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Archive for the ‘furlough’ Category

Dear Family and Friends,

Many challenges and encouragements to improve our marriages are found in the second book in the Marriage and Family Counseling course I’m taking. In Sweethearts for a Lifetime, Wayne and Carol Mack have found that marriages are often lacking because “so little in our society encourages couples to make the kind of adjustments and sacrifices in their lives that are necessary for oneness in marriage.” When our society encourages a self-focused life, it is only by the power of the Spirit working through the Word that we can see the right way to live. PRAY for God to help Oksana and me to strengthen our oneness.

A BUSY BUT GOOD FURLOUGH

Oksana and I are thankful for good ministry opportunities in 13 churches during almost two months of travels recently. We enjoyed reconnecting with 13 churches and seven supporting families. We were not able to find a second vehicle before the trip; but God enabled us to fit everything into our Ford Escape and gave us safety over the many, many miles we covered.

2018.04.01 Easter (1)

Eliyas’ First Easter (Reading, PA)

During meetings in the first six weeks, we were able to return to one location, giving us a “home away from home” to enjoy welcoming spring as a family and to get some work done. I was able to complete five of nine lecture days for the two-week course, Bible Translation, that I will be teaching at Bob Jones University in July. Since then, I have completed another day of lectures and have made significant progress on the second course, Translation Technology, a one-week course. PRAY as I need to complete the rest of the material for both courses by the middle of July. PRAISE God that He has provided a way for a co-worker to share some of the teaching via Skype for the first course, and that He opened a way for two PhD friends to help teach Bible software in the second course. PRAY also for the Lord to raise up more students to take the Missionary Linguistics Program at BJU.

SHORT VISITS AT HOME

After furlough we had only two weeks at home before we headed out to Ukraine at the end of May. We will spend two weeks there before going to another Metanoia NT workshop in Eurasia. I have had to save all my workshop preparations for the first week in Ukraine, so PRAY for wisdom and strength as I prepare. PRAISE God for helping the team and Oksana to finish all their work so that I can start preparing. PRAY for wisdom as Oksana and I try to resolve complicated linguistic issues, including whether to borrow words from the old parent language of Metanoia or its new host country language.

When we return from Eurasia, we will have only two weeks in MI before we head to SC for the translation courses. Then, we’ll have only a few days at home before I lead the BI Consultant Seminar. PRAY for grace in these quick turn-arounds. PRAY also for good preparation and participation in the seminar. PRAY too that the Lord would provide a minivan before the trip to SC, since my mom will be going with us on that trip.

It looks like I will not be doing the research trip to another creative-access country this year or going to Mexico. Thank you for your prayers!

PRAISE God that Tim Fink has answered God’s call to become BI’s new director. PRAY for Tim and his wife Sandy as they adjust to this new ministry over the summer. PRAY for God to provide project coordinators and a Scripture Use manager.

For the sake of Christ,

Troy (for the three of us)

 

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Though we are very thankful for “our Enola home,” we are excited about relocating our PA headquarters to Kittanning, where we’ll be through Mother’s Day weekend. We will be speaking in 5 more churches during this last week and a half of furlough ministry. We’ll also get to see individual supporters all along the way.

We are thankful for the very encouraging time we had at Community Baptist in Fleetwood and then at Calvary Baptist in York. Both churches were very encouraging and receptive to us. We’ve also enjoyed welcoming spring into this area. This past week was finally a week of consistently warm temperatures. We will definitely miss getting to take evening walks along the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg.

2018.05.01-HarrisburgPA

After doing a lot of reading about translation philosophy, I finally cranked out a rough draft of a lecture on it for the Bible translation course. Though scholarship is moving beyond functional equivalence (formerly called dynamic equivalence), this is still the prevalent philosophy in textbooks and the majority of the last translations. So, my lecture focuses on essentially a comparison of BI’s philosophy and functional equivalence. I really appreciated the critical analyses that are available to help me think through the issues, but probably my favorite analysis was done by Vern Poythress in Translating Truth. His article is called “Truth and Fullness of Meaning.” His main point is that functional equivalence has essentially reduced the translation process to a scientific process. This is evident even in the title of his first book, Toward a Science of Translation. He took the advances in linguistics, especially in regard to grammar studies (e.g., generative grammar by Noam Chomsky), and applied them to the task of Bible translation. The process he proposed is one of analysis, transfer, and restructuring, by means of kernel analysis and transformations, in order to produce the proper reader response to the resulting translation. As Poythress explains, this process is too reductionistic, even though Nida does give some explanation of the artistic aspects as well. Like Poythress, I am thankful for the analytical tools that Nida has provided in the theory he advanced, and I also recognize that Nida cannot be held responsible for those who have taken his theory further than he intended it to go. But I really appreciate Poythress helping me to see that translation is much more than a scientific process; it’s an art and a science. Also, the meaning of the biblical texts cannot be discovered simply by linguistic analysis. The transfer to other languages is much more than the transformation of underlying kernels into new forms in the target language. We also depend upon God’s Spirit to guide us, and we bow in humble recognition that some passages elude even our best efforts at trying to discover the meaning.

