Prayer Update – 5 December 2014

Greetings from chilly (well, it’s all relative!) mornings, clear blue skies and sunny days.
I hope you are all enjoying the weather wherever you are and whatever it is. We certainly are!

So, Mum and Dad Hewer have been here in Nigeria for 3 weeks now. They are staying on site at the Nigeria Bible Translation Trust (NBTT) and have been working with 3 different language translation teams between the two of them. We have enjoyed having them here on the weekends and sharing a bit of our life with them.

The first stages of the elections in Nigeria are due to happen this coming week. There is some concern that this could spark unrest in Jos as our State is considered to be in a key strategic position. Please pray for God’s will to be done in who is elected and for his peace that passes all understanding to reign.

Tim is heading to Nairobi on Sunday with the Nigeria Group Finance Manager Paul. They will be spending time with the finance team there to help them both develop their understanding of how the finance systems work so that they can co-ordinate better with the team in Nairobi. Paul has never left Nigeria before so Tim is looking forward to introducing him to a new country!

Short one today.
Please do take some time if you can, to pray for us as follows:

Good times with Mum and Dad
Opportunity for Tim and Paul to learn more about the Africa Area finance systems

Peaceful and God-directed elections
Safe travel for Tim and Paul to Nairobi
Beneficial time for them spent with the Finance team that will enable them both to do their jobs better

Prayer update – 12th November 2014


Morning all!
I remember being told once that those who had the time to write a diary never had anything interesting to put in it and those who had interesting things to write about in a diary never had time to write one. Not convinced that is really true but it has kind-of been the case with our e-mail updates recently – too many interesting things happening and no time to write about them!
So a quick whistle-stop tour of the last month or so . . .

IMG_2322On a Monday and Tuesday in early Oct we had a Sallah break (in Nigeria both the Muslim and Christian holidays are national holidays). On the Monday we went on an adventurous hike in the hills near Jos, lots of rock scrambling and an interesting time trying to work out how to get back down the hill! On the Tuesday we went swimming with some new friends (a family with four kids who recently arrived from America to join Nigeria Group).

In mid-October Ali travelled to Ghana for a week to learn more about GILLBT (Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation – an organisation that does similar work to us, but in Ghana – in fact the organisation that my (Ali’s) parents worked for when I was growing up). Before you start to wonder, we are not looking to move to Ghana, but to see how our organisations can work together and learn from each other. I was particularly learning about their digital archiving and digital publishing plans.

The financial year ended at the end of September and as the finance department comes under Tim now in his role as Operations Director he was buried in year end processes for pretty much all of October and on into November. Despite discovering a few new things he did not know about previously, the process really went very well considering it was his first time! He also had the complication of introducing a paradigm shift in the way we deal with project funding for next year. The exciting thing is that Nigeria Group really is leading the way in implementing this, but it does mean that Tim gets to discover the pit falls first!

IMG_2336Near the end of October Dan had his one week mid-semester break, so we headed to Abuja for a few days with another family. The place we normally stay very generously offers missionaries free accomodation in beautiful self-catering apartments. This year they were full but kindly found space for us in some longer-term rental apartments next door. We had one two-bedroom apartment between us and our friends the Barnhoorns (who have 4 kids), it was a little cosy, especially after we added Jono’s brother! Great fun though and good to be somewhere different for a few days.

Then for the 3 days at the end of the week just gone, we had our annual Staff Conference. Everyone in Nigeria Group gathers together for a time of remembering what God has done over the last year and looking forward to what he is going to do in the years to come. Tim and I both ran workshop sessions where we had to run the same 20 minute workshop 5 times in row – I went to sleep at about 7.30 that night! One thing that stuck with me from this year’s conference was a reminder that this is not our mission that we ask God for his help with but that it is God’s mission (Missio Dei) that he generously allows us to be a part of.

Looking forward, my (Ali’s) parents are coming to Nigeria on Friday to stay for about a month! They are coming primarily to work with the Nigeria Bible Translation Trust (one of Nigeria Group’s partners) but we hope to see them on the weekends!

Nigeria is in election season. The president is up for election. This can be a time of unrest, especially as the parties vote for and announce their candidates. This first round (Primaries) were to take place on the 22nd of November but will have been moved. They and various other votes will now take place 6,7,8,10 + 11 December, so please be praying for it to be a peaceful process and that God’s will be done.

