28 Jan

Robinson Ministry Update – 28th Jan 2016

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Greetings from a surprisingly cold Jos,
Okay, so not really cold by English standards but our house thermometer reads 19.1oC as I sit here writing this in leggings, a long skirt, socks, vest, long-sleeved top and fleece. Definitely cold for West Africa.

Things are busy at the office at the moment. Tim is still working intensively with the Human Resources team that has a lot of new staff who have joined it recently. Tom Crabtree, the Executive Director of SIL Nigeria and his wife, Robyn, who is the Human Resources team leader, are both travelling to the States for training in a few days. They will be gone for about a month, during most of which Tim will be the Acting Director for SIL Nigeria. During this period we have quite a few new and returning staff arriving in Nigeria. Please pray for Tim, for protection in this temporary role and especially that he will be able to handle well, with grace and wisdom, any issues that might arise.

CWBOWrPW4AA0XYiMost of my (Ali’s) week has been spent updating NigeL, who is our in-house database of information on Nigerian languages and the projects taking place in those languages. With over 500 languages spoken in Nigeria, at least 7 different organisations involved in Bible translation and around 140 actively ongoing projects, it takes a database and quite a bit of work to keep track of it all. The current push is to ensure that the information about language projects is up to date. The reason for this is a meeting taking place on Friday 29th between those 7 organisations called the Language Programs Coordination Forum (LPCF). We hope to be able to provide them with an accurate list of all the active language projects across all the organisations to help the different organisations to coordinate their efforts more easily.

Dan is settling into this term well and doing much better at getting his homework done in a timely fashion. His appetite for books continues unabated. On Fridays afternoons he is allowed to take 5 books out from the library, on Monday morning this week he informed me that he had already finished reading them all despite the fact that at least one of them was over 500 pages long! He is also currently enjoying staying after school one day a week to play basketball.

On the home front, it is tomato season which means it is canning season! Over the next few weeks we plan to can (or is jar a more appropriate term?) enough tomato based pasta sauce (currently cooking on the fire outside), salsa and whole peeled tomatoes to last a year. It is a lot of work but it will mean that we will have a good stock for the months when tomatoes are scarce and expensive and we want to eat bolognaise!

Praise

  • Skilled househelp who will do most of the canning.
    A meeting between the main Bible Translation organisations in Nigeria (LPCF)
  • Prayer

  • Tim’s time as Acting Director over the next month will be blessed
    That the LPCF meeting will be productive and the different organisations will be able to communicate clearly
  • 16 Jan

    Kasem Bible Dedication

    4-IMG_7782A few months ago I (Ali) had the massive privilege of being able to attend the dedication of the Kasem Bible. In fact, this privilege started a long time before that. My parents have worked with the Kasena people to translate the scriptures into their language from before I was born. I was born into that work. I had the privilege of growing up in Kasena-land and realising from a very early age how important the Bible is and therefore how important it is that people can really understand it.

    1-IMG_7180A young Ghanaian man (Bismark) accompanied us up from the South on this trip to the Bible dedication and he was really struggling to understand why my parents would have left everything they knew, all of their family and a comparatively comfort-filled life in the UK to live in the conditions that they first lived in. No electricity, no running water, no phones, small rooms that the sun beat directly on so that Mum admitted that there were times when she thought she was going to die because it was so hot. You have to understand that my mother is not given to over-dramatization. Seeing Bismark wrestle with this understanding brought home to me just how much my parents were willing to sacrifice to serve God. It challenged me to ask if I am willing to sacrifice that much.
    I want to tell you about one of the moments on the trip that had the biggest impact on me.

    3-IMG_7433An old man sits outside under a tree on a rough wooden bench. He has had leprosy for a long time. One of his legs just ends in a stump, the whole foot is missing. His right hand is deformed and close to useless. His clothes are old and worn and his hair is gray. This is what most people would have noticed, with pity, when they first saw him. But when he looks up, his eyes are shining and he smiles broadly. This man is Oscar Ayira, a man who was involved in the translation work for the Kasem Bible at the very start of the work in the late 60s, even before my parents were on the scene. He is an inspiration to me. When we came to bring him a copy of the completed Bible he was so grateful. 5-IMG_8068 He asked if he could pray for us. He prayed in Kasem and although I could not understand all of his words I was in tears, even writing this now my eyes are welling up. This is not a man to be pitied, this man knows and loves God and now has an opportunity to get to know him even better as he sits under the tree and reads God’s Word in the language he understands best. He will teach the children of the compound and they will have the privilege of growing up with good access to God’s Word. They will be the first generation of Kasenas who can read the whole Bible in their language from childhood.

    2-IMG_7430The Kasenas have the Bible, but of course the story does not stop there. The Bible is useless unless we are allowing it to impact us, it has no benefit sat on a shelf. Please pray that for the Kasena people, the Kasem Bible will be the start of a fresh understanding of God, a closer relationship with their awesome creator.

