Teaching Literacy In East Africa – Pt. 2

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Primer Construction Workshop

[Editor’s Note: this portion of a newsletter below comes from a colleague of mine who serves with Pioneer Bible Translator and refers to a Literacy course that was jointly led by her and another lady from PBT back in 2010.  To read the thoughts and perspectives of the other woman, I encourage you to go back and read Part 1 of this two-part story.]

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“Boggle.  We have all played the game, and we all have that one family member who manages to find Shakespeare-worthy words with an impossible combination of letters.  In my family it is my Aunt Carol.  And that is exactly what would make her ideal for a Primer Construction team.  For the past few weeks the literacy team has hosted groups from 2 of our languages.  Our goal was to write and illustrate a textbook teaching adult illiterates to read in their mother tongue. 

“The first day of the workshop we had four letters.  2 vowels and 2 consonants and were issued the challenge to write good sentences or a story with only those 4 letters!  With each subsequent lesson we added on a letter and were able to use any previously introduced word.  It poses a particular challenge in the type of languages we work with.  Both of these languages are the type where you can express an entire English sentence in one word! 

“Typically the adjectives change their spelling in each sentence to match the type or “class” of noun it is used to describe.  I personally am very thankful I did not have to come up with their versions of Dick and Jane stories, we left that to the much more capable mother tongue speakers.”

“My specific role during the workshop came in the form of word control.  It was my responsibility to make sure no letter was used prior to its formal teaching and that there were only the specified number of new words in each lesson. When a contraband letter had slipped in or too many new words used I helped the team to rewrite the story or choose a word previously used to express a similar idea.

“It was quite a challenge to keep up with all the languages in the room.  The initial story was written in the mother tongue and then translated into Swahili or English by the team for me to enter into the computer database.  If it came to me in Swahili I would then translate it into English so our consultant could understand the meaning of the story.”

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“The first few lessons introduced 12 of the 36 letters in the language I helped facilitate.  In lesson 12 we had the keyword of Yesu (Jesus) and began writing simple sentences about our Lord.  By the end of the first week we had finished introducing the alphabet and were writing simplified Bible stories introducing the new reader to Biblical concepts, from creation to the cross to Philip and the Ethiopian Convert.  Again, all these stories were held to a strict standard of only a designated number of new words in each story. 

“The past few weeks, and months of preparation work, have been an immense blessing to me.  It was a wonderful time of fellowship with people motivated and willing to sacrifice their personal time to see their people group able to interact with Scripture.  Not only did I greatly increase my vocabulary and understanding of the language I helped facilitate but I gained experience in building a primer in a previously unwritten language that I pray will be useful with subsequent languages. 

“My husband and I came to East Africa for the joy of seeing God’s word accessible to every people group in their heart language.  It is the unique role of literacy evangelism to assist those without literacy skills or access to formal education to encounter God’s written word for themselves.  Pray with us that the primers and literacy classes that will result from the work done during this workshop will lead people to not just learn their abc’s but come face to face to the Living Word of God.”

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[Editor’s Note: I have shared some of the statistics of where we are at today in terms of getting God’s Word translated for every language group in the world that still needs it done.  Our science of linguistics and global mapping have helped us to identify that there are still just over 2,200 languages that have no portion of Scripture yet in their mother-tongue language.

Compared to some of the large world mission groups who are involved in doing Bible translation, PBT is quite small.  Currently we are working in 54 languages, which represents around 20 million people.  We are praying by faith that we will be working in 69 languages by the end of 2014, which would represent about 33 million people.  You can see that even our small portion is a huge one.

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But like I said in the last article, we must get literacy programs running at the same time that the translation work is being done.  The true success of a translation project is NOT when the translation is finished, but rather when people are reading the translated Scriptures and using them in their daily lives and in public, like in the local churches by the preachers.

The problem is the shortage of personnel.  We are having a hard enough time recruiting men and women to become translators to tackle some more of these 2,200 Bible-less people groups.  But for every three or four translators we have in PBT, there is only one person to help them get literacy programs running.  Please pray that God will raise up many more Literacy Specialists.]

