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Return to Zambia!

March 25, 2015

It’s official! At 6am on Tuesday, May 12, Chris will return to Zambia to begin our second term of service with the Nsenga Bible Translation Project. Janine and Sean will follow after Sean’s school year is over.

Look for more details in our soon-to-be-released Spring Newsletter!

Engaging with Scripture

February 17, 2015

This is a great little video produced by Lutheran Bible Translators that helps answer the question, “OK, so you are translating the Bible into a new language. What comes next?”


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

December 22, 2014

Greetings to all our family and friends, and those who are supporting and praying for our work with the Nsenga Bible Translation Project.

It’s hard to be away from Zambia this Christmas, missing our friends and colleagues there. But it is a blessing to be “home” for the holidays, and also encouraging to know that the project is moving forward even in our absence.stockings

We are looking forward to our return to Zambia to continue full-time translation work in the late spring.

In the meantime, it is our joy to visit our stateside supporters and update them on our progress. With God’s blessing and your help, the Nsenga New Testament will be dedicated in June of 2016, and translation work on the Old Testament will begin even before that milestone date.

Please enjoy our Christmas newsletter, with thoughts about living “In Two Worlds.”

We are grateful to all who support and pray for our work, and we are looking for about 30-50 more people to join our “team” of financial partners who can make regular contributions to fund our work in Zambia to bring the Word of God to the Nsenga people.

If you are able to make an ongoing contribution to our work, or would like to make a special donation to the project, click on this link. A recurring gift of only $19/month keeps us in the field for one whole day each year!

Thank you for your support and prayers.

With love,

Chris, Janine, and Sean Pluger

Master’s Degree

October 23, 2014

Chris has just finished the last of his coursework, begun in 2009, for a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics from GIAL in Dallas, Texas. Coursework included classes in descriptive grammar, phonetics and phonology, discourse analysis, NT Greek exegesis, translation theory, field methodology, cross-cultural teaching, and other electives. His thesis, which he successfully defended on October 9, is now posted online.

Click the link to read Translating New Testament Proverb-like Sayings in the Style of Nsenga Proverbs.

Below is an outline, for those who might not want to read the whole thing:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction and overview of the thesis
  • Chapter 2: A survey of some relevant academic literature, including identification and translation of proverbs
  • Chapter 3: Defining a “proverb-like” saying in the New Testament, with many examples from the Greek
  • Chapter 4: An overview of Nsenga grammar
  • Chapter 5: Analysis of Nsenga proverbs (grammar, topics, sound patterns)
  • Chapter 6: Translating NT proverb-like sayings into Nsenga, using local-language proverbs as models
  • Chapter 7: Testing and review of sample translations
  • Chapter 8: Summary and suggestions for future research
  • Appendix A: 270 Nsenga proverbs, with translations, explanations, and grammatical glosses
  • Appendix B: A list of 74 New Testament “proverb-like sayings”
  • Appendix C: Reviewer responses

    Chris, with other GIAL students, sharing sweets and a study break.

    Chris, with other GIAL students, sharing sweets and a study break.

There is no way Chris could have done this work alone. As the proverb says, “Kakumo kamo nthakotola inda” (One finger cannot pick a louse). Thank you to all who have supported Chris in his studies, especially those Nsenga co-workers in Zambia who helped him understand and apply Nsenga proverbial wisdom to the ongoing Bible translation project. We pray that some of the work done for Chris’ thesis might help to improve the Nsenga New Testament project.

Fall update

October 10, 2014

It’s been a long time since the last update, but we hope you haven’t forgotten about us. The whole family is now settled (temporarily) back in the USA. For our furlough, which should run through Spring 2015, we will be based in Fairborn, Ohio. Right now, though, Chris is in Dallas, Texas at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics, putting the finishing touches on work toward his Master’s Degree.

Catch up on our latest news, including back-to-school updates and a lot of “quirky” Nsenga proverbs in our latest newsletter: Plugers’ Fall Newsletter. Also, stay tuned for a detailed report on Chris’ MA thesis and our upcoming speaking schedule. We hope to see many of you very soon!

One more week

July 14, 2014

In one week, I will be getting on an airplane for the first time in three years and leaving Zambia for my first furlough.

On the one hand, I’m totally ready for it. First of all, Janine and Sean have been gone for four weeks, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them waiting for me as I come out of security at Dayton International Airport next Tuesday. Also ice cream.

