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. 

23 Jan

Prayer update – 23rd Jan 2014

Greetings from Jos (and Nairobi)!

Dan’s first week at school seems to have gone well.  He is however getting very tired and we are praying that this is just the adjustment back into busier and more structured days.  Getting homework is proving a challenge because he is so exhausted when he gets home. 

Our Danish neighbours returned over the Christmas break and Dan is delighted to have his playmate, Jonathan, back.  They spend pretty much every spare minute together, riding their bikes around outside, planning new “clubhouses”, playing with lego or on the Wii.  Jonathan is in the grade above Dan at school and we are so grateful for the way they get on so well together.

My first week back at the office has also gone well.  I have been working (on and off) on an Access database to help us keep better track of our language information for a couple of years now. It has been something that keeps getting put off because other, more urgent, things crop up but I have finally decided that the “other” things will just have to wait.  As a result it has made huge progress over the last week and I am hoping to have a working version up and running by the end of the month.  I am sure it will still require plenty of tweaks but it will feel like a triumph to have it populated and in working order!

Tim left Jos early Sunday morning to start his trek to Nairobi.  You might not think that it is such a long way (it is still in Africa after all!) but as he left Jos at 7.30 am and did not arrive in Nairobi until 11.15pm (1.15am Nairobi time) it makes for a very long day! Tim is mostly enjoy the interactions and chance to understand more about how the organisation operates at a higher level. 

Praise

Safe travel for Tim to Nairobi
Good start to the new year for Dan and Ali

Prayer

More energy and stamina for Dan
Productive meetings and good energy for Tim

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).

 
11 Oct

Prayer Update 11th October 2013

Greetings from Jos!

Last week Tim did a road trip with Jono, a colleague and good mate of his. They travelled to Niger (sounds like tiger) State, not to be confused with Niger (sounds more like kneezjair with a French accent) the country! Niger State is found in the north west of Nigeria. There are a number of language projects that we are involved with in Niger State and Jono, as our Language Projects Co-ordinator, needed to go and visit them. Travelling on your own is not really recommended here, the prospect of a New Testament dedication and eager to try out his new camera, Tim jumped at the opportunity to accompany him. Despite a minor car problems involving leaking automatic transmission fluid on the way, they made it safely to their first stop. The second day’s travel involved heading further across the state towards to Benin border including a very poor section of road where it took nearly 3 hours to travel 90km, but once again they arrived safely and in plenty of time before dark. A couple of days later, having met local translators and heard about how the work is progressing, they headed back home. This time they did the whole distance in one day, leaving at 6am and making it back to Jos by 4.30pm. The distances they were travelling didn’t look all that far on our wall map of Nigeria but in reality it was a round trip of 850 miles, Nigeria really is a BIG country! One disappointment was that the community decided to postpone the dedication until November. We are quiet sure why but it is not uncommon over here!

For larger high quality pictures go to Tim's Flickr page. 

I have been tackling an update to one aspect of the Ethnologue (a book that describes, albeit briefly, all the languages of the world) this week. We are trying to describe the vitality (or “aliveness” if you like) of the different languages in Nigeria. The thing that really affects the alive status of a language is whether it is being passed on to the next generation. If parents are not teaching the language to their children then the language will become threatened and unless something changes, will eventually die out. One of the reasons we need to know about language vitality is so that we can make wise decisions about which languages to invest our limited resources in translation.

Thank you to all of you who e-mailed to say that you were praying for Dan. In general he has had a better week this week, in particular he has felt more included by the other kids at break times. He finds the less structured class time in Art difficult and this is often a trouble spot in the week for him. He has Art on a Tuesday afternoon so if you remember please do try and pray for him then. We have spent some time talking about (and drawing) the armour of God and Dan has come up with his own, personalised version, so rather than the sword of the Spirit he has the light-sabre of the Spirit! This has definitely helped him to be more conscious about calling on God’s help in difficult situations. Thank you so much to all of you who pray for us so faithfully, it makes a huge difference. We often forget how powerful prayer is!

Praise

• Dan has had a better week at school
• Tim’s road trip went well and they made it back safely

Prayer

• That Dan would have a better experience at school, especially during Art class
• That I can gather the necessary information about language vitality in time

12 Sep

Prayer Update 12th September 2013

Greetings one and all!

Rainy season is starting to ease off here, we are no longer having rain every day without fail and the sun is putting in more of an appearance. I like this time of year because after months of damp and cold (OK so at around 20oC I appreciate it is all relative!) the weather is warming up and drying up.

I am attempting a small vegetable growing area this year (hence at least part of my obsession with the weather!) and am currently having at least some success with radishes, broccoli, red bell peppers and butternut squash. Not so much with the beetroot sadly, only 2 of about 20 have germinated. Any suggestions from the experienced gardeners out there gratefully received!