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My Life Testimony – Pt. 5

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My Online Christian Magazine Interview – Pt. 5

Recently, I was interviewed by a Christian magazine regarding my life in Christ and the translation work that I have been involved with for over 17 years now. In this fifth article that includes a portion of the questionnaire, I talk about our mission, Pioneer Bible Translators and what is involved in translation work.  My prayer is that what I wrote will be a blessing to you, and be a testimony to the greatness of God who has empowered me to do His work.

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Q9: Some technical questions: of the 850+ languages in Papua New Guinea, what language are you currently working on right now? What are some of the key challenges in tackling that particular language and how much progress has your group been making so far? How do you explain words such as ‘gospel,’ ‘love,’ ‘sin’ and ‘forgiveness’ to people who may have little or no concept at all? What are examples of other tough words equally challenging to teach or formulate for translation?

As a Bible Translation Consultant, I will come and work with any language group that has Scripture ready to be checked.  In these past four years I have worked with 8 different language projects.  In this period of Jan-April of 2012, I will work with one PNG highland language on the Gospel of John, two PNG lowland languages (the first one on John and the second one on Daniel), and one S.E. Asian language on the Gospel of Matthew. 

The greatest challenge I have as a consultant is that I do not know the language that I will be consulting on.  Thankfully, there are two ways for me to check their vernacular translation without having to depend upon just speaking through an interpreter.  Most importantly, each team will take their vernacular text and reverse translate it (called a Back Translation) into either English or Tok Pisin here in PNG. 

I can study this Back Translation and compare it to the Greek and Hebrew and fairly quickly know if there is a problem with the text (missing material, extra unnecessary material, or a clear error in translation.)  The second thing that helps me is the excellent computer programs and tools that we have that help us to analyze languages, even if we don’t know them.  Read through my four-part series “God’s Assignment For Me” (March 31, April 7, 14, 21 of last year, but especially Part 2 on April 7th.)

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Every language will have its challenges.  PNG languages are very tricky in that the main verb of a sentence is normally put on the end of a sentence.  So if you have a long and complicated sentence, you need to wait until the end of the sentence to find out exactly who and how many (singular or plural or even dual) people did or are doing or will do the action of the verb.

Single words or concepts that might be foreign to the culture are also a challenge to doing translation.  In the translation I just checked, the “Passover” (which occurred when Moses brought the people out of Israel) is a long phrase which means roughly, “the day for getting thought about the fact that the man-killing sky-being, and not killing the Israelites’ ancestors, passed by [them]”. 

Sometimes we make comparisons to help the people understand a foreign concept.  For example, a “camel” has often been translated in PNG as “a big pig-like animal called a ‘camel’ ”.  And sometimes we must use other words to convey the meaning of Scripture, such as instead of saying “white as snow”, we might translate it as “white as a very bright cloud”.  It is really “meaning” rather than “form” that we are trying to translate.

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Q10 Aside from translation, PBT is also involved in sending specialists such as teachers, builders and administrators, teaching people to read, planting churches and forming a community to serve God. Could you give us a successful/ ongoing example of changing a certain people/tribe that went through transformation thanks to PBT?

I wish I could give you specific success stories as you ask about, but these stories would really belong to other PBT missionaries. What I can talk about is the larger picture of success here in PNG.  Up until World War II, most of the interior of PNG was still unexplored.  There have been missionary endeavors since the mid 1800’s, but for the most part, the people of PNG remained locked in their Stone Age tribalism, which include terrible stories of barbarism and cannibalism. 

So you can say that the Gospel of Christ has only really been making inroads into the lives of the people for about 60 years.  Pioneer Bible Translators has only been in the country for just over 35 years.  But in that time, PBT has completed two New Testament projects and has another dozen coming along.  Within the groups that have made the most progress of translation, you will also see not only existing churches, but dynamic and thriving churches. 

