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Well, the cold has gone and been replaced by quite considerable heat.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.

26 Sep

Trip to Ghana in 05

I was checking out some old files on the hard drive and stumbled across this piece I wrote after my Trip to Ghana with a team in 2005.  It’s funny, 7 years later reading about the struggles, it all seems so familiar!  This was also the summer we won the Olympics and there were bombings on the underground system in London, both of which happened while in Ghana.

 

1WYnet Co-ordinator

2 Trainee leaders

4 Student missionaries

1 Team

1 God

1 Word

 

 

 

3 Days of training

1 12 Seater minibus

#84 British Airways to Accra

1 15 seater minibus

1 Team

1 God

1 Word

 

 

 

6 Days in sanko where

4 Projects are run 2-gether in all things

½ the normal time required 2 get those projects done.

1 Team visiting

1 team working

1 God

1 Word

 

 

 

2 Taxis 90 minutes late

2 Trotros 2 changes to make

280 minutes on the road1 large mountain to climb.

2500 ft up

1 guesthouse

1 new project to get started

1 Divine Munumkum

10 days

8 villages to visit

1 Team

1 God

1Word

 

 

 

 

0 Curtains

0 Flushing Loos

0 Taps

0 fridge

0 aircon units

0 TV

0 radio

0 babies to tickle

0 reception on my phone.

1 dead paramount chief

1 case of malaria

3 days of treatment

0 malaria

4 dodgy stomachs 2 many mouth ulcers

500 litres of water drunk

0 enthusiasm

1Word

1 God

almost 1 team

 

 

8 Villages visited

1 message from divine

“This is your project not mine, I want to help you get your language written down and eventually translate the scriptures”

7 white people causing a stir

1 message from Divine

“These friends have come from the uk to help you with your project.  To Pray, To visit and maybe help in others ways that none of us understand yet”

8 Enthusiastic Villages

7 enthusiastic white people

1 very enthusiastic divine

1 humongous send off

1 paramount chief stand in for the send off

1 New project started

1 team

1 God

1 Word

27, 000 people a set closer to getting that word in a language that speaks to their heart.

 

 

 

14 Aug

Togo 2010 – what really happened?

So I was off in Togo for most of July, and amazing time on sooo many levels. Great to go out and visit places and people I have known for the past 12 years. It was especially brilliant because it was a trip I didn’t’ think I would ever get to make again. Having left the WYnet job and handed it all over, it was exciting to be asked to head back and train Steve who took over from me. Fortunately I have worked with him for 4 years now, training him wasn’t too big a deal, a good lad is Steve! I can’t really pinpoint what was so good about it. Maybe it was getting away from the 15 months of organising a tour, maybe it was the delight of seeing people and places again. Maybe it was once again the privilege of seeing God at work in the lives of young people again. I miss youth work!

I first headed to Togo 12 years ago with a bunch of mismatches; we headed out to renovate an old missionary house for the Bible translation team to use as an office. At the time I made some real close friends, many of whom I am still in touch with. Little did I know that that trip was going to have quite a profound impact on my life. Not only did it open my eyes further to the big world out there, but it challenged me spiritually too. 5 weeks was a long time to be away from home, but frankly I was happy to be away, things at home weren’t easy or happy for the most part. Coming home from such a trip with a changed perspective, some new friend, and some challenges to face head on with God, really set me up for the next few years of my life. Having the opportunity to take a team of young people out to Togo and be challenged and changed as I was has been a huge privilege of my former job as WYnet coordinator. This year’s trip was no exception.

Great bunch of young people who were happy to get stuck in with all the activities we were up to.
Great bunch of young people who were keen to find out more about God’s plan for their lives.
Great bunch of young people who got to know each other VERY well, and managed to get on with each other and grew to love each other.
Amazing bunch of young people.

I also had the immense privilege to gain a peer. Ruth who was out as one of the leaders has been all the way through WYnet when I was in charge, eventually joining our leadership team. Great to see that relationship move on from Leader / youth to peer. That really doesn’t happen as often as I would like.

Talk about spiritually challenging, the chance to get some time and space away from normal life, somehow the lack of distractions and I guess responsibilities allows time to calm down and allow God to speak and reveal more of Him. It also allows time and space to deal with stuff as it comes up. So one thing I ‘discovered’ God ‘revealed to me’ however you want to term it, I came to the realisation that I have been carrying some resentment. What a great chance to go get some space and deal with that! There are some other things too that go back a bit in time that I could take the chance to sort out!

