04 Sep

Robinson Ministry Update – 3rd September 2016

Greetings from your long-lost missionaries!
Contrary to indications, we have not dropped off the face of the planet. Sorry for the crater-like hole/gap in our communications, we went on holiday and all routine went out the window. For some reason it did not fly back in through the window once we returned. Very inconvenient.
Anyway, routine is now peeking its head around the door in an attempt to get back into our lives and I am trying to listen to it. So, here goes with our first update for months . . .

CodIXjOVIAAq7C7We travelled to Canada (an adventure in itself, involving 5 countries and 3 continents in less than 24 hours) in early July for a proper holiday. Some really good friends of ours, the Barnhoorns, (Canadian missionaries also based in Jos) are on an 18 month stint in Canada and invited us to visit them. In reality (and knowing my husband) we may well have invited ourselves, but they kindly went along with it! They live a couple of hours northwest of Toronto, Ontairo in a small town called Palmerston. The Barnhoorns have 4 kids, from Dan’s age on down. We all managed to squeeze into their house with a certain amount of re-arranging of sleeping arrangements. This included their youngest, Esther, sleeping in the closet in her parent’s room. Thankfully she was delighted with this arrangement and it was more or less the first thing she told me when we got there! I think Dan reckoned the Barnhoorn’s house was pretty close to the perfect place to live with both the library and the open air swimming pool only about 2 minutes walk away (not in quite the same direction in case you are picturing shelves of books underwater).Cm3m2ZQWIAAknGB

During our holiday we went on a jaunt (with the Barnhoorns) into Michigan and camped for a few nights near Lake Michigan along with 3 other families that we had met while we were in Nigeria (Munafos, Becks and Winklers for those who are curious). Going to the Lake Michigan beach was a little surreal. Sand dunes, sandy beach, waves breaking on the shore, water as far as the eye can see (and a good deal further) but also fresh water, ducks walking past and no need to worry about the tide coming in. Weird.
Having returned from Michigan and had a one day turn around (mostly taken up with doing laundry), we all headed off again in the opposite direction towards Maine. Having driven for about 13 hours and gotten caught in the edge of what we concluded must have been a hurricane, we finally made it to the “camp”. Apparently, in New England, if you have a cabin by a lake you call it a camp. The camp belongs to the wider family of our SIL Nigeria director’s wife (Crabtrees) and we were able to spend almost a week hanging out with them by the lake. Such a beautiful place and very peaceful, even with 6 adults and 5 kids compressed into it! We actually had a couple more adults for one night as some other friends of ours from Nigeria (Mark and Emily Gaddis) joined us.

All in all we had a fantastic time, busy but refreshing. If any of you are really interested in a blow by blow description of the whole adventure I am working on a rather more detailed version available on request 🙂

rain2We got back to Nigeria with a week and a half to get sorted before Dan’s school resumed. He has now been back for 3 weeks and is settling well into his second year in middle school. He decided to take on an extra class this year which will stretch his organisational skills as it is an independent study class. Thankfully it is Independent Reading which he does anyway, he just has to remember to write down what he has read and hand the sheet in at lunchtime once a week. Taking Independent Reading like this means he can continue with Band, in which he is now playing percussion. I had never realised before quite how penetratingly loud a glockenspiel can be!

Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support! If you can spare a few minutes, please do pray for us now.

Praise
–Rejuvenating holiday with great friends in North America
–Smooth start to term for Dan
–Finally getting an update out!

Prayer
–Having a lot of issues with our servers and internet at the office which has a massive impact on our work
–That Ali will be able to prioritise better both at home and at work!

28 Jan

Robinson Ministry Update – 28th Jan 2016

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
  • 11 Jan

    Ministry Update – 11th Jan 2016

    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

    03 Nov

    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!

    muffin

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

    12 Dec

    Global Leadership Summit 2012 – Tipping Point

    Geoffrey Canada, who started the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, gave a fascinating interview. His whole motivation is about changing the odds. He was totally passionate that there should be no part of a city where, when people manage to move on out, it is celebrated as a major achievement.

    I wasn’t convinced that I was going to get much out of this interview, but as the weeks have gone on, I have probably referred to this session most. This is post 1 of 2 about his session. That probably tells you that I got more out of it than I realised!

