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Archive for the ‘Oksana’ Category

When the summer began, the work was piling up faster than I could keep up. I wondered how in the world I’d have time to take a short vacation (4 days) here in Ukraine. I had to save all of my workshop preparation for this week. I hate procrastinating, but I had no choice. I knew it would be intense to spend almost all day every day checking the translation with the Greek for John 1-7, but I knew God would give grace.

What ended up happening is that almost every day as I did the work, I finished much quicker than I thought. In fact, these past two days, I finished with 3 hours still remaining in the day. Instead of jumping into the next chapter in the afternoon, I would set the work aside to catch up on emails and other projects. I actually got my urgent emails down to almost 0, and I took care of many other less urgent emails as well. I even made good progress on another lecture for the Bible translation course, after taking advantage of some quiet moments in travel from the US.

So, having come to the end of this week, I can feel good about setting work aside for 4 days to enjoy family and friends in Ukraine, before diving back into the work in a week. We’ve already been able to enjoy some nice evenings together, especially since the weather is absolutely beautiful. If you could only hear Eliyas’ excitement when the playground we are walking to is finally in sight, you’d also agree that he finds it quite enjoyable! (The picture below was actually just a quick moment between Sunday morning church services and Sunday lunch.)

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Praise God for how abundantly He answered prayer! And to top it all off, it was such a joy to read through John 1-7 in Greek. I love this statement from the officers of the Jewish leaders: “No one ever spoke like this man!” (Joh 7:46 ESV) Such statements almost brought tears to my eyes. What a glorious Lord!

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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.

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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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Dear Family and Friends,

While reading for my Marriage and Family Counseling course, I was convicted by these words in Stuart Scott’s The Exemplary Husband: “Many Americans seem mainly interested in three things: getting things done, achieving personal goals, and protecting their personal space” (p. 48). PRAY for God to give me wisdom to focus more on developing relationships.

COMMISSIONED!

Oksana and I are so thankful for the encouraging Commissioning Service at our church on January 21. Friends and family came from various places to join us in this special occasion. God used that time to strengthen us for the trials that lay ahead. We’ll continue to think back upon the challenge to be “His workmanship” (Eph. 2:10) that brings glory to Him.

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We are also thankful for the love gift from that service and other generous gifts that will help us as we look for a second vehicle that will meet our family and furlough travel needs. PRAY for God to provide a reliable vehicle at a good price before our upcoming two-month furlough trip to PA, WV, and NY. We look forward to ministering in 13 different churches. PRAY for strength to be a blessing amid that busy schedule while also keeping up with the translation ministry.

COMPLETING!

We’re very thankful that the BI constitution is almost completed. I have been part of the overall process since 2014 but, Lord willing, it will come to an end later this month.

We are also PRAISING God that the Akha NT with Psalms and Proverbs (Thailand), the Songhay NT (Mali), and the Tagalog revised NT (Philippines) are almost ready to be sent to the printer. I and another consultant worked extensively on the Tagalog NT to get it ready. Using software that allows us to sync the text through the internet, we were able to work in two different countries while also connecting with the revision team in the Philippines. PRAY for the final details to wrap up well and for preparations for the dedication and distribution. Two more projects are nearing completion: Falam Chin Bible (Myanmar) and Manipuri revised Bible (creative-access country). PRAY for the final tasks on these texts. There are also seven trial editions and 16 literacy and linguistics books coming down the pike. We are thankful to God for helping us bring so many texts to completion!

We have begun recruiting efforts in a creative-access country, so PRAY for God to lead us to new projects and personnel. PRAY also as we wait for God’s timing regarding a research trip to another creative-access country and a separate trip to Mexico.

PRAY for the work in Chad, Africa. The OT translators are still getting used to working with solar power, computers, and Bible translation software. Also, our new Chad literacy coordinator is learning his new job. We would like to take on two new projects there without slowing down our five current projects, so PRAY for God to provide a Chadian translation consultant.

PRAY also for personnel needs at the home office: director, projects coordinators, and Scripture Use manager.

