11 Feb

Robinson Ministry Update – 11th February 2016

Greetings from a slowly warming Jos,
We are easing very gradually into hot season. At this point I am looking forward to it because wearing leggings under my skirt every day gets old after a while! Dan does not mind the cold but looks forward to the fact that it is easier to persuade us to take him swimming (only unheated open air pools in Jos) in the hot times.

RemainingTomatoesWe are almost at the end of our tomato canning extravaganza. So far we have canned 108 pints of spaghetti sauce, 51 pints of salsa and 157 pints of whole, peeled tomatoes. And we still have a large tub of tomatoes to deal with!
Think we must be overdosing on tomatoes to eat all that in one year? Some of this is for other people who are not currently in the country to make their own. How much would you go through in a year?
Victoria+PastaSauce

Last weekend Tim and Dan went on a road-trip to Abuja, taking Jono Barnhoorn (who had been staying with us for a few weeks) to the airport for his flight back to Canada. They had a cunning plan to see the new Star Wars movie while they were there (no cinemas in Jos). Tim checked the schedule, yes, it was showing, and at a time that would work. They got to the cinema only to be informed that the screen due to show it was broken so it was not showing after all. Bitter disappointment as that was probably their last chance to see it in the cinema. Dan perked up with a trip to the swimming pool though! On the way back they were able to give a lift to some other friends of ours, Marcus and Niffer Love with their little boy, Emmanuel.
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Tim has survived the first week and a half as Acting Director, thank you for praying for him, please continue to do so. No disasters yet! He will get a week off from the role next week and then he will be back to it again for the week after.
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Dan is looking forward to a day off school on Friday and again on Tuesday of the week after.

Thank you to those of you who prayed for the LPCF (Language Program Coordination Forum) meetings, I (Ali) got a great response to the list of projects that I produced from our database. Several of our partner organisations expressed appreciation and a desire to continue to collaborate to know what languages each organisation is involved with. Information is not always freely shared here so this is really encouraging!

Thank you for all your prayers and support.

Praise
A mini break for Dan
Successful, if somewhat disruptive, tomato canning
Lack of problems so far during Tim’s reign 😉 as Acting Director
Bible translation organisations in Nigeria showing a desire to work together and share information

Prayer
That God will continue to protect SIL Nigeria from major issues with our Director away
Tim will find rest amid the intensity at work

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.

15 Aug

Ministry Update – 15th August 2015

Greetings once again from Jos!

We are safely back to our N1gerian home and settling in well. Dan has started school and despite tiredness and a definite increase in the volume of homework, he is remaining positive and doing well.

Rainy season is in full flow, we get rain most afternoons. In fact the last three days, the rain has started pretty much on the dot of 3pm, right when I need to leave to collect Dan from school, and when it rains here, it does not mess around! The road becomes a river, masking the deceptively deep potholes and making travel by kekenapep (N1geria’s version of the tuk-tuk, aka motorised rickshaw) a rather damp adventure.

Tim and I are back at work. I am battling large volumes of e-mail and processing some possible changes to my role, more on that another time.
Tim has come back into some very tricky situations relating to our group finances. Praise God it is not any issue within the organisation but rather an external issue that is affecting our ability to get money transferred into the country. This in turn means that we can’t get enough cash as an organisation and therefore having to find alternative pay our bills in-country. When some of those bills relate to immigration charges it could also affect individuals’ ability to remain in the country! Please pray for God’s good and perfect will to be done so that the situation might be resolved in the best possible way, bringing glory to His name.

One piece of exciting news that we received just before we left the UK is that SIL N1geria (the group that we work with here) has finally been incorporated as an organisation. It is a bit of a long story (somewhat crazy details available on request) but the key thing is that this means that we are now officially recognised here and we are praying that God will use this to open more doors for us, to do things like working with the government to promote the use of minority languages in education.

Thank you for all your prayers and support, we are able to be here because of you.