-Ali got to revisit Ghana, her childhood home
-Good times of rest and fun with friends
-Successful financial year-end processing
-Encouraging Staff Conference

-Recovery of our energy after the busyness of Staff Conference
-Mum and Dad will travel safely and their time here will go well
-That elections proceed peacefully

Blog about Bananas

It is true to say that right now, there is an abundance of bananas in our town. They are available in all shapes and sizes, most of them are very very tasty. I should warn you though, that if you are ever driving up from Abuja and decide that the little fat ones look REALLY tasty – they are not. They have very thin skin and lots of banana, but it tastes as if the harmattan sand has somehow penetrated that thin layer of skin. Gross.

We buy bananas, we eat bananas, but there is always a few left that don’t quite get eaten before they start to go off. The result – well we make (clearly what we do is ask our glorious house help to make) banana choc chip muffins!


If you want to try some yourself, here is a
link to a recipe

Not by works

One of our staff was sharing at our devotion about last years new doctrine that declared if you wear trousers you will go to hell. If you wear jewellery or perfume you will go to hell.

Our reading was Eph 2 – Not by works.

The false doctrine caused trouble in churches it nearly divided families – all because people don’t have the foundation of God’s word to judge and test these new ideas when they arrive.
Folks need to have God’s word in a language and form that they can access, understand and be transformed by.

Romans 12 says we need to test things against God’s word to check their validity – it occurred to me in that moment that it is pretty hard to so if you don’t have access to God’s word in the first place.

Nigeria has around 250 languages without a single word of scripture, or even a project started.

Prayer Update – 3rd October 2014

Greetings to you all!

Nigeria is officially Ebola-free! We are delighted that there are no more known cases of Ebola in Nigeria. People are still cautious and precautions are still being taken but we praise God that it has been contained here.

Dan’s school, Hillcrest, has reopened and life is starting to settle back into a more recognisable pattern. One change is that we currently have a house mate. He is a single British guy who joined the group about 6 months ago. He has been suffering from re-current bouts of malaria and is now staying with us to give him a chance to rest and recover for a while. His name is also Tim so we currently have first and second Timothy in our house!

We mentioned in the last e-mail update that we might be looking for a new place to live. We have managed to resolve the main challenges with our new landlord and will be staying in our current place at least until the end of December.

On the work front I (Ali) may be going on a visit to Ghana in mid-October. I will be going to learn more about how things are set up at GILLBT (Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation) and about how both they and we are going to handle Intellectual Property and copyright. Although I am really excited about the possibility of re-visiting my childhood home I am trying to hold it lightly as there may once again be a challenge with obtaining the visas.

Tim is fully occupied with finances at the office at the moment. This is due to a number of things. September is the end of the financial year for us and as always that involves tying up all the loose ends and making sure all the books balance. There is also the challenge that we are moving to a new way of approaching the funding of some aspects of our work. This means a lot more work for Tim both to educate people in how this works and also to set up the systems so that it will work!

Praying that you are all experiencing peace and joy.

If you can, please take a few minutes to pray for us now. Here are some areas you could include . . .

No more Ebola in Nigeria!
Hillcrest School has re-opened
We are no longer trying to move house

That second Timothy would be fully healed
Visas so Ali can go to Ghana
Peace and wisdom for Tim as he tackles the financial year-end

Prayer Update – 29th August 2014

Kwana biyu!
The literal translation of this is “two days” but it means that it has been a long time.
Due to Dan being on holiday from school, my travelling to Kenya and general lack of routine it has indeed been a long time since I wrote to you!

Dan started back at school two weeks ago and we have been gradually getting back into our usual routine. Yesterday, however, that was interrupted. The Nigerian government has just ordered all schools to delay their starting back after the summer break until the 13th of October. They want to make sure that teachers are trained and systems put in place to reduce the possible spread of Ebola. This is obviously a good aim!

Dan’s school had started back and was already going above and beyond the government requirements so although they have now closed again they are applying for a waiver to allow them to re-open as soon as possible. Please pray that this waiver is granted! The school does not currently have a Superintendent (think Head Teacher) and one of our good friends (Janice Barnhoorn) is having to cover that role until one can be found. She has four school age kids of her own and as a result she has a lot on her plate at the moment! Please pray for her.

