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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.)

2018.06.03--Ukraine

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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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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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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2017 in Review

I’ve gotten in the habit of reviewing the past year at the beginning of a new year in order to remember God’s powerful working in my life. I did that in my devotional journal, and I want to share some of those highlights here.

  • The biggest highlight of last year was that my wife and I became parents of a cute little boy named Eliyas, born on May 19. Considering that we lost our first child after a month or so of pregnancy, the delivery of a healthy child was especially sweet to us. What joy he’s brought into our lives!

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  • This year I traveled less domestically and more internationally: Eurasia (2x), Ukraine (2x), India (2x), Myanmar, Bangladesh, Singapore, Canada, and Chad.
  • Eliyas’ first international trip was to Quebec in June-July, but his first international trip that required a passport was to Eurasia and Ukraine in Nov-Dec.
  • In Jan-Feb we went to Eurasia for a Metanoia NT workshop and then to Ukraine.
  • In March we visited supporting churches. I lost my voice in IN, so Oksana had to help me more at a missions conference in MD. I got my voice back just in time to go to Myanmar and Singapore.
  • In late March I was in Myanmar for the Asia Consultant Seminar, and I spent two weekends in Singapore, while going to India between the two weekends. I really wanted Oksana to join me for the trip, but it was too close to the delivery date.
  • The rest of April and May was spent getting ready for Eliyas. I led a Haitian Creole OT workshop at the office during the time of his birth.
  • In late June and throughout July we went to Quebec and then down to ME and MD.
  • In August I flew to WV for a Bible Faculty Summit, and then upon returning back home, we had our annual BI events: consultant seminar and retreat.
  • In September we were supposed to go to Charleston, SC, for a meeting, but Hurricane Irma prevented that, so we had a free weekend. We ended up treating my mom to a birthday trip to Shipshewana, IN.
  • In late September I flew to India, and I got to tour the Taj Mahal. Later I flew to Bangladesh to visit a supporting church, and then back to India.
  • In early October I had one of the happiest moments of my life–the dedication of the Inner Seraji NT. What a blessed event to be part of! They received the New Testament for the first time in their language!
  • Later a group of us spent a few days strategizing about how to get more projects and personnel in Asia.
  • In mid-October I got some Paratext training, which would be very useful for the training I would lead in December.
  • In early November we flew as a family for the first time, to Eurasia. After two weeks there we headed to Ukraine, so Eliyas could meet his family and our friends for the first time. He was dedicated there on Nov. 19.
  • After two weeks there I flew by myself to Chad, Africa, where I trained 5 translation teams on computers and Paratext.
  • Some major BI events during the year: a co-worker’s grand-daughter died and their parents didn’t seek medical help to prevent the death, sparking all sorts of legal battles; another co-worker died in August; and I headed up the committee to write a constitution for BI (still ongoing).
  • We started the year at 83% and finished the year at 100%. Praise God!
  • I spoke 41 times in 22 different churches in 7 countries. Only 6 were deputation meetings, and 8 were first-time opportunities.
  • I had a new year’s resolution to read 12 books, but I ended up reading 14:
    • Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, Paul David Tripp
    • Running the Rift, Naomi Benaron
    • Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp
    • The Bible Translator, vol. 67.3
    • The Bible Translator, vol. 68.1
    • The Bible Translator, vol. 68.2
    • Fundamentalism and American Culture, George Marsden
    • Your Family God’s Way, Wayne Mack
    • Fidelity, Douglas Wilson
    • Fatal Illusions, Adam Blumer
    • Tenth Plague, Adam Blumer
    • Men of the Word, Nathan Busenitz, ed
    • New Heart, New Spirit, New Song, Doug Bachorik
    • Les Persécutions au Tchad, Takia Nissi Yondo
  • I also resolved to memorize 12 verses, and I was able to do 13.
  • Another resolution was to witness to 12 people, and God led me to 13.

Praise God for all that He did in my life in 2017! I’m thankful for a sweet, godly, beautiful wife, and a cute, energetic son. God has been so gracious!

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