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We understand that many people probably have no desire to travel as much as we do, but my wife and I love it, and we’re thinking our son does too. We’ve really enjoyed the rhythm of having a set place to stay between meetings and then traveling out on the weekends and now Wednesday nights. We love seeing people and going to new places as we go to meetings, but then returning to our home away from home in Enola. It’s also nice to have a flexible schedule so we can work together on watching Eliyas and other things. I also like having a quiet place to get work done, particularly lecture preparations. So far, I’m ready for 4 days of teaching this summer, and I’ve begun collecting thoughts for 3 other days. We have one more week in Enola and then we spend a week in Kittanning (western PA).

2018.04.26 EnolaPA (42)

Last weekend we had a very nice time with the people at Independent Bible Church in Duryea, PA. We are very thankful for Pastor Cremard and his people for their strong stand for the Lord in the midst of a world shifting toward compromise.

Then, we enjoyed being with the people of First Baptist in Lebanon, PA, last Wednesday. We always like the fellowship with Pastor Fernett and the dear people there. We also picked up some baby clothes that they were holding for us, which were given by Heritage Baptist in Flemington, NJ. We are thankful for their love and support through the years since we began getting to know them.

We are at the halfway point regarding our meetings–7 done and 6 more to go. Only 2 more weeks on the road. Though we enjoy being in the road, we are looking forward to being home. We miss seeing family and friends in Grand Rapids. We also miss seeing our flowers open up at home. But these are small sacrifices in service for the Lord.

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Halfway through furlough

We are at the halfway point in terms of weeks of furlough, but we are not quite halfway through our meetings. We have been to 5 churches so far, but we’ll be going to 8 more before we head home in less than a month. We are so thankful to be able to use Cornerstone Independent Baptist Church’s missionary apartment in Enola, PA, between meetings. It’s become our home away from home! As I focus on preparing lectures for the two Bible translation courses this summer, it’s nice to have a desk I can use and a very peaceful environment. My goal has been to write a day’s worth (4-5 hours) of lectures each week. We’ve been on the road for 4 weeks, and I have 4 days’ worth of material ready. Praise God!

We are so thankful for the many blessings as we visit churches and spend time with the people. Faith Baptist Church in Lebanon, PA, was such an encouragement to us on our first weekend. We are thankful that they gave us a very generous offering to help with expenses, especially the purchase of a second vehicle, and they gave a very sizeable gift to help with the printing of the Falam Chin Bible. Less than $30,000 remains to be raised.

A highlight has to be returning to the church where we got married in July 2015–Victory Baptist Church in Reading, PA. We got to spend Resurrection Sunday with them. Here’s a picture after the morning’s events.

2018.04.01_ReadingPA

I hadn’t been to Lowman Baptist Church in Pine Grove, WV, since before Oksana and Eliyas came into my life–almost 5 years. It was good to be with them again, and we were thankful for the welcome sign they prepared for us.

2018.04.09--PineGroveWV

Last weekend we got to spend time with our dear friends at Calvary Baptist Church in Lancaster, PA. Oksana already knew one couple since they came to our wedding, but that was her first time to visit the church with me. That church had become very special to me since they asked me to do a presentation on “Life as a Christian Single” a number of years ago. I poured out my heart to them, so they drew near in support.

I got to minister to the church group where we are staying here in Enola, PA, this past Sunday. That was an encouraging time as well. Sometimes I have rough nights because of Eliyas’ poor sleep patterns (every night is bad for Oksana), and that Tuesday night was particularly hard for me. But I’m thankful that the Lord gave me the strength to minister the Word that Wed evening.

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The peaceful time at home came to an end, and now we are back in the rat-race pace of life. I’m thankful I was able to get my backburner emails down to 10, after seeing them rise to 62 by the beginning of this year. But now that we are busy with furlough travels (and very limited wifi), I’m seeing the more time-sensitive emails rise to around 40. Yikes!

My family really enjoys traveling together on furlough, because we get to be together all day long. Plus, we can set our own schedule, which means we can adjust it to how well Eliyas does through the night (which typically includes multiple interruptions).

I had hoped to have a somewhat slower paced schedule on this furlough trip, but then I found out I’ll be teaching graduate-level courses on Bible translation at Bob Jones University in late July. I have to prepare three weeks of lectures. I’m praying that BJU will allow some team-teaching so that my load is a little more bearable. Pray that they allow that! Meanwhile, I’m working through 10-15 books to prepare my 13-15 days of lectures. The positive side of this is that we get to spend time with friends in Greenville, SC! We are looking forward to taking our son down there to introduce him to friends.