In other news . . .
I had a bit of an adventure getting to Kenya for the workshop on the Digital Bible Library. Some of you may have caught some of it on Facebook. In brief – I had difficultly getting a re-entry visa for Nigeria without which I would not have been allowed back into the country after the workshop. Strangely enough the rest of the family was not too keen on my travelling without one ;-) ! Due to the delay in granting it I had to change my flight to two days later and miss the start of the workshop. It was finally granted and most of the parts of the workshop that I missed covered areas that I was already familiar with. Thank you so much to all of you who were praying, God really gave me so much peace through the whole experience!

I will tell you more about the workshop another time because it is a really exciting development that I don’t want you to miss hearing about because it is stuck at the[m] bottom of an already really long and slightly rambling e-mail!

One last quick thing – we are considering moving out of our current house due to various complications and are looking for other housing options. Please pray for wisdom and God’s good timing in this.

Thanks again to all of you who faithfully support and pray for us – you’re the best!

Ebola has not made it to Jos and all measures are purely precautionary
I knew that God was with me and giving me peace through all the visa craziness
I did make it to most of the Digital Bible Library workshop

Our housing situation – that God will provide for all our needs
Dan’s school will re-open soon
The stand-in Superintendent will have wisdom, energy and peace

Prayer Update – 27th July 2014


Morning All!

P1010017Why is it that routine is so hard to maintain when kids are on holiday?  Or is that just me?!  Dan is on holiday so I am spending more time at home than usual and yet my normal "home" jobs are not getting done.  One of those being to write to you!  So today I am making a bigger than usual effort to get this written so you can have some idea of what we are up to at the moment.  As a result of the long silence it is a bit of a mammoth one, sorry!

Dan is on holiday and has been since near the end of May.  He had a great summer scholars program for the mornings of June put on by one of the local schools.  It made it possible for me to keep up with a fair bit of my work and gave Dan a bit of structured time each day.  The biggest upside for Dan was that some of his friends that are home-schooled attended the program so he got to spend lots of quality time with them.

Tim is very busy in his now not-quite-so-new role of Operations Director for Nigeria Group.  One of his triumphs has been working with the Finance Department (one of the Departments that reports to him) to help them get their systems fine-tuned and more efficient so that they can get reports out to people on time.  Over the last three months they have gone from reports being two months late to being right on time!

A few weeks ago I had a great opportunity to gather some more information about a few of the 500 or so Nigerian languages.  One of our partner organisations, the Nigeria Bible Translation Trust, runs workshops for language teams on a regular basis.  Nigerian translators from all over Nigeria gather in Jos for training and to work with Translation Consultants to check the scripture they have translated so far.  This particular workshop was for 26 language teams who were all working on the New Testament in their particular language.  I was able to meet with 12 of those teams over the course of a day to gather a bit more information about those languages.  One of the exciting things to see was how passionate they were about their languages, how much they valued them and wanted to make sure that others knew all about them and most of all how much they wanted to see their people have scripture they could really understand. 
One of the more amusing moments came when one of the teams decided that really they needed to give me a name in their language.  When I asked him how my name would translate into English he cheerfully said "Potato" but went on to assure me that it is a very popular name for girls in his area!

Looking forward, I have been invited to attend a workshop in Kenya from the 7th to the 12th of August.  This has all come together quite suddenly and as a result we are scrambling to get my flights and my Nigerian re-entry visa in time.  The workshop will be training so that I can help with a really exciting initiative called the Digital Bible Library.  The whole Bible has been translated into 18 different Nigerian languages but some may be out of print or hard to get hold of.  Ideally we want these scriptures to be available online for free.  The Digital Bible Library will be a storage place for these digital versions of the different translations that can then be made available through various websites like You Version.  Of course this goes well beyond Nigerian languages, the aim is that all translated scriptures will be able to be released online. 

I will be able to explain it and rave about it some more when I get back from the workshop so look out for that!