Also on the domestic front, I had a Massively Meaty Saturday last weekend. I took a group of 9 ladies to the local Abattoir to buy beef and pork. We then returned to our house (where, in a rather embarrassing mishap, I had managed to lock us out!) and processed the meat, preparing most of the pork with curing salts to make ham and bacon. Looking forward to trying some of that in a few days once it has finished curing! I also made sausages using casings (for the uninitiated this is the outside bit that holds the sausage together) that I had brought from the UK. Last time I tried this I actually bought fresh intestines from the Abattoir, cleaned them and stripped them, but the smell and the amount of work was just too much, even considering the tastiness of the sausages! So this time I “cheated” and bought ready-made casings.After making about 5 kg of sausages our freezer is now full to bursting! 

Dan is enjoying fourth grade but does not seem to be quite himself at the moment. Some days he seems fine and is his usual cheery self but then the next day he will be easily upset and see even basic tasks as massive mountains that he can’t face. Please pray that we will have wisdom to know what the root issue is and how best to help him.

We have our Staff Conference coming up next week, Wednesday to Friday. Tim is involved in the logistics for this and will be helping to make sure that everything runs smoothly. I will be giving a brief presentation on one of the aspects of my job (REAP – Repository for Electronic Archiving and Publishing) to try and encourage people to use this resource to protect and share their work more widely. I am also hoping to run an after-hours hands-on session for people to come and get some help to get started on using it.

  • Praise Enjoying the improved weather Having fun in the garden and the kitchen!
  • Prayer Spiritual, emotional and physical heath for Dan Successful Staff Conference next week
03 Aug

Newish Beginnings

IMG_9286Newish number 1 -) These past few weeks have been hectic.  We came back form Nigeria for a scheduled 2 month break in June – and we had to jump headlong into fundraising.

It isn't our favourite activity, but when you find yourself £700 short of your ministry every month, you don't have much choice. You have to get on with it.

Almost all missionaries around the world (no matter what ministry they are involved in or who they are sent with) don't get paid a salary and have to raise support. It is one of those things that binds us missionaries together — along with Jesus, and sharing Jesus to people, and playing our part in growing God's kingdom… Sometimes I wonder if loathing fundraising doesn't bring us closer together sometimes, too!  

Anyway, we have chatted over coffee, dinner, coffee, lunch, and more coffee (which is okay, we LOVE coffee). We have shared and preached, laughed and cried, asked and prayed and prayed some more, then asked some more, then got miffed at God, not prayed then realized that telling God I'm miffed at him is in fact praying – and seen God continue his faithfulness regardless.

We haven't completely hit the target, but we are close enough, and there are enough things in place that we have been signed off to return to Nigeria.

It is not possible to properly express our gratitude to all the people and churches that are giving sacrificially so that we can serve God in Nigeria. We truly appreciate both your prayers and your pounds – we would honestly not be able to do what we do without you.  

Newish number 2 -) Before we first left for Nigeria 2 years ago, we started working on becoming part of our church denomination's mission structure.

I have thought long and hard how best to describe it, but basically, as of this week, we are signed up as Elim missionaries working in partnership with Wycliffe. We'll still be involved in all the same things we were before, but with the extra bonus of being backed by our denomination. We are in the VERY early stages of this partnership and we are looking forward to seeing what God does in this stage of our ministry. 

Newish number 3 -) I have uploaded a few pics of our time in the UK  

Newish number 4 -) Do you like our new website design?

28 May

Literacy workshop highlights the need for Bible Translation

Despite the Canadian team having to cancel their trip, we concluded that it would still be good to engage with the project communities and go ahead with plans to run the Literacy workshop. After talking about the first day’s activities I asked Christy to write up one specific incident.

Yesterday we wrote a group story.  The theme was “Fighting” and the audience was “Children.”  We wanted to help children to know that fighting is not good.  As we wrote, there was much discussion and debating as to how to best write our sentences into a cohesive story.  20 opinionated men all writing one story, a new kind of challenge.  Finally we were getting to the end of our paper allotment, and the purpose was not coming out clearly.  Abu was still fighting with his friend Ali.  So, I gave an ending that we might move on. “Abu, though he always was losing in fights, turned and surprisingly knocked Ali down!  Then he felt bad because he remembered how it felt to be beaten, and he helped Ali up.  Abu never fought again.”  The room was in an uproar and I didn’t understand why!  Everyone talking at once.  Then one man spoke up and said, “No, it is not good, Abu would have been proud because he finally was strong enough!” “Yes, but when one knows their own power, they don’t feel a need to prove it anymore!  Only a weak man fights to show he is not weak,” I matter-of-factly stated my cultural opinion. Another man chimed in, “Here in Nigeria, we would never feel bad about knocking someone down. Nor would we go so far as helping them up again!” 