13 Jul

Togo 2010 Update 2 – Sent on Sunday 11th July

Monday 5th
Pretty much the whole day was taken up with travelling to Bassar. We and all our bags piled into the minibus and headed off at 0700! We arrived about 1500 and promptly prayed over the building our beds and then the rains came! Boy was it loud, pretty awesome! Hanging mosquito nets is a bit of a mission when you are hot and sticky, but they all got hung and supplies bought and we started to settle in!

Tuesday 6th
Day 1 in Bassar involved a little walk into town to visit the police station
to let them know we are around in town. The Chief Constable, Raymond there is always very welcoming and open to hear about what we are up to this time on our visit. Wondering around the town is surprising hot and tiresome for us ‘yovo’ (white people), so after a lovely siesta we sat down with our resident linguist, Ruth who taught us some of the basic linguistics we need to go on and learn some Ntcham. This mostly involved trying to figure out how we make all the various sounds in English, only to find that Ntcham has so many others that we aren’t used to making!

Wednesday 7th
The morning had in store for us our first Ntcham learning session with Samuel. We learnt about the different sounds in the Ntcham alphabet and then all the various greetings. We moved onto to have a wander into town practicing those greetings with everyone we meet along the way.
The afternoon was spent chilling out hope for the big rain storm to come our way. It didn’t.

Thursday 8th
This morning was Ntcham class 102. 0900 in the office with Samuel learning our new Ntcham names. The pronunciations can be a challenge!

Tim- Gbati
Steve-Ubootu
Ruth- Damba
Megan – Jabii
Aimee – Saai
Lizzy – Jeeti
Miriam – Jaai
Hannah – Ajaa

We learnt how to introduce our selves and ask “what is your name” we also learnt a few more ‘survival’ phrases like, I’m sorry, thank you and I don’t understand. Once again, we took a wonder around town practicing the things we have just learnt. It is so much easier than learning a language in school. The freedom to go and apply what we just learnt is a real advantage! After a wee siesta in the afternoon we headed to the office to help Samuel produce some booklets of the scripture portions he has translated. We hope to distribute these in the various church meetings we visit while we are here. Every night after dinner we get together and have devotions. We take it in turns to lead based on one of the passages about Jesus ministry. The session includes a bit of singing, praying and sharing about our day, what we have found good and what we have maybe found harder. A great time to explore scripture together and grow closer to God and be challenged in ways that maybe we didn’t expect.

Friday 9th
A more chilled day today, Ruth wasn’t feeling so great yesterday and woke up feeling worse today. The team did a great job of reacting with prayer for her! Whilst the rest of the team headed into town to greet people and check out some cloth and negotiate with the Tailor, Tim and Ruth popped next door to see the doctor. The result is that we are currently treating her for malaria. It is far more precautionary than reactionary; it is very simple to treat here. She is fairly chirpy when not asleep but she has rested well, drank lots and even eaten some. We thank God that she is already doing better at the time we write this. Please do pray that her recovery is quick, the team miss having her around! After lunch, some of the girls got their hair braided, it is certainly an experience! You’ll have to check out some photos after we are home.

Saturday 10th
This morning we headed over to Samuels house to learn about making African Donuts! First job is to make the batter. We then headed into town to explore market day. Town is much busier than any other day we have been in, and the market was packet with everything imaginable included smoked fish on every corner. Ruth is doing better today; she managed to join the team for breakfast. After lunch we headed back to Samuels house to cook to donuts having given the batter time to rise over lunch.

05 Jul

Togo 2010 Update 1 – Sent on Sunday 3rd July

Hi folks, sorry for the lack of contact, we landed fine, managed to eventually get visas in Lome airport and found all our bags with no problems! The first few days are always tiring, due to the travel and the change in climate, but everyone is doing really well. Saturday was spent getting used to life here, drinking lots of water and hoping that Steve could get all the supplies we need. Thankfully he did, and we managed a short wander down the road near the guesthouse.

This morning we headed out for our first church meeting of the trip. The service started at 0700. Yes you did read that right! The church has 3 services and the 0700 service is conducted in French and English. The next 2 of the morning are conducted in French plus one of the local languages. Long and warm is not a great combination for staying awake, but a wonderful experience being with several hundred of God’s people worshiping together!

This afternoon we hope to head out to a small party with some of the other missionary families who are around at the moment. There has been some trouble here the past couple of weeks. The petrol prices were hiked up and several groups of workers held strikes that led to localised protests. Things have been calm since we have been here (I doubt it is our influence!). You could pray for continued peace and that our plans aren’t disrupted!

Tomorrow we head up to Bassar, a 5-7 hour minibus ride. We are all looking forward to getting up there and getting settled in.

– Pray for continued good health

– Pray for safe travels

01 Jul

I'm off to Togo tommorow!

