We’ve had a rather stressful last couple of weeks. Our car was in the shop in Arusha for two weeks, and while Viggo was in Arusha his stuff was stolen out of a friend’s car. That included one of our laptops, but fortunately it was the old one. Not having a car meant that we were limited in the amount of language work we could get done, especially since Viggo was in Arusha much of the time ‘babysitting’ the car. Now, having only one computer to work on is also limiting, because while we are at home most of our work is on the computer, and now we can only work one at a time. But, we have all been healthy, Daniel has been sleeping through the night, and we are really looking forward to my parent’s (and Sam’s) visit. They’re coming Oct. 6th, and they’ll be bringing our new laptop with them. We finally have a table and chairs now, which was the big excitement for the week. Daniel’s nanny, Mama Elia (who also helps with chores) is taking very good care of him, which makes it possible for me to do a bit of work. She comes to the house and watches him for a few hours in the morning and puts him down for his nap while I work.
We made a trip out to a village last week and recorded some Mbugwe stories, riddles, and songs, which we can now enter into the computer and use for language analysis. Between the sun and speaking Swahili all day, going out to the village is really exhausting. We always have mixed feelings after a village visit. We would love to live in the village in order to be closer to the Mbugwe people and fully experience their language and culture. However, we’re not sure how much of that experience we could really cope with on an every-day basis, and still get any work done. At least for now we are very glad to live in a comfortable home and have some privacy.
This Friday we have a “mini word-gathering workshop”, where we will meet with a group of Mbugwe to gather a long list of Mbugwe words. Then we will have lots of work to putting them into the computer and analyzing the individual sounds. The mother of Mama Elia (Daniel’s nanny) has helped us to organize this meeting. She has some clout in the village because she was the wife of the last chief of the Mbugwe. However, she is apparently also well-known as a radical Christian. She said that when she went around the first time to ask people to come to the word-gathering workshop, many said no because they were afraid she was just trying to trick them into getting saved by some missionaries.
Next week we will be meeting with a Catholic priest to discuss how the Catholic church can help partner with us in the language project. We try to work together with all of the churches in the area, and there are many Mbugwe Catholics. If we neglect relationships with the churches, then they may not support our work, and the Mbugwe Bible produced could end up being very unpopular among Catholics, for example. If we cultivate relationships with church leaders, then they may be willing to help us in a variety of ways throughout the course of the project. Relationships are very important here, as is flexibility.