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Nigeria Map with Oregon Overlay
Oregon Size overlay with Nigeria

Oregon Size overlay with Nigeria

Where is Nigeria? How big is it relative to Oregon?

  • Oregon is about 1/4th the land area of Nigeria.
  • Oregon has a population of almost 4 million, whereas Nigeria has almost 180 million people living there.
  • Oregon has around 24 indigenous people groups, not including immigrant or colonial populations.
    Nigeria has around 300 indigenous people groups, not including immigrant or colonial populations.
Nigerian Sunset

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Contributions can be given online via Wycliffe’s website at: wycliffe.me/patersons

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Early this past Friday morning we received a call from our colleague David in Nigeria.
We never know what to expect when we see that +234 Nigeria country code on the phone. Often the calls are very brief, a greeting through loud static on the line. A lot of “Can you hear me?” and having to repeat yourself. Friday was different. The call was crisp and clear, and it brought us very welcome news.

David, who currently lives in Florida, is in Nigeria on a one-month visit. He took along with him a paper that Becky has written as part of her linguistic studies. (Remember how we went to Nigeria in 2013 and Becky presented a conference paper on the way home? That paper was published in December 2015.) David works in translation checking with several different language groups including Ut-Ma’in.

David called to tell Becky that he had an “ah-ha moment” when reading her paper. During the translation process, the back translator* was not using past-tense in the middle of the story. This was obviously of some concern, but it was not known what to do about it, or if it was a personal style choice of the person doing the back translation. David’s “ah-ha moment” was when he read the part of the paper which says that past tense only occurs on the first few verbs of a story. The rest of the verbs do not use a past-tense marker; they have the same form as a present tense verb – even if they refer to an event in the past. (Send us a quick email if you’d like to read the paper for yourself.)

Reading Becky’s analysis of how the verbs work in Ut-Ma’in brought a great deal of peace and understanding.

We praise God that Becky’s Ph.D. work:

  • is not just affecting people around her here in Oregon, but also those halfway around the world in Nigeria.
  • is not just improving her skills for some future work in Nigeria, but is impacting translation activities right now!

* Back translation is a process where the translated materials are given to a third party (or team member who did not do the translation), and that third party then ‘translates back’ into the first language. For instance, if Hugh were to translate something from English into Spanish, then a colleague – Alejandro – might take the Spanish version and translate it back into English. Then we might look at that second English version for clues on where to make the meaning clearer in the Spanish version so that the versions in both languages communicate the same thing.

Katja Patersonová

Some of you have asked for photos of Katja. Hugh has uploaded some photos of Katja to our website.

Minutes after birth

We missed the 9/10/11, we missed the due-date, we missed 9/9/15 and 9/10/15.

But we nailed 9/11/15.

Born at 1:25 AM in Oregon. A baby girl, who weighed 8lbs, 6 oz, (~3.79kg) and was 21 inches (53.34 cm) long.

Her name is Katja Ailsa Patersonová.

It’s kinda like Katja is a supernova, but all Paterson….

Becky was a trooper, pushing through the first natural birth in both of our families since our grandparent’s generation. (Hugh’s mom had all C-Sections, and Becky’s mom had all C-Sections, and all of our mothers’ children who have had kids have all had C-Sections. – I guess that makes our family sound like a bunch of cut-ups…) Both baby and mother are healthy.

Just incase there was a bit of confusion… we have a baby, not a puppy.

A baby not a puppy

This is a puppy. Katja is not a puppy.

Friends in Kukum

The members of the Ut-Ma’in translation team have communicated to us that before they continue with translation, they really need and want literacy in the community. That is, it is their perception that if translation continues without people reading, they are not going to get the community support needed to finish and successfully use the translation. These team members have also communicated that they want literacy before the Bible comes because they want everyone in the community non-Christian and Christian alike to learn to read. They do not want the activity of reading to be perceived by non-Christians to be a “Christian” activity. We trust that Hugh will be able to give a boost to this literacy need while we are in Nigeria for Becky’s dissertation research. We are not exactly sure what form that will take at this point.

We are excited about some news from a coworker. A church in the US is partnering directly with the Ut-Ma’in translation team in order to facilitate the publication of the translation of Acts. This would be the second book of the Bible published for the Ut-Ma’in people; they currently have only the Gospel of Luke. Please pray for good communication in the process of getting this out to the people.

Keys at the new house.

Starting with prayer

We got the keys!!!!!!!!!!

Dear friends,
June 9th we finally got the keys to the new house. We were excited to get things started regarding repairs, cleaning, etc. This put us about 2 weeks behind schedule (and yes, we are still feeling the impacts from this late start).

In the midst of this transition, we wanted to start things off right. We invited local friends to stop by the house to thank God for his provision and to pray with us for God’s continued favor and blessing on this new house. About ten people from church and our church community group stopped by throughout the week to pray with and for us. We were truly blessed. We desire our home to be a place of sanctuary, blessing and ministry for any and all who come through the door.

On June 28th we moved things to our new house. There was a gracious showing of friends from our small group here in Oregon, and even some of Becky’s fellow students. Some of the ladies from our small group helped Becky clean the rental in which we had been living so that we could turn over the keys on June 30th.

Thank you to those who prayed for the negotiations with the seller. Please consider taking a moment (perhaps right now) to thank God for his continued provision! We’d love to know that you took a moment to pray for us and our house adventure today. Our new address is at the bottom of this email.

Answered prayers

Also, thank you to those who have continued to pray for Nigeria, for the elections earlier this year and the handover of the presidency on May 29th. All went much better than most people expected. There are still many reasons to pray for the people of Nigeria and the many complex problems they face on a daily basis. Please continue with us in prayer for this diverse place. We hope that we’ll be in a place with family life and funding to be in Nigeria for Becky’s dissertation research as early as Apr/May 2016. Looking ahead, we hope to spend at least 6-9 months in Nigeria in 2016/2017.