As tempting as it might be to make all the To-go to Togo puns, please don’t bother, I WILL have heard them all before! I’m currently sat in my bedroom having led a VERY full of day of orientation for the team who are heading out via Paris tomorrow. My brain is a bit fried, I don’t feel like I have really stopped since the tour. In fact, I know I haven’t, one of my last jobs yesterday was to finalise the list of ‘follow up’ opportunities to pass on and even this morning was a teleconference about a possible tour in 2011! I then had to get my head very quickly in the game ready for the Togo team. I was mostly very pleased with how the day went, until a text from Ali at 2100 mentioning that I had left my packet of anti-malarial meds on the table at home. Thank goodness I am only 12 minutes drive away from home!

I’m tired. I don’t think it is a big deal, I’m not grumpy yet, but I can feel the tiredness from running around on tour! At the same time though, I am REALLY excited. This is the Togo trip that I didn’t think was going to happen. A chance to see the people one last time, a chance to properly hand over to Steve, a chance to get my knife back! I don’t express excitement very well verbally and I’m not sure the team think I am excited, but I know that as soon as I see Samuel in the airport, things will start to get real!

We had a fab time of sharing earlier, and I shared that one of my hopes on this trip was to get away from ‘normal life’ (whatever that is!) and try to make use of the extra time and space such a trip provides to really take hold of the depression issue and give it back to God. I’ve done a great job of analysing it myself. I know myself far better now than I ever did. I have things in place to avoid the dips, Ali is better equipped to cope with me! BUT even amongst all that, I need to allow quality time for God to do some deeper work in me. Weeding a garden is a great analogy when it comes to this stuff. I found the weeds and pulled them out, even dug a bit to find the roots. However, for the garden of my life to be fully restored, some of the underlying soil needs to be modified, balanced out to provide a better growth environment. Such a trip provides some excellent retreat time in the afternoons!

Pray for me at this time;

– That I allow God to do an awesome work in me.

– That the team all stay healthy and safe as we travel and do our thing.

– That handing things over to Steve goes smoothly.

– Pray also for Ali and Dan, for protection over them and a good time until I return.

16 Aug

Farewell song — 4

See this post for the explination …

An original blues …

I woke up this morning
and Tim was gone
I felt all alone
so I wrote down this song

WYnet’s never gonna be the same
Leader’s meetings gonna be so lame
Can’t help thinking it’s such a shame
Tim is gone, so long

No breakfast this morning
‘Cause Tim is gone
No milk for my cornflakes
I just have this song

WYnet’s never gonna be the same
Leader’s meetings gonna be so lame
Can’t help thinking it’s such a shame
Tim is gone, so long

I went to the meeting
But where was my Tim?
We can’t hear his laugh now
It ain’t the same without him

WYnet’s never gonna be the same
Leader’s meetings gonna be so lame
Can’t help thinking it’s such a shame
Tim is gone, so long

I woke up this morning
And Stevo was there
It’s all looking up now
WYnet’s in his care

WYnet’s never gonna be the same
But we know God’s in charge of this game
We’ll keep praising our God’s name
Stevo’s here, give a cheer

Oh yeah!

15 Aug

Farewell song — 3

See this post for the explination …

To the tune of

Shrek in the swamp karaoke dance party

Don’t go leaving this song is cheesy
It’s sad to see you close the door

You helped us through the rainy mess,
Although our tents were soaked through
We would have no place to sleep it weren’t for you.

I like meal times and I cannot lie,
Though he never ever made us pie,
He made us curry and spuds and it’s good
But when I get desert I get a

FEELING

It’s fun to stay at WYnet with Tim
It’s fun to stay at WYnet with Tim

Do you really want to leave us?
Do you really want to make us cry?

Boo hoo boo hoo
I’m Gonna cry
I’m gonna cry
Boo hoo boo hoo

Who got his head shaved, Tim Tim Tim Tim Tim
Who got his legs waxed. Tim Tim Tim Tim Tim

He was an awesome drummer
His use of a capo was neat, yeah yeah yeah.

You were great but now we are run by Stevo
it is pretty nice

Goodbye timbo
Hello to stevo
(Repeat to end)

14 Aug

Farewell song — 2

See this post for the explination …

To the tune of

fix you by Coldplay

when you’ve been at WYnet for so long
there are so many things to put in a song
that is was hard to choose

Tim has made so many meals
lasagne and curry
jacket ‘taters and casserole

when you waxed your legs we felt for you
Oh how much pain we’ve put you through
but its just payback, for all the mocking
but we love you, honestly

Tim will play guitar and drums and bass
with a wicked smile upon his face
all in keys we cant sing

tears stream down our face
coz you are being replaced
tears stream down our face
but we’ll get over it.
coz steves great!

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