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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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It happened again. I was heading into another translation checking workshop, and I wondered how I would manage all the different things converging at the same time. Not only did I need to prepare for the Haitian Creole workshop, but I also needed to get ready to welcome two summer interns during the first week of the workshop, while also trying to be ready for whenever our son would decide to come into the world. (Not to mention the many emails and meetings I have to deal with on a regular basis)

I thought I needed to have both 1 and 2 Kings ready for the workshop, since that’s what the translator had submitted. Considering the amount of material we’ve covered in past workshops, I anticipated we could cover both books.

My prayer was that our son would come before the workshop started so that I wouldn’t miss any days of the workshop. It’s expensive to fly the translator to the office, so I didn’t want to lose a single day. My thinking was that if he were born on his due day (May 11), I would have a few days to get adjusted to welcoming him into this world and into our home before starting the workshop on May 15. God clearly had another plan, and as it always turns out, His plan was better than mine.

God delayed Eliyas’ birth until Friday, May 19. By that Wednesday evening I had prepared enough material to check through 2 Kings 8 in the workshop. Because I invited another consultant to join us in the workshop so she could do the next workshop in Haiti (I actually hoped she would take this May workshop, but she couldn’t, but wanted to just observe, resulting in my having to prepare an English interlinear for 8 chapters of 1 Kings–i.e., more work for me rather than less work!). I had prepared 6 chapters by that Wednesday night.

Then, Thursday afternoon came around. At 4 pm my wife called saying she felt the contractions coming on. So, I had to cut out of the workshop 30 minutes early. About 28 hours later, our son would be born. So, I lost that full day of the workshop. We were in the hospital until Sunday afternoon, so I was occupied for two weekend days, but no more workshop time was lost. I had to prepare two more chapters for an English interlinear, so I spent an hour doing that in the workshop.

I got back into the workshop on Monday, and we picked up where we left off. We had various other distractions along the way, slowing down our progress. In the end, we finished up to and including 2 Kings 6, which meant that I didn’t actually have to do any more prep work after the previous Wednesday night. God gave me just enough time to do all the preparation work needed for the workshop (except the 1 hour of work in the hospital), and He arranged it such that we basically lost only 1 day of the workshop because of my son’s birth. Plus, because of that, I could focus on helping my wife at home in the evenings during the second week of the workshop, instead of having to prepare more material, as I normally always have to do during a workshop. In fact, if I calculate the number of days we actually spent on 1-2 Kings (7.5 days), I find that we were as productive in this past workshop as any in the past.

I will add that I couldn’t have gotten back into the workshop very easily if it hadn’t been for the sacrificial help of my mom. She stayed all day every day with my mom while I was at the office, and then she stayed until late in the evening while Oksana and I did other tasks. So, I thank God for leading my mom to live close to us so that she could help us bear our burdens!

I also hoped Eliyas would come early in May, because we needed time for him to get into a good pattern before leaving for Quebec in mid-June. Well, God worked that out too. The pastors were very gracious to move the meetings back, giving us an extra week before we have to leave.

It never ceases to amaze me how God orchestrates His plan in my life such that everything works out well for a workshop. Why don’t I learn this lesson and stop getting stressed out about how it’s all going to work out? Maybe I’ll be less stressed out the next time? No, there will be completely different circumstances, causing me to wonder again how it’s all going to come together. If only I could trust God more, work within the time slots God gives, and leave the rest with Him!

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I went into this trip still trying to get over my laryngitis and bronchitis, so I was concerned that the pressure changes on the plane would cause me serious pain. But God had apparently healed me enough to keep me from having any problems. My voice wasn’t strong enough to preach the first Sunday in Myanmar, but I was able to give a testimony to encourage the people. I wanted to save my voice to lead the consultant seminar during the week, so I passed up the opportunity to preach in the service.