We are also very happy about how many national men and women are being trained to reach out to their own people.  And some national men are starting to target nearby language groups to help them get a translation and literacy program going.  Just like Jesus transformed Peter from being a fisher of fish to a fisher of men, we have seen some of the people of PNG transform from being animistic spirit worshippers to Christian evangelists.

Training National Translators Goes Well

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Back Translation & Village Checking Workshop

[Editor’s Note: To understand the complexity of running a workshop here in Papua New Guinea like that described below, read Part One of this two-part story. To appreciate the importance of running a national training program like this, you must realize that in the 36 years that Pioneer Bible Translators has worked in PNG, we have only finished translating the New Testament in two languages, and have three more that are close to being done. So training nationals will speed up this process and give us the breakthrough in Bible translation that we have been praying about for a long time.]

                                          

“On the 13th of July, PBT-PNG ventured into a new territory; not a geographical one but a training one. We began planning for this workshop over two years ago. The workshop was held at the SIL Pacific Orientation Course Center on Nobonob Mountain just outside of Madang. It involved 41 men and women from 9 different language groups that PBT works with here in PNG.

“Some of these translation projects are nearing the completion of the New Testament and others are just starting out. It was good for the more experienced national translators to have interaction with the “new people on the block.” The new translators could learn how experienced ones tackle problems that they have in translation. They also were an encouragement to each other and they realized that they were not in this alone.”

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“Half of the participants were in the Village Checking side of the course where they worked at taking the vernacular rough draft translation and checked it against the Tok Pisin Bible. They checked for improper translation, missing information or added information. Then they did revisions to the draft. Some of the newer guys were amazed at the amount of revising that takes place. Then that second draft was sent to the people that were in the Back Translation part of the course.

“The other half of the participants were in the Back Translation group where they worked at making a literal translation back into Tok Pisin from the vernacular. This work later provides the consultant a clear view of what the translation is actually saying. Otherwise, the consultant who has come to do the final check of the translation would have to be fluent in the vernacular.

“After the Back Translation group was finished with that, they sent their work back over to the Village Checking group. The Village Checking group looked over the Tok Pisin back translation to see if it matched what was being said in the vernacular. If it didn’t, then revisions had to be made to the back translation. Then the Village Checking group made questions in the vernacular language concerning the section of text that they were working on.”

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“These include the basic 5W (and H) questions of Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? These questions will be the basis for checking the Scriptures in the village. They will gather some people out in the village who have not been involved in the translation and read the passages to them in the vernacular and then ask them these questions.

“It is important to ask these comprehension questions to see if the meaning of the text is coming through, and if the vernacular translation sounds natural to the people. If the answers they get back show good comprehension, then the section passes the village checking phase. If not, then more revisions need to be made to fix the text.

“Previously, it was typical for these village checking sessions to be run by the PBT missionaries. But now that we have a shortage of missionaries, we are trying to train the nationals to run these sessions. This workshop provided a practical means of teaching our national co-workers in this task of bringing God’s Word to the peoples of Papua New Guinea.”

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Fun Facts from the Workshop

41 nationals

21 missionaries and interns

180 dozen eggs

441 pounds of rice (before cooking)

1,014 pounds of flour

100+ pineapples

25 watermelons

                                          

[Editor’s Closing Note: thanks go out to the missionary couple who wrote this story and who were actively involved in this National Translators’ Training Course in 2010. Their project is still one of the “younger” translations that would traditionally have many years ahead of them to see the New Testament translated into the local language. But thanks to courses like these, national men and women from that language group are being equipped to see their project advance at a much faster pace.

As a Translation Consultant, I very much appreciate courses like these that hone the skills of the missionary translators, and advance the skills of the national translators. This means that when the biblical text comes to me, along with the English or Tok Pisin back translation, I can expect to see greater quality in the translated text. That will make my job easier.

Ultimately, the goal is to get the Word of God into the hands of the people in their own mother tongue language. With trained missionaries and equipped national translators working together, we are going to see more Scriptures getting into the people’s hands that much faster. And for that, we all give praise and thanks to our God who has called us all in this task to bring the Good News to the ends of the earth.]

God’s Plans For Training National Translators

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“Go To PLAN B!”