Praise
Settled back into life here quickly and with minimal disruption
Dan is tackling middle school with a positive attitude
SIL N1geria now incorporated

Prayer
Good resolution for the financial issues facing SIL N1geria
Dan to adjust to the increased responsibility he needs to take at school and to the more challenging homework
Godly wisdom for me as I process how my role might change

11 Jul

4 bed in 4 nights – Ministry Update – 10th June 2015

Greetings from Thame / Gateshead!
So far in our whistle-stop tour of the UK we have been to:
Thame, Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Chinnor, Altringham (Manchester), Soulby (Cumbria), Lancaster, High Wycombe, Polegate, Eastbourne, Iden Green, Maidstone, London, Rugby, Corsham, Bristol, Malvern, Worcester Stroud, Weston-super-Mare AND Gloucester.
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I think our record so far is four different beds in four nights. Thankfully God has been very gracious and our schedule really has not felt too hectic. We have had great times hanging out with old friends, renewing friendships (Richard – here is your mention), making new friends, living with family.

Still to come (at time of writing) we have:
Lincoln, Preston, Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, Horley, Redhill, Reigate, Henley, and probably some others that I have forgotten!

Someone at one of the churches we visited asked a really interesting question that made me stop and think. She asked “Why is it important for you to remain connected with people in the UK?”
We are putting a lot of energy and time into visiting as many people and churches as we can while we are in the UK and being asked this question helped me to really think through why. Firstly, of course it is great to catch up with all y’all (as some of our American friends would say). But it actually goes a lot deeper than that.
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I have this picture in my head of an iceberg. Weird, you might say, I thought you were based in N1geria, not the Antarctic? Bear with me. Tim and Dan and I are the tip of the iceberg, the bit that sticks up out of the water, that sticks into N1geria. That tip of the iceberg can’t stay above the water, can’t stay in N1geria, unless there is a whole lot more of the iceberg sitting below the surface. We need a vast team of people, praying for us, supporting us financially and generally being there for us in order for our family to be above the water in N1geria. This means that every single one of you who prays for us, who supports us, are just as much a part of the iceberg as we are, just as much a part of what God is doing through Bible translation in N1geria. So next time you are tempted to think that your life is boring, or that nothing you are doing is impacting the world, remember the iceberg!
If you don’t really feel like you are part of the iceberg yet and would like to join our iceberg, please do drop us a line, we would love to have you on board (or should that be on ice?)!
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We have just heard that there has been another twin bombing in Jos on Sunday night. Please pray for peace and unity in our home city. Pray for those who have lost friends and family that they will turn to their loving heavenly Father for comfort.

07 May

7th May 2015 – Ministry Update

Greetings from a parched Jos,

IMG_4140Somehow the rainy season still has not started. It is really about a month overdue now. The last rainy season trickled to a stop around 7 months ago and water is now becoming increasingly hard to find. We are blessed to have a well on our compound that, although getting close, has not quite dried up yet. The city seems to have stopped providing water through the pipes and many people are really struggling to find enough water for their families. Please pray that the rains will start this week, they are desperately needed, not just for people now but also for their crops to provide for them for the rest of the year. This seems to be a problem across West Africa, not just in Nigeria. So, here is an opportunity to do that rather unusual thing and pray for rain!

Tim’s meetings in Kenya went well, thank you for praying! They were intense and he has come back with a bit of a backlog of work, but overall it was a positive time. Dan and I did fine, but were very happy to have him back safe and sound.

We are now in the final few weeks of Hillcrest term, school ends for the year on the 21st of May and will not resume until the 6th of August. We are also in our final few weeks of preparation for coming to the UK for the summer! We will leave Nigeria on the 25th of May, a few days after the end of term and plan to be in the UK until the 1st of August.