    =======

    Geoffrey was passionate about the young people in the neighbourhood that he grew up in, he was passionate about giving them a chance. He observed that all their badness comes down to the fact that they are contaminated with negative messages, of all varieties. The culture is contaminated, their lives are contaminated, their automatic reactions are contaminated, and everything about it is contaminated. They don’t understand right from wrong, so they make bad choices, because they don’t think they have choices.

    He decided that, instead of going in and saving a kid or two, he wanted to pick a block and try to change the culture. He wanted to contaminate the culture with positive messages of hope and a future. He decided that there has to come a tipping point where any given kid is, against all the odds, receiving more positive messages that negative ones, allowing them to know right from wrong and make good choices.

    He studied, and decided that, in order to pull that off, he would need 65–70% of their entire messages to be positive instead of negative. That would tip the balance in favour of the kids.

    There are a lot of languages in Nigeria, well over 500 in fact. And there are a lot of mother-tongue (MT) Bible Translation projects going on. I have very close contact with only four of them, but I wondered what the tipping point would be in order to get MT Scriptures used in the churches in those areas. How many times do we need to pass on the message that MT Scripture has the most impact on people’s lives? What percentage of the Bible readings or sermons or songs needs to be MT before people see the value in it? And then make use of it all the time?

    I don’t want to see so much time spent on translation work, or literacy work, or training, etc., only to have Bibles sit unused in boxes. I firmly believe that MT Scripture is the foundation for evangelism, church growth, personal growth and community transformation.

    What would the tipping point be, to get the whole community involved in the project?

    What would the tipping point be, to get MT scripture into every church?

    What would the tipping point be, to get MT scripture into every home?

    What would the tipping point be, to get all sermons preached in the mother tongue?

    Not theoretical questions, but real issues in the projects I am involved in. I am sure it works all over the world. I’d love to know that some of the tipping points have been in other projects.

    27 Jan

    Off to Nigeria Part 3 – What will we be up to?

    What will we be up to?

    Tim – hoping to get involved in project funding serving Nigeria group (Wycliffe’s office) and other partner organisations – helping them apply for project funding, and develop good habits reporting to their donors.

    With projects in 90 odd countries, and monies being raised for those projects in nearly 60 countries, there is a complex but global funding system in place to serve the money providers and the projects they are funding.   Often stuck in the middle are the entities that are trying to start and run projects, but are required to apply for the funding and fill out the reports often required by the governments of funding countries like the UK.  I hope to get involved in project funding not only for Nigeria group but also hope to help the other organisations in Nigeria who are all trying to apply for funding to start projects.  It will involve some project management, lots of relationship building and probably some travelling 🙂

    Also serving the director by taking on some logistical projects like organising meetings, or arrangements for visitors.  So often things land on the desk of the director, often because they don’t belong anywhere else.  Special requests or unusual meetings.  I LOVE organising things and getting stuff set up and sorted I hope that taking some of these jobs on, Ian the director will then be able to do more of what he feels is he role as the director – to do the strategic thinking planning, envision and partnering.

    Ali – we hope she will be able to teaching in Hillcrest school in Jos

    We hope Ali will be able to put her teaching skills to use at the international mission school down the road in Jos.  This is the school we hope Dan will attend, it covers school years 0 – 13 has a mix of Nigeria and ex-pat staff and pupils.  It is a little uncertain at the moment about Ali’s job there, they are saying there isn’t a position open but that could all change at any moment!  Although teaching there is what Ali wants to do, having a break when we first arrive is no bad thing!

    We do have a wee DVD clip from the school though 🙂

    16 Dec

    Christmas Spirit

    As we approach Christmas this year, I am somewhat distracted by a whole lot of well, life.  My thoughts often turn to Nigeria and our plans to head out there, but also every christmas present we suggest for each other and Dan seems to be preempted by “is it worth it if we are leaving” or ” can we take it with us”.  I’m not a big fan of shopping, but those question do make it somewhat more complex.  It kind of takes the joy out of giving.  Are we giving the presents because that is what you do at Christmas, or are we giving them because we want to bless the person receiving them.   Family’s cultures vary a great deal on the acceptability of wish lists vs hints vs silence.   I by passed the lot this year and did an amazon list of things that we want / need including some things for Nigeria.   Not sure anyone has paid attention maybe it was too late, but last thing I want is another scarf 6 months before we go to Nigeria.  (i received 1 a couple of years ago, which I and since become rather fond of, but won’t need after we move.)

