Wrapping Up

In just less than two weeks, well be back on the road.  Weve grown fond of Grand Forks, North Dakota even though (or maybe because) being here means an incredibly intense workload. Again this summer we have seen God work in ways we never expected, met humble servants who amaze us and teach us about giving and love and relationships.  The SIL instructors are some of the most fantastic people we know.  It has been an invaluable summer.  We are thankful youve prayed for us and that our health has held.  The last two weeks are full of presentations, tests and papers.  Please continue to pray. 
So what exactly have we done here and how will that impact the Japanese Sign Language Bible translation project? 
Mary Esther has worked as a volunteer in the reception office doing things like filling the copier with paper and handling the mail.  Were thankful for this opportunity as it allows a reduced tuition for Mark and Anna.  Shes audited a Second Language Acquisition-Mandarin class which Anna is also taking.
Mark is taking 5 graduate level classes and is pushing the brink on sleep deprivation.  Hes been able to meet others who are also passionately involved in Sign Language Bible translations and this has been invaluable.  Classes this summer have helped with his analysis of a natural text that our translator has produced apart from his translation work. Analyzing this naturally signed (ie, not translated) story will help the translation team recognize more deeply how their language works on the discourse level, and what it is that sometimes makes their translations seem unnatural.
Along with our course load and some translation checking, we’ve also been involved with SIL to work out details of an Asia Pacific Sign Language Multi-Agency Meeting in Bangkok November 20-22, 2007. The SIL leadership knew that ViBi shared this interest, and hasinvited us to co-host the event with them. We are thankful for the opportunity to contribute to other Sign Language translation projects.  They have also given Mark the opportunity to work in Kenya the first two weeks of September as a translation consultant in training. Pray that he will quickly acquire the needed skills and be able to contribute to the Sign Language Bible translation work in Africa. (We are grateful that SIL will be covering those expenses.)
What does the future look like?  We dont expect to need to return for summer school next year. If Mark can finish the distance classwork and write his thesis before next summer, he could make a quick trip to UND for the thesis defense. This would be the easier course logistically. Otherwise, since the SIL profs are scattered throughout the world most of the time, the defense will happen whenever and wherever two or more profs on his thesis committee are in the same place, and Mark can get there too. Right now, his plan for the thesis is to compare the discourse structures of ViBi’s translation work with that of natural Deaf (signed) literature.

About Mark and Mary Esther Penner

Mark works as an adviser and resource to a Japanese Sign Language Bible translation project that plays a key role in the worldwide sign language Bible translation movement. Mary Esther founded a non-profit organization that partners with local communities and organizations to collect, refurbish and send wheelchairs throughout Asia.
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