For the sake of Christ,

Troy (for the three of us)

 

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We are thankful for the encouraging commissioning service on January 21 at our home church, Grand Valley Baptist. Though I was commissioned as a single man in 2011, it was important that we be commissioned as a married couple. In addition to needing to fulfill a BMM requirement, we wanted to do it so that we could be solidified in our partnership with our home church. We are so thankful for their ministry to us, and we hope the time was both a blessing and informative for them.

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We were blessed to enjoy the ministries of Dave Ferguson (BMM Vice President), Gary Walton (interim BI director), and Glenn Kerr (BI translation consultant) that morning. God challenged and encouraged us through these men, as well as the words of Pastor Dan and the music ministry. The two main messages tied into each other quite well: we are His workmanship to glorify Him and to spread the knowledge of His glory around the world.

We are thankful to be at full support and to be able to focus full-time now on our ministry. Of course, we will need to keep up with our supporters, but we consider that a privilege and opportunity–both to be with churches and to be together on the road. We look forward to 2 months of reporting in the late spring. (You can find out where we’ll be on the “Where are We?” page.)

We are also rejoicing in how God answered prayer concerning the BI constitution. We had our final meeting as a constitution committee last Thursday, before we allow the BI Ministry Team to view the “nearly final” version. I actually wondered if we would be able to resolve some complicated issues during last week’s meeting, so I was quite pleasantly surprised when all roadblocks were so easily and clearly taken out of the way. Praise God! On Monday I shared the new version with the team, and by late February we’ll hopefully answer any questions and be ready to ratify it. We thank God for how He has answered so many prayers for so many years.

 

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My assignment in early December was to introduce our Chad translators to computers and show them how to use Paratext, a powerful Bible translation program developed by two other Bible societies. We were finally bringing these translators into the 21st century! Why didn’t we do it sooner? Two main reasons: 1) they didn’t have any electricity in their villages, 2) we didn’t have a translation software with a French interface to give them. The first problem was solved by the advent of solar power, and the second problem was solved when Paratext, which now has a French interface, began to be distributed for free. Thus, these translators, who had been using simple electronic keyboards, could now gain access to powerful resources that would improve the quality of their work and reduce the time needed to complete the translation (one of our NT’s has taken 4 years to get it ready for printing, but many of the errors being caught in this last stage could be identified automatically by Paratext).

As I prepared for this assignment, I grew to understand how little the translators knew about computers. I have been exposed to them and have been using them since the 90’s (or even before), but they probably haven’t seen them too much in their lives, nor have they hardly ever used them. I remember working with one team in 2013, using a new computer that our supporting church in Singapore, had provided. The translator moved the mouse as if it were stuck in molasses–very slowly. How could I not only introduce them to computers but also teach them how to use Paratext in only two weeks? And how would I be able to do so in French?

I quickly realized I needed to keep a database of computer terms in French. I ended up collecting 177 terms! In addition, I knew I needed to write a manual so that the translators could refer back to it after I left Chad. At first, I thought I could find something that had already been developed. A co-worker trained translators in Central African Republic, so I thought her material would fit my need. But as I reviewed it, I realized it wasn’t basic enough, and it didn’t fit my style of teaching. Also, it wasn’t as comprehensive as I wanted it to be. I asked a Paratext expert in another organization, who trained a group of us at BI in Paratext in September, and he sent over a set of manuals all translated into French. But as I reviewed that material, I realized it fit their organization’s translation process, but not ours. So, the conclusion was that I needed to write my own manual! That presented quite a burden for me!

But at that point I felt like I hardly knew Paratext well. I had been using it with two different projects, but I was only using the basic tools. Thankfully, a co-worker gave us some training in August, and then in God’s wonderful providence, He connected us to an expert, who lives basically just down the street from BI. We gathered 9-10 of us at the office so he could give us two days of advanced training. I still didn’t know some of the basic tools, but at least I was no longer intimidated by the program. By God’s grace, I put together a 40-page manual in French, with everything checked by a native French speaker (who so wonderfully made himself available to help me throughout the writing process). I also wrote 10 pages of material about basic computer skills. Thank God, He helped my prep time in Ukraine to be quite productive! I was ready to go to Chad!

