06 Feb

Prayer update – 6th February 2015

Greetings from toasty warm Nigeria!
Well, the cold has gone and been replaced by quite considerable heat. Walking home with Dan after school, only about a ten minute walk, is enough to leave us both gasping for a cold drink. We are hoping to make the most of a day off school that Dan has tomorrow to go to a swimming pool (outdoor and definitely not heated!).

IMG_9286Talking of school and Dan, he is now in his final year of Primary school (Elementary). His teacher has been increasing the amount of homework recently so that when his class hits Secondary school (Middle school for any Americans out there), it won’t be quite so much of a shock. It does mean that he is often having to finish his homework after our evening meal which does not leave a lot of playing time for him during the week. Please pray that he will adjust well to this new routine and that we will still be able to find time when he can just be a boy!

I am also experiencing an adjustment related to school. Once again I agreed to teach the Computer Applications course for Grade 9 (Year 10 for any Brits out there!) at Hillcrest. Although I have already taught this course 3 times, this time is completely different! Hillcrest updated their software from Office XP to Office 2013 – a big jump! As a result the old textbooks can’t be used and as buying new textbooks is ridiculously expensive I decided to try and find a new way to teach it. I discovered some brilliant free online tutorials for Word and Excel. Using these in combination with a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) called Schoology, we are making it work. Best of all, the students are enjoying it far more than the old way of doing it!

A few weeks ago Tim was able to travel to Togo for a great occasion. It was the dedication of the full Bible in Ncham (also sometimes referred to as Bassar), a language spoken in both Togo and Ghana. For more on this – check out Tim’s blog post at HERE/

The elections are now approaching rapidly and there is a certain amount of tension in the air. The presidential elections look likely to be closely contested and may result in a run-off.
To be honest with you, one of the things that I am struggling through processing is the uncertainty of what may happen. Will everything go smoothly, will there be trouble, will we have to leave the area or even the country?
Please pray for peace for Nigeria and mental peace for us, whatever happens.

Praise
Jos has remained calm since the start of the New Year
Tim was able to travel to Togo for the dedication of the Ncham Bible

Prayer
Dan will cope well with the new levels of homework he is receiving
I will be able to balance teaching with the rest of my work and do all of it for God’s glory!
The whole election process will go smoothly and that we will trust God whatever happens

26 Jan

Ncham Bible Dedication, Bassar, Togo.

11-IMG_3629In 1998 I took the plunge and went on my first short-term missions trip. It was a little unusual in the big realm of short term trips, as it was to a Bible translation project in Togo, West Africa, a Francophone country. I didn’t speak a whole lot of French and having grown up in Wycliffe, I was sure I already ‘got’ the need for Bible translation. However, all the circumstances and gifts to make it happen were clearly leading me to go on the trip. I could write a TON more about that trip but I’ll have to save that for another day.

54-IMG_3937On the 14th January 2015, 16.5 years later, I started my journey back to that very same village. Before you think ‘ooo dramatic’, I had been back already, leading multiple other short term teams to the same project. It had, however, been 4.5 years since I last visited.

I left our home in Jos and drove to the capital, Abuja, picking Gareth Mort up in a town along the way. Gareth was my team leader from 1998, and is now my colleague here in Nigeria. The next day we flew direct to Lome where we successfully negotiated the Ebola check and the general health check (but only by God’s grace, due to Gareth’s missing Yellow Fever certificate!). We applied for and were granted visas in the airport in Lome.

The bus getting loaded up.

The bus getting loaded up.

On Friday we were due to catch a nice coach up country, but there were no seats left. So we took ‘public’, aka a mini-bus with 4 people squished onto every three seats and more luggage on top of the bus than capacity inside. I was thankful for Gareth’s thinness! We weren’t so thankful for the bus stopping every 10 miles looking for more passengers. It took nearly 10 hours to get to Sokode, not even the town we were finally destined for. We arrived in Bassar late, in the dark, to a very warm welcome from Samuel’s family. In 1998, Samuel had only just joined the translation team, he was young and unmarried. We were blessed that he spoke English, both then and now!
Samuel and his family

Samuel and his family

Saturday at 07:20 Gareth and I left the house and wandered into town. We were hoping to come across the parades headed to the football stadium where the Dedication was to be held. We saw what we thought was probably one of the 3 parades, but they were headed in the wrong direction, so we carried on to the stadium.

One of the brass band parades

One of the brass band parades

It was fantastic to see banners and greet some people, slightly odd to be ignored by most of the other white faces – it wasn’t like they could miss us!

The dedication itself was marvellous. There were LOADS of people. There were some very high profile folks out there too. The national director of AOG, the chief, the Prefet, the representative of the local government, pastors, preachers, most of the Catholic diocese, the church association committee (ACEB), SIL, Wycliffe, Bible Society, 2 brass bands and people of literally ALL ages came out to join the celebration.