Comings and goings…

Hugh leaves on July 9th for the University of North Dakota to work with his thesis adviser and move closer toward finishing his Master’s degree. Then on August 7th Hugh flies to Glasgow to present a paper at the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. This conference is held every four years and can be very influential in the world of linguistics. Hugh has a chance to present his research on the need for an updated way of writing tone (pitch). As tone is a crucial part of many of the world’s languages, we are hopeful that his ideas will spark dialogue to help improve the methods currently recognized by the Congress.

Becky will be in Eugene throughout Hugh’s time away. She is now 32 weeks pregnant. The baby is growing well, has already turned, and is kicking… a lot. Pray for Becky as she adjusts to the realities of the third trimester, keeps unpacking and manages two repair projects on the new house. She has a great support network through our church and friends in Eugene, and Hugh’s sister, Moriah, will be headed to Oregon shortly to spend several weeks helping Becky while Hugh has to be away.

Your turn…

If it’s a boy should we correct the mis-numbering of the Hughs? Hugh is the third, but if we are counting correctly, he should be the fourth. (Both his dad and grandfather were named junior). If it’s a boy, should we name him Hugh IV (the fourth) or Hugh V (the fifth)????

But… if it’s a girl… should we give her the last name Patersonová or just Paterson? Your thoughtful insight to these naming dilemmas is highly welcome. As you can tell, Hugh is adamant about finding an appropriate suffix for the name of his first child.

Hugh and Becky

Shoes

Yes, this is an announcement. We are excited to announce that we are expecting our first child in September. Becky has been recently acquainted with morning sickness… and juggling her teaching and research load. Thanks for praying with us through this time! No, we don’t yet know if the baby is a boy or girl, but all doctors’ reports are of a healthy baby.

Below are some praises and prayer requests related to this anticipated arrival and the months between now and September.

Praise Points

  • A healthy baby!
  • Significant ease of pregnancy symptoms now that Becky has reached the second trimester.
  • God’s provision for our needs!
  • Good health insurance coverage for all baby related medical care.
  • Success for Becky’s Fulbright funding application in passing the preliminary rounds of the competition. See related prayer request below.
  • Significant progress for Hugh on his MA thesis and an official notice from the University of North Dakota that he is still eligible to complete his degree this summer.

Prayer Points

  • A healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby!
  • God’s provision for our monthly financial needs.
  • Wisdom regarding buying a house. We have been looking for a house to buy as mentioned in our news in December. We have made several offers on various properties, but have not had any accepted by the sellers. Eugene has a very competitive housing market for the size/price house that we would like.
  • A larger space. Since Hugh works from a home office and we have a baby on the way, our little two bedroom house will become rather cramped come September. Pray with us for the right space, whether that be renting at a different location, finding the right house to buy, or some other creative way to fit in the space we have. Our current lease is up at the end of June, but we must make a decision by June 1.
  • Wisdom regarding timing for a return to Nigeria.
  • Preparation for the soon to be parents.
  • A peaceful transition of power in Nigeria. The president-elect is scheduled to take office on May 19, 2015.
  • Favor with the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board who will decide on Becky’s funding application by some time in June. All of the paper work is in. We can only pray expectantly. This funding would cover most of our travel, equipment and research costs for 9 months in Nigeria, making her Ph.D. dissertation possible.
Shoes and Date

Coming September 2015

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Above: Group photo – 46th Annual Conference on African Linguistics. Spot Hugh in the top right, next to a man in a blue shirt; Becky didn’t make the photo as she was setting up for the evening event at the time of the photo.

Recently we were asked these two questions. Perhaps you have been wondering the same thing…

What is your top priority for this coming year?

Working from a base in Eugene, Oregon, we aim to support the work of language development and Bible translation around the world. Hugh works with the SIL International’s Language Program Training Department doing continuity business planning for training programs, communications strategies for training, and curriculum delivery to people who are working in Bible translation. Becky’s focus is developing as a linguistics consultant and supporting the ongoing development of the ut-Ma’in language (Nigeria) by continuing her research on the language as part of her Ph.D. program in Linguistics.

We hope to return to Nigeria in early 2016. The political situation is tenuous and we appreciate your prayers for wisdom in the timing of our return. Praise God with us for the relatively calm presidential election that was held on March 28/29, the public concession of the incumbent president, and much less violence following the election than the last round of elections in 2011. As one BBC article states:

This is a hugely significant moment in Nigeria’s turbulent history. Never before has a sitting president been defeated in an election.

We are also praying for the first peaceful transfer of power on May 29, 2015.

What’s something that you have been up to recently?

Last week we both presented at the 46th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (ACAL). The conference was hosted by the Linguistics Department here at the University of Oregon. Becky was one of the student organizers and helped with planning and registration.

Becky helping at the ACAL registration table.

Becky helping at the ACAL registration table.

Hugh was on tech support for the three day conference. Here is a link to a brief article about the conference from the SIL.org webpage. There were about 150 participants from all over the world. Hugh presented: African languages: Assessing the text input difficulty, based on the research for his MA thesis. Becky presented: The associative phrase in ut-Ma’in, based on research she has been conducting this academic year.

Thanks for partnering with us in this work. We have some more news to share in a few days, so be sure to check for Part 2 of this Spring Update. And a happy and blessed Resurrection celebration to you this Easter.

-Hugh and Becky

Hugh Presenting ACAL 46

Hugh presenting at ACAL 46: African languages: Assessing the text input difficulty

Becky with Keith Snider at ACAL 46

Becky with her former MA adviser from the University of North Dakota, Keith Snider. Keith traveled down to Oregon from British Columbia, Canada. It was nice to reconnect.