Who Am I?  Part 24

In the last article of this series, we left off at the point in 2007 where we were able to reunite our family of four.  For about three months, we were actually split up into three places when Glen went back to Canada.  Jill and I stayed on in East Africa to finish our administrative duties, Eric had stayed in the basement suite of some friends, and Glen room-and-boarded at the home of some other friends of ours in Calgary.

But God brought us all back together as soon as we returned from Africa.  What was so neat was that in March when I brought Glen back to Canada, I overheard a friend say to his wife that he wished he could find some good tenants for his condo rental, and that led to us having a place to move into immediately when we returned to Canada ourselves.  And just as immediately, our two sons moved in with us and we were all together again.

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So that got our family settled.  Jill was able to get hired right back on to the same unit at the hospital (which happened to be directly across the road from our apartment).  Eric was going to take a year of classes at our local Bible college, and Glen had his Grade 12 year of online schooling to do.  And that gave direction for our boys.  Which kind of meant that I was left hanging, not knowing what I was supposed to be doing.

It turned out that the answer for what I should do next came rather quickly.  An invitation by email came to me from our Papua New Guinea Branch to consider coming over there in August 2007 so that I could attend a six-week course to be trained to become a Bible Translation Consultant.  This meant leaving the family again within weeks of coming back from Africa, but Jill encouraged me to get this training since we didn’t really know yet what lay ahead for us.

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The time went quickly, and it seemed like suddenly there I was, back at the mission base that we had so hastily evacuated as a family five years before when Eric began his cancer journey with leukemia.  (You can read about that story here.)  Now I am not known to be a real emotional guy, but I must admit that for many days I had tears in my eyes as I went around the mission center and memories came back to me of our time as a family there.

But those were tears of joy now, not tears of grief and despair.  And I knew that God was healing a part of me that had been seared with pain when I saw my son so sick back in 2002, and as I also realized that our ministry in PNG had come to an end.  But God is so good, and He not only healed me of the past, He also gave a brand new future to me.  I was there to become a Translation Consultant.

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Let me explain for a minute the importance of the training I was about to receive at this course in PNG.  The goal of everyone in our mission, Pioneer Bible Translators, whether directly or indirectly, is to get the translated Word of God into the hands of the local people in a language that speaks to the hearts of the people.  So we start the process by making an initial rough draft of the Scripture portion we are working on, and after a lengthy period of testing and revising, we bring that portion to the trained consultant for a final check before the Scripture can be published.

The problem is that we see more Scriptures being prepared for the consultant checking phase than there are consultants available to do the actual checking.  We have had a serious bottleneck over the years of backlogged material ready to go forward, but very few consultants to come check the translations.  So I was eager to get this training, not just so I could become a consultant, but because I saw the importance of doing what it took to help out to get this backlogged material through.

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I must say now as I look back on that training, that I think I felt more fulfilled in this experience and in the direction it was taking me than in just about anything else I have ever done.  All of a sudden I realized how all of the experiences of my life had added up to this moment of becoming a Bible Translation Consultant.  Obviously the five years we had done translation work in the remote village of PNG gave me excellent field experience to draw on.  But everything else made sense too.

The theological training from Bible college and two seminaries helped prepare me to do good exegetical inquiries into the translations.  The linguistic training helped me to probe the translations grammatically and semantically.  All my cross-cultural experiences helped me to ask good culturally sensitive questions.  And the 5 years of pastoral work back in North America helped me to see how the translated Word of God would evangelistically impact the people who would receive the translated Scriptures.

Certainly there have been a lot of things that I have thanked God for Him bringing into my life.  But I think the translation consultant training would rank as my  best experience of my entire life.  And after it was over, and when I actually got to use the training in February of ’08 back in PNG, I knew I had found what I had always been looking for.  So as I turned 47 that year, I guess I finally answered the question of what I wanted to do when I grew up.