I arrived in Chad on Nov 30, but Dec 1 was their independence day holiday. The complication there was that I had to register my arrival at the police station, but they were closed that Friday because of the holiday. We tried on Saturday but to no avail. I just had to be content with spending the weekend at the capital, and with the training starting one day late. I actually welcomed the opportunity to rest and to get a little more work done. When I talked on the phone to a co-worker (Anna Beth Wivell), who would help me with the training, it became apparent that I needed to write more material to add to the manual. She had experienced some serious challenges with a team, who had already started using Paratext, so I realized I needed to write material to help the other teams avoid the same challenges (thank God that one team went through these things first and not all 5 teams together!). So, I wrote 5 more pages, and got those checked by my friend in France. I sent it down to Anna Beth, and she got the manuals printed on Monday.

While in the capital that weekend, I got to meet three key individuals, so clearly God had other reasons to keep me up there. I met a language assessment specialist, who can help us find new projects. At church Sunday, I met a linguistics professor, and after church a group of us got to know a medical doctor who has a heart to revive the Tumag situation (this group has stalled in their OT translation work). I also got to preach to almost 700 people at that church, which has three of my former students from my Cameroon days as pastors. I’m also thankful that I got to see a fourth student too, and the son of a fifth student helped me greatly by taking me around to restaurants on his motorcycle (and loaned me his router for my stay in Chad).

We finally got to head south on the bus at 10:30 am on Monday. It was an arduous 16-hour bus ride. The bus is actually pretty comfortable, but spending that many hours bouncing down a deteriorating paved road while listening to Arabic music is not too much fun. Plus, they make only very brief stops, so we end up being hungry most of the trip (not common for Americans but quite common for Chadians).

I got a few hours of sleep that night, and then started into the training at 10 am the next morning. God gave strength to get through the whole day even without taking a nap, but that evening a sickness started setting in. I had very little appetite. By the next day  diarrhea started. I’m not sure if it was the food we ate at the church on Sunday, or what we had at the roadside cafe on Monday, or what I ate with the translators on Tuesday. But something got me! But thankfully, though it made me feel pretty miserable, it didn’t keep me from teaching each day. And since I had already done the prep work before the training, I could just focus on resting each evening (but also preparing a devotional each night for the next day).

2017.12 Paratext training (17)

There were 5 teams present–the team’s typist and a the main translator. The BI Chad administrator was also there to learn. The typist, as I said above, was familiar with the electronic keyboard they have been using, so that was helpful. But they weren’t using the French keyboard or the Chadian keyboard (which require special key mappings to go with the English keyboard on the computers). I wish the keyboard was in French! I also wish a co-worker had put the French version of Windows and other software on the computers. Somehow he misunderstood the situation in Chad, so on 4 of the computers, there was only English interfaces and programs. That was an unavoidable complexity that added to the challenge! (Sometime next year, they’ll get French programs to fix this problem.)

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I’m thankful that the translators were ready with great interest! They were eager to enter into the 21st century! They showed no signs of frustration or despair, but they were quite slow in learning the tasks. There were 3 of us (Anna Beth and a translator who’s already been using Paratext) who would have to help each team step by step as I taught new tasks. But it seems that they were picking up on the training–I hope! And we finished in 8 days! They were quite thankful to be able to go home one day early, and I was glad to have one day to write my reports and to get caught up on work before my vacation started on the following Monday.

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The translators are rarely able to gather into one room like that (the last time was in 2012 when they got additional translator training), so I hope the two weeks was an encouraging time for them. I tried to encourage them through the devotions each morning.

While I was there, the Lord also helped me through some administrative challenges involving sensitive personnel issues. I met with the administrative council of BI’s Chad affiliate the Saturday during my stay there, and we successfully worked through 4 challenging issues: redirecting one candidate for translation consultant toward literacy coordinator (a more urgent need), redirecting our considerations away from another man who is not qualified for the literacy coordinator position, thinking through complex issues regarding a second candidate for translation consultant, and charting out end goals for bringing our 5 OT projects to completion. Oh, and I may have found a good solution to our literacy needs in Central African Republic.