    I was reminded on Sunday morning, just how easy it is to get distracted from God.  at 1 moment my mind started to wander off to the meetings of this week.  Very swiftly was i bought back to focus  on GOd when i realised i ought to lay those meetings down to him anyway!  It is very easy to focus on God when things aren’t going to well, as we cry out to him and lean on his Word (which we are lucky to have in a language we can understand!) .    Often when things go well we forget that it is God who controls all things and has us held in his hands.

    With all this focus on fundraising so we can get out to Nigeria, i pray for God’s wisdom in dealing with it, and pray for his continued provision, but today i want to SHOUT out thanks to him for his unexpected provision.  Wycliffe send out monthly reports to us of the people who have given to us, so that we can keep track of the income but also thank those who have helped us in our ministry.  when I open the last emailed report,  I found there had been two very unexpected gifts from people i can’t recall every meeting.   I haven’t felt this blessed in a while.  Maybe it is my current state of being that it has hit me so hard, but the genuine kindness of strangers who have given without expecting in return, to be on the receiving end of that sort of gift, is a truly humbling yet uplifting feeling.

    This Christmas, it is ours to be reminded of again, the gift given to us in Jesus.

    31 Aug

    How do you judge church?

    Jubilee Chruch - Rome

    My Dad and family are in the unenviable position of having to choose a church.  They have just moved to Lanceshire UK after 10 years in Calgary Canada.  On Sunday we found ourselves visiting “a church on their list” to try.  On the way over I was pondering, well how on earth do you make a decision on which church you want to go to.   What is it exactly, that makes a ‘good’ church?  How much is personal preference, how much is biblical guidelines, does it really matter anyway, as long as you have a good time?   Is it really possible to cross one off the list after only 1 visit?   I figure there are a few things that everyone observes, and probably I guess everyone has their own priority list.

    1)      Worship.  At least this is pretty high on my list. (type of songs, quality and style might be of interest)

    2)      Word.  Teaching, how is it done, what level, how deep, how long!

    3)      Welcome. Did anyone talk to you? How friendly were folks?

    4)      Coffee.  Another one for me.  Maybe it is an interesting indicator of how much the church REALLY cares for its members.  I like good coffee, don’t’ have much patience for cheap coffee.

    5)      Demographic.  Are there people like me in this church?

    6)      The toilets.  Often overlooked, but on Sunday the gents had an 8 x 6 bit of stainless steel behind the urinals.  Not sure what it means, but it did strike me as odd!

    7)      Notice sheet and Mission notice board, give a good insight into church life and what happens during the week as well as the mission focus or lack their off, gives and indication of the churches focus.

    8)      Children’s ministry.  WE have a 6 year old, so it features for us.

    I am sure there are LOADS of other things, these are ‘Sunday morning’ church things, I mean, small groups would probably be on that list somewhere.

    So in this craziness, how would you prioritise all the various stuff and pick a church?  Bit like a marriage, there is going to be compromise involved.  But what about the website?  What about opportunities to serve in the Church.

    AHHHH i’m glad I am not on the open market looking for a church!  It does make me wonder abotu what impression does our chruch give to people who are visiting.   I love the fact that we now start at 1000 wtih coffee and donuts,  and nice coffee too!

    23 Jul

    Togo 2010 Update 4 – Sent on Thursday 22nd July

    Hello families and friends, sorry the updates haven’t been very extensive, due to an upset laptop we couldn’t send any emails whilst in Bassar, so bit and pieces were sent via texts. However, we have just arrived safely back in Lomé to take on the last couple of days in a bit more comfort.

    I’m just going to bring you up to speed on what we been up to recently and then below you find plans for the next 2 days and flight details of our return journey.

    FRIDAY
    In the morning we put our feet up, had a late breakfast and took time off. We wanted to reserve our energy, because in the afternoon we were about to become famous. We went to Radio Reveil, Bassar Christian radio station. After a few introductions with the manager of the station, all 8 of us (plus Samuel) piled in to a very small room, probably made for 2 people, and they hit the record button. Steve made
    a little speech about why a bunch of English students had come to Bassar, and then we sang Light of the World. This may be Samuel’s favourite song, or just the only English one he knows!

    SATURDAY
    Suddenly, we were all thankful for the restful day yesterday, because we had a rather early morning, with breakfast at 6. We had a 3hr journey to Kara and we wanted to start early. Kara is probably the biggest city near us, and it’s where groups go for a fun day. After a quick stop off at a patner organisation’s compound to meet up with our friend Becky. She was to be our escort to the Kara market, where we bought some nice cloth; Becky has been in Togo a few years now and really knew how to barter in the market.
    The highlight of the day came next as we went to Hotel Kara, had a great lunch of pork/steak/chicken/guinea fowl and CHIPS, so nice to have chips again. We then chilled out in or around the swimming pool there.

