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Archive for the ‘Eliyas’ Category

After around 3,300 miles of traveling, we made it back safely on Tuesday night. It was a trip filled with God’s blessings throughout–safety in travel, wisdom and support in helping Eliyas, no problems with border crossings, great times with friends, and many opportunities to minister. We have four supporting churches in Quebec, so we were able to report to them, but we also got into two other churches. I thank God for helping me with the French (each speaking opportunity got easier and easier) but also for making it easier on my wife by allowing us to connect to so many who know English. I think there were only a few situations in which someone could speak only French, but there were always one or two to help with translation.

We started our trip on Friday, June 23. We got to have lunch with a supporting couple on the east side of the state before heading across the border to Toronto. The border officer asked very few questions, so it went much more smoothly than I expected. It was a late night getting to bed in Toronto, and then it was a long day on Saturday driving to St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. It was our longest amount of driving with Eliyas–6 hours that took around 8. I’m thankful that we drove a rented minivan, because it let Oksana easily jump into the back seat to try to calm Eliyas or meet his needs as best she could while on the road.

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We really enjoyed spending time with Pastor Claude Jutras and his wife Cecile that first night and then with the whole church the next day. On Monday we toured Fort Chambly with François Rochefort and his family. Because of the 150th-year anniversary of Canada’s independence, it was free to tour the fort.

We did our best to celebrate with the Canadians by sporting some military duds from the past. We also got to march alongside the marching band and the soldiers in Quebec city as they headed to the Terrace Dufferin later on July 1.

Then we headed to Trois-Rivières to spend a few nights with friends, Rob and Becca Spare. They helped us get an opportunity for me to talk about the ministry of BI to some VBS kids at the church they attend. It was such a blessing to see the Spares’ dedication to the Lord as laypeople helping in a small church, separated from family in the US.

At the end of the week we enjoyed a few days of site-seeing in Quebec city. Actually, we probably only spent a few hours each day site-seeing, since it’s quite complicated to go anywhere for a long period of time with a newborn. But we had fun nonetheless.

20170702_195944They we headed north along the St. Lawrence River to go to our church in Rivière-du-Loup. Since I was there last in 2012, the pastor had died, and the church is still without a pastor. But they still had a strong love for the Lord. We absolutely loved the fellowship and also the beautiful sites along the river.

We went back south to the Montreal area to spend a few days with Steve and Brenda Faucette, BWM missionaries in Laval-Ouest. We had great times of fellowship with them and their small church and got to share testimonies at their Wed prayer service. They are currently our smallest Quebec church (English-speaking too), but they are our biggest supporters. Praise God!

Then we headed west to spend time with Pastor Benoit Carrier, his family, and his church in St-Jérome. We ministered at their church in the morning and then at the Faucette’s church in the evening, so it was a busy Sunday. It was a real joy to see David Brind-Amour and his family in St-Jérome. They drove down from their city north of Ottawa, Ontario, so they could see us. We got to spend a few extra days at the Carrier’s house since they were going away for a vacation. It was nice to stay put for a few days!

On Wed of that week, we headed southeast to Sherbrooke to spend the night with Pastor Mario Roy and his family. We also got to minister in their church that night, since I shared a devotional with the few couples who came out to pray.

20170714_081626On Thursday we drove down to Maine so I could introduce my family to Ross and Cathy Hodsdon. Ross is dying of cancer, so we wanted to be a blessing to him. I knew the trip was worth it when I saw a big smile on Ross’ face as Cathy held Eliyas and spoke cute things to him.

On Friday we headed to NJ for our last meeting of the trip. It was not an easy trip, since it meant over 7 hours of driving and many hours of stopping (around 12 hours total in the car), but we enjoyed seeing the eastern states. Pastor Troutman and his church welcomed us so graciously. We hope they will become a supporting church very soon!

Then, we began the trip home on Monday, July 17. We got to spend a night near Erie, PA, with friends Oksana knows from Ukraine (technically, the wife is from Belarus). I’m thankful Oksana got to use some of her Russian on the trip! (She even used it in the NJ church with a lady from Romania.)