What a productive trip I had, even in spite of the sickness! Thankfully, the sickness went away by the second Tuesday, thanks to the help of a fellow missionary and her antibiotics. Praise God for strength, wisdom, and grace throughout the trip!

Back in Ukraine, my wife had her struggles with Eliyas, who doesn’t know how to sleep through the night. Plus, she couldn’t rely on others to help, since they had to work most days. So, she was almost totally occupied with baby duties–but since he brings her (and me) so much joy, she wasn’t struggling terribly. She shared some of her joys with me through texting, and once we were even able to talk on the phone through Skype. But otherwise, we had to limit our communication, since Internet in Chad is so expensive. But I got to see pictures of him, including his sitting on his own for the first time.

2017.12 Ukraine (7)

 

 

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Dear Family and Friends,

For my Marriage and Family counseling course I’m taking, I decided to read Douglas Wilson’s Fidelity. I really appreciate his direct and comprehensive treatment of various sexual issues that men today battle with. In one place he says, “God does not place His children in situations where faithfulness to Him is impossible.” I had to remind myself of that truth while I was single, and still do, even now as a married man, especially when I travel by myself. A good read for any man!

TRAVELING AS A FAMILY AND SOLO

Eliyas’ world travels actually began in July when we took him to Canada; but now he’s been to Eurasia and Ukraine. I estimate he’s had large exposure to six different languages already in his first six months of life. Who knows which ones will come out of his mouth?! We are just thankful that he’s adjusting to every circumstance with wide-eyed curiosity and contentment (for the most part). We are thankful that the Lord enabled Oksana and me to conduct the Metanoia workshop, even though we also had to look after Eliyas’ needs. Continue to PRAY for the Metanoia church as they deal with persecution.

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I had to go to Bangladesh and another Asian country by myself in October. It was a grueling trip of many flights, overnight bus trips, and other discomforts, so it was probably just as well I was solo. I had the privilege of participating in my first dedication, the dedication of the Inner Seraji NT (pictured above). It was one of the happiest moments of my life! PRAY for successful use of these NT’s. After the dedication, a group of us traveled to another location for strategic planning meetings. PRAISE Him for giving us wisdom in those discussions. PRAY for guidance as we carry out our plans.

The Lord really blessed my (solo) trip to Chad in early December as I taught basic computer skills and how to use our Bible translation program, Paratext. With the help of a native French speaker editing my work, I put together 55 pages of material, and then taught through it in eight days. In spite of battling a stomach illness almost the whole time, I was blessed with strength and wisdom from the Lord for each day. PRAY for the translation teams as they begin using computers in their work for the first time. PRAY that it would speed up their work and improve the quality of their translations.

SUPPORT COMPLETE

We praise God that Heritage Baptist in Flemington, NJ, took us on for support, as well as a dear family, helping us to complete our support-raising ministry. Now we can concentrate on the ministry, while also keeping up with our 38 supporting churches and 28 supporting families. PRAY for God’s blessing on our Commissioning Service on January 21 at our home church in Grand Rapids, MI.

GOD IS PROVIDING PEOPLE

At the end of January we hope to finalize the BI constitution, so please PRAY for wisdom.

We had two literacy workers making trips to Africa to cover the literacy workshops there; but one is resigning and the other is really limiting her travel. Thankfully, the Lord seems to be providing in other ways through contacts in Chad. Please PRAY for God to guide. PRAY also as we have a good candidate for translation consultant in Chad. PRAISE the Lord for bringing us a BMM missionary who is willing to help as an adjunct consultant for a project in a creative-access country.  PRAY for my likely research trip there with two co-workers in February.

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As we enjoy our first Christmas as a family and in Ukraine, we hope you will also find great joy in celebrating our Savior’s birth!

For the sake of Christ,

Troy (for the three of us)

 

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