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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!

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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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Eliyas is born!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Each new experience in life gives us another opportunity to learn more about our Lord’s precious ways toward believers. Oksana and I are gaining insight into some of the aspects of the Lord’s imminent coming. Of course, we are clearly experiencing the “any moment” nature of His coming, as we see Oksana’s belly getting bigger and bigger (sorry, no pictures!), and as she gets more and more uncomfortable (though in general, she’s doing quite well by the Lord’s strength).

We are also trying to predict when our son will come, as we see the “signs” of his coming, just as we do in relation to the Lord’s coming. Jesus’ return is predicted by sure promises. For our son’s coming, we have no promises. We do have anecdotes from others, though. They are all just theories, but it’s interesting that people tell us things as if they are gospel fact.

Boys are always late; girls are always early.

When your belly drops such that you can put four fingers above the belly and below the bra line, you are ready to deliver.

If you start experiencing nesting instincts and do nesting things at odd hours of the night, you are close.

If you experience certain pains (which they like describing to Oksana), you are on the verge.

Of course, some of these things may actually be quite common among expectant mothers (especially #3), but one key thing I am learning about a coming delivery–every women has her unique story to tell. Three women experiencing the same thing doesn’t make it fact; it’s still just anecdotes that can lead to a theory, but not a fact. Here’s my theory that I almost believe as fact:

First-born sons look more like their mom; first-born daughters look more like their dad.

No, I haven’t done a scientific study of this theory, but I choose to accept it as almost fact, because I’ve seen it come true in at least three families (ha!). Actually, I’ve seen it in many more families, but I’m still trying to keep it just as a theory. However, I’m expecting our son to look like Oksana (God would be merciful to us if He granted that!).

We’ve had fun preparing our son’s room for him. Here’s a picture of his room before we began much work or bought anything (sorry, I said the next pictures on my blog would be of our son, but he’s delaying and I gotta post something):

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This room actually used to be my office, but I and some friends helped me move everything to the basement. Though it may sound bad to be at the end of the basement, I’m actually liking my new location. My wife and I think it really improved the look of the basement to have my office down there.

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And here’s what our son’s room now looks like (still a few things left to do):

So, we are ready for him to arrive…any moment now! As I have been thinking about our joy in preparing a place for our son, I reflect upon the Lord’s joy in preparing a place for us. Think of Him busily working away to prepare our heavenly dwelling place.

John 14:1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
4 “And you know the way where I am going.” (NAU)

The Lord’s words in John 14 are intended to assure our hearts that He will come back and take us to His glory–because He’s prepared a place for us. He will certainly come for us who believe! Oh, Lord, come quickly!

The truth is that we have no promise that our son will actually arrive. To be honest, our hearts have been a little anxious when we couldn’t feel our son moving in Oksana’s belly for an extended period of time (and then we breathe a thankful prayer to God when he starts moving again!). We don’t know if God will actually allow us to hold our son (our first child died in the womb), but we have confidence that He has only good purposes for all He does in our lives. This is what He has promised, and it’s what we are clinging to.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jer 29:11 NAU)

We cling to that, and we also grasp hold of God’s good character and His power to bring life into this world. He certainly has the power to give us a healthy child, and so we are praying earnestly that God would do that…and that He would do it soon!

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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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Dear Family and Friends,

In Jay Adam’s A Theology of Christian Counseling, my current counseling book to read, he points out the seriousness of the accusation “That isn’t fair!” that counselees often make. It’s tempting to say such words when we don’t understand how good things can happen to bad people and vice versa. But with this accusation the counselee is “challenging the justice of God and the faithfulness of His Word.” It also demonstrates “a clear lack of faith.” As believers, we must trust God and accept by faith what He says about how He will reward good and punish wickedness.

PROGRESS AND LOSS

The month of July began with Oksana attending (with me at her side) BMM’s Candidate Seminar. We enjoyed the fellowship and learning at the week and a half of orientation, and we are rejoicing that Oksana now has “appointee” status. Eventually, we’ll both be commissioned by our new church in Grand Rapids, and she’ll then have full missionary status. PRAY as we continue to seek monthly support, which is currently at 81%. PRAISE Him for the 1% increase!

During the seminar, Oksana’s dad had some sort of mild heart attack. He refused to get medical help, and passed away a few weeks later. He most likely died in the same spiritual state he was in throughout his life—a hardened atheist. Oksana wasn’t able to make it to Ukraine for the funeral, but she got to visit his grave when we stopped in Ukraine after the Metanoia NT workshop. PRAY for her and her family as they now deal with the loss of two loved ones—her nephew and her dad. PRAY especially that Oksana’s brother-in-law will turn from alcohol and false religion and run to Christ.

ANNUAL EVENTS AND WORKSHOPS

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In August, I led another Consultant Seminar, which was probably the most well-attended since I began leading in 2007. Current consultants, prospective consultants, and others enjoyed our focus on dictionary-making and literacy. It does no good for us to publish the Scriptures if the recipients can’t read, and one thing that encourages literacy is having a dictionary in the target language. PRAY for wisdom to put into practice all we learned. PRAISE God for my mom’s leadership over all the food service. Next year our new administrative assistant, Becky Holub, will be in charge. PRAISE God for His provision of a new assistant!

After the seminar, we enjoyed three days at the annual BI Retreat. We are thankful for the emphasis on living by faith. On October 20, we’ll have our annual BI Harvest Dinner, which will focus on our Chad and Central African Republic projects. PRAY for a good offering.

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The day after the retreat, Oksana and I flew to Eurasia for another Metanoia NT workshop. We checked James, 1-3 John, and Mark 1:35-3:22. I’m so thankful for Oksana’s significant aid as my Russian interpreter. PRAY that God will provide more funds for her to go again in January (designate gifts to “Troy Manning—Passage”), which we need until we get full support. PRAY for better progress on this project too and for the health of the two translators.

PRAY for the Haitian Creole OT translator to finish enough material for us to have a workshop in November. He’s been struggling with electricity outages in Haiti.

For the cause of Christ,

Troy (for both of us)

 

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