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You’re In A Tin Can

Old tin cans may look cool, but you don’t want to sound like one when you are in the recording studio.  The Scripture recording project in Lumasaaba has been fraught with difficulties.  At first we didn’t have any equipment.  We overcame that hurdle when Audio Scripture Ministries generously donated a new laptop computer, microphone with stand, mixer box, hard drive for extra storage and a sturdy case to carry it all in.  They even hand delivered it to Uganda for us.

Anticipating our next hurdle, Audio Scripture Ministries even arranged and paid for us to be trained on how to use the equipment.  Joshua Ssali of Words Of Hope came to Mbale and hosted us at a resort conference center for three days of training.  He fed us lunch and even brought us home in his vehicle every night.  Our team found the training very helpful, but the personal connection with Joshua as a friend and resource was the best thing to come out of that week together.  Now all we needed was a studio.

Pastor Shem is the ultimate I know a guy, guy.  And he contracted with some men, recommended by Joshua, to sound proof a storage room we have upstairs next to the balcony.  The men did the work and when we checked it, they repaired some areas and left us relatively satisfied.  The studio is now covered with red carpet and foam backing on the walls.  Even the floor,ceiling and door are carpeted.  There is a very comforting sound that comes when you stand in the studio and close the door.  Kind of like sucking out the existence of the whole world.  All the birds stop their chattering, the cows lowing is muted and the air becomes still, just waiting to be filled with the spoken Word of God.

We have been friends with Rev. Milton Eridad Sheesa for years.  He is the one who performed our (Shem and Catherine) wedding ceremony in Uganda.  Rev. Sheesa is one of those guys you are glad to be connected with.  He is humble and exceptionally bright, easy to get along with but takes his work very seriously.  And what is his work?  For the last 13 years he has been translating the Bible into Lumasaaba.  The translations work was tough going, like slogging through mud.  So many dialects to organize and standardize into one orthography.  He even had to develops words that didn’t exist in his mother tongue of Lumasaaba.  He was encouraged when I shared with him that William Tyndale had done the same thing and enriched English in the process.  Both Rev. Sheesa and I were excited to realize that this translation of the Holy Bible would actually pull the language of Lumasaaba from the brink of extinction.  We trusted God that the Words of Life contained in the Bible would bring the people (Bamasaaba) from death as well.  There is something about hearing the Bible in your own language that makes it come alive.

So we had the studio, the equipment and the reader.  We even had the MP3 devices we were going to load the recordings onto.  My brothers church in Kenai Alaska pastored by Steven Brown had donated 90 of them at a cost of $35 each.

All of this preparation had taken some time, but we felt the ground work had been laid and we were finally reading to begin.  Itching to begin.  Chomping at the bit.  What every you want to call it.  We felt the urgency of this project pressing us daily to get it done.  But this is Africa and things don’t happen over night.  We had wanted to begin recording in January just after the translated text had been released.  One thing led to another and April rolled around.  The day came when Rev. Sheesa entered the studio and after a few glitches with getting the equipment hooked up, we heard him read the first words.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Mu khurakikha, Wele aabumba likulu ni shibala.  

I felt like I was being created as well, afresh and anew with a Lumasaaba ear to hear the Word of God.  It was a beautiful moment.  Then, through the earphones, sitting at the recording console, I heard something that didn’t sound quite right.  I let it go, but it only got worse.  Finally I played back the recording to Shem and Rev. Sheesa but they couldn’t hear it – so we kept going.

Keep in mind, I have a punctured eardrum and am slightly hard of hearing and I’m not a native Lumasaaba speaker.  As I listened, a growing feeling of doom settled over me like a cloud.  Something was wrong with the recording.  After five chapters, finally Shem and Rev. Sheesa heard it too.  It sounded, at times, like Rev. Sheesa was reading while sitting inside a tin-can.  The sound came and went, seemingly at random. It was very noticeable and the problem was getting worse as the equipment warmed up.

We tried everything to fix the problem.  We thought it might be feedback from the solar power, so we unplugged the computer and let it run on battery.  The sound was till there.  Rev. Sheesa accommodated us by getting closer to the microphone, standing further away; sitting down, standing up.  We tried it all.  Nothing helped.

Then I had the unsettling realization that it must be the equipment.  I called Joshua and sure enough, he told me he had had doubts about the mixer box during our training.  He promised to look for another one, but where could we find such a delicate advanced piece of equipment in Uganda – and at what price.

So that is where we stand now.  We have contacted Audio Scripture Ministries and are trying to work through the company that sold them the equipment to see what can be done.  Joshua has a sample recording of the problem and he is working on his end to find a solution.  But the months are slipping away and we feel every moment lost is another moment a Bamasaaba is not hearing the Word.  Please pray with us that we can push forward and break through these barriers to see the recording completed.  God has a great work for us to do and we don’t want to fail Him.

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