Overall, it was just such a thrill to return to these churches that I hadn’t seen in a while to be able to share with them God’s blessings upon my life. The believers were thrilled to rejoice with me. When I went to Quebec last time, I was by myself. But now I’m richly blessed with a Ukrainian princess and with a cute little boy. Blessed beyond worthiness!

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In other news, I wrote both papers for India’s celebration before I left for the Quebec trip. I also finished putting together the PowerPoint presentation for one of our consultants to show as he promotes BI in India. Plus, I just about finished up the Literacy in Biblical Times paper for the upcoming Bible Faculty Summit–all before we left on our trip. I could tell God was working as people prayed, because it all went so smoothly. During the trip I was able to complete a Pastoral Counseling course (as part of certification to become a Christian counselor) by finishing a 12-page paper, writing a Bible study based on the paper, completing a 4-page reading report, writing a self-improvement project, and writing a 4-page course evaluation. God also helped these to flow quite smoothly once I actually sat down to write. Now to the next course: Marriage and Family Counseling.

One other big news item: our support has increased to 98%, thanks to the new support from Bible Baptist in Wakarusa, IN. I’ve been in connection with them since 2008, but just now the relationship has ripened. Praise God!

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I’m sure you anticipated it: Eliyas’ first trip. Troy the traveling translator doesn’t let grass grow under his feet long, and his wife and his son are happy to travel with him. Well, we hope so (regarding Eliyas)! We are still trying to get him into a good pattern of eating and sleeping, so please pray for that to happen before we leave for Quebec next week. We look forward to seeing our 4 supporting churches up there, and then we’ll head to NJ for a meeting with Pastor Troutman and his church.

Eliyas’ first trip was technically to Grand Haven, MI, when my sister and her son were in town last week. It was a good opportunity to take a few days vacation for some R & R and to help my wife more at home (especially at night). I’m not sure how much of Grand Haven Eliyas got to see, since he slept most of the time, but the rest of us enjoyed it (and yes, I know, newborns can’t see far anyway!). Oksana’s first visit to Grand Haven was for our first Valentine’s Day together, so it was nice to actually see the water this time, not a big mass of snow and ice!

Grand Haven

Eliyas and Oksana will get their first exposure to French when we visit Quebec. Oksana has already been exposed to languages she doesn’t know, since we hear them in Eurasia during our workshop trips. But this will be the first trip where I’ll be able to be an interpreter for her, if my French isn’t too rusty. Not only will we really enjoy visiting friends up there, we’ll also spend a few days touring the old part of Quebec City. It’s the closest thing for Americans to see a European city, so it’s going to be fun.

What are some things I’m working on at the office? Glad you asked! I have to write two papers for our India partner’s (BIIS) 25-year celebration later this year. They are publishing a booklet to commemorate this event, and they’ve asked me to write about the philosophy and methodology of Bible translation, as well as whatever other message the Lord lays on my heart. I’m also refining a presentation on “Literacy in Biblical Times,” which I will present at the Bible Faculty Summit at Appalachian Bible College in early August. I’m also putting together a promotional PPT for an Indian consultant to show to a group of Bible college professors in July. Oh, and I’m preparing to report and preach in French in Quebec. And of course, many other things…

 

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Dear Family and Friends,

In preparation for the arrival of our son, I read Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Tripp focuses on parenting that addresses the heart of the child, not just his behavior. He makes his point strongly with this statement: “A change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable; it is condemnable.” May God enable Oksana and me to raise our son with a gospel-saturated focus on his heart.

OUR SON IS BORN!

