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Archive for March, 2013

Home Sweet Home

I praise the Lord for helping me to complete my 10-week trip to Asia and the Pacific and that I arrived safely with all my luggage around midnight on Tuesday. Though there was snow on the day I arrived in Grand Rapids, it was apparently removed in time, because I had no delays. It’s so nice to be back home! Today I was able to finish unpacking and got through all the mail that was waiting for me. Quite a pile! I have spent the past three days catching up on things that were set aside while I was gone. I’ll be back in the office on Monday morning.

I preached at a Falam Chin church on Sunday. I had preached here back in 2009 when I first went to Myanmar, so it was good to see some familiar faces. I spoke with the pastor and found out that he had recently come to the US. The main difference he noted (that he didn’t like) was how few people he saw along the streets. He said he much prefers the crowded streets in Yangon that are bustling with life. He said it makes him feel so much more at home to see all the people out and about. I told him that the busy streets are one of the things that I had a hard time with in Myanmar (that and the powerful–and not always pleasant–smells as you walk along the sidewalks). I much prefer the clean, quiet streets of my little Grand Rapids suburb. Anyone walking out on the Jenison streets now is crazy, or they love the cold! Speaking of which, I thank the Lord for giving me some snowfall on Wed and Thurs. Though most Michiganders are ready for the snow to melt away and not come back until next winter, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the large flakes descend lazily down upon the other snow that has already accumulated. I connected with the neighbor family that shoveled my snow for me while I was gone. It sounds like there were many opportunities for shoveling, because the “bill” is fairly high (though quite low compared to a professional service)!

My next overseas trip won’t be until September when I’ll be going to Africa again. It will be nice to stick around in the US for a few months!

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Nearing the end

I’m finally rounding the corner and heading into the homestretch on this 10-week overseas trip to 5 different locations. I enjoyed a short (too short!) weekend last weekend with my supporting church in Singapore. I had originally planned on being in Singapore for a week, but that got cut short because of the missions conference in Guam. I’m very thankful to have been a part of the missions conf in Guam, but I wish I could have spent more time in Singapore. It was encouraging to see Joshua Wong’s humble leadership of that church and how God is blessing.

On Monday I arrived in Myanmar. The first two days involved meeting with various people to get caught up on people and things in our projects here and to make decisions on how to proceed. On Wed and Thurs I worked with the Tedim Chin to help them complete the last bit of material that needed consultant checking. Now they are in the stage of editing and formatting to prepare for publication. They want to dedicate their NT in Feb. 2014, but there’s much to do. In order to achieve their goal, they need to finish their part of the work and submit it to the publishing department by June or July. Pray that they will accomplish this, as the people have been waiting for many years for this revision of their NT. We have already begun work on the OT, but it will be many years before that will be complete.

Today I spent most of the morning preparing for a “mock consultation” with a consultant in training. He’s helping the Hakha Chin project today, as they try to prepare their NT for publishing, so our workshop will have to wait until Sunday. So, this gives me time to get caught up on correspondence. I plan on relaxing most my remaining time in Myanmar and the one day in Bangkok, but I do have a meeting with a Tedim Chin leader on Sat and will be speaking in a church on Sunday. Please pray for me to finish strongly! I’m thankful that the Lord is giving me enough energy to complete this last week of this trip!

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Update from Today

This week the translation team for the Tok Pisin NT have begun translating the NT into Tok Pisin! The training finished up well last week. I praise the Lord for what He enabled us to accomplish in just two weeks. I marvel at how well things came together that last week, and I know it’s in answer to your prayers. 25 men were present for all or parts of the workshop: 9 became members of the Sponsorship Committee (the administrative committee for the project), another 9 (some are on the previous committee too) became members of the Read-and-Review Committee (the committee responsible for making the translation clear, natural, and beautiful in Tok Pisin), another 5 made up the translation team (representing 4 different provinces in PNG, which is important since there are dialect differences in the various provinces), and 5 were designated as “local readers” (working individually to check for the clarity, naturalness, and beauty of the translation).

The men showed real enthusiasm and commitment to the task. They produced a vision statement for the project: “To produce a conservative translation of the NT in Tok Pisin that is accurate with the original Greek text and is in clear, natural, and beautiful Tok Pisin that will be used for years to come by people of any age, educational background, province, or denomination.” They committed to spend every Tuesday in prayer and fasting for the project. Some pastors have already expressed their church’s financial commitment to the project, and others will soon be doing so. Pray for us to get 20 churches committed financially.

Pray also for the translation team as they begin their work. They bear the main brunt of the load for this project. I was particularly stirred by the chief translator’s comments as we secured his commitment to fulfill that role. He said with tears in his eyes, “I see that God has prepared my life for this.”

Last Friday I began to travel to Guam, arriving late on Sunday night. I leave tomorrow for Myanmar. I praise the Lord for refreshing my heart with this good missions conference in Guam. God is doing some wonderful things on the Micronesian Islands, and Harvest Ministries has a key role to play. I’m thankful that I can input my knowledge of translation work so that Harvest can more effectively help with the many, many translation needs in this region of the world.

Pray that the Lord would continue to sustain my spirit. I am quite “road weary” as this is the 9th of 10 weeks overseas. I’m looking to the Lord to restore my soul and help me to finish strong!

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I had very poor internet access in Goroka, partly because it was so expensive. So, I didn’t spend the money to update my blog. Here’s the update I sent out to supporters through my email program on Feb. 22:

I was unable to send out an update while I was in Hoskins, PNG, because I couldn’t use my Outlook program, where I keep the Supporters email group. I was there for three weeks. Last Thursday I began the trip to Goroka, but my email capabilities have also been limited here, partly because someone apparently stole our modem when we were in town on Monday trying to get it set up.

God abundantly answers your prayers concerning the Kaulong NT workshop in Hoskins. My goal was to finish 65 chapters. We didn’t quite hit that high goal, but we got through 59. That required beginning at 8 AM each morning and working until around 6 PM each evening. On Saturdays we would try to work at least half a day. I needed to spend a couple of hours each evening trying to get more material ready, so that we wouldn’t run out during the workshop. I didn’t fully realize how tiring the pace was until my trip to Goroka. I slept on each of the two flights and slept another 9 hours the first night I stayed in Goroka! But I praise the Lord for how He helped me and the translation team to get into a good rhythm up there, though we had a somewhat bumpy start. Now my co-worker is trying to finish up the remaining portions of the NT, and then he will begin the quality checks to prepare the NT for publication sometime next year.

God has exceeded my expectations in the way He has answered prayer for this Pidgin training workshop in Goroka. Around 20 men from various parts of the country have come together with great enthusiasm and a desire to learn. This first week of training went extremely well. I’m thankful for how He has strengthened me to explain the concepts clearly and for their ability to grasp the material. They are feeling quite overwhelmed by the complexity of Bible translation, but they are willing to keep pressing on. I praise the Lord for allowing a co-worker to join me, because he’s much more experienced and knowledgeable about setting up new projects. We make a great team by God’s grace!

Please pray for wisdom for all of us as we try to set up on Monday the 3 committees that form the basic structure of this project. It is essential that a new project be set up well, or it is doomed to failure. Considering that 7 million people speak Tok Pisin and many believers are awaiting a better translation, we cannot afford to start poorly. Pray that God would put a hedge of protection around this workshop, the men, their families, and their churches. The devil has already manifested his opposition to this project.

On Thursday I will begin my trip to the next location, Guam, for a missions conference.

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