18 Aug

Robinson Ministry Update – 18th August 2017

Dear lovely people,

I pray that your summer is going well with good family times.  Our summer has come to an end with Dan returning to school and the weather taking a turn for the chillier (only 22oC in the house this morning 😉 ).

Dan is really pleased with his classes and teachers this year and is heading into his last year in middle school with a pretty positive attitude!  One of the (sort of) new classes he has is his maths class.  Obviously he has been taking maths all through his time at school but at the end of last year his class took an aptitude test on algebra and as he passed the test he is now in a very small set of 8 students starting algebra early.  It will effectively put them a year ahead in maths and give them the opportunity to explore maths at a higher level later on. We are delighted with this because he has always enjoyed maths.

I am getting back into the work routine now that Dan is back at school and enjoying having more time to get my teeth into my work and really start to make some good progress again. I have someone (Helen Fisher – who stayed with us when she first came to Nigeria) who is going to start working with me one day a week to try and get through some of the archiving backlog. We will be working on materials like books teaching people how to read and write Nigerian minority languages that were produced years ago but only exist as a few hard copies now.  We will be making digital versions of them that can be archived and web published so that they can reach more speakers of those languages and ensure that future generations will still have access to them.

Tim has gratefully handed the Director responsibility back over to Tom Crabtree and is now working on getting him back up to speed on events that occurred while he was out of the country.

Our finance team (that Tim oversees) are approaching the yearly challenge of Year End which means making sure that everything is fully in order and winding up the accounts ready for the new financial year in September.  There are a lot of changes happening in the area of finances in the new year so please pray for good understanding and clear communication as they work through those. Without good, well managed finance systems SIL’s work of helping communities to get access to God’s Word in a language they really understand can not go forward!

Thank you so much for all that you do to keep us healthy and able to function here, you are a vital part of this work! If you can, please take a few minutes to pray for us:

Praise

  • Restful break for Dan and I over the summer
  • Tim has some time off booked for September
  • Good start back into term for Dan and work for me

Prayer

  • Good hand over from Tim to Tom
  • Energy and strength for Ali (I forgot to take my thyroxine for 5 days in a row a couple of weeks ago!)
27 Apr

Robinson Ministry Update – 27th April 2017

Greetings from a downpour expectant Jos,

The rains have sort of started, we had a great soaking and the ground is starting to sprout grass and there are tiny seedlings everywhere. However we have not had any more rain now for 2 weeks. We have had several days with rumbles of thunder like a hungry belly expecting rain but no actual precipitation. Please pray that they start properly soon or people’s crops that have germinated may die.

Tim and I may miss the next rain in fact as we are both travelling this coming week, although in slightly different directions. I (Ali) am going to Germany for some Ethnologue training (see link for more info on what the Ethnologue is). I will leave on Monday and be back in Jos by Saturday evening, probably highly exhausted. Tim is going to the UK on Tuesday, primarily for the Elim Missions Conference. We are Elim missionaries seconded to Wycliffe/SIL and have really appreciated all the support we have received from the Elim Missions team so decided that it was a high priority for us to make sure that at least one of us made it to the conference. He will be in the UK for less than 2 weeks so he is unlikely to get to see many people. We plan to have a couple of months in the UK next summer (June-July 2018) and hope to see as many of you as possible then!

Robinsons, Barnhoorns and Crabtrees

You may wonder what Dan will be up to in the meantime. He is still in school so he will be staying here with our new upstairs neighbours, the Barnhoorns. We visited them in Canada last summer and now they have returned to Nigeria and recently moved into the upstairs flat. They have 4 kids and Dan often gets described as the 5th Barnhoorn. 🙂 Due to some rather unfortunate and unexpected timing, Dan will have several exams during this coming week while we are both away, please pray that he will get the rest and space that he needs in the midst of it.

