One of my favorite locations in Guam is the Richard F. Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center (MARC), a world-class research center and a United States crown jewel located on the campus of Unibetsedåt Guahan (University of Guam) in Mangilao, Guam. It was there that I went to begin writing an all-too-brief overview of what is, up to the present time, the most important, unexpected, and sacred turn in my life: A participant in the restoration of the 1908 Chamorro Bible.
The plan was simple: (1) Determine the availability and status of the Chamorro Bible in places where religious books are kept: Guam bookstores and public libraries, local SDA headquarters, the libraries of SDA pastors and Bible Societies and (2) acquire the Bible(s).
When the plan was placed into action on August 2001 the basic research proceeded rapidly and quietly. Based on the information coming in, it became clear that the goal should be to get printed copies of the 1908 Chamorro Bible back into circulation: Chamorros have a right to a Bible, Jesus Word, in their own language too. I also realized that to recognize the correct path towards that goal, I needed within a short period of time a clearer picture and a much deeper understanding of the Chamorro culture, Chamorro language, Chamorro secular and religious history, and the history of Seventh-day Adventist activities in the Mariana Islands.
So I went back toand still am inschool. Some of the teachers are individuals directly involved in the Bible restoration phase, others are not. Although they may have had only the faintest glimpse of the projects current scope, they tookcorrectionstill take, the time to answer my Chamorro language, cultural, political, historical, and religious questions.
Here is a brief look at some of the contributions each has made and is making (unless otherwise indicated all participants are in Guam):
Denise P. Hersey, Connecticut, USA: Ms. Hersey, the original 1908 Chamorro Bible Yale University library loaned us has initated actions that will reverberate for the foreseeable future. Thank you and Yale University for loaning it to us.
Guam-Micronesia Mission of Seventh-day Adventists: Pastor Willy S. Nobuo, GMM President, and his staff want to see the Chamorro Bible back in circulation. GMM is using its influence and resources, an example is this special issue of the ISLES, to inform people of this very important project. Pastor Nobuos continued personal support and the support of his office, the GMM officers and staff are much appreciated.
Pastor Eliseo A. Jimeno: Pastor and Mrs. Jimeno have continuously lived in Micronesia since their arrival in 1953. Although retired, as a pastor and GAA teacher respectively, they have helped me understand various aspects of Guams Bible history, the Chamorro culture, and Guams religious history. Their advice, counsel, and perspectives which come from long experience in Gods work are needed and priceless.
Frank Leon Guerrero Taitague: Even though Pastor Taitague, a retired Seventh-day Adventist pastor and former GMM president, is now active in other areas, he has always taken the time to place the Micronesian SDA work into perspective for me. I benefit from his long experience in the SDA work and his intimate knowledge of the Chamorro culture. Pastor Taitague arranged the meeting with Begoña Santos Flores. It was at his and Mrs. Taitagues house, sitting at their dinner table, where that important proofreading session took place. A few weeks ago, I found out that Mrs. Taitague used to freely distribute Chamorro Bibles in Guam.
Murray Cooper: Mr. Cooper was GAAs principal when the then unnamed Chamorro Bible Project unexpectedly arrived. He authorized the purchase of the OCR software used to process the scanned text, he spoke with the GMM leadership about the Chamorro Bible, he signed GAAs first Inter-Library Loan (ILL) form so we could borrow the Bible from Yale University. When it arrived I had it for a short period of time, then returned it to his care and protection until the day we returned it to Yale University.
Begoña Santos Flores: During the optical recognition process (OCR) phase I noted words that the OCR software and I couldnt recognize or if I had the slightest doubt about a word, I noted it to for examina-
ation later. Once the OCR process was finished, Mrs. Flores was the first person to sit down with me and go through the multipage list. Because of that meeting, the Chamorro Bible Project significantly moved forward.
David Babauta Herrera: When the Chamorro Bible is printed it will be a red-letter edition: the words of Jesus will be in red. We can thank Mr. Herrera for the many hours he sat at a table in GAAs computer lab highlighting a Chamorro Bible, generated from the OCRd text, the Bible words that should be red-lettered. Our proofreading sessions were also my Chamorro history, culture, political, and language lessons, during which his love of the Chamorro language and culture was clearly communicated. Im deeply appreciative for his patience, persistence, and dedication.
