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Sometimes I feel like the pressure of ministry responsibilities is well beyond my abilities or resources. At other times, I feel like it’s just smooth sailing. One day this week, I felt stressed to the max, but instead of getting to tackle my to-do list, I had to attend administrative meetings in which we prayed for every BI staff member and talked through various challenges. At the end of the meeting, my heart was at peace, though I hadn’t completed any of my tasks. Why the unexpected change in my heart? I’m coming to realize though the workload may fluctuate, the key is that the Lord gives me the grace to maintain stability and peace in my heart as I respond to the workload. Though I wish I could have 100 hours straight of undistracted time to devote to my to-do list (which is what I estimate what I need to get caught up), I’ll probably never get that, so I have to learn how to accept being burdened down with an endless workload. I can only do what the Lord allows me to do each day, and what remains undone will be there the next day. I must not get stressed out, because that’s a type of anxiety that God forbids us to have. May God give me grace to learn this lesson well!

Eliyas’ passport and visa are in hand. His luggage just arrived. He’s just about ready to fly! But are we ready to take a baby over the Atlantic? Only by God’s grace! Pray for grace and strength to endure long flights and jetlag with our little bugaboo (as I like to call him sometimes).

Pray also for greater success with the workshop. We typically cover only 300 verses in each workshop, but that means the project will take over 40 years. Pray we can cover more this time! Pray also for Eliyas to behave well so that Oksana is not distracted as she translates into Russian for me. We also hope to tie up a lingering orthography issue, so pray for wisdom in that. Pray too that we’d be an encouragement to this team, who lives in a country where persecution of Christians is a regular experience.

After the workshop, we finally get to do long-overdue introductions of Eliyas to his Ukrainian family. They’ve already started dreaming about being able to hold him. It’s going to be such a joyous reunion. Below is a picture we took when the fall weather was so beautiful, just before the crummy, cold weather started.

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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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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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If you are planning on a C-section, you can plan a baby’s birth, and you can pray for guidance on when it should happen. But if you are hoping to have the baby naturally, as Oksana wants to do (and I want that too!), then you can’t really plan when that can happen. But we can definitely pray that God would cause it to happen at just the right time. Of course, His sovereign purposes in our lives are mysterious to us, and He knows when the best timing is, but that doesn’t mean we can’t offer up our requests and desires to Him. I’m praying for our baby boy to arrive on May 11 or a little sooner.

Why? Because I have to lead a translation checking workshop on the Haitian Creole OT on May 15 for two weeks (at the BI office). I’ve tried to find a way to lighten my load in May, but I wasn’t successful. How will I be able to lead the workshop if our son is born during the workshop? Only God knows! But I’m praying for him to come before May 15.

Why else? Well, we are scheduled to leave for Quebec on June 16 (or June 15), and we want our boy and my wife to get into a good routine before we have to hit the road visiting churches. I’ve heard that takes 4-6 weeks, so the sooner our boy comes the better!

Oksana’s doctor explained yesterday that it’s when the baby’s lungs are fully developed and ready to breathe on their own that the baby is ready to come out. Somehow, his lungs will let my wife’s body know that he wants to get out and meet the world. Pray that his body would develop well and that his lungs will trigger this wonderful (but extremely painful) process of delivery…before May 15.

Lord willing, the next picture you’ll see on my blog will include a healthy baby boy, born at St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Rapids, MI, in early May! 🙂

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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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On Saturday some of my friends and I moved all of my office items from the upstairs bedroom near the master bedroom to the far end of the basement. We figured that upstairs bedroom would work best for our son’s room. We also decided the far end of the basement is a good spot for my home office, since it meant we didn’t lose a guest bedroom. I’m not as excited about having to walk further to get to my office–not to mention having to use the stairs too!–but I think I like the new set-up. The new office is set up such that everything is within close reach, and my drawing table is not far away anymore. It’s in the same room as my desk now, along with my two guitars.

