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30 Oct – Pastor Samuel, one of the translators being presented with his copy of the Monkolé Bible. It was the first time he had seen and held the final product.
It was special to see Hilary again (one of the OT translators) who returned from France for the dedication.
Dear Friends,

Ilu hunde fei ku saabu Aɔ̃ Lafɛ̃ɛ. I saabu Aɔ̃ Lafɛ̃ɛ ŋa
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD! (Psalm 150:6)

It was a great delight to join with colleagues and the Monkolé church on 30 October to dedicate and celebrate the publication of the complete Bible in the Monkolé language. Work began on the translation almost 40 years ago with the New Testament published in 2007. When I first arrived in Benin in 2012 the team had just finished checking Exodus and Ruth and Pastor Samuel was working on the first draft of the Psalms. How precious to finally hold a copy in my hands and to know that the Monkolé church can now read and hear verses such as the one above in their heart language. Thank you for praying for this project over the last 9 years and more recently in relation to the shipping. The 2000 copies arrived on time and passed smoothly through customs.

The dedication took place in Pèdè, about 3.5 hours north of Parakou. I travelled up with 5 colleagues early on the Saturday morning. It was held on the mission compound just outside the village due to Covid restrictions, but was still well attended by church members and leaders from various denominations, government representatives and even the King of all the Monkolé land. The team’s translation consultant Pierre shared that there are 34 Monkolé villages in the region, but only 3 with a Christian church or presence. Pray for the 31 remaining villages, that God’s word will reach into these homes as well and for courage to openly speak of God’s goodness and plan of salvation.

The three OT translators and their consultant.
The choir singing ’Praise the Lord, we have the whole Bible!’.

Studies complete!
Since 2016, I have been slowly chipping away at a Master of International and Community Development (cloud-based through Deakin Uni in Melbourne). In exciting news I submitted my final research project at the end of September and have now completed the course. I won’t miss the extra workload, but have enjoyed many aspects of the learning, especially as it relates to our local context. Development remains full of paradoxes and dilemmas, but it has stretched my thinking and sharpened certain ideas and approaches.

Noy nyaamirta wakkati maa?
This is the title of a Bible commentary or study guide (160 A5 pages) that a young member of the UEEB Fulani church has recently written in Borgu Fulfulde. Literally translated it means ‘How do you manage your time?’. It is based on Ecclesiastes and seeks to challenge young people to be aware of or invest in their own spiritual growth. Over August and September we were able to help with the typesetting and initial printing of 200 copies. Nicodème drove the whole idea and was well supported by the Fulani church leaders and pastors.

3 Sep – Nicodème and Elie working on the typesetting of his Bible study guide in Borgu Fulfulde.
2 Nov – The final booklet.

Out and About
Benin weathered a spike in Covid cases over August and September but things seem to have settled down again with little day to day impact. Vaccinations are now widely available, though uptake is low (officially <3% early Nov!).

I attended a funeral not far from Djougou towards the end of August, celebrating the life of a Lokpa pastor and previous director of their Bible School. He had health issues, but his death was still unexpected. Pray for his wife and five school-age children and the Lokpa church. It was a touching moment when a number of his old students (all now pastors) gathered and sang around his coffin.

Comings and goings are definitely part of mission life and over the last couple of months we have farewelled four long-term colleagues, but also welcomed two short termers from Germany. Nathalie, our local accountant also starts maternity leave at the end of this month. We’re thankful that Rejoice has agreed to help us in the short term (see photo).

Finally, I was thankful for a timely break in France over October. It was lovely to catch up with a local church and friends in the area and enjoy some good books, great food (especially the cheese!) and long walks.

Thanks for your ongoing prayers and support.

With love,
Sil

28 Aug – The crowd at the funeral of Jean GUIDEME (Lokpa pastor).
17 Nov – Catching up with Nathalie and Rejoice in our office.

PRAISE & PRAYER

Give thanks for the recent publication and dedication of the complete Monkolé Bible. Pray that it will create momentum in terms of encouraging people to learn to read and that people will be transformed through the hearing and reading of God’s word.

Our church partner, the UEEB, have recently employed an accountant. This is an encouraging and significant step. Pray that Dina will settle quickly into the role and be open and able to develop their systems. Pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to grow and encourage each of the UEEB language groups.

I was thankful for an out-of-country break over October. It was physically restful but I’m still feeling somewhat drained after a demanding couple of years. Pray for wisdom as I make decisions around the timing of my Home Assignment in 2022 and for people to provide cover in our office.

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