For me the last month has been intense with the pressure of getting all the materials ready for the Partnership Development training for our new staff. It has been exciting seeing the finished products arriving however. We now have beautiful brochures for most of our different teams from Linguistics, Literacy and Translation to Ethno Arts, Scripture Engagement and Support Services. Each of our new staff has their own prayer cards for distribution to supporters, there are SIL logo-ed folders and envelopes, not to mention the actual training materials! Still a way to go but finally starting to be able to see that the end might soon be in sight – or is that putting it too strongly?! I am looking forward to getting back to my “normal” job but this has been quite an adventure and definitely outside my comfort zone at times.
Tim is in that crazy phase of the year when he has to deal with budgets for the next financial year as well as all the quarterly reports on how the last lot of money was spent and what impact that team has had. Budgets are always a challenge, especially for those team leaders that are really busy and don’t have the brain power (or, to be honest, inclination) to deal with the numbers and planning involved. It often feels like it would just be so much easier if we didn’t have to worry about all this, if the money needed to do the important work was just there when it was needed and didn’t have to be explained about afterwards. However, planning and accountability are very important to ensure that God’s resources are being used in the best way possible. There is also the factor that those countries that much of the funding comes from have laws that require clear accounting to prove that the money is not being used to fund terrorism. Not something we want to fall foul of!

Please do take some time to pray for us if you can manage it, it makes such a difference! We need your prayers!

Praise
— Opportunities for training and being encouraged
— Great neighbours who are willing to make Dan (at least temporarily) part of their family

Prayer

— Energy and focus and balance and patience and grace and all those other things that we so desperately need in this busy season!
— Safe travels and worthwhile meetings
— Protection and peace for Dan while we are away

29 Mar

Robinson Ministry update – 17th March 2017

Greetings from a toasty Jos,

The temperatures are climbing and the humidity is rising. The rains are on their way but probably a month or so away still.
We had a great Spiritual Retreat with the rest of SIL Nigeria last week. Everyone around the office looked rather tired on Monday morning! I usually find that by the end of Retreat I feel spiritually and emotionally refreshed but physically tired. There are always so many people that I want to sit and chat with or there are board and card games going on that I want to play or fun activities planned, so that I find it hard to make it to bed at anything even close to my normal bedtime. To be fair, my normal bed time is about 8.30pm!

James Poole, Tom Crabtree and Julie Rowbory

We had James Poole, the Wycliffe UK Director, come to be our speaker for Retreat. He did a brilliant job of speaking on Romans chapters 5-8 with the overall theme of “Dead to sin and alive to God through Christ.” He gave such a clear, deep gospel message that was really challenging. One of the pictures he elaborated on that has really stayed with me was of sin as a slave driver and us as his slaves. The only way to end that relationship was for us to die. Once the slave has died, the slave driver can yell and crack his whip all he wants but the relationship is ended. We are in that position now if we have accepted Christ – our old selves died with him on the cross and so we no longer have to obey the yells and whip cracks of sin. What a fabulous reality!

There are exciting developments in SIL Nigeria. We have just taken on 13 new members of Nigerian Missionary Staff, all of whom will be raising their own financial and prayer support over the next 6 months or so. They started their orientation last Wednesday and will start their training on support raising on Monday. I am responsible for all the materials they will use during their training and support raising so it has been a hectic month or so and will likely continue hectic for probably another month at least. A lot of the materials have to be created from scratch or at least updated before they can be printed so it is a long process! However, it is so exciting to see more people taking that huge step of faith that God will provide through his people!

Praise

  • Encouraging and enjoyable Spiritual Retreat
  • New missionaries joining the SIL Nigeria family
  • Prayer

  • That we will allow the lessons from Retreat to soak into our lives and make us more like Christ
  • For a deepening trust in God for our new staff
  • 24 Feb

    Robinson Ministry Update 24th Feb 2017

    Greetings from a bright and chilly Jos,

    Well, when I say chilly, it is not really getting much below 18C, but relative to the usual temperatures here it feels quite fresh!

    It feels like we are in quite a time of change at the moment.
    We have Helen Fisher, a new member of staff fresh from the UK, staying with us while she gets acclimatised to life here. It is interesting to see our world through her eyes and remember our own discoveries when we first arrived.

    SIL Nigeria has a new HR director, Janice Barnhoorn, and so Tim has stepped back to being only responsible for Finance Office, Facilities team, Project Funding and the Computer department – still plenty to keep him busy!

    Our upstairs neighbours, the Sweetings, who first arrived in Nigeria only 3 weeks after we did, are leaving to move back to the US. We took our introductory Hausa language class together and have been firm friends ever since so it really feels like the end of an era to have them leaving.

    On the up side, the Barnhoorns are planning to move in upstairs which will give Dan some more age appropriate company (they have four kids, Dan’s age and younger). This is such a massive blessing to us all and we are so grateful to God that he not only takes away but also gives.