[Editor’s Note: the following story and petitions for prayer were written in August, 2010 by one of our career missionaries who live in the town of Madang, Papua New Guinea. ]

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“Flight cancelled! Flight cancelled! Another flight cancelled. All of our scheduled small plane and helicopter flights to Madang were cancelled due to rain and clouds on that day in July. Oh no! That was the day national translators were due to come in from the bush [Editor: the remote jungle regions of Papua New Guinea] for the Village Checking and Back Translation Course. So what did we do? We switched to Plan B!

We loaded the truck from the Nobonob Training Center with those who came in by PMV (Public Motor Vehicle) along with our Madang PBT staff and helpers and headed on up the hill to Nobonob. With only half of the students and teachers available for the first day of the course, the classes were combined and all the students began translating the five shellbook series ‘How the Jews Live’, which had been scheduled as a Saturday elective. This series of books provides cultural information that will assist the national translators in understanding foreign concepts found in the Bible.

The following day, the rest of the students and teachers arrived at Nobonob, and we were able to split the group into the planned two sessions and proceed with training that will hopefully enable national translators to progress beyond the rough draft stage of translation on their own and improve the quality of the vernacular translations they bring in for consultant checking.”

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Gratitude For Great Helpers

“We are grateful to Wycliffe Bible Translators for renting us their Nobonob Pacific Orientation Course facilities located on a beautiful hilltop location not far from Madang. We were also thankful for them providing meals for some 60 participants for this three week course. Though official plans have been drawn up for PBT’s proposed national translators’ housing in Madang, we do not have space for such a course as this, which involved national translators from nine different language groups. Please pray that sufficient funding will be available to begin construction on this project this fall or early next year.”

[Editor’s Note:  By faith, last year in 2011, the members of our PNG Branch of Pioneer Bible Translators made the decision to go ahead and construct a two-story building in Madang.  This facility will have 10 rooms with two beds each, two family rooms, and two large conference size rooms for teams who are working on Bible translation projects.  Praise God for the funds that have come in to have it mostly paid for.]

“We also rejoice that a former PBT translator was able to come from the U.S. to serve as a mentor for one of the language teams. He and our summer mission interns mentored several language groups. The interns also performed a myriad of other important tasks including a great deal of data entry and presentation of devotional thoughts in Tok Pisin, the trade language of PNG, which all of the language groups present could understand. The interns had worked hard to learn as much Pidgin as they could during their brief stay in PNG villages prior to the course.”

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Farewells & Prayer Concerns

“Our eleven summer interns returned to the USA August 10th, along with one of our Short-term Assistant ladies who oversaw most of the logistical needs for the Branch. Her service this past year has proved invaluable, and with her gone, that will leave a big hole in the operations of our Branch. But we pray some of them will eventually return to serve again with us here in PNG. Please pray with us about this.

Please also be praying:

  • That those who attended the Village Checking and Back Translation Course will be able to put their newly learned skills to good use.
  • For sufficient funds to construct our much needed National Translators’ Housing here in Madang
  • For our summer interns and the Short-term Assistant while they are back in the United States. Continue to pray for God’s guidance as to where and how they will serve Him.
  • For continued success in recruiting new workers to help complete the task of providing God’s Word for the Bible-less peoples of the world. The needs of our mission staff here in PNG are great.”

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[Editor’s Closing Note: there was certainly a lot of logistical details that went into the planning and execution of this program to bring 41 national men and women, and 21 missionaries and summer interns together to have this training course.  Things often go wrong in all that we try to do here in PNG, simply because of the rugged nature of the country and the unpredictability of the weather.

But we have lots to be praising God for now at this point.  We have a good number of national Bible translators who have had some training to get this task done of bringing God’s Word to the people of PNG in the language of their hearts.  It is a slow process and there is much to be done in doing a translation of Scripture as you will see in the next part of this two-part article.

And we also are constantly praising God for all the people who pray for this ministry of Bible translation in PNG, and those who support the work we do financially.  Without their help and God’s sustaining hand, we would not be able to accomplish this task for Him.  Together, we are all a part of a large team who are committed to bringing the Gospel to the ends of the earth.]

