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.

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…. 

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