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Posts Tagged ‘conference’

Below is my latest prayer letter. I will include an addendum below that to tell about my “stolen credit cards” incident.

God has been impressing upon my heart the need to take God’s Word more seriously. Recently, I saw a video segment in which one guy decided he would ignore the danger sign about the sharks and go for a swim anyway in the Australian waters. His friend said something like, “Around 200 people have died in these waters. Either you are going to accept that they are telling you the truth, or you are going to think that they are just trying to ruin your fun.” Sometimes I don’t take God’s Word seriously, as if He doesn’t mean what He says–but God does mean what He says, and He knows what is best for me. I must trust everything He says.

WORKSHOPS IN AFRICA

I’m now in the midst of the busy last four months of the year, and I need your prayers now more than ever. I just returned from a five-week trip to Chad and Benin (including six days of vacation in France). I and a consultant-in-training worked with the Sara Madjingaye team to check their translation of 2 Kings. I PRAISE the Lord that we finished the book within the timeframe I had allotted.

Then, I traveled to Benin via Niger. While at the capital of Niger, I was able to meet up with various people to determine the potential for a revision of the Zarma Bible that we finished in 1994. Please PRAY for wisdom in how to proceed. As always, the factors to consider are quite complicated.

After three days in the capital, I drove with a missionary family and one of their missionary co-workers through southwestern Niger, known for its herds of giraffes and camels. Just like last year, I saw only the camels! The workshop started the day after we arrived. Along with the missionary coordinator, we worked through the Dendi translation of the first ten books of the Old Testament to prepare them for a trial edition to be published this year. We conducted “quality checks” to evaluate the consistent and proper translation of key terms in all ten books and to bring parallel passages into closer alignment. We worked on such things as the names of God, words for “tabernacle” and “temple,” and the “offering” words. The checks can be quite tedious; but they are important and they must be done with great care, lest we accidentally undo what had been carefully thought through earlier in the process. PRAY for the missionary coordinator as he helps the translation team finish up the last, numerous minor corrections. Bible school starts in January, and they want these ten books by then.

UPCOMING ACTIVITIES

On October 11-15, I will be attending a Bible translation conference in Texas. This conference is a key event every other year in which those in the same line of work can rub shoulders and learn from each other how to do our work better, so PRAY that this time will be profitable.

On October 21-25, I will be representing Bibles International at the Bob Jones University Missions Emphasis week. While there, I will be speaking twice in chapel and doing presentations in six different classes. PRAY for the Lord to awaken hearts to the great need of Bible translation and for Him to give me grace in speaking.

On November 4-15, I will meet with the Tok Pisin NT in PNG team to check their first assignments and provide more training. PRAY for grace to keep up with all these assignments and for God’s blessings of power, provision, and protection. On December 2-13, I’ll go to Haiti to work with the Haitian Creole translator to finish up work on the soon-to-be published NT with Psalms and Proverbs.

ADDENDUM: To catch my plane back to the US last Thursday, I took a public bus from Benin to the capital of Niger. The “seat reservation” issue in Niger is a story in itself, but I won’t tell that here (basically, you sit, wait, and pray that there will be an empty seat when the bus arrives). After waiting almost 3 hours, a bus with two empty seats (one for me and one for an African who was traveling with me) arrived. These 70-passenger buses are quite comfortable: tinted windows, curtains to block the hot African sun, air conditioning, and padded seats. Leg room was somewhat limited, since the aisle was pretty full with various items. When I first got on, I saw no empty seats, so I started making my way over the items in the aisle toward the back. I finally found something, thanks partly to the help of the other passengers, four rows from the back.

At one police checkpoint the officer checked the identification cards of various passengers, including mine. I had to open my travel wallet to get my passport out (an important detail to keep in mind). Since I travel so much, there are lots of pages and stamps in it. The officer couldn’t find my Niger border-crossing stamp, and neither could I. After stepping off the bus and calling various people, he finally found it.

After we had ridden for over half of the trip and had made various pit stops, we made yet another one. We stopped in the middle of no where in Niger at the intersection of two dirt roads. As I had done before, I left my backpack on the bus. I knew no strangers would get on the bus, and I figured that since other passengers left their stuff on the bus, so could I. My bag, however, was probably unlike any other in that I had various expensive items in it: a brand new camera, an Android phone, a computer, a digital recorder, a presentation pointer, a Kindle, and a few other things. I also left my travel wallet in there (in a zipped pocket), that had some money and three credit cards. I tried to keep from “flashing” all these items during the trip, lest I attract unnecessary attention, but I couldn’t help opening my wallet when the officer wanted to see my passport.