    11 Jan

    Ministry Update – 11th Jan 2016

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    Loss . . .
    It comes in many different forms and can leave you reeling and in pain.
    We have experienced two specific losses over the last few weeks. Both very different but both painful.

    The first loss was the death of a close friend of ours (Tim Pickering) who was also Daniel’s God-father. He was in his mid-forties and leaves behind a wife and two young children. It happened very suddenly on the 15th December and we are still in shock.
    Please pray for his wife Kath and children Abigail and Caleb. We feel the distance in the fact that we can’t be there to help Kath or even to give her a hug. But we know that no distance is too far for our prayers to penetrate and that ultimately God can comfort them far better than we can. Still hurts.

    The second loss was far less tragic but will have a big impact on us none the less. When we first came to Nigeria we spent the first three weeks staying with the Holman family: Ian, Lizz and their kids Edward, William and Kathryn (not to mention Harry who has been born since then). Ian and Lizz are both Wycliffe missionary kids, just like Tim and I are, and we became really good friends. On the 30th December they left Jos to return to the UK for the forseeable future. Our whole family will miss them very much.

    Please pray for us as we process these losses.

    Pray
    Comfort and peace for Kath and the kids
    Good transition for the Holman’s as they move to the UK

    Praise
    We serve a faithful God who remains our loving Father even when everything else is falling apart

    02 Jan

    2015 in Nigerian Numbers (and other Bible books).

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    Bible Translation is all about resourcing the local church with scripture that people in their community can truly understand, engage with and be transformed by. We can’t count converts or restorations, but we do hear story after story of lives changed. We know that the more people who have access to translated scripture; the more lives are changed by it. In 2015 the following groups having worked tirelessly over many years received translated scripture.

    Portions:
    Tarok Old Testament books – 300 thousand speakers
    Nyankpa Gospel according to Mark – 70 thousand speakers
    Duya Acts of the Apostles – 78 thousand speakers

    New Testaments:
    Tula New Testament – 30 thousand speakers
    Tyap New Testament – 130 thousand speakers

    Between Tyap and Tula who both received their new testaments, 160 thousand speakers were able to understand the Christmas story possibly for the very first time this year — pretty cool. It really opens the doors for evangelism, discipleship, church planting and dozens of other ministries with the church here.

    Obolo man reading his Bible for the first time.

    Obolo man reading his Bible for the first time.

    Bibles:
    Hausa Common Language Bible – 18 million speakers

    The Hausa Common Language is the people’s Hausa, the language that they really speak and understand well. In fact Hausa is a language spoken, usually fluently, by an additional 15 million Nigerians who are not actually Hausas. This means that this translation has the potential to impact 33 million people! The original Hausa translation was like trying to read and understand the King James, okay to a point, but not always the most accessible and useable. Any version of scripture you can really understand easily is far more likely to be used and far more likely to change lives.

    24 Nov

    High or low – it is all about Tone.

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    20150609_092858I love hearing stories from around the world illustrating the importance of having a good understanding of a language and culture before launching into translation.

    One thing our linguistics experts try to work on is a language’s tonal structure. What this means is that the tone used when saying a word can completely change the meaning.

    One of my colleagues shared this story recently.

    “One missionary translator in East Africa had never accurately analysed the tonal differences in a local language and accordingly in the communion service, he seriously mispronounced the statement, “This cup of blessing do we bless”. What the people heard was “This cup of poison do we bless”, because the words for blessing and poison differed only in tonal patterns. But the congregation did not realise that this was a mistake in pronunciation. They themselves had a custom of drinking a poison cup in the case of trial by ordeal when someone died under mysterious circumstances. Accordingly, the people assumed that each Sunday believers drank a poison cup and in this way showed that they were innocent.” In writing, it would be crucial to mark such a tonal difference, otherwise major misunderstandings would ensue.

    Isn’t that amazing – the difference HOW you say the word can make! Our teams do multiple drafts and checks to make sure the final product is both accurate and understandable.

    09 Nov

    Ministry update – 9th November 2015

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    Dear Awesome People,
    Thank you so much for your prayers and support of us and through us, of God’s work here in Nigeria.
    It means so much to us when we hear from you that you are praying for us. We received a couple of postcards from our church a few weeks ago and it was so encouraging to know that people are thinking, and much more importantly, praying, for us! There is something special about getting something in the post, at least for me! Maybe it is because I was not really born in the digital age? However, e-mails and Facebook messages and other digital communications are also great to get!

    We are going through a bit of a busy time at the moment.