We hope to meet up with many of you who live in the UK while we are there! Once we have a better idea of where we will be when, we’ll let you know and hopefully you can fit us in! One big need we have for the time we will be in the UK is a car. We really can not afford to hire a car for the whole time but we need to do a lot of travelling around to see you all! If you happen to have a car you could lend us or know someone who might be willing to do so we would be hugely grateful. If you do not have such a thing at your disposal then please could you pray that someone else will! We know how powerful the prayers of God’s people are!

Praise

  • Helpful meetings for Tim in Kenya
  • Safety and peace for Dan and I while Tim was away
  • Tickets booked to come to the UK!
  • Prayer

  • Rain!!! Consistent rain across West Africa starting this week.
  • That Tim could deal with his build up of work and that he will have peace as he deals with it
  • Provision of a car for our time in the UK
  • 27 Apr

    Scripture Listening and Reading Groups

    This is a collection of stories that was shared with our group back in November. I re-read and got re-excited about the things that are gong on!

    In Nigeria, our vision is “Seeing Nigerian communities have access to Scriptures in their own languages and be using them to transform their communities.” Through Scripture Listening and Reading Groups (SLRGs), this is exactly what we are seeing God do in the various language communities of Nigeria. The structure of the SLRG is simply listening to Scripture in the Mother Tongue, followed by discussion, and marked by prayer at the beginning and end. We teach people how to facilitate their groups through five discussion questions:

    1. Can someone retell in their own words what they understood from the Scriptures we have just listened to?
    2. What struck you particularly from what you heard? (e.g. something you liked, or were surprised by.)
    3. What did you learn about God or Jesus from what we heard?
    4. What is God saying to the people in what we heard?
    5. What do you think God is saying to us today in what we heard? What should we do in response?

    Training has taken place in five language communities with about 170 people trained to lead discussion groups. Six people have been trained as trainers. Here are some of the impacts we have seen from this initiative:

    SLRG11. Literacy: In Mwaghavul, the participants follow along in their Mwaghavul Bibles as they listen to the recording. One man was literate only in Hausa and English, but he learned to read in Mwaghavul through the SLRG training. Now when he attends any gathering in church, he is the one people call on to read the Scriptures in Mwaghavul because not many have that skill yet.

    2. Answered Prayers & Increased Faith: One elder, Isaac, meets regularly with the youth in a Mwaghavul community, facilitating a Scripture Listening and Reading Group. The youth were so excited about what they were learning that one of them prayed, “God, may you protect this man, make him to live long so he can continue to teach us your Word in our language.” A short time later, the man was in a collision with a truck carrying firewood. Surprisingly, it was the truck that got damaged instead of the small car Isaac was driving. The elder testifies to God’s protection in answer to prayer and is passionate about continuing his ministry with the youth.

    3. Real Understanding of Scripture: One woman in a listening group realized what the word of God really says. She explains, “I am seeing for the first time that before, we were not actually following God, we were only following men of God to understand. Because of our mother tongue audio scripture, now I’m hearing from God myself.”

    4. Evangelism: In one of the SLRGs, a woman in the group believed the facilitator when he affirmed, “If you have problems in your homes, God will use you to solve these problems.” She started praying that God would bring back her husband, who had left her many years before. Two months later, he came back. As he knelt and asked her to forgive him, she forgave him and led him to Christ.

    SLRG25. Increased Interest in Mother-Tongue Scripture Products: During the SLRG training in Kuteb land the participants got very excited. Seeing the power of using Scripture recordings in this way they asked, “When are we going to get these on SD cards, CDs, and mobile phones? We want to invite our people from all over to a launching of our Audio Scriptures so that everyone can have this!”

    6. Increased Demand for Translation: A man from the Obanliku language group attended a Church Leaders Scripture Summit. There is currently no published Scripture in his language. After listening to a presentation by the Scripture Engagement team on SLRGs, he asked with excitement, “How can we get the Scriptures in our own language?” SLRGs are sparking excitement among language groups where work is still needed!

    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

    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

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