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Karen Wilhoit

Serving with
Pioneer Bible Translators

Jme, 1990

Dear Friends,

Four generations of a Susu family

Bonjour! Ca va?

Ini sogana!

Mahimyo! 0 sien le?


Tana mo xi!


These are just of few of the greetings that I used for the past three months in some
of the languages I encountered in West Africa. It was cfuite a challer^e switching
back and forth, first in Ffeli with the French, Bambara and Boarru languages, and then
in Guinea with French and Susu.

Arriving in Africa Yolanda and I left on schedule on the 1st of March and

arrived in Bamako, hfeli on the 2nd. To our surprise there was no one to pick us up
at the airport, i^parently our message to pick us up had not been received. But
thankfully there were about 15 missionaries with Gospel Missionary Union in the

airport seeing one of their members off viho helped us get to vAiere we needed to go
that night.

God was really taking care of us.

The Red Bobo people Vfe met

^ . Rose Nickel in Bamako and travelled about seven

hours through the arid Sahel region to her
village of Sanekuy, near the border of
Burkina Faso.


Around 300,000 Red Bobos live

in this area both in Mali and Burkina Faso,


and there are estimated to be about 8000

Christians. In Sanekuy we spent our time

vrorking with Rose and two African translators,

Shadrac and Mark, reviewing the alphabet,

phonology (the way the sounds in the language are patterned) and grammar of Boomu.
Frcm their knowledge of Boomu v were able to help them in constructing the first

lessons for a primer v^ich can be used in the future to help teach Boomu speakers how
to read. We helped them in planning for the rest of the primers, planning strategies
for training teachers, holding writer's workshops, and building the reading reasources
available to Boomu speakers.

In ^dition to the wcrk, we were able to see much of the culture in Mali and meet
many Africans and other missionaries and see a thriving church in Africa.

We had

the opportunity to fellowship with Rose and her partner Barb and gain a lot of insight
into working in this part of Africa in Bible translation. The Lord really blessed our
time there, and we could see His hand guidir^ us in so many ways.
In Guinea We left Mall March 16 and arrived in Guinea, where we spent the next
two and a half months working with Brad and Estel Willits in the Susu village of
,ttonkifong. I had mentioned in my last letter that John Mark had been seriously
injured in a car accident. We were glad to hear that/after some tests in Italy, he
was able to return to Africa and his health was nearly back to normal.
Literacy planning We worked
almost every day during the week,
learning the Susu language and
writing primer lessons, just as we
had begun to do in Mali, but this

yitime in Susu. By the end of the two

//months vre finished 55 lessons,
( conpleting the primer series in
rough draft and keying it into the
danputer. We also planned strategies
for a literacy program among the S\isu.

jl I was also able to help make 70

jl illustrations for the priners. These
will be able to be scanned by a laser
scanner and printed out with the primer
pages vAien it is time to publish them.
Yolanda vs able to help in editing and

revising the 3rd edition of the Susu dictionary.

The daily grind Besides our

literacy work, we were involved in

many other things. Living in Africa

requires much time just doing chores
such as going to the market and
dishes, pumping water frcm the well,
hauling in water for bathing and
drinking, hanging up clothes to dry
and ironing them all to make sure the
fly eggs that might be laid in them
are killed.
Doing all this vrork and

living on a steady lean diet caused /

me to lose about seven pounds,

whether I wanted to or not.

Learning Susu Yolanda and I also

had time almost every day to work on


learning sane of the Susu language

and establishing friendships with

tbi Ci

I biro.

Sane finished primers lessons

many of the Susu people we met in

Wbnkifong. We found this to be very
important to our acceptance in the

village and to our saisity^^ well.

Though we did not, of course, learn Susu well enough to be experts, vte could get
around rather well after two and half months, and felt a lot more at ease with the


Susu culture As a result of our time spent with the people, we vere also able
to see more of how the Susu live and how they via^ their world. The Susu culture is

predaninantly Muslum; many of the men went to the Mosque to pray to Allah and we saw
many men and women praying at the five designated times a day in front of their homes,
especially during the holy month of Ramadan during the 1 I. part of March and the

first part of April. Most of the people f^ted during dayli^t hours during Ramadan.
This brou^t up sane interesting conversations with some of the Susu about how
Christians pray and fast.

A Christian witness For the most part 1 felt that people were very curio\as

about our Christian faith, and respjected us for our devotion to God. I saw many doors

open for developing relationships with the people and leaders of the village. I saw
how projects such as the medical work that Jackie, Brad's mother does, and Brad's
helping to dig a well for the community, have helped to build trust among the people.

I saw that the Susu, just like any other people, have many felt needs that remain

unmet without the saving knowledge of God's grace through His son, Jesus. So many


times I wanted to gives ansvers to their needs, but felt unable to because I did not
know the language or how to connnunicate the message uniquely to them.
Back in the US During the summer months, now that I am back in Missouri, I
will be doing some travelling to campjs and churches and hopefully working p)art-time.

^iMy next step is to begin looking at options for getting further study in the French //
language so as to improve my effectiveness in working in Literacy and Translation iry
Africa in the future.