The chairman of ACEB

The chairman of ACEB

Now I do probably suffer from a bit of attention deficit disorder, I doubted I could sit still for 6 hours and listen to speeches in 2 different languages neither of which I spoke. So I tried to find out what people were saying and I took to live tweeting the event. You can go to http://twitter.com/hashtag/nchambible and see the event as it unfolded. You could tell when people appreciated what was said by the enormous cheer that was let out.

The most enormous cheer certainly came when Sheila Crunden was giving her speech.

Sheila giving her speech

Sheila giving her speech

Sheila is a Brit who arrived in Bassar, Togo in 1969 and was very involved in translating the New Testament with a whole string of people including Monica Cox who was also in attendance at the dedication. These two remarkable ladies, now in their mid seventies and eighties, had returned specially for the Dedication but still trekked to church and to visit houses. During one dinner we shared with them, they engaged in a healthy discussion about how to mark tones in translation. Monica, who worked on literacy, and Sheila who worked on the translation entered what seems to me to be an age-old debate about marking them all or only marking some of them. I admit I didn’t follow all the technicalities, but it was fun!

46-IMG_3887After about 3 hours of speeches the Bibles were finally revealed and prayed over and paraded around the stadium and then distribution begun. It started with an offer for the “big” ie important people to buy the very first copy for a lot of money. Then the price reduced bit by bit and eventually swarms of people came to buy. It was funny, even knowing this was going to happen, 39-IMG_3804
the boxes were being held on the edge of the stadium and the seller kept running out at his table! It was wonderful to see so many people desperate to get their hands on the Bible in their own language.

You can see more pictures at my Facebook album, or high res collection here on Flickr.

We attended church with Samuel the next morning and it was brilliant seeing so many people clutching their new Bibles. It was sad that so many people were struggling to actually read it fluently – it reinforced to me the need to be doing literacy as soon as is possible in our projects.44-IMG_3842 There was a couple who were married 3 weeks before and were brought to the front of the church and introduced (it seems that is customary in this church) and when they came they were clutching a copy of the new Bible. The groom, despite not being a native Ncham speaker, received huge applause as he tried to read a couple of verses. People DO love hearing and having God’s word in their own language!

33-IMG_3760 Monday we relaxed, although actually I think Gareth worked on one of his projects from Nigeria. Then on Tuesday we started the long journey home in reverse. We did get to travel in the nice coach this time, though we also had to fly Lome to Lagos to Abuja, the last leg of which was delayed a couple of hours. But we got home safe and glad to have made the trip and been part of the dedication. The people in Bassar and particularly Samuel and his family have been part of my life for nearly 17 years. They will always have a place in my heart, my email inbox and my Whatsapp.

14 Nov

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.

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

Prayer
-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

07 Oct

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.

27 May

Aramaic? Hebrew? What language DID Jesus speak?

I read an interesting article on the BBC today about which language Jesus spoke.

http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27587230

Follow me for a minute (remembering I am neither a Biblical scholar nor a linguist!)…..

The evidence suggests he spoke Aramaic or Hebrew and probably understood some Greek.  I live and work in a place where people regularly use 2, 3 or even 4 different languages.  It seems perfectly normal here to do so, yet each person seems to have 1 language that they understand best.  We refer to this language as their mother tongue or heart language.  

The New Testament was written in Ancient Greek so no matter what conclusion is drawn on the language Jesus spoke, it seems that Jesus words were translated when the Bible was first written down.  God seems very pro translation to me!   

I think God's desire to reach out to humanity is demonstrated in Revelation 7:9 "After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands"

Every language represented – it doesn't matter how big or how small that language group is and we have both here in Nigeria, they will be represented!  Brilliant.  

 

20 May

Bomb explodes in Jos – we are all okay – May 2014

Thank you for your emails and Facebook comments – here is the latest. 

Around 3:00 pm this afternoon there were two bomb explosions in downtown Jos, Nigeria. At this point we do not know the numbers of killed or injured but it seems there may be many. To the best of our knowledge all Wycliffe staff and their families are safe

Please pray for our Wycliffe staff based in Jos that they would make wise decisions in response to this situation. Please pray also for the country of Nigeria which is facing trouble on many fronts at the moment.

We are physically fine, Tim stayed at work for longer than usual to try and get hold of all our staff and make some "what if" plans with the acting director.   This evening as i write, things ae calm, we ahven't heard news of folow up or retaliation.

This morning I posted this on Facebook "With all that is going on – I am once again convinced that nothing will change until people have God's word in a language they can understand."   I'm not comfortable right now, but I am convinced that I am involved in the ministry and in the location that God wants.  

Keep praying

For Nigeria and its leaders and residents. 
For Jos and its residents.
For all our staff and partners involved in Bible Translation minisitries. 

07 May

Prayer Update – 7th May 2014

 

Greetings from an increasingly green Jos.

The rains have really settled in now, the dust is dying down and the grass is shooting up. 

