Tuesday, January 22, 2008

We made it!

We made it to Boise, fairly uneventfully, praise God! Thursday night Lindsey let us stay at her place in Bozeman, which was a nice break in the long drive. Friday we drove the final 8 or 9 hours to Boise. Gweny was sick and the kids didn't enjoy the long day in the car strapped to their carseats, but they were troopers. The passes and roads before and after them were snowy, but not very packed or icy so we were able to cruise through!

God has blessed us in amazing ways here in Boise. My friends Kara and Travis hooked us up with some great housing for the entire time we are in Boise. We are in a 3 bedroom duplex that is fully furnished and is plenty roomy for all of us. We'll even be able to host some of our home groups here, which will be so nice! Also, my past co-worker, Debi, provided us with a 2nd vehicle to use while we are here. Her husband, Adam, was kind enough to check it all over and get it running smoothly for us. It's a stick shift, so I'm having fun driving stick again! Having another vehicle to use is great. This way I can do things like visit kids and teachers at my old school where I used to work while Houghton and Gretchen can still get around to run errands and head somewhere with internet access to keep up with correspondence. Another awesome provision was a screaming deal on a short-term gym membership. Houghton is able to swim to his heart's delight while we are in town and all of us are able to get our bodies back in shape for heading over to Vanuatu.

Sunday we shared at Columbia Heights Baptist in east Boise. It is a church plant so for them to have such a huge heart and focus on missions was a big blessing. We met some fun new friends. God continues to fill out our schedule for our time here so we are excited about the opportunities. Here's a fun home group we got to attend already this week. We got all kinds of great Asian food.

Just before leaving Miles City, we shared with one last small group. They shared chili and corn bread with us afterward so that was a great treat! :) Here's that group to the left.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Portland, Wycliffe, and Australia

Gretchen (my sister) and I spent New Year's week in Portland at a Wycliffe conference called TOTAL it Up, TOTAL standing for "Taste Of Translation And Linguistics." We ended up driving because flights were ridiculously priced, but it was a wicked long drive! Despite some crazy times (5 hours to go 200 miles on Hwy 12 and spinning some interesting cookies in the snow, we came back a different way to avoid this insane highway), it was a fun trip and we were able to have some great talks and read quite a bit of a book called "Cavorting with Cannibals" about Vanuatu. If you'd like some serious culture shock into Vanuatu, I'd highly recommend the book, by the way. We attended the conference because back in November through a number of things, the Lord graciously made it evident to us that not only is it a 90-some% chance that we'll need to do Bible translation as part of our church planting ministry, no one on our team has any kind of training, knowledge, or experience in that kind of work. Thankful that He made us aware of this now rather than later floundering in Vanuatu wishing we knew what we were doing, we started researching our options. Wycliffe Bible Translators/SIL definitely has the corner on the market for translation training, and they aren't exclusive about who can take their training so we are seriously pursuing getting 11 months of training in Australia as a team Jan. 09-Nov. 09, Lord-willing. To get a jump start on what that training might look like, Gretch and I went off to get a little "taste" while Houghton bravely volunteered to stay with the kids for a week. :)
There were lots of wonderful things that resulted from our time spent with Wycliffe. Many of our teachers are translators in Papua New Guinea, which is a Melanesian people group like in Vanuatu. We learned a ton from them and have some great lifelong consultants now! One huge impact to us during the time is the certainty we saw that this kind of work is not something to be done on the fly or learned from a book, but necessitates intensive training. It was nice to solidify that our time really will be best spent getting this training on the front-end of our ministry so the overall ministry isn't impeded or slowed down or ineffective. Instead, being well equipped should make language learning easier and the church plant more effective. Another benefit was the building of new friendships with other attendees. We met some great new friends and hope to have continued fellowship with them as God leads in their lives. Finally, we really did get a taste of what we need to become proficient in in order to effectively translate. We had daily classes in grammar (I'm going to need to do some serious study to be ready for Australia classes in this area - whew!), language acquisition, phonetics (the anatomy of making human speech sounds and the international symbols associated with the sounds), phonology (the study of and system for sounds and breaking them down), translation and semantics (meaning of words). For language acquisition, I got to learn from a Japanese native speaker, Hiroko, who taught us all kinds of great ways to remember Japanese words. We had lots of fun in her group. (We sang "head, shoulders, knees and toes..." in Japanese for the rest of the group and did some fun actions for numbers 1-10 too.) My sister learned a bit of Indonesian from an Indonesian man, and there was a group learning Russian and another learning an African tribal language. Very fun, but very practical stuff. Our days were packed with classes and our nights with homework and field reports given by the missionaries who were teaching our classes. It was amazing to hear of how God is using the translation of His word into the heart languages of people who have never had it to change lives and let every "tongue and tribe and nation" glorify Him. There is much work to be done, some 2,000 more languages without translations, and we hope to have at least one more done in whatever tribal group the Lord leads us to in Vanuatu. Here I am with Yohana, a Papua New Guinea translator/literacy specialist. What a blessing she was to fellowship with!

We are so thankful for the time and provision to be able to check out this awesome resource available to us. Also, it was an awesome blessing to be able to stay at a friend's house on the way to and from Portland. Thanks Josh!! Please pray with us as we begin the application process for the SIL/Wycliffe program in Australia (called Equip). I'll write more later about our timeline and this program. (On the left are Gretchen, me, and Michaela working on our translation "Zack and Jesus: a story for toddlers" about Zaccheus; our choice for a homework assignment to make a new English translation for a specific people group.)

The Richards and I leave tomorrow for Lindsey's house in Bozeman, then Friday AM for Boise. God has faithfully provided a place to stay, a toddler mattress to borrow, a 2nd car to get around in, and a start on help with babysitting for the kids when we are making presentations. He is also slowly filling in our schedule with groups and churches to share with about His work in Vanuatu. Praise Him!

Friday, January 11, 2008

January Newsletter

Hi friends! Here's my January newsletter. Click on it to have it enlarge so you can actually read it. If you don't receive it via e-mail now, let me know and I'll add you to my list!