We PRAISE God for bringing Eliyas (pronounced EL-i-yas) Joseph into this world on May 19! He weighed 8 lbs and 15 oz, and was 22 inches long. Oksana was in labor for 27.5 hours, but we praise God for strengthening her to delivery normally. The timing was not what we had planned, but it turns out that God’s plan was better than ours. Oksana called me to come home at 4 p.m. on Thursday and, after everything was completed at the hospital, we went home Sunday afternoon. So, I missed only one day of the Haitian Creole workshop. I was able to do the second week of the workshop, because my mom helped Oksana at home during the day. Also, we got our first two meetings in Quebec moved into July, so we have a little longer for Oksana and Eliyas to get into a good routine.

Eliyas’ name means “my God is Jehovah,” and that’s our prayer for him—that he would follow only Jehovah all his days. Please PRAY with us in that regard and PRAY for us that God would enable us to lead him in that way. You can read more about the birth story and our choice of his name in previous posts on this blog.

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Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. (Psa 127:3)

God makes a home for the lonely. (Psa 68:6a)

SUPPORT NEARING 100%

Our support increased again this past quarter, thanks to our sending church, Grand Valley Baptist; Lake County Baptist in Waukegan, IL; Calvary Baptist in York, PA; and a family, who are dear friends. Due to some anticipated expenses, our support estimate went up some, so the bottom line is that our support level is at 94%. Please pray for the remaining support to come in this year. During the summer, we will be visiting four supporting churches in Quebec and two non-supporting churches in the US.

MINISTRY

We PRAISE the Lord for giving me a safe trip to Myanmar (consultant seminar), Singapore (two churches), and India (school partnerships). The seminar was a tremendous team-building experience, the visits to Singapore churches were refreshing, and the exploration in India was very profitable. PRAY for wisdom as we strategize on how to move forward in India, which will include another trip to India in October.

We also PRAISE God for His help in writing the BI constitution. The committee worked very hard, and we should have the rough draft complete by the end of this week. PRAY as it will be sent to BMM for input at that point.

The Lord really helped me to stay focused for the Haitian Creole OT workshop in May, and we finished checking 1 Kings and 2 Kings 1-6. PRAISE God!

PRAY as I try to finalize plans for the Consultant Seminar at BI in August. PRAY for wisdom as I lead my department and prepare various presentations.

PRAY also for God’s provision of more laborers. PRAISE Him fo His provision of financial support for BI, though we continue to wait for His choice of a new Director and the filling of other strategic roles.

For the sake of Christ,

Troy (for the three of us)

 

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How did we get to Eliyas, which is pronounced EL-i-yas? The story is below for those who are interested. The story will be told in the third person, since I have to tell you what Troy said/thought as well as what Oksana said/thought.

What mattered most to them was that they choose a name with a good meaning. In fact, that was more important than a nice-sounding name. They’d rather have one with a good meaning, even if it didn’t sound nice. When they looked through names, Oksana considered a few names that sounded nice, but then she discarded them when she realized they had no good meaning. (Troy was less particular about which name their son should have as long as it had a good meaning, was easy to say in both the USA and in Ukraine, and wouldn’t get shortened to a nickname that we didn’t like.)

(In fact, when they were at the labor/delivery class offered by our hospital, they were asked by the professor to share which characteristic of their spouse they wanted to see in their child. The instructor was focusing on physical characteristics, it seems, but Oksana boldly declared that they wanted their child to have the shared characteristic of loving God all his life.)

Then, Oksana heard the name “Ilya” and really liked how it sounded; she also liked the “soft form” of the name in Russian, “Ilyusha.” But she didn’t like the English version, Elijah. She hadn’t considered the meaning of that name until that point. Troy told her the name means “my God is Jehovah.” It wasn’t exactly what she wanted (though quite close), but she knew she wanted our baby to be faithful to the Lord until the end. Both of them wanted that. She thought the meaning was OK, but she wondered if there might be a name that would fit her desires even better. She just entrusted it to the Lord and knew He would answer somehow.

Then, Troy said he likes it but that the Russian form in English would look like a feminine name with the ‘a’ ending. “Ilya” wouldn’t look like a name for a boy.

They considered other names, like Lemuel, because it had a good meaning. But Troy didn’t like the name, though it occurs in Proverbs and though it means “faithful” or “dedicated.” It’s not a very common name. Oksana didn’t want to push Troy to like this name.