This is the third year we had the seminar in Asia, and it’s the first time we did it in Myanmar (usually it’s in India). The plan was to hold the seminar in the new Myanmar Translation Center, but because of various reasons for delays, we weren’t able to use it, though the construction is probably 90% complete. Instead, the Lord provided a nice air-conditioned room in a local Bible college (connected to one of our adjunct consultants). We had no Plan B for the seminar, but God worked it out that the seminar would occur after Bible school graduation, which allowed us to have use of the Bible school facilities. I heard it would have cost a couple hundred dollars per hour to rent a room in Yangon, so we were so thankful that God prepared for this Plan B!

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God worked in such a way that around 10 of us converged in Myanmar for a week of technical sessions to help us be better consultants for the Lord. I scheduled workshops around the seminar so that consultants would not have to pay for their travels (since workshop travel is covered by BI). This was the most well-attended Asia Consultant Seminar yet! In addition to the consultants, we also had translators (the Falam Chin translator is in the right back row above) and our interim BI director, Gary Walton, join us for a few days.

Each consultant who attended gave a presentation. I intentionally worked it out this way so that I would not have to bear the full load of preparing material. Plus, our consultants are extremely talented and knowledgeable, so we benefit more by allowing all to share. We discussed the importance of visiting the land of Israel to understand biblical backgrounds, fluency for Scripture engagement, James Kugel’s The Idea of Biblical Poetry, discourse analysis of Mark 12:1-12, neologisms and compound words, and difficult passages in Proverbs and other places in the OT. We also gave significant time to lexicography (dictionary making) and ParaTExt (our Bible editing program). We are seeing more and more the value of producing dictionaries to improve our translations and help our language groups.

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During the seminar, we also enjoyed many informal times of team bonding, which is actually the primary purpose of the seminar. We got to see a second edition of Judson’s Bible, took a river cruise, and ate at many different restaurants (including an Indian one above, where the order was yelled out to the kitchen right after we told the young boy waiter what we wanted).

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After my time in Myanmar, I head to Singapore to give a report at and minister to our supporting church there. I so wish Oksana where with me for this trip (as we originally planned before she got pregnant), and especially for this part of the trip, because I wanted her to meet my dear friends in Singapore. I had the privilege–at their request–of teaching both churches (Pasir Panjang Christ Church and Grace Independent Baptist Church) about English Bible versions and giving them the facts of the situation to help them deal with those who try to unsettle them about “missing verses.” My voice wasn’t strong enough to sing on the first weekend in Singapore, but I was able to teach in SS and preach in the AM service. On the following Sunday, I was asked to speak in all three slots, and God strengthened my voice for that task. I enjoy getting to eat with friends in Singapore, because the fellowship is so encouraging and the food is so good. In the picture below, I’m eating amazing Chinese food with Pastor Joshua Wong, the pastor of the first church (PPCC). I don’t have pictures of the second church I visited, but I really enjoyed being with Pastor Ping Ngian and his family and church. My last time with the church was in 2011, so it was good to see them again.

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Between my two weekends in Singapore, I took a trip to southern India. I can’t say too much about this trip because of the increased sensitivity of Indian immigration, but I will say that I accomplished all my objectives, by God’s grace and thanks to many people’s prayers. I had been concerned ever since I began planning this trip a number of months ago that it would be extremely challenging to travel in this part of the country by myself not knowing anyone. But God guided and protected me all the way. God uses the experiences I’ve had in traveling to help me avoid getting ripped off by taxi drivers (one driver purposely took the long way to try to get more money from me!) and stay away from danger (one taxi got into a small accident in Bangalore). Ultimately, it was not my travel smarts that protected me, but my powerful Deliverer. I enjoyed doing some site-seeing on the trip too. At one place I visited, I got to see many monkeys freely climbing around the Hindu temples.

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I’m always struck by the blatant idolatry whenever I visit India. Walking down the streets of one area within an ancient fort, I was reminded of Paul’s experience in Athens in Acts 17. What incredible needs for the gospel to go forth with power in India!

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During the trip, I usually had enough Internet access to connect with my wife, for which I am so thankful. We even got to use Skype at times in all three countries. And most of all, I’m thankful that God protected her and our unborn child, and that He kept her from delivering our baby until I got back. Less than a month away!