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My wife and I are thankful for the safety the Lord gave us during our recent trip to IN and IL. We ended up logging around 800 miles on the trip. We were quite worn out after we got back and needed some extra sleep to recover, but we are glad we went. We got to see pastors from two of our supporting churches, and we spent Sunday morning worshiping with a third, and spending a good part of the afternoon with the pastor and a few others. We also got a ton of free items from Widow’s Jar Ministries, mostly for our growing boy. We are so thankful for that ministry, because they help us save hundreds of dollars. And we need those hundreds too, because we are looking for a second vehicle that will more adequately handle our needs as a family on furlough trips. We hope to get one before our upcoming trip that begins on March 23.

Being at home for an extended period of time has allowed me to get into a regular routine. I’ve been able to spend more time studying Russian, and I’ve been able to keep up with emails better. I only got to 2 of the 64 non-time-sensitive emails so far, but I have hopes that I can deal with more next week. I have difficulty getting the time-sensitive ones below 10 (currently at 14), but as long as I can keep them to a manageable amount, I can work on other things. Soon, I’ll need to prepare sermons and devotionals for our upcoming trip. The original plan was to visit 7 supporting churches in PA and WV, but then it expanded to 9. But now we’re up to 13. It’s going to be a two months packed with ministry opportunities!

I just finished the quarterly report of my department (text production) for the 4th quarter of 2017 (including some activities from January). I noticed that we did 31 translation workshops and 6 literacy/linguistics workshops. That’s a very busy quarter! That also meant that I had to read all the reports for those workshops (not all have been submitted). No wonder I had 100 time-sensitive emails at one time!

As one of my responsibilities as the head consultant, I have to read the latest issue of The Bible Translator. In one article, the author discussed the challenges in translating into Kkmer, the primary language of Cambodia. He explains that there are 16 different second-person pronouns, identifying differences in age, gender, and social status. Greek has only two such pronouns, and they distinguish between singular and plural. Imagine the difficulties, then, that a Khmer translator has when trying to determine which of the 16 pronouns to use for the 2 Greek pronouns. This is particularly challenging when you consider Jesus, the Son of God, who had divine social status, but yet also lived within the realm of human society with its family relationships, government relationships, etc. The author discussed three case studies in John: Jesus and his mother (John 2:4), Jesus and Pilate (John 18:33-36), and Jesus and his apostles (John 15:15). These are the types of things that no commentary gives us guidance on, so we translators are left to work through the issues on our own. Thankfully, though, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us and committed team members to work together with.

 

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We were planning on going down to Charleston, SC, for a missions banquet at a supporting church, but the Lord decided to change those plans by sending Hurricane Irma. Thankfully, our friends in Charleston were not greatly affected by the hurricane, but we couldn’t have predicted the Wed before. So, that meant we weren’t leaving that Thurs but instead would stay home. That meant I got a week and a half of my life given back, because we would have been quite busy during the entire trip. What do you do when you are given your life back?

Well, we had worked so hard to get things done before the trip that we had nothing pressing to do last Saturday. Since my mom’s bday was coming up (Sept 13), we decided to celebrate it with her by an all-day trip to Shipshewana. We capped that off with a surprise stop at a church in the area, because the pastor helped me purchase a new porch swing frame for my mom. She was quite pleased to see it waiting for her. I didn’t realize how much that swing meant to her until she sent a thank-you. It’s the one that she had at her home in SC, so she spent much family time (with all of us) on it and did her devotions on it after my dad died. Now she can use it in her new home in MI!

I also got to spend lots of quality time with my wife and my son. Here are some of our favorite recent pics.

What I didn’t expect is that though I had 7 work days given back, I still got behind in emails! I had my urgent emails down to around 5, so I thought I could chip away at the 70 non-urgent ones. But instead, I couldn’t even keep up with the new emails that came my way. Thankfully, I’ve been able to get the number back down to 10, but that’s with writing 30-40 emails a day. I can’t imagine how far behind I’d be if I didn’t have those 7 working days given back! When I fly to Asia for two weeks, I’ll definitely get behind, because I’ll be doing a lot of traveling from place to place: 2 days to get there, half a day to fly to another country, half day to fly upcountry, half day to drive down-country, half a day to fly back to the first country, overnight bus trip upcountry, overnight bus down-country, half day flight to another location in the same country, and then almost 2 days to fly back home. Lots of traveling, but also lots of good ministry opportunities! I’m actually a little fearful of the safety in the second country, so pray for safety and protection!

With 2 days of training next week and 1 day of work meetings (constitution and Admin Group), I’ll be quite busy throughout the rest of the week. Then it’s two weeks in Asia, so don’t expect any blog posts until mid-October.

Pray for good meetings at Bible Baptist in Wakarusa, IN, tomorrow. We are excited to get back to this church, which is our newest supporter.

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