    We had our annual Staff Conference at the end of last week. It was a fantastic time of getting together with all of our staff who are in Nigeria, celebrating what God has done and reminding ourselves of the importance of prayer through everything we do. There were also some sessions dealing with tough issues like funding and how that is changing. Tim was very involved in planning and presenting that topic. There was some concern beforehand about how it would be received but we had some really encouraging feedback afterwards. They said that Tim did a great job of presenting a very difficult and potentially controversial subject clearly, interactively and in a way that helped people to really understand it better. James Poole (the Wycliffe UK director) joined us for Conference and led the devotions each morning. He spoke on Jesus’ parables from Matthew 13 and managed to make an oh-so-familiar passage
    speak in a new way to me.

    There have also been a number of social/community events that I (Ali) have been involved in preparing things for. One was our celebration of Bonfire night last night that involved Sticky Toffee Pudding cooked on the fire! Another one is coming up on Saturday, the biannual International Food Fair at Dan’s school.

    On Sunday morning I am traveled to Abuja and from there I flew on to Ghana. I will spend a week and half in Ghana, joining in the celebration and dedication of the full Bible in Kasem. My parents first started working in the Kasem language before I was born so this is also a kind of celebration of their life’s work! Most importantly however, it is a celebration that another group of people has the full Word of God in the language that will best speak to them! Please pray that God’s Word will not just remain on the pages but will be written on their hearts and minds.

    I will be leaving Tim and Dan at home in Nigeria. We also have a good friend staying with us for the month, Jono Barnhoorn, whose family are in furlough at the moment in Canada. He will be with Tim and Dan while I am away so I am sure they will have fun together!

    If you can, please take a few minutes to pray for us . . .

    Praise
    An encouraging Staff Conference
    Lots of fun community activities to get involved in

    Prayer
    Safe travel for me to the north of Ghana for the Kasem dedication
    That the Kasem Bible will impact lives and not just be a book on the shelf
    Peace and joy for Tim and Dan while I am gone
    That Tim and I will communicate well in the midst of the busyness

    09 Oct

    Ministry update – 9th October 2015

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    Good morning from what may well be one of our last damp days of the season.

    The weather is changing. We are reaching the end of rainy season and are experiencing some big wind storms. They can be quite exhilarating but also potentially a little dangerous. When I was little, growing up in the north of Ghana, we had a really wild wind storm, and it took the roof off our house! Thankfully this time we have escaped anything beyond a few small branches coming down.

    Change is often turbulent and can be messy, it can be exciting and at the same time tiring. It can remove dead wood and bring potential for fresh growth.

    Tom&IanWe are in the middle of considerable change at work. We have a new Director for SIL N1geria, Tom Crabtree (on the left in the picture). He and his wife are godly, prayerful, wise people, not to mention good friends of ours :-) and we are looking forward to a new era. Our previous Director, Ian Hollman, did an amazing job and really knit together a diverse group of people with one passion – to see God’s Word being used and understood by people from every language group in Nigeria. He is now focusing on his job as an Africa Area Director and he and his family will still be based in Nigeria for the time being. We are very happy about this as our families are close and we would miss them terribly if they left Nigeria.

    With this charge of Director has come some change to the structure and set up of our group. Tim has been responsible for the Finance, Facilities Management and IT teams for a while and Tom asked Tim to add the Human Resources team to his responsibilities. He is looking forward working with a new group of people, many of whom he has worked with on projects before. It will be a learning curve but we thanks God for His timing and His provision and His peace throughout these changes!

    Still on the subject of change, our next door neighbours (Kostrevas) are leaving Nigeria next month. One of the many blessings of our life here is that we get to share our lives with people from all over the world. And we really do share our lives, we become family to each other because usually our blood families are not nearby. However, this blessing also brings a challenge because people come and go. We sometimes have to say “Goodbye” to parts of our adopted family with no expectation of ever seeing them again, at least until Jesus returns!

    Praise
    • New beginnings in SIL N1geria
    • Friends who become family

    Prayer
    • That we will cling to God in the midst of the changes and always seek His will
    • Wisdom and strength for Tom, the new Director, and for Tim with his new team
    • Peace and joy even as we say “Goodbye” to family

    10 Sep

    Ministry Update – 9th September 2015

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    Delightfully damp greetings from Jos,
    I know that rain is a blessing as I sit here watching the rain fall this morning. All living things need water (trust me, I have been a Biology teacher, I know these things!). However, sometimes the actual coming down of the rain does not feel like a blessing.
    Thought that I am now pondering . . . are there other blessings in our lives that don’t always feel like blessings? That we forget to thank God for as a result? Your fellow musings on a postcard (or by e-mail) gratefully received.

    Reading through the last update we sent out, not much seems to have changed. We are still having issues with securing group cash, please do continue to pray for a good resolution for that. I am still wading through my e-mail backlog. Dan is keeping his head above water at school but is struggling a bit with organisation and keeps losing things.