Pray for four of us who will spend Tuesday and Wednesday working out the particulars of a new constitution at Bibles International. We need much wisdom as there is so much pioneer thinking to do!

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Dear Family and Friends,

During our recent vacation in Ukraine, I completed my reading of Paul David Tripp’s Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. One of his core truths continues to challenge me: “Each of us has been called by God to be his instruments of change in the lives of others, beginning with our families and the church (Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 3:15-17).” How our churches would change if we adopted this ambassadorial lifestyle and stopped looking at the church only as a place to “get something!”

SUPPORT RISING

Thank you for praying about both the increase in our support and the manner in which it increases. We’ve seen our support rise by 9% to 90% in the first quarter with an increase of only two more churches to our support base! We are thankful that Calvary Baptist in Findlay, OH, and Union Baptist in Kittanning, PA, joined our support team. We also added two individual supporters and saw a family increase their monthly giving. We are also thankful that BI has agreed to begin funding Oksana’s travels to Eurasia, so we no longer have to raise those funds. PRAISE God for His provisions! However, we still plan on raising funds for travels so that Oksana can go with me to other countries once a year and so that we can cover our baby’s costs once he gets old enough to be charged for his plane ticket.

In case you missed it, I did use a “he” to refer to our baby. We found out in January that God is blessing us with a son in early May. Oksana’s pregnancy is going well in general, but the aches and pains in the third trimester are not fun. We are thankful for the free things we’ve been able to collect for our baby, and Oksana looks forward to good fellowship with friends at baby showers in late March.  Keep PRAYING for Oksana and baby!

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We currently have 33 churches supporting us and 27 individuals/families. We have meetings in five non-supporting churches this year. We are also reporting in six of our supporting churches, including the four in Quebec this summer. PRAY for God’s timing of the baby’s birth and departure for Quebec. We would like for there to be sufficient time between the two for mommy and baby to get into a good routine.

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WORKSHOPS

Oksana and I are thankful for the progress we are seeing in the translators’ abilities in Eurasia. Though we didn’t cover more material than in the last workshop, we had a profitable workshop and grew in our understanding of their language and of the work in general. We PRAISE God that both translators are in good health for now and are trusting God amidst heavy persecution. PRAY they can get the fine removed for not being registered to meet and that they would secure registration.

PRAY too for good progress with the Haitian Creole translator in late May as he comes to Grand Rapids for a workshop. PRAY also for God’s timing as our baby is due on May 11 and the workshop is supposed to start on May 15.

PRAY earnestly for God’s provision of laborers for BI: director, Myanmar director, project coordinators, composition editor, and Scripture Use Manager. PRAY also for wisdom for a committee of four of us who have the daunting task of writing a constitution for BI. We hope to have it completed by July.

Lastly, PRAY for my trip to Asia without Oksana in late March and early April. I will be going to Myanmar (consultant seminar), Singapore (two churches), and India (school partnerships). As of March 22, I’m still recovering from sickness, so pray that will clear up very soon.

For the sake of Christ,

Troy (for both of us)

 

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Metanoia NT workshop

Oksana and I are thankful for the safety and the Lord’s blessings on our recent translation workshop in Eurasia. My goal was to cover 600 verses, which would be double what we did last time, but we ended up doing just under 300. But that’s partly because we took an entire afternoon (thanks partly to the power outage) to elicit verb forms from them, so I could understand better how their verbs work. We also spent an afternoon trying to work through some problems with their orthography. There are around 4 sounds that still have issues regarding what symbol to use. Another organization is trying to settle the matter by field testing, so they came to the workshop to test the symbols with our team. Hopefully, we’ll get this settled this year, so we can use the correct symbols throughout the translation. And hopefully we’ll make better progress next time in the translation. I’m thankful to see how the translators are growing well in their skills in translation and grammar. Oksana and I are also growing in our understanding of the language. We asked them to write 4 different types of regular (not translations of biblical passages) texts by 3 different people so we can do more analysis, and we asked them to complete 4 verb tables as well. Hopefully this material will give us even better ways to understand their language.