During the stop I enjoyed playing around with a few kids and talking to various adults, including one African who had an American flag patch on his shirt, as well as a name patch with “Joe” written on it. I enjoyed joking with him that I was pleased to meet an American named Joe, though I knew he wasn’t. I got back on the bus because I wanted to give a few coins to some of the poor kids I was playing with. I doubted I had any coins, but I checked my wallet to make sure. That’s when I saw that my credit cards were gone. I told my traveling companion, and he alerted the bus helper (the guy who helps the driver with collecting money, dealing with various issues that come up, etc.). He went back to my seat and looked around and may have said something to the people, but that was it. Once we got rolling again, I decided to “preach a little sermon” (in French) to the three rows of around 20 people seated behind me. I informed them that someone back there had stolen my credit cards but that I wanted them back. I assured them that the credit cards would be useless immediately, because I would just call and cancel all 3 accounts (the bus helper also added a few comments to support what I was saying). Of course, everyone denied it, so there was nothing more I could do, except pray for the situation. I sat down and was trying to absorb what just happened, especially thinking about the great inconvenience this had caused since it meant having to call the companies from Niger, resetting all accounts, and updating any accounts linked to those cards. After about 5 minutes of doing that, I just happened to look down at my feet, and I saw two of my cards. I picked them up and looked around some more, and there was the third card!

Then, I felt terrible that I had accused the passengers, because I figured I must have let them fall out of my wallet. After agonizing for about a minute about what to do, I stood up and faced the back three rows once again. I showed them my cards and apologized for falsely accusing them. They then notified the bus helper, who was sitting in the front of the bus, that I had gotten my cards back, so now the whole bus knows that the only white guy has three credit cards. Now I definitely needed to keep a close eye on my cards!

But as I sat down and thought about what must have happened, I realized that there was no way those cards could have fallen out of my travel wallet. The pockets were just too tight to allow that. Therefore, they must have been stolen. Apparently, someone got “under conviction” about stealing my cards and returned them to me. I guess it’s because they realized they were of no value. My guess is that all the passengers in the last three rows knew what really happened and may have even worked together to get the cards returned under my seat. I can’t say I know all that happened that afternoon nor did I understand all the French words that were tossed around among the people, but I sure am thankful that God caused my cards to get returned! I praise Him for answering prayers and giving me protection!

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I guess my feeling of accomplishment is not quite as great as it was when I finished a semester-long course at BJU, but I’m still very relieved to be done. It was a pretty grueling two weeks. But I finished most of the work on Thursday afternoon, and was then able to take a nap and then enjoy some relaxing time on my birthday. I also got to celebrate my birthday with friends in Rockford, IL, last night. The students’ evaluations of the course were positive, so I would say that the Lord gave me a successful course. Two students were in the D category going into the final, but were able to pull it up at the end, thanks partly to my mercy in the case of one.

Now I have 2.5 days of work to prepare the video form of the course. Pray for wisdom as I navigate through these new waters. I’ve never put a course into video format, so it takes some real thought to figure out how to make this course as independent of me in the future (so the students don’t have to depend on my schedule to proctor the course… and so I don’t have too much extra work in the future). I don’t think I can remove myself totally from the course, since I will need to grade the less-objective stuff on the tests, but I need to make most of it as objective as possible.

I’ll be driving back home on Wed, stopping along the way to see high school friends in Chicago (and who pray for me and have children who pray for me!). I’ll hit the ground running on Thurs, as I have three interns in my department who will be waiting for me. One will be staying at my house beginning on Thurs. Pray that the Lord would give me and the interns wisdom so that we can make the experience as profitable for them and us as possible. They will be at the office for three weeks and then in India for three weeks.

My next major project is to prepare for a session at BMM’s annual conference in early July. I’ll be doing a session entitled, “Speaking to the Heart: Missionary Linguistics and Bible translation.” I want to touch on 2 things in my 50-minute session: sounding like a national, and realizing the importance of vernacular translations. Regarding the former, I want to give the missionaries some practical help on how to do better in their phonetics with majority and minority languages. I plan on making at least some mention of the program at BJU, so maybe you could send me some brochures (the conference is in early July). Pray for wisdom as I prepare.

Regarding the second, I want to make sure missionaries don’t minimize the importance of vernacular translations, focusing instead on the majority or trade languages, thinking that such translations are sufficient for all. I’ve heard at least one missionary do just that, and she said it right in our BI office with many of us around!

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