    There are two things that I (Ali) was involved in over the last two weeks that I wanted to share with you. One of the things that I do is to maintain a database of all the translation projects in N1geria and all the materials (especially scripture) that have been produced. I nicknamed the database NigeL as it is the Nigerian Languages database and it is a lot easier to say NigeL. 😉

    At the end of last week, a friend of mine who works for a partner organisation told me that he was travelling to a state north of Jos to work with a people group called the Polci for a few days. As a result of my work with the database I was able to tell him that there was a language project working on translating the New Testament into a closely related language. When he came back from his trip he told me that the people he was working with said that they also wanted the New Testament in their language and wanted to know how to go about it. In fact one of the people he was working with was so desperate to meet with him that he swam across a fast-flowing swollen river to talk about translating God’s Word into his language!

    Another Nigerian friend, a colleague at SIL N1geria, has been working on raising financial and prayer support amongst Nigerians and Nigerian churches. One of his supporters is passionate about getting the Bible in his language (Esan) and wanted to know if anything had been translated yet in his language. After a bit of research I found that some ground work had been done by a partner organisation but nothing was published before the project ground to a halt. This supporter is rapidly mobilising people to get involved with the project so that they can finally get God’s Word in their language.

    It is this evidence of hunger for God’s Word among N1gerians that inspires us as we work. Please pray that God’s will is done as these two people groups seek to take the next step towards the scriptures in their languages.

    I(Tim) held a meeting with all my operations team a couple of weeks ago and we had a wonderful time together. We spent time exploring who we are, what we do as part of

    ‘Seeing Nigerian communities have access to scriptures in their language and be using them to transform their communities’

    and also spent some time praying together.

    Praise
    We are blessed with abundant rain!
    Many N1gerians are hungry for God’s Word in their language

    Prayer
    Financial issues to be resolved completely and in a way that honours God
    That Dan will find the things that he has lost and will be able to tighten up his organisation!
    That the Esan and Polci will be able to make progress towards the scriptures in their languages.

    15 Aug

    Ministry Update – 15th August 2015

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    Greetings once again from Jos!

    We are safely back to our N1gerian home and settling in well. Dan has started school and despite tiredness and a definite increase in the volume of homework, he is remaining positive and doing well.

    Rainy season is in full flow, we get rain most afternoons. In fact the last three days, the rain has started pretty much on the dot of 3pm, right when I need to leave to collect Dan from school, and when it rains here, it does not mess around! The road becomes a river, masking the deceptively deep potholes and making travel by kekenapep (N1geria’s version of the tuk-tuk, aka motorised rickshaw) a rather damp adventure.

    Tim and I are back at work. I am battling large volumes of e-mail and processing some possible changes to my role, more on that another time.
    Tim has come back into some very tricky situations relating to our group finances. Praise God it is not any issue within the organisation but rather an external issue that is affecting our ability to get money transferred into the country. This in turn means that we can’t get enough cash as an organisation and therefore having to find alternative pay our bills in-country. When some of those bills relate to immigration charges it could also affect individuals’ ability to remain in the country! Please pray for God’s good and perfect will to be done so that the situation might be resolved in the best possible way, bringing glory to His name.

    One piece of exciting news that we received just before we left the UK is that SIL N1geria (the group that we work with here) has finally been incorporated as an organisation. It is a bit of a long story (somewhat crazy details available on request) but the key thing is that this means that we are now officially recognised here and we are praying that God will use this to open more doors for us, to do things like working with the government to promote the use of minority languages in education.

    Thank you for all your prayers and support, we are able to be here because of you.

    Praise
    Settled back into life here quickly and with minimal disruption
    Dan is tackling middle school with a positive attitude
    SIL N1geria now incorporated

    Prayer
    Good resolution for the financial issues facing SIL N1geria
    Dan to adjust to the increased responsibility he needs to take at school and to the more challenging homework
    Godly wisdom for me as I process how my role might change

    31 Jul

    Ministry update – 31st July 2015

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    Greetings from our last few days in the UK.

    Tomorrow our iceberg sets sail for home (if you have no idea why I am talking about icebergs, take a look at our previous update). It has been great to see so many people who are integral parts of our iceberg and I hope that we have been able to be part of your icebergs too. We are floating high and really looking forward to getting back to N1geria, looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues again, looking forward to getting stuck back into work, and to be honest, looking forward to sleeping in our own beds again!CLQsKT0W8AATwTC

    I has been a bit of a whirlwind and we are tired, but sharing about God’s work in N1geria and our small part in it has had the slightly unexpected side-effect of re-enthusing us! It has helped us to lift our heads and remember the big picture and see more clearly how our little corner fits in.

    Praise
    A good, re-envisioning time in the UK with a remarkably good balance of times of rest and times of busyness
    Looking forward to heading home to Nigeria

    Prayer
    Safe travels flying to Abuja and then by road to Jos
    For a good settling in time and not to much work to do on the house

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