While we were in North Carolina, we really wanted to go to the JAARS headquarters. JAARS is an acronym for Jungle Aviation and Radio Services, and JAARS is affiliated with Wycliffe Bible Translators, who we visited while we were in Orlando (if you haven’t read about our wonderful Wycliffe experience, you can go to that post here). (Oversimplified) Wycliffe does/supports the actual translating, JAARS helps with the technology and transportation logistics.
Founded by Cameron Townsend, just like Wycliffe, JAARS started as a single hangar built on a donated piece of land, intended to assist in getting bible translators on and off their service fields. It has grown to include many forms of technical assistance for translators, as well as still providing transportation assistance to translators and missionaries.
JAARS is located just south of Charlotte, NC, and offers a free tour every day at 9:30am. We drove 2 hours to make it to a tour; we ended up being late thanks to extensive interstate construction through Charlotte, but we were still able to join in for most of the 2 hour long tour.
This is the lobby in the W. Cameron Townsend Building, where we met for the tour…the painting on the right side of the picture is of Cameron Townsend… We all assembled in a meeting room for a presentation and explanation of what JAARS does for bible translations, including some lessons in why and how. The kids participated in a voice over, using the Jesus movie again, like we did at the CRU (Campus Crusades for Christ) tour we took after our Wycliffe Orlando experience. The kids passed a mic around the room and each spoke a different, alternating part, and the volunteer taught them how she goes through and makes their voice over ‘fit’ and sound as realistic as possible.They talked about heart languages again, and I was glad that we had learned about them at Wycliffe; the kids already ‘got’ that part, so they understood much more of the role of JAARS. After our talk in the main building, we did a short walk to 2 other building on the campus. Our first stop was at the tech building, where staff answer phone/internet queries from translators on the field. We also learned about the different technology that assists the translators. Thanks to computers, Bible translations take half the time they used to, and there is not the same risk of losing all your language work as before. Where there was once the risk of losing everything (on paper) to fire or flood, getting the technology (including remote access to the internet) to back up that information has meant that work is safe, and also accessible to others. JAARS offers tech support for translators to help them with many issues, from language help to computer technology problems.
Our next walk was over to the hangar…. JAARS has many different airplanes to use with the transportation of translators, missionaries, and printed and electronic copies of the Bible translations.
They no longer use float planes, but this one hanging off the ceiling used to be utilized to fly translators in and out of remote areas.We actually went to JAARS Twice!!! The first time we went with our new friends, the Harpers (well, mine and the littles’ new friends – Vaughn and the bigs have known the Mr. since last year when they met in Shuqualak, MS during a tornado cleanup). We had already made reses to go on the tour (requested for groups – many times our fam qualifies as a ‘group’ )…so we just took them along! Here are all the kids (that were with us, both fams have grown ones)… the kids all got along great once they got over their shyness (bigs); those little girls were instantly BFFs. lol.
JAARS has 2 museums onsite. The one we went to first, the Mexico Museum, took about half an hour. Cameron Townsend spent many years in Mexico, helping the Mexican people; the time he spent there is the focus of this museum. In fact, when the then president of Mexico first met Cameron, as Cameron was teaching natives in a small village to read and garden, the president asked Cameron if he (pres) let other Americans like Cameron in, would they also help the people like he did? Cameron and he became good friends. The president even gave Cameron money for a car to assist with his efforts (which is now in the museum), and Cameron and his wife stood up in the president’s wedding! (it was a cool story/tour – lots more details than I wrote…) on her tiptoes (and on a stool!) ;) The Mexican museum was interesting – the volunteer that was staffing it was very knowledgeable and gave us a thorough tour even tho we only had half an hour to spend in there.
Then we walked next door to the other museum, The Alphabet Museum. Don’t let the name fool you. Sounds incredibly boring, I know. But it was anything but! It was actually very interesting!
And there was so much packed in there – now I understand why the receptionist at the main building said to save a minimum of 2 hours for the Alphabet Museum! LOL! The Alphabet Museum covers from the first writing systems, to current times, and explores languages all over the world. We went twice because when we went the first time with our new friends, Vaughn didn’t go – he had volunteered to help shuttle some vehicles to the Samaritan’s Purse yard since they had finished up the ice storm cleanup in Burlington, NC and it was time to bring all the equipment back to SP (he has a Class A CDL).
Since we thought it was so great (and we felt like we didn’t have enough time to really see it the first visit), we drug Vaughn down to JAARS on our way out of the state (because 2 hours each way is nothing when you don’t know when you’ll be on this side of the country again!).The museum covers language groups from all over the world.
From ancient writing forms, like Egyptian Hieroglyphics (the kids loved this station, where they could stamp out their name in the hieroglyphics)…
to the first movable type printing press, to (one of our personal favorites), more recent languages, like Gullah…We thought it was pretty funny to find a Bible printed in Gullah. Gullah is a language (and culture) that was created by slaves in the lowcountry of Georgia and North Carolina. We learned about it our first year of travel when we visited Boone Hall Plantation and attended a presentation in Gullah.
We really enjoyed both times, and the volunteer that gave us our second (and much longer because we had more time!) tour, was very knowledgeable, and really great with the kids!
There were several activities for the kids (or adults ) to do throughout the museum, like this one in the Chinese language section, where you matched up Chinese writing with the object in the picture that it stands for.The JAARS headquarters tour and museums were a unique and interesting look at Bible translation, and a perfect supplement to what we had already learned at Wycliffe. If you will be around Charlotte, NC, look them up and make the time to visit. You’ll be glad you did!