Autumn 2018 Newsletter on the Yakut project

Russia is big, and the difference in time between Moscow and Yakutia (Sakha Republic) is six hours. I asked our Yakut translator Sargylana about her most recent translation news after she had completed a week of working with the translation consultant at the IBT Moscow office, and during our talk I was surprised to hear that she was getting up at 4 a.m. every day – in Yakutia it was already 10 a.m., and Sargylana didn’t want to get used to Moscow time. However, after a long work day and inevitable household chores in the evening, she was going to bed according to Moscow time, which left her just 5 hours for sleep. But such is her amazing dedication that trying to persuade her to take better care of herself seemed useless.

Summer 2018 Newsletter on the Tuvan audio project

As Ulyana Mongush talked about her work, she was wearing a sunny, bright yellow Tuvan-style dress. It was a dismal, grey Moscow day, so I couldn’t but cheer up as I looked at such beauty, and it turned out that her choice of clothes was not accidental: “In Kyzyl, the capital of Tuva, we have very hot summers and very cold winters. In winter we heat furnaces with coal day and night, since the central heating doesn’t help much. The whole city is filled with terrible black smog. It’s unreasonable to wear anything white, since by evening your clothes will be black with soot. But I'm a teacher, and I see my task as inspiring my students. So in winter I go to work wearing something bright on purpose, in spite of the soot. So I’ve brought you a ray of sunshine as well.”

Spring 2018 Newsletter on a Caucasian project

“To tell you the truth, I’m not a professional ‘man of letters’. But one day I got an ardent feeling, which turned into a burning question in my mind: why doesn’t my native people have its own writing system?”

This is how Elisha (we’ll use this Biblical pseudonym for him) started the story of how he joined one of the Bible translation projects in the Caucasus. In our conversation, Elisha struck me as very eager to help, but equally reluctant to talk. His affability struggled with his firm determination to remain incognito, and only after my assurance that his name would not be revealed did Elisha start speaking at ease. His words proved to be a heartfelt testimony to the sense of responsibility and generosity so typical of the Caucasian cultures. During our half-hour interview, I was a total stranger who needed Elisha’s help, and he showed himself to be a most hospitable host who introduced me to the very best of his culture...

Winter 2017-2018 Newsletter on the Balkar project

...Neither Alim nor any of his relatives believed that his life could be restored. All that followed resembled the story of the prodigal son. Alim’s liberation from the abyss of sin and despair, subsequent reconciliation with his family, and total restoration occurred in several stages, but the very first glimpse of hope was given to him by another native speaker of Balkar, one of the few existing Balkar Christians, who by God’s providence visited Alim’s prison in the early 1990s and addressed him in his mother tongue...

Autumn 2017 Newsletter on the Khakas project

Galina, a member of IBT’s Khakas Bible translation and audio recording team began her story: “In the past, this is how the Khakas funerals looked. The body of the deceased relative stayed at home, and his relatives called for a khaidzhi (singer of heroic ballads). The khaidzhi accompanied himself on a seven-stringed national musical instrument, called the chatkhan. This instrument is a matter of pride for the Khakas because we are the only Asian people who managed to preserve this instrument through the ages, though in antiquity it had been common for all Asians. So the khaidzhi sat down at the head of the deceased and started to sing heroic ballads to him or her in order to help the soul as it transitioned to the other world. People gathered around and listened attentively. When they heard something funny, everybody laughed; when they heard tragic episodes, they showed sympathy for the heroes of the ballad; in any case, the audience would always comment on the narrative in some way. Nobody was supposed to show grief and shed tears at the funeral because the departed was “returning to his true home...”