Monday, December 26, 2016

Swahili Book of Mormon report #1

Trip report to Kenya to finish the Swahili Book of Mormon translation, 2006 Frank Frye

Left MCI in Kansas City Nov. 25 at 9:05 a.m. and had a six hour lay-over in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis to Paris flight was nearly 8 1/2 hours long, most of which took place at night at an altitude of about 39,000 feet.

There was cloud cover over most of the North Atlantic. As we flew over England just before dawn, we came in over the northern part near Scotland and down over Manchester. Could see the lights—some very clearly as distinct orangish lines—roads lit by the sodium vapor lights, and some areas as an orangish glow through the thin clouds.

While deplaning this morning at Paris, I met a young man and asked him if he was returning to Kenya. He said no, and that he was from Somalia, which is north of Kenya on the Indian Ocean. I felt an immediate repulsion, as the only thing I've ever heard about Somalia is that it's people are vicious and brutal pirates who capture merchant ships and hold their crews for ransom and even murder some of them. Then I felt ashamed for judging him based on such limited information. The people of that nation also deserve to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The airport at Paris was the most inconvenient airport I've ever experienced, perhaps due to the fact that I had less than two hours as a layover and perhaps due to my inability to speak French. There must have been at least a thousand people in a huge area, all being funneled into a half dozen check points where luggage was X-Rayed and every one was required to empty pockets and carry-on baggage, remove belts, etc. I could find no one at first to answer questions, and when I finally found someone how to reach terminal C2, they just said go out that exit in the far corner of the huge room that I had just crossed to get to them. I went back in that direction retracing my steps only to find that there was a kind of line about four people deep that apparently started back near where I spoke to the lady who told me to "go over there." There was no way to get out of that far exit except to retrace my steps again and search for the beginning of the so-called "line" of four people deep.

I finally just blended in to the group way back near the beginning and stood in that "line" for another hour, wondering how far it was to terminal C2. It was unusually hot and people were fanning themselves and looking for a place to sit from heat exhaustion. I had already taken off my jacket and sweater. Finally I saw a man in a uniform who had come to check on our "line" and asked him if I was in the right line and showed him my ticket. He said yes and turned away. About fifteen minutes later and about the same number of feet forward in the line, I got his attention and asked him again if I had enough time to get to terminal C2. He looked again at my ticket and looked a little flushed, and told me to follow him. We cut across several of those airport barriers that funnel people in zig zag fashion toward the X- Ray machines and across a couple of the doubled back "lines." He took me to the front of the line and told me to remove everything electronic from my carryon bags (hard drives, electronics, etc.), empty my pockets and take off my belt. In the hurry, I had missed something in my computer case, so I had to return through the check point to take care of that. When I finally got my things back and my belt back on, he said to "run through that door."

There was a long corridor that snaked around to the terminal where we then had to wait for a bus that arrives about every ten minutes. Terminal C2 was not close. When we finally arrived, signs were scarce and I finally discovered that my gate—C87 was about a quarter of a mile—up an escalator and way "over there." I ran as fast as I could for between five and ten minutes dragging my computer case behind me and when I finally arrived—totally out of breath at C87, the boarding area was completely empty as the departure time had come and gone. Seemingly all the passengers had boarded. When I finally found my seat and got my carryon bags stowed, we waited another fifteen minutes for "some other passengers who have arrived on another flight that was late." After the door was closed we waited another fifteen minutes while someone was working on the "brakes." All of this caused me to rethink my future plans about riding on Air France or going through the Paris airport ever again.

The brakes situation made me remember the last flight that I left Nairobi on at about 1:30 a.m. in 2014. As we finally boarded the jumbo jet walking out to it on the tarmac, I saw an opportunity to take a quick photo of the stairway and the tail fins of the giant airplane with my iPhone. Weeks later when I downloaded and analyzed the photos, I discovered that there was a huge corroded crack surrounding the tail fin on the left side of the plane near the stairway up to the door. It was too late for terror, but not too late to thank the Lord for a safe trip.

On this flight, I had asked the travel agency to book me a window seat on the left side of the plane, hoping that I might see the coast of Italy on the way south as I did on a previous trip coming back from Kenya northward. An hour or so later, I looked out of the window and was instantly dazzled by a range of completely snow covered, very jagged mountain peaks and glaciers. It was the Swiss Alps. I'm sure I saw the Matterhorn. It was just an awesome sight! Like a thin spire of pure white ice sticking up among the mountains. I hope that the pictures turned out. Looking out of the window and then back and forth at the map on the seat in front of me, taught me a lot about the geographical layout of Switzerland and later Italy. As the Alps were left behind the snow disappeared. Our flight path took us right down the middle of Italy. Much of the land was mountainous like I've seen in Oaxaca, Mexico from the air.