Some down time for Ali and Dan
Ali being able to attend the Digital Bible Library workshop
Progress Tim has been able to make with the Finance Dept

Safe travel to Nairobi for Ali
Energy and balance for Tim while Ali is away

Until all have heard


I wrote a blog post for the Elim Missions website about some of the impact of Bible Translation. bibl1

On the 24th May there was a great celebration on an island in the far south of Nigeria where the Obolo Bible was being dedicated! This was the result of over 30 years of hard work by a dedicated team of Obolo translators and committed support from the local churches and supporting agencies.

To read more about it head over to

Great things in Ga’anda!

We work with a ton of amazing people here in Nigeria.  Translating the Bible isn't the only thing we do, we try to help people learn to engage with it and use it in their daily lives.   One of our teams host Scripture Songwriting workshops to help encourage churches to be using the langauges that God gave them, to praise Him. 

Mr Sunday Timawus, Coordinator of Ga’anda Bible Translation project and Area Coordinator for the surrounding languages, reports on changes that have taken place amongst the Ga’anda people since the Scripture Songwriting workshop that took place in January of 2013:

artspic1`One of the things that attracts people in our area is songs, more than reading the Scripture actually.

`I’ve seen the testimony of the people in our village. Most of the people who don’t come to church say, `Now you are doing something!’ After the workshop we had a lot of revival in our church. Most of the time we see the elderly men and women staying at home since the services were not in the language,  but since the workshop there’s been kind of a breakthrough in our place and language. Now, most of what’s happening is in the language so they can understand it and they have rededicated their lives to God. Now they are saying, `When can we have another workshop?’

Dialect Delights.

I recently received an e-mail granting the new codes to seven dialects that I had requested.  Before you switch off (Yawn, Ali is talking about her boring job again!) or wonder what on earth a dialect is going to do with a code, let me try to explain. 

Let’s start with languages . . .

There are a great many languages in the world, 7,106 at the last count (Ethnologue, 2014).  There are also lots of languages, in different countries (and sometimes even in the same country!) that share the same name despite having nothing else in common.  For example, in Nigeria there are two unrelated languages that go by the name of Ichen.  To save confusion and to ensure that we do not duplicate our effort needlessly we need to be able to identify exactly which language we are talking about without having to go into a great long description of that language e.g. “You know, the Ichen that is spoken in Taraba state and is related to Jukun, not the one related to Izere that is spoken in Plateau State.”  Bit of a mouthful!

So, to avoid all this messing about, each identified language in the world has been given a unique ISO 639-3 code.  Ichen from Taraba State is [ich], whereas the Ichen from Plateau is [cen].  No two languages have the same code.

I have to say that from a scientist’s perspective I find this rather pleasing.  I used to work with small worms, crustaceans and molluscs that each had their own unique scientific names like Calliostoma zizyphinum (a personal favourite) and Crepidula fornicata.  These names could be used among scientists anywhere in the world and everyone would be talking about the same thing, whereas if someone just mentioned the Slipper Limpet, it could mean any one of a dozen different species. 

However, I digress.  Back to languages and their dialects.  So, described languages are quite tidy, they each have their own ISO code, all neat and sorted, right?

Er, not quite.  You see some languages are made up of several dialects, these are closely related but sometimes still not fully comprehensible to a speaker of a different dialect.  In some cases they really are so incomprehensible to each other that separate translations are needed in each dialect.  So we need to go one deeper and be able to give a unique code to some dialects as well, otherwise, once again we could find ourselves reinventing the wheel in a dialect that already has work in it.

So back to the beginning – these dialects are ones where language work is progressing to ensure that the speakers of those dialects have scripture in a form that they can really relate to and understand deeply.  I always think of this in terms of French but maybe if we are thinking dialects then a broad Glaswegian might be more appropriate.  Imagine if you only had the Bible in audio form and the reader spoke in a broad accent using words and figures of speech that only a Glaswegian could comprehend – how well would you grow as a Christian?  Always struggling to really understand what God’s Word really meant, maybe thinking that God didn’t really understand you or care about you because he didn’t even speak your dialect.  For many people in Nigeria they face a similar situation.

These seven new dialect codes represent groups of people who are that bit closer to getting God’s Word in their own, fully understood, dialect.   Six have active projects where speakers of the language are translating the Bible into their language!

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