God’s Work In East Africa

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Equipping National Men and Women in East Africa

In going through some newsletters from colleagues of mine in Pioneer Bible Translators, I came across one written two years ago by a couple who are helping to equip national men and women in East Africa to also become Bible translators.  Their story stirred up some good memories for me as I was also involved in this national training program in the past.  I will interweave their story (in Italics) along with my thoughts in this article.

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One Sows and Another Reaps

“In John 4:35-38 Jesus says that the fields are ripe for harvest. The passage ends with, “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” This describes our situation in East Africa. We were blessed to come to a field where translation projects were already in full swing. We have already been able to taste some fruit of our labors and it tastes good!

Most Bible translators have to spend years on the field laying linguistic ground work before translation can be started. Because the East Africa branch of PBT has existed for many years and is using the cluster method, we have already been part of things like handing out Scripture portions, hearing testimonies of lives changed through Bible translation, and have even attended dedications.”

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One of the great breakthroughs for Bible translation has come through this concept called the “Cluster Approach”.  This approach is significantly different from what we could call the “Traditional Approach”.  Let me explain the two different approaches so you can appreciate the benefit that comes by using the Cluster Approach.  And you will also see why I am excited about it.

Traditionally, for almost 100 years since the sudden burst of activity in Bible translation projects, the typical way to do translation was to send one missionary team (single or married) to go live among one distinct group of people to learn their language and culture and then translate the Scriptures into that language.

The missionary team would prepare themselves for a number of years by getting theological and linguistic training, and then they would spend their first few years doing language learning in the new culture.  When you add in the extra time (usually 1-2 years) for them to go out and raise their financial support from churches and individuals so they can live and work overseas, it ends up that it could be about 10 years before a missionary Bible translator finally gets to actually do any translating.

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After all that, because we as missionaries will never become truly fluent speakers of the language, even with help from nationals, it could take another 15 to 20 years just to translate the New Testament.  It doesn’t take much thinking to realize that by using just the Traditional Approach, it would take an enormously long time to do a translation for the 2000 or so languages that still need a language project started.

In light of this, the leadership of most of the key Bible translation organizations started to dream and strategize as to how we could get the job done faster and more proficiently.  One idea that came out of this was the Cluster Approach.  It has long been realized that getting the national people involved in the programs would greatly improve the speed and quality of a translation seeing as they already know the language and the culture for that group.

It has also been recognized that languages are never found in total isolation from other languages.  In many cases, there are so many languages in close proximity to each other that they will share a high degree of similarities which could be useful to multiplying our work efforts and results.

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Add to all this the key strategy that is now becoming the norm, and that is that we need to put a strong emphasis on equipping the national people through training programs.  The Cluster Approach then recognized pockets of closely related language groups and recruited gifted speakers of those languages to come to a central location to be trained all at the same time and release them to start their own translations.

We found that after only one summer of linguistic training, many of the nationals were able to jump right in and start doing Bible translation for their own people.  We saw that when these students came together for training, or if they worked in close proximity to each other, they often would cross fertilize each others’ translation ideas.

One more thing that we see is a possibility is that when one language group finishes their translation of one book, then that could potentially be a base source from which the second group starts, and then the focus is more on revision translation instead of rough drafting or starting from scratch to do their translation.

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This new approach has been going on for 8 years now.  I had the honor and the privilege to help teach part of this national training program right when it started, in 2004.  And then again I taught classes in 2006.  Remember how I said that the Traditional Approach could take a missionary up to 20 years of more to get a translation done.  Well, guess what?  This Cluster Approach in East Africa is going so well, that the first cluster of 10 language groups are all getting very close to completing the New Testament.

Can you believe it?  Instead of only getting half of one translation done in ten years, we are looking at publishing 10 New Testaments in 10 years.  Is that good?  No, that’s fantastic news.  And for all of this, we give thanks and praise to God.