Then, one time Oksana mentioned they could change Ilya to Ilyas, as they do in Turkmenistan and other countries in that part of the world. Troy thought the form “Ilyas” looks funny. The language we are helping in Eurasia has the form “Eliya.” Troy’s mom also suggested that form based on someone at our former church in South Carolina,” but Troy and Oksana didn’t like that form. In January, they talked to their friends in Eurasia and asked for their ideas, but they still couldn’t come to a conclusion.

Well, one day they were on the plane from Eurasia to Ukraine in early February, and out of the blue, Troy told Oksana that they needed to come to a conclusion very soon. He mentioned that they were on their way to Ukraine, and they would see family and friends, who would ask them what their boy’s name would be. So, they were trying to come to a conclusion on the plane. Oksana said, “Well, I told you the name I like, but I don’t want to pressure you to like it.”

It just so happened that a lady from Israel was sitting next to Troy, and she heard them discussing the matter. She was around 51, but she had twins at the age of 48—her first kids. She was a pharmacist at the time, but formerly she was an ob-gyn doctor, who had delivered many babies. She mentioned that the parents would sometimes ask her to be part of choosing a name.

She said she overheard them talking about choosing a name, so they told her what they were considering. She said that in Israel the form is “Eliyas.” It was similar to what is in Eurasian countries, but with an ‘E’ at the beginning, not an ‘I.’ And the pronunciation put the stress on the first syllable. Oksana wouldn’t like it on the second syllable, because then that would sound too much like “Eli,” the priest in 1 Samuel who didn’t raises his sons well. Oksana didn’t want anything close to his name.

Oksana said she liked Eliyas, and Troy agreed that it was a nice-sounding form of the name. Plus, he thought the form in English would look nice.

Then, Oksana said she really wanted the middle name to be “Joseph,” because she really likes that character in the Bible. Troy also really likes him. Both admire him for how faithful he was to the Lord. That’s exactly what they want for their son.

But, as they were considering the form “Eliyas,” they wondered if it would sound better with the stress on the first syllable or the second. So, when they were in Ukraine, they asked a few people how they would say “Eliyas.” They got two people to say they like the accent on the first syllable. As they would say the name themselves, they tended to put the accent on the first syllable too.

So, it was finally decided—Eliyas Joseph—with the stress on EL!

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Eliyas is born!

Eliyas was due on May 11 (Thursday), so Oksana and I were busily preparing for his arrival on that date, knowing that it would be likely that he would be late. It was such a joy to prepare for his arrival. Since we had an actual date to aim for, the excitement really built as the day drew closer. My wife exercised with me until just a week before her due date, and then when I went by myself, I would take my phone everywhere I went in the fitness center. I was in a state of readiness, just as we should be for the Lord’s coming.

The date finally came, but Eliyas wasn’t ready yet to meet the world. It was a little disappointing, but we were expecting that he would go past the due date. During those few days just after the due date, my state of readiness weakened, as I thought maybe he would go many days past the due date. I still went and exercised but didn’t carry my phone to every weight station, as I did before May 11. That lasted for just a few days, but I thought how much my state of mind changed when I no longer had a specific date to keep in mind. Though I knew he could come at any moment, I was no longer in a state of expectancy. How often I’m like that as I wait for the Lord’s coming. Since He hasn’t given us a specific date, I can get lax about preparing for His arrival.

But once we rounded the corner into the new week, I began to get back into a state of readiness again. I had to start leading a translation checking workshop of the Haitian Creole OT that Monday, but I had my phone always close by to listen for Oksana’s call  to get home (it would take me 20-25 minutes). I remember driving to work that Monday morning and calling Oksana to set up an emergency plan in case her water broke (it would have increased the possibility of an infection being passed to the baby).