The passenger to my right was a very pleasant young lady—I mentally assessed her age at 25 and it turned out to be right. She spoke very good English unlike the gentleman to her right—he only spoke French and remained silent the whole trip. Her name is Chiara Dallarosa. She explained that she is from Vicenza, Italy, which is near Venice. I shared with her the purpose of my trip and how in 1992 Pam Agwanda had written me a letter inquiring about the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ and that she was in Nairobi awaiting my arrival. I asked her if she had ever heard of the Book of Mormon, but she answered in the negative. She is a Roman Catholic who lives in Italy, and knows nothing about other Christian churches. I explained that it is a book similar to the Bible, but is the history of God's dealings with His people in the Western Hemisphere and how Jesus Christ had visited and taught them shortly after he left his disciples in Jerusalem. She seemed to show an interest in that. So I asked her if she would be willing to do me a favor and learn something at the same time. She asked what it was. I told her that I knew of two manuscript copies of the Book of Mormon that had been translated into Italian but had never been proofread by anyone else that I knew of. I then asked if she would be willing to take a look at part of the manuscript and perhaps help us to proofread it in the process of

publishing it for the first time in Italian. She said that she would do that, so we exchanged email addresses. Who knows what will come of that discussion? She was going to Kenya to do some social work in some small villages. I told her that I would write her when I got back home to Missouri.

Saw the northern edge of northern Africa as we finished crossing the Mediterranean Sea. The land was a sandy tan stark, barren emptiness. No trees, no crops, just a vast, barren desert. During the next hour and more I could see some waves of dunes. Then a thin cloudiness veiled all that was below.

Looking down over the great desert of northern Africa shortly after flying over Khartoum. The main feature below is a great river that we seem to be following. According to the map in front of me, it is the Nile River that flows out of Lake Victoria which lies between Kenya on its north and east, Tanzania on the south, and Uganda on the west.

It is 4:30 p.m. Central European Time, but our flight plan sends us eastward as we go mostly southward. It must be closer to 6:30 p.m. at this location because the sky is darkening and the reddish golden sun is going down on the other side of the plane. The air is hazy, but it is obvious that there is a patchwork of agricultural fields below. They probably depend on water that is pumped from the Nile which is still visible toward the eastern horizon.

The screen on the back of the seat in front of me says that we are traveling at 39,000 feet and just on the other side of the window the outside temperature is -67° F. Our speed is 560 miles per hour. We have already traveled over 3,100 miles from Paris in 5 1/2 hours. It is still about an hour and 45 minutes until we land in Nairobi where I will be met by Brother James Yogo at the airport. He and some other brothers took me to the airport from his home in 2014 when I last left Kenya. I will probably spend the night with his family and be met by Pamela Agwanda tomorrow.

It is nearly dark outside now and I can see lights below that seem to be following the edge of a river or a lake for short distances and then stop. Another in the shape of a spear. The map does show some lakes down there. They must provide the water to survive in this parched land. The map also says that Addis Ababa is nearly straight east of here, but too far away to see. It is the capital city of Ethiopia, the country that borders Kenya on the north. My laptop dictionary tells me that it has an altitude of 8,000 feet—something I had never expected.

The pilot just announced that we are flying over Nakuru and that we will land in about fifteen minutes. Nakuru is a small town between Nairobi and Kisumu. It is famous for the beautiful game preserve that I got to briefly see in 2010. He also announced that we are crossing over the equator and that it will be rather chilly at Nairobi upon arrival. The jacket and sweater have been very helpful so far on this trip, as airplanes can get pretty cold, especially at the window seats.

After arriving at Nairobi, going through customs, I met a young man his small son who are from Grandview, Missouri. Imagine the "coincidence" of that! We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to get together when we both get home.

Paid $50 USD in cash for the Kenya visa. It is for three months only, but can be extended. The visa application required me to swear that I would not seek to find a job while here. Hmmmm, strange that the US government does not do the same for the myriads of people who come across our borders every day.

Found my luggage without any problem. James Yogo, an Elder from Nairobi met me outside the terminal and took me to put the luggage in his car. Then he took me to exchange some dollars into Kenya shillings (98 to one there). He then took me home where his wife had a supper meal for us. It was close to midnight.