Because of the slowness of the workshop, we had time on the second weekend to take a two-day trip. We really enjoyed seeing the countryside and spending time getting to know friends. We are also thankful for many opportunities to minister to our friends.

We are also thankful for many opportunities for ministry to our translation team. They’ve been through a lot recently, so we were able to be an encouragement to them, as they were also an encouragement to us. They are truly a great group of believers to work with! We look forward to the next time we’ll see them, though this time there will be three of us!

As a side note, we are very thankful that our support rose to 88% during our trip. God is providing!

If you are interested in some technical details, you should check out my “Translator’s Page” for a list of some issues we wrestled through during this workshop.

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BI 2016 in Review

Recently I wrote a review of 2016 for Oksana and me. Now that I’ve written my department’s quarterly report, I want to do a review of what happened for BI in 2016 (mostly from my department’s perspective–the Text Production Department). Here are some highlights:

  • On January 12, Dr. Hantz Bernard was released from being director.
  • On February 29, Latoungam Rongmei, an Indian translation consultant who did around 10-12 workshops per year, submitted his resignation.
  • On March 6, Dr. Hye Ree Park was commissioned by her church, Westside Baptist Church in Jenison, MI.
  • In March, Oksana passed her doctrinal questioning and in July she completed Candidate Seminar. She was the only new candidate for BI. (And a mighty fine one, I might add!)
  • In March, BI adopted the Luxembourish OT project.
  • In March, a church in Texas printed around 10,000 copies of the Zomi NT to distribute to Zomi people in various churches in the south.
  • In May, Dr. Lian Muan Kim, an adjunct translation consultant in Myanmar, graduated from BI’s Mentorship Program.
  • On June 5, Susan Hossack, a long-time translation consultant who did around 8-10 workshops per year, moved away from Chad, Africa. She’s transitioning to a different ministry in France, though still with BMM.
  • On June 22, Becky Holub began as the part-time assistant for my department and for the Projects Management Dept.
  • On June 22, Terri Fiebig, our former part-time administrative assistant, died from cancer.
  • In July, Alex Wheeler, a translation consultant based in India, graduated from BI’s Mentorship Program.
  • In July, the Hakha Chin OT project was adopted by BI.
  • In July, Ben Bryant, a seminary student from Shepherd’s Seminary, did an internship with BI.
  • In August, Bethany Boston, a literacy/linguistics consultant, graduated from BI’s Mentorship Program.
  • In August, my department completed a SWOT analysis of our department (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). In August BI also enjoyed its annual retreat with Pastor Patrick Odle as our guest speaker.
  • In August, we held the annual consultant seminar. Verna Stutzman was our special speaker, and she focused on lexicography and dictionary making.
  • In the summer, we completed our Linguistics Translator Training Manual, which we will use to analyze the linguistics of our target languages and help our translators better understand the linguistics of their own language.
  • In September, our BIMS (Myanmar) Director resigned from his position.
  • In September, Isaiah & Rosanna Peterson and Jim & Jenna Wright attended BMM’s Launch Seminar.
  • In November, the Manipuri Bible Revision project was adopted by BI.
  • In December, the following projects in Myanmar were adopted by BI: Kokak literacy, Taisun NT, and Uppu Chin NT (formerly just a literacy project).
  • Around 17 volunteers helped my department in various ways.
  • Primers were completed for the following languages: Dagba, Rito (revised), Sara Kaba Deme (revised), Ranglong (revised).
  • OT Storybook was completed for the Uppu Chin.
  • Scripture portions were completed for the following languages: Matu Chin (Acts/Romans), Sara Kaba Deme (Exo/Deut), and Sango (Matthew).
  • The following Bible translations were approved by my department for publishing: Haitian Creole NT w/ Psa/Prov, Dagba NT, and Warao NT with OT books (17). The Haitian Creole arrived in Haiti in the hands of the people in December!
  • We consultants conducted around 80 translation, literacy, linguistics, and other workshops all over the world.

Praise God for what He enabled us to accomplish! We look forward to what this new year holds!

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