But then the hours and days started passing. I got a few calls from Oksana and wondered if it was “the call.” Then finally, the call came at around 4 pm on Thursday, May 18. Oksana had been experiencing contractions since around 6 am that morning, but hadn’t told me because she didn’t know if it was “the real thing.” But by mid-afternoon, she began to think it was the beginning of labor. I raced home (driving just a little over the speed limit) so I could help my wife, mainly by timing the contractions but also by getting the bags fully packed and into the car.

We were surprised that the contractions were so irregular, not necessarily increasing on a progressive scale. Sometimes they would be 10 minutes apart, and sometimes only 5. They would be as much as 1.5 minutes long then as short as 30 seconds. We were told to go according to the 5-1-1 Rule (no more than 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, and for one whole hour). Oksana struggled to find a comfortable position as the evening wore on. By 10:40 pm, I saw the contractions getting close to the 5-1-1 rule. The average was that, anyway. So, at around midnight, I called the hospital to make sure they thought we should head down, and they did! We arrived at 12:15 am (and were hoping the arrival on a new day would save us some money!).

We checked into triage first, as they verified that Oksana was ready to go to a delivery room and as they prepared the room (the hospital was quite busy with deliveries last weekend). After around an hour, we were transferred to the delivery room. Oksana’s contractions continued to go around 5 minutes apart, but sometimes the interval was larger. The pain became quite intense for Oksana. She and I hoped that she could go “all natural”–without any medications. But it soon became apparent that she needed help. She tried one medication, but that didn’t seem to help at all. By around 8 am, she and I clearly felt the Lord wanted her to get the epidural. The pain was just too intense at that point, and we knew there was even stronger pain to follow.

The epidural definitely helped Oksana feel more comfortable. In fact, she finally got to get some much needed rest. She wasn’t able to get deep sleep, though. I guess her body was in too much of a state of readiness to deliver that she couldn’t fall asleep, though she hadn’t slept all night. I got a little more sleep too (I had slept some earlier, but mostly I was helping Oksana with pain management throughout the night).

I will add that it was a cool “extra” when we learned that the anesthesiologist was from Russia. Oksana enjoyed speaking Russian with her and getting directions in her heart language.

Oksana’s doctor arrived sometime around 8 or so, and that was a great blessing to Oksana and me. She’s a very personable, kind-hearted, knowledgeable lady, and she is able to help Oksana through all the questions that come up. She coached Oksana to get some sleep in preparation for the pushing later that day.

Oksana began pushing around 2 pm. By this time, the epidural was working quite well, so Oksana was no longer in major pain. The doctor and the nurse were quite good in coaching her through, and I also helped by encouraging her and holding one of her legs. I always wondered if the actual delivery process would be so traumatic to me that I wouldn’t be able to stand it (or stay standing during it!). Instead, I was so thankful I could be there for my wife to offer some help.

Eliyas didn’t come out with loud cries, but clearly the event was the most traumatic of his life! 🙂 He was immediately placed upon Oksana’s chest to begin bonding with her. Then after about an hour, I got to hold him and put him on the scale to be weighed and then have his lengthen measured. It was such a joy to hold my son for the first time–the first human being in this world that I could actually call “my son.” What a glorious experience!

Oksana thought she was carrying quite a large baby since her belly felt so heavy, but we all tried to assure her that she was probably carrying a normal-sized baby. Well, we were wrong, and she was right! Eliyas weighed 8 lbs and 15 oz, and was 22 inches long. The doctor thought she saw dark hair when he still inside Oksana, but it became clear after his birth that he was a blonde haired, blue eyed baby.

Though I find experiencing something new for the first time quite enjoyable, there’s nothing like the newness of fatherhood. I’ve really enjoyed holding him, burping him, calming him down when he cries, etc. I love hearing his little cries, his whimpering, his mouth sounds, etc. It’s also been so much fun to watch Oksana say sweet things to him in Russian (flowing from her heart). I also loved seeing my mom’s reaction when she came in to meet him for the first time (one of the most energetic hugs I’ve ever received!) and seeing him again and again. We’re all loving to having little Eliyas in our lives!

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