Prayer and Praise I am thankful to God for a very successful, safe and
fruitful trip. I know many people were praying and God answered those prayers. My
faith grew as I saw Him work so many things out and open doors that I never expected.
I left Africa with a sincere belief that God truly moves men and nations to the
vrorking out of His will.
Hone address:

Forwarding agents:

Karen Wilhoit

Ron and Patty Oakes

3570 Santiago Dr.

12051 Cato

Florissant, Mo

Florissant, Mo




' ^2 ^Qr)f
Karen Wiihoit

Serving with Pioneer Bible Translators

Dear Friends,

November, 1990

THANKSGIVIN0 - In this Thanksgiving season, even though the situation in our

world looks more grim every day, we still have much to be thank-ful tor. We as
Christians have been given a wonder-ful gift of life and hope through Jesus
Christ. But to many people in this world this hope is unknown. This is true
for the Susu (or Sousou) people of Guinea in West Africa,
A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS - In the seventh century B.C. Isaiah the prophet gave
a hopeful outlook for the region of Galilee in Palestine. As he spoke of its
people he said, "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on
those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Usa.
9; 1 i,2) This light came to them in the first century A.D. when Jesus lived and
"ministered in Galilee, giving a message of hope to its people. But wijX this
Ikpht ever dawn on people like the Susu? The answer in God's word is yes.
As Isaiah continues to speak of the Messiah, he says in chapter 11 that he
"will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him," and
in chapter 25 Isaiah says that the Lord "will destroy the shroud that enfolds
all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death
forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will
remove the disgrace of his people from ail the earth."
Jesus swallowed up death forever when he died on the cross and gave all
mankind hope for new life. But this good news has not yet been heard by ail
people. A shroud still blinds the hearts of the Susu, and the light of God's
word has not yet dawned on them in their land. But there is a Christian
witness among the Susu.

RETURNING TO GUINEA - Today there is a_J;.,eam.of, translators working to

translate the Word of God, the Bible, into the Susu language so they can
understand it. I will be joining the work of Pioneer Bible Translators in
Guinea in January to help in the work of translating the Bible and in

organizing a literacy program so that the Susu can read their own language and

the scriptures.

My _f irgt fgrm will last two tQ__three years, during which time

many things will be happening.

A tentative schedule of the next few years are

as follows:

January 1990

- Return to Guinea, work with Willits family in Susu literacy

and translation, become more fluent in the Susu language

July 1990

- Tentatively go t_o France for six months to become more fluent

January 1992

in French, the national language of Guinea

Return to Guinea, work with three language projects in

literacy planning with Christian Missionary Alliance until
the Willits return from their furlough

Summer 1992

Return to work with the Willits family in Susu literacy and


- Return to the U.S. for. url_ough


FINDING A HOUSE - When I arrivein Guinea, one of the first things that I will
need to do is arrange for housing somewhere in the village of Wonkifong where

the Willits live.

This may invoivs building a new houee for mysel-f and any

queete that came, or re-furbishing a house already built in Wonkifong.

pray that setting up a housing situation will go smoothly.


THE NEED FOR A COMPUTER - Because the work I will be doing will involve
handling large amounts of language data and organizing it in a way that will
be useful for analysis and publishing, it will be necessary for me to purchase
a computer. Please pray that I will be able to raise the funds necessary to
obtain this useful tool.

THE NEED TO STUDY FRENCH - During the colonial period by much of the western
world, France established colonies in West Africa and set up a system of
French government. Although today the former French West Africa is now broken
up into many independent countries each governed by African nationals, the
French language and way of doing things is a permanent feature of this part of
the world. French is the national language of most West African countries,

(including Guinea, and is taught in public schools. Even though most of my

work will be conducted in- languages of the Africans, like Susu, there will be
a need to-use French as a trade language in airports, banks, markets and with
people who do not speak Susu, such as other Africans, missionaries, and

Europeans. There are some 28 African languages spoken in Guinea alone, and
missionaries and other foreigners from countries like France, Holland,
Switzerland, Russia and Lebanon, to name a few, all using French as the common
language for business and trade. I have studied French for the past year on
my own, and have been taking a class with the Alliance Francaise for the past

three months, which has given me a good beginning. But it may be required to
study French further to gain more fluency and be more effective in my

ministry. Therefore, I am tentatively planning to study French, preferably in

France, for six months after the Willits family leave for their furlough.
In a day when we realize we are facing many threats to our stability as a
nation, when there are threats of political disaster and economic recession,
nour courage can easily begin to wane and our hope for the future can become

//uncertain. Let us not forget that God promises that, even though the earthL shall pass away, His word will never pass away.

God's word is the one thing

we can be sure of, and the one thing that we can know will outlast all else.

It has stood up to the test of time, immense political upheaval and cultural

change down through centuries, has copiiH^ued. to ^^_v^t to all peoples of

ail races, cultures and times and will continue to be the only beacon of hope
for a sin-filled world. Should not the Word of God and His Kingdom be our
greatest concern?

In these times when everyone is divided in our nation and in our world over

many issues and we are asked to give loyalty to conflicting interests all
around us, let us remember to whom our primary loyalty belongsto the Lord

Jehovah God, whose Kingdom will outlast all others. Let us not forget our
mission, as the church, to share this hope with other people around us, with
other cultures and other nations.

We must remember that as Christians we have

the only real hope for the world today.

Personal Correspondence:

Forwarding Agents:

Karen Wilhoit

Ron and Patti Cakes

3570 Santiago Dr.

12051 Cato

Florissant, Mo

Florissant, Mo

ZZ w ^ 1