    This week there have been about 20 people being interviewed for various different positions at SIL Nigeria. The successful candidates will be joining us as new Nigerian Missionary Staff, seeking to raise the financial and prayer support that they need from the Nigerian church. They will need buckets of faith and perseverance so please pray that those interviewing them will have the wisdom of God and not just see them with human eyes.

    Through all this change we remain confident that God is our rock, our foundation, our fortress and that if we are rooted into him none of our external circumstances can steal our joy and peace. I type this being well aware that I often allow those “external circumstances” to do just that! Pray for us that we will all remain rooted and established in God!

    Lots of prayer requests today, we really need your prayers now as always.
    Prayer

  • For peace and joy for the Sweetings as they transition back to the US as their permanent base.
  • For wisdom for the interviewers as they decide who to invite to join our SIL Nigeria team.
  • For our organisational partners here that they would have faith in God their provider.
  • For peace and joy for Helen as she gets used to living and working in a culture that she is not familiar with.
  • That we will remain fully reliant and dependant on God for our peace and joy.
  • Praise

  • God has brought and is continuing to bring new people to join SIL Nigeria!
  • The enjoyment of getting to know Helen and helping her to make sense of life here.
  • The plans for the Barnhoorns to move in upstairs and the blessing that it will be to all of us.
  • God is over all and through all and in all and DOES NOT CHANGE!
  • 31 Oct

    Robinson Ministry update – 31st October 2016

    Greetings from a beautifully warm and sunny Jos,
    I am swiftly coming to the conclusion that Jos is at its most pleasant in October. The rain has stopped but there is still plenty of greenery around. The skies are clear blue but the sun is not too hot. The air is drying so no more mould or mango worms but the dust of harmattan has not yet kicked in. Perfect!

    We had our annual staff conference a couple of weeks ago. All SIL Nigeria staff in the country gathered in Jos to worship together, discuss strategy, hear what others are up to, etc.
    One highlight was hearing stories of how God was impacting Nigeria through the different domains. The linguistics domain shared how the careful analysis of sentence structure (discourse analysis) in one language had enabled the translators to spot and correct hundreds of errors in the draft translation of Luke’s gospel. This included a passage (Luke 14) where the draft translation had the Pharisees (rather than Jesus) healing a man. Very important to know who is doing what to whom in the scriptures!
    We also had a seminar on recognising and having grace for our different cultural back grounds. Our staff are made up of Nigerians (from many different parts of Nigeria), Americans, Brits, Dutch, Canadians, Irish as well as people who have lived all over the world and absorbed many different cultures. This diversity is wonderful but can also be a big challenge to understanding one another and working well together!
    mail-attachmentWe also had some fun together, with a seven legged race! Which Dan (who was on break from school) and my team won, despite our apparent disorder in the picture!
    One final special highlight for me was having an Irish member of staff, whose husband was leading worship on the final day, explain to us some of the deeper significance behind the words in the song “Be thou my vision” which was originally written in Irish. I have always loved that song and her explanation enabled us all to sing it with more passion because of our deeper understanding. This also reminded me of how much more important it is that people understand the scriptures deeply if they are going to respond to God whole-heartedly, which is just not possible in a language they don’t know deeply.

    dan-costumeDan had his annual middle school party last weekend and had fun putting together a costume to go as the Hero of his choice – King Peter of Narnia. He won the prize for best book character costume. Having an artist living next door definitely helped, many thanks Michael Harrar!

    And finally . . .
    I managed to sprain my ankle quite badly on Saturday evening on some uneven ground in the dark. At the moment I am subjecting it to a strict RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) regime and praying that I will be able to bear weight on it soon.

    Thank you as always for your prayers and support!

    Praise
    Encouraging staff conference
    Fun times for Dan

    Prayer
    Healing for my ankle

    21 May

    Robinson Ministry Update – 21st May 2016

    Obolo man reading his Bible for the first time.

    rain1Greetings from a soggy but greening Jos. The rains have come in earnest with a pretty good soaking almost every day. The cooler temperatures are nice and even being caught outside in a massive storm can be kind of fun (provided there is the prospect of warm, dry clothes and a mug of hot chocolate at the end of it)! We also had a hailstorm this last week with hailstones almost the size of golfballs, the biggest I have seen in Jos so far.