On the other hand, I’m really not. Everyone says that the “reverse culture shock” is much harder than the regular culture shock. I really like my life and work in Zambia, especially the seemingly-slower pace of things, and I’m not looking forward to every aspect of American life. There are some things I’m not looking forward to getting used to again – things that I don’t really want to get used to.

All in all, of course, it will be great. Friends and family and English-language church services and restaurant food that’s actually fast and air conditioners and snow and ice cream and root beer and this “high-speed” internet that I keep hearing so much about…

Some people have asked if we still need financial support while we’re on furlough. The short answer is, “Yes!”

First of all, though we will be getting some R&R, furlough is not “vacation.” I will be working hard to finish my Master’s Degree, and we will also be doing a lot of traveling to connect with churches and supporters around the country who have made possible all of our work these last three years, all in the hope of returning to Zambia as soon as possible to continue the translation work.

Secondly, living in the US is (probably no surprise to anyone) actually more expensive than living and working in Zambia (even though gas is $7.50 a gallon here, and a stick of deodorant costs $10), especially when you include those much-anticipated plane tickets back to the US. So we actually need slightly more money while we’re on furlough than we do when we’re on the field.

To those who support us and our work in Zambia – thank you! To those who are interested in becoming a part of the effort to translate the Word of God into the Nsenga language for the first time – click around on this website for more info. To everyone who is interested in our work – see you soon!

In the meanwhile, enjoy our Summer Newsletter, containing amusing anecdotes, some details on our financial need, and a bit of shameless self-promotion!

The Tenth Anniversary of My Thirtieth Birthday

June 30, 2014

Today is my fortieth birthday. Perhaps more significantly, it’s the tenth anniversary of my thirtieth birthday. I’m not just saying that so I can avoid talking too much about being 40, although there is a bit of weirdness associated with being as old as I remember my dad being when I was a little kid.

So what was so special about my thirtieth birthday? Well, 30 June 2004 was the day we had our final party for the Mexico mission trip – you know, that “one last” time you all get together to swap pictures and stories, tell the inside jokes again, play “remember that time?” eat some culturally-appropriate food, and commiserate a bit about how weird it is to be back at home. MEX04

Even though I’ve traveled outside the country with other people’s kids ten times as a group leader/chaperone, there’s (still) something special about the 2004 Mexico trip. That was the first time Karen let me lead a group all on my own. And although I fell far short of being the mature, responsible chaperone I should have been, no one was very seriously injured (sorry, Meredith), everyone made it back home (much to their chagrin), and the Good News was preached to the poor. It was, to say the least, a very special experience.

And the MEX04 party just happened to fall on my 30th birthday.

I use a trite, cliché phrase like “very special experience,” but I should really just call it what it was: life-changing. That trip was the thing that really made me start seriously thinking, “How can I make the other 50 weeks of my year more like the two weeks when I’m dong stuff like that?”

Peru 2004Coincidentally, the other trip I went on that same summer gave me the answer to that question, but I didn’t quite put two and two together right away. That August, I also went to Peru with another six high school students, teaching Bible Stories in Spanish at rural congregations in the mountains. It, too, was an unforgettable experience, one that solidified everything I had begun to suspect about myself during MEX04. One of the places we stayed in Peru was a compound owned by Wycliffe Bible Translators – did you hear that? Bible Translators – but my first reaction was “Wow. That’s cool. But there can’t be too many languages left without Bibles. They must be nearly done…”

It took me another year to figure out that no, “they” don’t really have that almost done yet, and there are still thousands of languages without even a single verse of Scripture. And another fair bit of time to get myself in a position to be able to do something about it.

But the seed had been planted. The MEX04 trip had changed my life – or at least, it had changed me – and now, exactly ten years after that party, with the peanut butter tortillas, endless quotes, remembrances, stories, a soundtrack, commemorative t-shirts, and a silly powerpoint presentation, here I am in Zambia, serving full-time as the exegete and translation advisor for a project to translate the Bible into a brand-new language for the first time. Wow.

Sometimes the Lord works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, he chooses to use completely ordinary ones. Today, as I celebrate 40 years of God’s amazing grace and mercy, I’m just happy he chose to use me for some of His awesome plans.

Thanks to all of you who have been a part of my journey all of these years.

Nope. "They" still don't have that done yet...

Nope. “They” still don’t have that done yet…


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