I’m thankful that my former office’s room’s walls were blue, because that meant I didn’t have to paint them a different color for our baby. I was definitely rejoicing in that small blessing when we found out we are having a boy! But other than having the room cleared (with a crib and a rocking chair currently in there) and the walls being blue, I feel like Oksana and I are walking into completely unknown territory. We have so many questions about the future. Here are some of Oksana’s questions:

  1. How can my stomach get any bigger? (she’s due on May 11)
  2. Will I truly love this child as I should? (she used to long to have children, but those desires cooled down some in later years)
  3. Will this child keep me from traveling and ministering for BI? (she doesn’t want to stop at all)
  4. Is it more economical to use cloth diapers?
  5. Will I survive the delivery?
  6. Can I teach him Ukrainian and Russian?

She has more, but these are the only ones I can think of right now. Here are some of my questions:

  1. Will I be able to tear myself away from playing with my son in the evenings so that I can get other work done?
  2. Will I get any reading done in the evenings? Still be able to workout at the fitness center?
  3. Will my child understand my English? Will I learn Russian with him?
  4. What will we do about his schooling?
  5. Will people have a hard time spelling his name?
  6. Will he keep my wife from getting anything else done at home? (she has many tasks to do for BMM and BI)
  7. Will we have strength as we age to play with him? (we aren’t exactly 20-year-olds having kids!)
  8. How much extra stuff will we have to carry around with us when we visit churches? When we go overseas?

Of course, the biggest questions are: will we be able to raise him to love the Lord with all his heart, mind, and soul? Will he embrace Christ as strongly as we would desire him to do?

Right now, we have more questions than answers, but our trust is not in ourselves, but in the Lord. And we have many examples around us of new parents who survived the transition into parenthood and successfully raised their children for the Lord. They encourage us to keep pressing forward to that inevitable due date of May 11.

On another note, we look forward to visiting churches in the coming weeks. We’ll be at a missions conference at Waterman Baptist Church in Kingman, IN, this week. And then next week we’ll join Bible Baptist Church in Wakarusa for their missions emphasis month. Then we head to Peoples Baptist Church in Frederick, MD, for their missions emphasis weekend. It’s going to be a blessed and busy two weeks!

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Sometimes it’s so difficult for me to tear myself away from the work to write something on my blog. OK, it’s almost always difficult to do so! I can’t understand missionaries who write lengthy weekly and monthly reports on their work. In at least one case, I’m pretty sure they spend as much time writing about their ministry as they do actually doing the ministry. Maybe it’s just a matter of priorities in most cases, and writing about what I’m doing is not always high on my priority list. But I know some people want to keep up with how things are going, so I try to get an update out once a week, if possible.

I’m still trying to get caught up from being overseas for a month, so that’s part of what keeps me from wanting to write updates. I still have a few more consultant reports to get through, which were submitted at the beginning of the year. These reports chart their personal development last year and project what goals they want for themselves in the upcoming year, so my timely input is important. We have 6 consultants-in-training, so I try to give them intensive input. It’s crucial that they be pointed in the right direction early in their development, so I want to make sure they aren’t missing anything. There are two consultants who look to me for direct guidance, and a third who needs me more and more since his mentor is suffering from cancer. The other 3 consultants have their own mentors, but they still appreciate my input. (Consultants in training also submit quarterly reports, which I work through carefully and give feedback.) I’m also trying to keep up with the development of two adjunct consultants-in-training. Thankfully, we had two others but they graduated a year or so ago.

I also need to read the Professional Development Reports of our consultants who have graduated from the Mentorship Program or who are senior consultants. We have 9 in this category. Most of them are quite good at submitting their reports in a timely way, but some are too busy in ministry to stop and write a report (!). Consequently, I have to spend extra time chasing them down until they submit something. I remember a consultant suggesting that we should go back to the old system of submitting monthly reports. After reflecting for 2 seconds on how much time I spend chasing down reports, I told him an emphatic NO to that idea!

At Bibles International we take professional development very seriously. We want to make sure our new consultants get proper training and experience, which usually means 4-5 years of on-the-job training before they can do independent consulting. And then after they graduate, we expect them to keep developing themselves. There are so many subject areas that touch upon consulting, and so we need to be constantly learning to improve our consulting abilities. In the end, we hope it results in better translations for God’s glory and for man’s good!

On a personal note, Oksana and I are thankful that Calvary Baptist Church in Findlay, OH, and some individuals joined our support team, bringing our support up to 90%. Praise God for His provision!

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