Dear Diary: A Translation Director’s last diary entry in 2017

(As we close 2017, our Director for Scripture Translation, Myles Leitch, shares what the Canadian Bible Society has accomplished through Bible translation work, in this witty, light-hearted diary entry.)


Dear Delirious Diary,

Hmmm, just turning onto Christmas Street here, with another year in the rear-view mirror swinging into view.

Do I honestly feel happy or good about my work as Director of Scripture Translation at CBS? You only see me at my desk, maybe, shuffling papers and answering emails.

How about hosting, with my great colleagues, the first-ever Inuit Bible Translation conference? We invited Inuit Bible Translators from Greenland to Alaska. It was a time of joy and learning, and seeing Suzie from Kugluktuk expressing her delight at the gathering made all the work worth it. We heard Inuit voices all day long. It was a foundation building exercise, it didn’t produce any specific portions of Scripture and cost a pile of money.

Did the CBS board have the vision to fund this event, even though it didn’t have many concrete outcomes? Yes! They got it immediately, and celebrated with us to see Arctic Bible Translation in the spotlight. It reverberated with them. It had a fresh scent of clear cold arctic air about it. It smelled good, like beaver fur at 30⁰ below! Our board clearly saw the importance for our brand, for highlighting our ethos of supporting indigenous peoples in their struggle for justice, peace and the TRUE LIGHT THAT LIGHTETH EVERY MAN WHO COMETH INTO THE WORLD.

Dear dilapidated diary, I’m happy deep down in my soul about that one. The whole CBS team pulled together on short notice to make it happen. Awesome. Zing!

Now, the Inupiaq project in Alaska, that’s another matter. Initially, it was like, “Why does the Canadian Bible Society want to work in Alaska, USA? We’re the CANADIANBible Society, aren’t we?” Questions like that. In fact, we already have projects all around the world, but this is different; in that we are taking the lead role in an international project, designing it and managing it.

Dear disheveled diary, it was amazing really, with solid American partners lining up to get in on the action. CBS and Seed Company are doing the Translation consulting and project management. Faith Comes by Hearing is planning the big task of recording the whole Bible in bits as it becomes ready. Two Alaska Inupiaq local organizations are adding big funding and local project administration expertise. Okay, so we broke the ice with the Inupiaq project. This means, we can lead and serve Bible Translation in other countries, when called to do so. Break the ice above the Arctic Circle… get it? LOL!

The translators in Barrow, North Slope Alaska, say things like this: “We didn’t have any support, we were working on our own, and the Canadian Bible Society came along and pulled up beside us and said: ‘Hey, want a lift?’ We are so grateful for those guys!” I love this project! It has big audacious goals (the whole Bible, published in print, audio, and digital by 2024). It has tight scheduling, 14 good translators working in three teams, in two different locations, wall to wall volunteers, crazy local ownership. It requires a huge amount of planning and coordination.

And, it’s terribly cold in Barrow, Alaska in the winter, so there is adventure too. And lots of honest-to-goodness real Inuit food! My dear, dull diary, you GOTTA try caribou stew, whale blubber, raw frozen fish, fried seal intestines, and goose soup. It’s the real deal, and Inuit friends love to make jokes and get you laughing.

Dear, dusty, dog-eared Diary, I could go on, but I think you get my point. It’s been a great year for the CBS translation team, full of building relationships, experimenting with new approaches, and good old hard work. We travelled to frozen exotic and hot steamy places. We hung out at the beach with polar bears on the Arctic Ocean.

I won’t even mention the bold Punjabi revision project brewing in Alberta, or the tiny Inuinnaqtun Bible translation project simmering away in Kugluktuk, Nunavut. I won’t even mention those because, dear, deadpan diary, I’ve used up all my words! (500 words she said, or 750 if it’s really good!)

Diary, we did lots of beautiful and amazing stuff; you could join us, but we don’t have any openings for diaries just now. Paper is like, so yesterday. Maybe next year?

Merry Christmas D., and God’s peace to you and all those listening in.



About the Author:

Myles Leitch is CBS’ Director of Scripture Translations. Myles has a background as a professional academic linguist and taught at Tyndale University College and Seminary prior to joining the Canadian Bible Society. He also worked as a linguistic consultant and field director in Francophone Africa with Wycliffe-Summer Institute of Linguistics for 20 years.

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