Sunday morning, instead of going directly to Nairobi to start working on the translation as I had expected, I was taken to church where I was asked to teach the adult class and preach. I knew some of the people from 2014 and Pamela Agwanda (Eric Odida's wife) was there also. It was decided to go on to Nairobi tomorrow (Monday), in a car that they had instead of on the bus. That afternoon, after church and lunch, James took me where I could get a haircut and to look for a King James version (KJV) of the Bible.

While speaking with James and Ruth's 15 year-old daughter Grace earlier after church, I discovered that her school required her to purchase a Bible for one of her classes. Kenya, being a Christian nation, still teaches the Bible in their public schools. However, the only Bible she was allowed to purchase was a Revised Standard Version (RSV). The RSV is one of the older corrupt bibles that was published first in the USA in 1952. Many of the translators of that bible were not even Christians. It has mostly been abandoned in the USA in favor of other more "modern" versions, however they are all based on similar if not the same corrupt Greek manuscripts such as the Vatican Manuscript. Only the King James and the Inspired Version are not based on those corrupt manuscripts.

I showed Grace and two of her cousins some of the more obvious flaws in the RSV and suggested that she look them up in a KJV. Then when James took me to town, I discovered that KJVs were nearly impossible to find. Apparently the publishing company had made some kind of a deal with the Kenyan government. I'll bet that they got a new copyright for that outdated version and someone is making the money off of their sales that would not be possible with the KJV. KJVs have no copyright and cost less, so there is less profit. Now the children are growing up being forced to use a Bible that is of a seriously inferior quality. I finally found a tiny pocket KJV in Kisumu the next week and bought it for her. I will give it to her at the youth retreat next week.

Monday Nov. 28th we made the seven hour trip from Nairobi to Kisumu by car. We previously shipped our heavy suit cases by bus to Kisumu in order to save the springs and shocks on the car because of the rough roads. We only saw one small herd of zebras on the south side of the road.

Since the five of us started working on the review of the Swahili translation over a week ago, we have been working on an average of 14.2 hours each day. We take an average of about two hours off for meals each day. Once in a while we take thirty minutes to rest after lunch. We are working in a two story house in the town of Kisumu. Each of us has a small bedroom and there is a patio and a very small kitchen and a dining area that also doubles for a second work area for one of the committees that is doing a preliminary review on certain chapters that need more work than others. There is a security guard at night in the patio.

The work is proceeding slowly as we begin and are quickly learning ways to save time. More men will be arriving next week. It is a real joy to read and analyze each verse of the Book of Mormon with these brethren. Today we reviewed 2 Nephi chapter 9 which includes —among many other wonderful prophecies about the Messiah, His virgin birth and coming kingdom—the quote from Isaiah 9:10–11 that is explained in the book "The Harbinger." I am keeping careful notes in a clean copy of the Book of Mormon as we work. One of the parts of the work is, after reviewing each chapter, we carefully paste the final text into the publishing layout of the final material that will be used to print the Book of Mormon in Kiswahili.

The men who are currently working together here are Eli Okecha, the pastor (a Priest) of the Kisumu Restoration Branch. Eli is a construction contractor here in Kisumu. Mishael Onyiego (an Elder) who lives in Kisii, which is about a two and a half hour drive from Kisumu toward the south in the direction of Tanzania. Duke Nyakweba who is a business associate (and cousin) of Mishael. Duke is currently the pastor (a Priest) of their branch in Kisii. They have a shop where they make and sell artisanry that they create from soapstone. Bernard (Ben) Ogolla (a member and a Teacher) came from Nairobi several days ago to help us at the request of Eric Odida. Ben is a teacher in middle school in Nairobi. He teaches Swahili, the sciences and English. We anticipate that several other men will arrive within the next week to expand our help in getting the Swahili review finished sooner. I will keep you posted regularly now how the work is proceeding. Mishael just today helped me set up a hotspot with his cell phone so that I will be able to send and receive emails on a regular basis. That will save me from having to leave the work here to go downtown to look for an internet cafe.

Each morning and evening we pray for our families, the work we are doing and the welfare of the church in Missouri and around the world. I have had almost no time to write anything since we started the review here at the guest house. We are up at 7:00 AM every day and usually do not get to bed before 11:30 to 12:00 pm at night. Tonight we stopped an hour early at 10:00 pm because it was Eli Okecha's birthday. His wife Trufena serves as our cook and another young lady (Pauline) helps her every day.

It looks as if this will take longer than I had originally planned, but we believe that our translation will be better than any of the other Kiswahili translations that have been previously done (LDS, Temple Lot & Bickertonite). We have felt God's Spirit each day in our work. We pray for you all each day and ask for your prayers.

Frank Frye 

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