    The last couple of weeks have been busy but productive for Tim and I. Tim has had a lot of work to do on the budgets for next year. The system is quite complex and he needs input from a lot of people. This year the system is also changing so a lot of new tangles to work out. It might sound like a mundane job that is very far from missionary work but the reality is that our mission can not continue without a clear and effective system of funding. Unless someone is willing and able to work on that, nothing else can happen!

    I have also been working on something these last few weeks that might appear mundane on the surface but is actually essential to ensuring our work continues to be available to the language communities in Nigeria. I have been training SIL Nigeria staff on the basics of Intellectual Property including copyright, licencing and SIL’s policy on how to handle this in our work. For those who are curious, Intellectual Property is any “creation of the mind” that has “tangible form”, this can cover anything from an audio recording of a translation of Luke’s gospel to materials for a literacy workshop. Much of our work falls under this definition so we really need to know how to handle it! If we don’t handle it well then the language communities we are serving may lose access to the materials, including scripture, that they need.

    rain2Dan is almost done with school for the year. He has less than a week to go with end of semester exams starting tomorrow. He is coping very well with the pressure and the exams don’t seem to phase him at all (I keep telling myself that that really is a good thing!). He will have just over a month of break here and then we will all travel to Canada for a real holiday! We plan to be in Canada for just over 3 weeks and then we will head back to Nigeria and into a new school year.

    Praise
    The Budgets are coming together despite various challenges
    Successful training of SIL Nigeria staff on Intellectual Property
    Dan heading into exams with a positive attitude

    Prayer
    The Budget process will be completed successfully
    I will be able to manage my time well between Dan and work once term ends

    10 May

    Robinson Ministry Update – 7th May 2016

    Morning all!
    So I hear that the UK has experiencing unseasonal snow. We, on the other hand, are experiencing quite seasonal heat. The thermometer is staying fairly steady at around 30o C inside our relatively cool house. The rains are still rather stop-and-start and have not settled into their regular daily downpour yet. Once that does start, the temperatures will drop significantly.

    We have been having a bit of an issue with the system sending out these e-mail updates so although I have been writing them, you may not have received one for a few months. To take a look at what you missed, go to http://www.robinsonta.org/category/prayerupdate/

    Tim’s trip to the UK was hectic but fun. He managed to see a lot more people than I had expected given that he was only really there for a week. The wedding was cold but a great celebration. Tim ended up acting as the second Best man (not second-best you understand – at least not in my eyes!) as the Best man had suffered a heart attack in the weeks leading up to the wedding. It was a real pleasure for Tim to be able to support Andy who has supported us for many years!

    The SIL Nigeria Spiritual Retreat was a great blessing to me and Dan. We had a great speaker who spoke on the Walk of Faith. He really challenged me to think about whether I always make decisions and react to situations based on my faith in God or on my faith (or sometimes lack of faith) in myself or others.

    Retreat was also hard for me as my grief at the death of Dan’s godfather (Tim Pickering) and the moving of our closest friends (Hollmans) back to the UK finally caught up with me. As a missionary kid I finetuned the ability to “move on” and pretend I had not really lost anything when people I was close to left. Having to do some un-learning of that now, proving painful but healing.

    Another mixed blessing at Retreat was that Dan lost his ripstick (kind of like a two-wheeled skateboard). He really loves it and rides it at every opportunity (including around the house!). But when it went missing he was able to pray and tell God that if God was taking it away from him for some reason then that was OK with him (but that if possible he would really like it back!). Seeing him trust God and put his faith in God’s will over his own was such an encouragement to me.
    STOP PRESS – The ripstick has been found! Praise God for his generosity to us!

    Thank you for all that you do to support and encourage us, we really appreciate it!

    Praise
    Tim managing to see so much of the family and several friends while in the UK.
    Encouraging and challenging retreat for Dan and Ali.
    Managed to book very reasonable flights to Canada for the summer (with Ethiopian Air!).

    Prayer
    Getting back into routine post Tim’s trip and the Retreat.
    Tim catching up on work and having peace with all the difficult things that need to be dealt with.

    02 Jan

    2015 in Nigerian Numbers (and other Bible books).

    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.

    09 Oct

    Ministry update – 9th October 2015

    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

    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.

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