1-P1010241We also have a new compound wall sprouting.  Due to the construction of a new junction just outside our place we are losing the corner of our compound. Work is moving fast to build the new wall before the old one has to come down.

So, an update on the car situation.  Tony (our mechanic who was driving the car) is doing well (see our last update if you are not sure what I am on about!).  He is out of hospital following several surgeries and continuing to recuperate at home.  Although he is healing well physically he is still struggling emotionally.  Please pray for him that he would know God’s peace, joy and protection.

We are hoping to get a “second new” car in the next week or so, not a very straightforward process here.  Someone should haves gone to Benin to look at the imports of second hand cars from Europe and America and hopefully find one that will suit us. He however, was in hospital with suspected appendcitus over the weekend. Please pray for his speedy recovery and pray with us that he will be able to find something reliable and not too expensive!

These past two weeks have been thick with visitors and meetings.  Tim’s Dad was with us here for just over a week.  He was on a work trip but he stayed with us and so we were able to see a bit of him at least.  It was great to be able to show him a bit of our lives here.

We have also had visitors from Africa Area including the guy who co-ordinates quite a few of the work areas that I am involved in.  It meant that I spent a fair bit of the week in meetings but resulted in my having a better understanding of some of the trickier parts of my job (mainly Intellectual Property and Copyright!).  The bloke who was doing the job that Tim has now taken on (Director of Operations) was also in town so Tim has been very busy meeting with him.  All in all, it has been a busy couple of weeks and we are looking forward to settling back into a bit of normality!  Dan has been especially tired over the last few days and really struggling to get ready for school in the mornings.  Please pray that he will have the energy he needs.

Praise

Tony is healing well physically

Good times with Tim’s Dad

Prayer

Tony will heal emotionally

God will provide the right car for us

Dan will have strength and energy

30 Jan

From imagination to creation.

There are a whole lot of languages in Nigeria – 512 or thereabouts – and only a handful of those have Bibles. Some have New Testaments and there is plenty of work in progress.

Every now and again, there is a real sense of excitement in our office at the prospect of a dedication. From the moment someone imagined translating the scripture into that language, to the moment a person opens up that book for the first time… In between those moments, there are years and years of work, thousands of combined man-hours by people often on multiple continents. They’ve all been part of the process to get that New Testament or Bible printed.

I was lucky enough to attend one such celebration last year and Wycliffe USA has just written a brilliant piece on the last part of the process.

Peter,* a member of the Fulani translation team in Nigeria, couldn’t understand why Heidi Rosendall wanted him and the other team members to sign her copy of the new Fulani New Testament. After all, they aren’t famous.

But to Heidi, those signatures are more precious than any celebrity’s. They represent the literal blood, sweat, and tears that Peter and others have sacrificed so that the Fulani could have God’s Word in their own language.

As a typesetter living in Jos, Nigeria, Heidi works with local translation teams from several language groups, putting their finished translations into printable formats—or, as she puts it, “making Bibles beautiful.”   (read the rest here)

Heidi’s office is about 4 doors down from mine. There is a constant stream of people going there, trying to get past the final hurdle, each with amazing stories of overcoming obstacles and confusion in order to see lives changed through the translated Word of God.

26 Oct

Does Bible translation make a difference?

I went on an EPIC road trip the other week: 850 total miles! About 24 of those were spent driving/waiting for the road block boys to let us go through. We managed to visit a couple of folks in Niger state, north western Nigeria, who are are helping to run projects in that neck of the woods.  

While I was in one of those locations I met a man who made my heart jump for joy. He loves his language. He wants others to love his language. He understands the Bible best in his language and wants to help others do the same.

I shot a wee video of him sharing what he is up to. He has some amazing testimonies to share!

 

View on Youtube

22 Oct

Make a difference by praying

Adapted from a blog post by Wycliffe UK on October 14th

Nigeria is a huge country: it has the largest population of any country in Africa and faces challenges that include ethnic rivalry, religious persecution, a crumbling infrastructure and, in the north, the desert is expanding. Nigeria also has at least 300 languages that need Bible translation.

When faced with such an enormous task, it can be hard to know where to find the people and resources to meet the needs.  One way is through Nigerians themselves becoming missionaries to Nigeria, and being supported by Nigerian churches:

At at upcoming event, you can see yours truly share a little bit about how this has made a difference to the Bible translation ministry in Nigeria 🙂

On 9th November at venues around the country Wycliffe UK will be holding Frontline Prayer Live, a dynamic and fast-paced prayer event. They will be having a special focus on Nigeria during the day and you can make a difference by joining us and praying. If you are too far from any of the official venues or not free on 9th November, why not hold an event yourself? Wycliffe can provide all the necessary prayer materials and you could be part of the team bringing the Word of God to Nigerians in their heart languages.

Find out more and register for Frontline Prayer Live (details are also on Facebook).

 
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