“That is why we must write, people,” I said, more convinced than ever, “Jesus said, “if someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also” should our culture overcome the words of Jesus?  That is why we want people to learn to read this Book.”

As we were talking about it, once again I realised just how deep-seated some of the ‘normal’ cultural thinking is here that is counter to biblical teaching. I know, I know. Talk about pot and kettle, right? But I long to see these people have the Bible in a language and form they can understand so that God’s love can penetrate every aspect of lives here. 

Now I shall go read some scripture about my judgemental attitude…. 

01 Dec

Global Leadership Summit 2012 – Health

Yes, I am a little larger than I need to be. My body is probably not as efficient as it could be. Enough about me and on to organisational health, as shared by Patrick Lencioni.

Patrick claims that understanding your organisational health status could be your biggest competitive advantage. People want to work at a healthy organisation. People are better motivated when part of a healthy organisation. Now, working for a Bible translation ministry, competitive advantage isn’t exactly where we are at. Having said that, I do believe we can still apply some of the principles and get on with our task more efficiently, more effectively and produce better quality work reaching more people with bigger smiles on our faces.

5 things he says we can measure when considering our health status.

  1. Minimise policy
  2. Minimise confusion
  3. High moral standards
  4. High productivity
  5. Low staff turnover

Not sure where we would rank on those things. I think my group has quite a low amount of policy… so much so, that I think there needs to be a bit more in some areas!  But then I have to also consider my aspie nature that is driven by rules and regulations,  a nature that likes black and white, a nature is not happy with uncertainty. (I know, I know, HOW DO I SURVIVE IN NIGERIA!!?!)

Other things that he mentioned along the way…

Strategy should be accessible to everyone. An interesting bit of timing as we were currently looking at Nigeria Group strategy, and International are in the process of re-working theirs. Some call it reinvention.

Over-communicate. It takes a person to hear a message 7 times before it sinks in. I have heard it said that we are an intellectual bunch and so we shouldn’t need a message repeating. RUBBISH. It might mean we only need to hear it 5 times instead of 7, but it still needs communicating multiple times, preferably in multiple styles and mediums.

Reinforce the clarity through human systems. What does our finance system communicate about our core values? What does our membership structure communicate about us? What does out staff manual communicate about us? What does our website communicate about us? If we try to say one thing, but all our systems point to something else, people are going to believe the systems not the words.

It seemed a long-winded way of saying, “Do what you say!” If you have made a decision about something, follow through all the way, to the last man.

So where are we with these things? I don’t think I can give you my thoughts, because there are so many different parts to our organisation. International could improve a few of these things, Nigeria Group could improve a few of these things, and I personally could improve a few of these things…

I might also look up some of Patrick’s other materials.

22 Nov

Global Leadership summit 2012 – Energize

I had a brilliant opportunity at the end of October to attend the Global Leadership Summit.  No, I didn’t get to fly to Chicago, but they ran 4 summits around Nigeria using the video packs. I understand that they do something similar in 90 or so countries around the world.  I’m writing a series of posts on things that I learnt or observed over those 2 days.

The first session was by Bill Hybels the senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church and creator of the Global Leadership Summit.  He started with talking about the Parable of the Sower, and how 75% of the seed that was thrown didn’t produce fruit.  He had been challenged to consider the rate of seed that he had sown and how high his expectations were.  He had been challenged to so more seed if he wanted more fruit.

I wasn’t sure how it applied to the ministry of Bible Translation but it did occur to me that we reap what we sow – so if I am determined to sow more patience, more gentleness, more of the things I want to be, maybe I will only get 25% of it to stick, but play the %. The more I sow, the more I’ll reap.

He had a whole lot to say, but the other thing that really caught me was about we influence. (Now just to clarify, ‘influence’ is not the same as ‘manipulate’.) If you are leading a team, you can influence them to be a better team, more productive, harder workers etc. Bill was saying that we can influence those under us, alongside us, or above us. In my roles here, I interact with almost all parts of our office and what Bill said next was brilliant.  He took ‘influence’ and said, instead of trying too hard to influence, you need to energize people.

If you energise those below you they will work harder for you.
If you energise those alongside, you will be able to partner with them better and they will be more prepared to partner with you.
If you energise those who lead you they will involve you in more decision making.

So my challenge, as an INTJ aspie who lacks energy a lot of the time – how can I energise people to write good reports? How can I energise people to engage with strategy discussions? How can I energise people to try new file storage access systems?

Fortunately I don’t think it is about the level of energy that I possess. Rather, do I have the skills (for want of a better word) to enthuse others?

Any thoughts, greatly welcomed!

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