Being Obedient to God

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Who Am I?  Part 22

In the last two articles of this series, it is quite obvious that our family was going through a difficult time. Our older son Eric had to go through 2 1/2 years of chemotherapy to overcome his leukemia, our younger son Glen was restricted from having friends over to keep the house germ free for his brother, Jill was juggling being a mom and studying her nursing refresher course, and my mission work kept me traveling across country and also caused us to move twice for me to teach at different Bible colleges.

This certainly was not what we had expected for our lives as we thought we would live in Papua New Guinea for many years as we engaged in doing a Bible translation in a remote village of PNG.  As I shared in earlier articles, being a Bible translator was a dream of mine ever since I was a teenager.  And Jill too had desired to be active in mission work just as long as I had.

So one of the issues that Jill and I wrestled with, in addition to the worries we carried concerning Eric’s health, was what would be our future role in mission work.  I don’t recall where I first heard it, but the concept had been ingrained in me for a long time that as a Christian, either I was to be sent as a missionary, or I was to be a sender of others to be missionaries overseas.  Send or be sent was the message I believed.

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I asked God to help me be faithful then as I traveled across Canada as I worked for our mission as a missionary recruiter.  But my wife knew my heart and the way God had made me better than I did at this time.  Both of us went in 2004 to the annual recruitment and training week of Pioneer Bible Translators which is held in Dallas each June.  And while there, Jill asked the current Branch Director of East Africa if there was anything I might be able to do.

This simple question opened up the door for me to travel to East Africa later that year and join a few others as they made a Prayer Journey through a portion of that country where they were based.  I was also able to teach a Phonetics course to about 40 national men and women who were interested in becoming Bible translators to their own language groups.

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When I returned from this trip, the question was raised whether or not our family might become a part of the work over there in East Africa.  It would mean uprooting the family again.  We would need to sell our house as we looked at being gone for up to two years, or longer.  Jill and I would need to get some additional training in Dallas since they really needed some administrative help in that Branch.

Each one of these actions would carry their own challenge for us.  But as a family, we felt that God was not only opening this door of ministry opportunity, but was in fact calling us to do this.  And so agreeing as a family to be obedient to God to follow His leading, we put our house on the market and planned to hold a large garage sale.  Jill and I believed that if God was behind all this, then He could certainly orchestrate the sale of all our things.

And you know what?  Our house was barely even listed officially on the real estate web sites when a very good offer was made on it.  I think from the time we placed the house on the market to the late hour at which we signed the sale document was only 3 1/2 days.  So then we had our garage sale planned for just before leaving Calgary, and we sold almost everything (except the kitchen sink as they say), including all of our beds.

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The last six months of 2005 was spent in Dallas as Jill and I went through a course called Management Development Orientation Course (MDOC).  This turned out to be crucial training for us as we found out just before going to East Africa that all of the Directors of the Branch very much needed a furlough break and PBT was needing some veteran missionaries to help fill the gap over there.

As it turned out, I became the Acting Director of the Branch for over a year, and Jill was handed the responsibility of running the Finance Office for most of the 18 month period that we were over there.  This was quite incredible when you think about it since Jill was trained as a nurse, not as a business or finance manager.  But she had an amazing ability to manage the financial accounts, and after only getting about three weeks training, Jill showed that she could organize the system and run that office very efficiently.

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Meanwhile, I too found that a heavy responsibility was placed on me to oversee all the work of the Branch.  The national translation programs continued to make progress, oversight of fellow missionaries and interns was handled, and relationships to national employees and their work with us were maintained.  The work was exhausting, but I am glad that God saw fit to use us to help hold the Branch together during a critical period.

I must admit that the work did take a toll on the family though, as Eric felt that it was best to do his Grade 12 studies back in Canada.  And as this left Glen on his own a lot, then he too wanted to return to Canada, and did so a year later.  Neither decision was done without prayerful agreement in the family.  But the life we had as a family in PNG when they were younger could not be recaptured in our time in Africa.  But that is just the life cycle for us all.  And so my next article will look at Jill and me becoming parents to college-aged children.

