It was Friday the 9th of June in the afternoon that we said to each other: 'What a relief that we could bring Anna (a visiting co-worker) to the bus station this morning. Surely we cannot leave the area any time soon after all this rain. Let's hope nothing happens.' That night Jurgen woke up with a terrible pain in his stomach and back. When he also started to show symptoms of bowel obstruction we were truly alarmed and decided to ask for an evacuation. At the beginning of the afternoon on Saturday a helicopter took Jurgen to a hospital in the capital.
Half a week later Jurgen was released from hospital after minor surgery. A large kidney stone was removed from his urinary tract and later that week he passed a smaller one naturally. A friend took him in and, after regaining some strength, Jurgen came back home after two weeks. We were all still very impressed with what had happened, but a week or two later Jurgen was his usual self again: ready for work!
However, for the translation of the Bible stories, Jurgen is dependent on Menja, the local school teacher. He speaks both official Malagasy and the Tanala dialect. He translates the stories from Malagasy to Tanala, after which Jurgen and he go through each and every story in detail checking the content against the Bible and making sure the stories are easy to understand. When Jurgen was well again Menja was very busy finishing the school year, and after that he became ill for weeks.
Halfway through July we had only one week left before having to return to the capital for supplies and paperwork. We were somewhat discouraged and felt we had accomplished little. We noticed that our friend Menja, although recovered from sickness, also seemed gloomy. He told us he was not able to visit his family for lack of money as he had not been payed his wages for seven months!
We suggested Menja we would pay him for every Bible story he translated. He did not agree: he liked helping and between friends no wages should be payed. 'How would you feel about a gift for every story you complete?' we asked. His face broke into a smile. We soon agreed on the size of the gift and half a week later he had completed the whole first set: we now have 40 stories to work on! Unexpectedly we left our village quite content, and Menja was able to leave the next day to visit his parents.