    SUNDAY
    Got to go to Samuel’s Church today – twice. In the morning we went to their normal service, the pastor was away, but Steve was already prepared with a message about our calling to be more like Jesus. As a team we all introduced ourselves, sang a song and made an attempt at a tradional dance of theirs…looks very much like a chicken dance, we got a lot of laughter in response.

    MONDAY
    A couple of the girls went into town to buy a bit more cloth, was nice to stroll into town for one of the last times. Samuel and his wife had invited us round for lunch, so at 12 we made our way there, enjoy some
    great beef and rice and a very rich red sauce. Was good to spend some time with them just being.

    TUESDAY
    The other couple of girls wanted to go into town this morning, this time to buy sweets. Then it was round to Samuel’s for lunch again (2 invites in 2 days, we’re doing well). In the afternoon we filmed a few
    clips of language learning and Samuel’s teaching to put into a video we hope to produce, and then at 4pm the committee that oversees the translation project, ACEB, came to say goodbye to us. Was a pleasant
    meeting, they introduced themselves, sang some songs, prayed, let us ask them questions about what they do. Then we introduced ourselves and thanked them for their work with the project. After another song
    and prayer we cracked open some cokes and biscuits.

    WEDNESDAY
    Time for the trip from Bassar to Lomé. All our stuff was packed up, the last bills were payed and we were ready to go….but no driver at 7am. Our bus was in the garage for some repairs. Poor Samuel was not
    impressed, but the team did a great job of killing 3 hours whilst waiting. The 8hr drive was actually pretty uneventful, thank you God.

    It is now very nice to be back in the guesthouse, to just relax and not have to do the washing up!

    Here’s what the plan is for the last couple of days.

    THURSDAY
    A few meet and greets and farewells in the morning, we’ll visit the Bible Society where the consultant for the translation project is based. Then we’ll go to the Wycliffe Togo office, where we will meet Napo, who has been involved in the project for a long time, he is actually a native Ntcham speaking, so has a keen interest.
    The main part of the morning will actually be spent in the Lomé tourist market, where the team will have opportunity to buy you all presents (no promises).

    In the afternoon we’ll begin our team debriefs, where we’ll talk about returning to the UK. After spending 3 weeks in Africa certain things can take the team by surprise when we return, so we do an extensive
    job of preparing them.

    FRIDAY
    We’ll continue debriefs and do some feedback sessions and pack our bags. Late morning we’ll check bags in, and then we’ll take the rest of the day easy until needing to be at the airport again for 8pm.

    FLIGHT DETAILS

    Departure City Arrival City Departure Flight Dep Arr
    Lomé Paris CDG 23-Jul-10 AF0861 22:00 06:10
    Paris CDG Heathrow T4 24-Jul-10 AF1680 07:30 07:50

    We’re due to land at Terminal 4 at 7.50am; we hope to get through
    security and the baggage hall in 30-60mins. Please be at the arrivals
    gate in good time.

    See you all soon.
    Steve (on behalf of the whole Togo team)

    16 Jul

    Togo 2010 Update 3 – Sent on Thursday 15th July

    I’ve just had a series of text messages from Tim as Samuel, the local translator’s computer has broken. It will hopefully be up and running again sometime after the weekend. Your prayers would be much appreciated as it’s not only used as a communication tool for us and the team but it has a lot of hard translation work on too. Thanks! So the update below is from Tim, extended to a legible format!

    Monday – relaxed in the morning to recover from the bustle of Sunday’s church visits. Churches on Sunday were brilliant. Afternoon in the office recording some testimonies for the radio.

    Tuesday – final session of language learning (Ntcham) in the morning. Went into town using “what is this?” type tool to practice what we’d learnt. We spent the afternoon in the office learning about the translation process and making more booklets.

    Wednesday – spent the morning in 2 teams visiting families. Challenged to create a word list of all the word’s they learn. We also experienced a day in the life of what it’s like to live with a family in the visits, mostly spent cooking lunch! In the afternoon we relaxed and in the evening the tailor came round with all the clothers the team had ordered, very exciting!

    Thursday – Teams swapping which family they are with, using the word list now as a competition between teams. Now relaxing and a couple of people go to the farm later.

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