Talk About Your Dreams For God

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Keep Your Dream Alive – Part 1

“Can you remember a time before you landed in the wilderness when your dream seemed to be on the verge of coming true? Were you excitedly making plans and working hard to prepare for a lifetime of happiness? Did you feel as if you had the world by the tail, that all the pieces were falling into place and nothing could stop you? Are you now feeling dazed and confused, wondering what in the world went wrong?”

This is one of the opening paragraphs of Chapter 11 of Mark Atteberry’s book, “Walking with God on the Road You Never Wanted to Travel“. There have been many other chapters in this book that have contained great words of wisdom and advice, such as: travel along your hard road with good, trustworthy friends; expect detours but keep on walking; trust God, go at His pace and worship Him as you travel along. But this chapter seems to me to be written especially for me and my family. Let me explain.

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In a previous article, (“A Stricken Father“), I tell about the joy of finally becoming a Bible translator, and then experiencing the pain of watching my son suffer a major illness and being pulled out of our translation project in Papua New Guinea. Our story gets better as we were able to return to overseas mission work in 2006. We served with Pioneer Bible Translators for a year and a half in East Africa, but we didn’t quite capture the same level of joy and fulfillment that we had experienced in PNG. Before we left Africa in mid-2007, I had been in dialogue with a number of our PBT leaders in Canada, the United States, and also some of our overseas Branch Directors.

As a result of these discussions, a very exciting picture of opportunities and possibilities begin to emerge. My Canadian Board and I talked about me helping to recruit, organize and expand PBT Canada. The Dallas office wanted me to come periodically to train new missionaries, just like the East Africa Branch wanted me to train national men and women to do Bible translation.

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The door to PNG opened up again as they invited me to come over and be trained to become a translation consultant and check Scriptures before they were published. This would open up the possibility of coming annually or semi-annually to PNG and work with many different translation projects. There was even one more fascinating role that the new President of PBT-US had asked me to consider doing, to act as the facilitator to help open a new country for field operations in South Asia.

As the year 2008 began, it seemed to me that God had arranged all of the skills I had and the training and experiences that I had gone through, to put me in a place where I would be used by God as a Bible translator and linguist literally in countries and continents all over the world. Two months later though, in March 2008, the symptoms of my disease began to manifest themselves and in just six weeks I went from being a globe-trotting translator to not being able to walk across my living room floor. All my dreams and hopes of this promising future were shattered and almost died.

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Let me turn the focus off of me and turn it now on to my two sons. In these past few years, they too have had some of their own dreams and hopes, which up until recently were also seemingly being thwarted. My older son went to Bible college and was nurturing a dream of working with children and teenagers. He talked of possibly completing a degree and then working as a Youth Pastor. Unfortunately, he did not get a lot of encouragement from some people to pursue this dream,.

But even more significantly, the post-cancer fatigue that he is experiencing is limiting him right now from working at any full-time job. My younger son, as you may have read from previous articles, had held for a long time the hope and dream of entering into the Canadian Army. He believed that he was meant to have a military life and career.

It was offered to him in September 2009, but in a moment of doubt and not feeling ready at age 18 to be a soldier, he passed on the invitation. Upon more reflection for six months, he decided that the Army was for him, but positions were filled by then and for more than a year there wasn’t even any hope given to him that he would get another invitation.

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And so for three years, everyone in my immediate family (including my wife who has had her own dreams unrealized) has had to walk by faith and not by sight, trusting in God that He will one day bring our dreams to fruition. What helps us as Christians is that we believe these dreams of a more fulfilling future have been planted within us by God Himself who designed us to be this way.

Atteberry is right in his introduction of this chapter as he recounts the life story of Caleb in the Bible in that his dreams were only deferred, pushed into the future, not defeated. Remember how Caleb had been one of the 12 spies who surveyed the land of Palestine, the land which flowed with milk and honey. But because of the sin of the people, it would be 40 years until Caleb was able to claim the promise of this portion of land.  And so we will pick up this message in keeping your dreams alive in Part Two which will be published in two weeks from now.