at bedtime. In German. When she was about the age of the short girl, she asked her mom for a Bible stories in her own language.

Soon there will be a tuneful bilingual CD to go along with the colorful bilingual Bible story book.  Keith's little assistant will be able to hear herself singing those stories in her own language. Or maybe I should say her own languages?

Saturday, November 11, 2017


Recording the part of Jesus in London
Last Sunday we had a mini-harvest festival at our Dutch church. Several people told stories of thankfulness and harvest. This is the one Keith shared.

Sometimes we don't immediately see the fruit of our labor. Back in 2002 I went to London to record the JESUS film in a Romani language we call Western Kalderash.* This Romani language is spoken widely in Western Europe and in North America. 

All versions of the JESUS video are available on the Jesus film website. The website includes the four other Romani versions (one I also recorded), and 1500 other languages from around the world. But recently I discovered that 3 1/2 years ago someone also put the Romani versions on YouTube, where more people can find them. On YouTube we can also see exactly how many people watch a video. One Romani version had 1000 views, another 5000, and another 8000. The Western Kalderash version that I made in 2002 has had almost 30,000 views in 3 1/2 years. (It topped 30,000 this week.) That is more than 23 people per day harvesting a seed that I planted 15 years ago.

*I sometimes refer to it as  Russian Kalderash. Their ancestors sojourned through Russia and still have words of Russian origin in their language.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Laundry is Not Fair!

When do you do the laundry?
We start every week on Tuesdays.
First step is sorting the laundry.

Then we carry the first load up the stairs to the attic (yes, the attic). Our water-saving front-load washer will take 1 1/2 hours for this load of "darks" on cold. Whites, even on the energy-saving setting of 60° C (140° F), take closer to 3 hours.

Next, we'll hang them out to dry--usually inside. As is typical in many Dutch homes, the drying racks hang over the steep, slightly spiral stairwell.

We do have a drier, but only use it for towels and emergencies. Air drying is better for the environment, the energy bill, the clothes, and our sinuses.

Does this seem like a lot of time and trouble to you? It doesn't to me. You see, on Tuesdays, I often think of our Roma sisters in Moldova.

One lady we visited recently was also doing laundry. She lived in this new house on the edge of the village.

She said she would really like to have a washing machine since doing laundry by hand for all five members of the household was difficult.

I wondered whether she even had running water connected to her house.

And, even if she did, would she be able to pay for the water and electricity a washing machine would take? Would there be room for it in the house?
Was there room for five people in that house?

I think of this woman, as I hang up my own laundry in a well-insulated house with central heating as well as hot and cold running water, all of which we can easily afford. Life is not fair. Laundry is not fair.

But one day she and I may sit down to the same banqueting table dressed in spotless clothes which we will never have to launder!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Three Generations Read One Story

This past Friday Keith had a unique recording experience. He has been working with a Romany church in Germany to record a bilingual children's Bible story book. It all began with this girl. When she was just a toddler, her mother read her Bible stories at bedtime . . . in German. She asked, "Mama, "Aren't there any Bible story books in our language?" Her mother spoke one language; her father another; the child was fluent in both.

Her mother started pasting translations into Romani into German Bible story book. Her grandmother (left) suggested actual translation project. Wycliffe/SIL Bible translators provided technical assistance.  The book has been printed. Now grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter are reading the stories for a CD so that many more children can hear . . . in their own language. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

One Lord, One Faith . . . not yet One Language

Olesea, helping me talk with
Romany sister (in Romanian)
The communion of the saints--the church I grew up in recited this phrase nearly every Sunday as part of the Apostles' Creed. The mission organization I work with now views community as so important that this is one of our mission commitments (see below). Last week in Moldova I saw a beautiful example of cultivating community.
Virginia, their
Romany translator
Usually, when I am there, someone translates the worship services from Romanian for me--the pastor's wife Olesea or a young person like Dana. This helps me be participate in the faith community. But what happens when a Romany pastor preaches in his own language? A Romany woman from the pew behind Olesea and Dana leaned forward and translated for the translators.

Dana, our translator
We cultivate communities of reconciliation and hospitality that serve as instruments, signs and  foretastes of the Kingdom of God.
We bear witness to the gospel through words that invite faith in Jesus and actions that embody the way of Jesus.
We seek to transform systems that suppress the capacity of individuals and communities in order to recognize, claim and celebrate the God-given gifts of all people and places.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Naaman Takes a Bath

These are the kids who heard that first "One Story" translation. They are making a Naaman puppet to remind them of it. The puppet takes a dip seven times in the Jordan River. The second photo shows SIL Roma Service Group guys acting out the story while it is being told in Romani (they understand enough Romani to know what to do when). Here the King of Israel is reading the letter Naaman brought from the King of Syria. King Israel is about to rent his (royal trash bag) robe. And behind Naaman (the post-it notes are his skin disease) you'll see the Jordan River that the actor
is going to dip in seven times. 
The children learned that God has the power to wash us clean. Naaman had to wash seven times (2 Kings 5). We only have to ask Jesus once. 

The kids counted outloud in their own language as "Naaman" dipped down:
  • 1 – yek
  • 2 – duy
  • 3 – trin
  • 4 – shtar
  • 5 – panj
  • 6 – shov
  • 7 – efta*

*Taken from 

Monday, October 9, 2017

One Story - Translation Made Easy?

Do you know a great story teller? This Roma woman is a great story teller. I find her entertaining--and we don't even have any languages in common. And even though she finished 11 grades of school, I suspect she would rather hear a story than read one. This is partly why the Wycliffe/SIL folks who are joining me in Moldova are going to do a trial translation project involving storytelling. They will work with a couple of people, like this lady, to translate several Bible stories into the local language. Then these storytellers will retell the stories in public--a women's Bible study, a mid-week church service, a children's gathering.
This approach has a lot of advantages. First, of course, is that people love to hear stories. Secondly, this particular Romani language has no standardized spelling system. Throw into that mix the fact that this woman would rather read Latin letters (like you are doing now) but prefers to write in Cyrillic letters (which I cannot do--can you?).
I'm looking forward to hearing the results!