Josephine Chargualaf Varley, Pennsylvania, USA: On April 16, 2003 ChST Mrs. Varley arrived at GAA to record a few chapters of the Chamorro Bible. It is her voice you hear reading Salmo 8, Salmo 19, and Salmo 23 at www.ChamorroBible.org. These freely distributable audio files represent an important milestone. Publishing the Bible in audio form is a most important way of spreading Jesus Word and a way for people to learn and brush-up on the Chamorro language.
David De Leon Flores, Sr.: I pressed Mr. Flores on Chamorro language issues and usefulness of the Chamorro Bible, listening attentively to his responses. He met my concerns and questions with tact, patience, openness, and directness. In addition to inadvertently becoming my Chamorro culture teacher, he was also involved with the proofreading phase of the project.
Janet Taitano Flores: Searching for a Chamorro Bible, Mrs. Flores called all Guams public libraries and perhaps some other places that Im currently unaware of. Whenever Ive requested a literal Chamorro-to-English Bible verse translation so I could have a better grasp of the quality of the translation, she always provided it. Mrs. Flores great-grandfather, José Mendiola Taitano played an important role in the translation of the 1908 Chamorro Bible.
American Bible Society, New York, USA: Dr. Liana Lupas and her staff sent information from their archives on the history of the Chamorro Bible. Dr. Lupas also resolved a proofreading question that perplexed us. I wish I could say more about the ABS Licensing Department staff, but for now, please accept a heartfelt thank you. Its difficult to overstate the American Bible Societys importance.
Richard F. Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center: The Micronesian Area Research Center is near-and-dear to my heart. The assistance of and materials provided by the professional staff of this priceless research center is deeply appreciated and will not be forgotten.
Congregational Library of the American Congregational Association, Massachusetts, USA: Dr. Harold F. Worthley and his staff provided information about Francis Marion Price, a Congregationalist missionary and translator of the 1908 Chamorro Bible. Dr. Worthleys assistance and permission to publish the information is appreciated.
Two Participants Requesting Anonymity: Thank you for your continuing and important role in the Chamorro Bible Project. [See July 25, 2003 ChST Update]
I finish this article at Guam Adventist Academy, the hub for the restoration project. Jesus has really honored this SDA school by giving it the privilege to cooperate with Him in restoring a Chamorro Bible to all Chamorros. I find it simply remarkable that everything was in place for this project to be where it is today: events, students, staff, technical tools, beautiful setting, the bird choir which sang at sunrise and sunset, telecommunication facilities, and the protection of His Word through two major earthquakes and typhoons.
There are times when I see past the trials, disappointments, failures, and successes, and for brief moments see and feel the grandeur, the nobleness, the sacredness, the continuity, the majesty, and the power of Jesus Word, the Bible: What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path Thy Word is very pure: therefore Thy servant loveth it. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! Psalm 8:4; Psalm 119:105, 140; Psalm 8:9.
Jaye y taotao, para uguaja guiya güiya jinaso? yan lajin taotao para ubinesita güe. Y sinanganmo y candet para y adengjo, yan manana gui chalanjo. Y sinanganmo sengasgas: enao mina jaguaeya y tentagomo. O Jeova, Señotmame: jafa muna mauleg y naanmo gui todo y tano. Salmo 8:4; Salmo 119:105, 140; Salmo 8:9.
July 25, 2003 ChST Update: The names of the two anonymous Chamorro Bible Project particpants acknowledged in this article are Carl Dobrowolski, Licensing Manager, American Bible Society, New York, New York, USA and William A. Fagal, Seventh-day Adventist minister and Associate Director of the Ellen G. White Estate, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.
June 26, 2005 ChST Update: MARC or RFT-MARC: Richard F. Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center. GMM or GMM SDA: Guam-Micronesia Mission of Seventh-day Adventists. GAA: Guam Adventist Academy.