Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Margin...Gone!

You prayed  that we would find someone to tell the story in Berom well when we went to the village...Well, God said, "NOPE!"  The guy we found told the story in an extremely boring way, yet you prayed that blank stares would turn into joyful, knowing, bright eyes.  God said, "YEP!" Although the guy translating the stories was boring, that is just what happened!  Children who had been passively listening, were suddenly animatedly answering questions in their language!
You prayed that the evidence would be strong, and Asabe who went from the other organization said, "It was an eye opening experience."  YEAH!

Asabe told the Hausa story beautifully.  Most couldn't answer a comprehension question.

The Pastor excited translated the Scripture verse into Berom for us to sing with the children!

Now, for the margin.  It's 9pm. Zach is modifying the Sunday school materials to make sure that they are ready for the board meeting for this organization on Friday.  He is removing all margin from the curriculum documents to make them as inexpensive to print as possible. As we talked about our evening plans at dinner, it seemed ironic that this was the plan...to work into the night...removing margin and reducing font size.

So Thankful for the trip to this Berom village, for answered prayers, and clear evidence!
Pray for the board meeting Friday.  For vision, excitement about engaging children, and unity.
Pray  that we will not remove the margin from our lives, but learn to maintain balance.
Pray that Zach will finish this document so we can print it tomorrow for Asabe.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

They Just Looked At Me

It isn't usually the highlight when a group of kids "just looks at you" when you ask them a question, but here Zach was telling me it was the best part of his trip with our church.  Why?

Well, we've been working with a different organization, imploring them to consider translating children's materials into languages other than Hausa and English.  They serve a very big denomination in the area with children's Sunday school curriculum. We had asked them to take a trip with us to a village so we could see the need together.

So Zach told me this story: Here he was, after telling a group of children a Bible story in Hausa on this trip, with other Hausa speaking adults around listening, and the children just stared at him blankly.  The mothers standing behind the children translated Zach's questions into Berom (their own language).  Then they told them the answers in Berom.  The children repeated the answer back to the mothers who in turn told Zach the answer in Hausa. The children couldn't understand or speak Hausa.

Now I knew why these children's blank stares was the most interesting part of his trip.  It wasn't that they "just looked at him" that made him happy, it was the evidence we were looking for in those blank stares to address a very real need. Then Zach continued his story...

"There is a Bible in Berom," he informed them and the mothers standing there said, "We know, we have one!"  They went inside and returned with a New Testament published in 1970 (now the whole Bible is available in Berom).  He asked one of the mothers to read a different story, and then ask the children some questions.  It didn't go perfectly well because she was feeding them answers, (a totally different Scripture engagement issue) but they were more interactive and seemed to understand better.

I had even more clarity as to why this was such a great discovery, the mother was excited that she had the Bible, and she could read it! Distribution and literacy are two BIG things that hinder Scripture use. 
The children with one of their mothers holding the Bible up.
I'm telling you all this today because tomorrow, Zach, me (Christy), and the administrative secretary (who is already in favor of translating it into multiple languages) from this other organization are traveling to that same village to visit a Sunday school class and talk with some children in the area.

Please Pray that we will be able to find someone to tell a story in Berom well, who can ask questions to the children and wait for their answers.
Pray that after seeing the situation, the evidence will be strong enough to warrant other board members who aren't yet convinced to travel with us to other areas for more research in early May.
Pray that blank stares will turn into joyful, knowing, bright eyes when children are asked what a passage means. Oh that they may know the God who loves them and speaks to their hearts!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Hustle!

I was a runner.  A sprinter. A long jumper in high school and college.
My husband and I joke about how my life reveals years of running fast, and hard, then clutching burning muscles at the end of the race.  I marvel at how the quick run up to the line and then the big thrust to lift my body off the ground and get as far as I could out of that one big push is still reflected in my life!

From the time my older brother and I on the hay wagon outside the barn raced my sister inside the barn stacking the hay bales that dropped from the roof, I have a timer in my head that says "hustle!"  It has kept me going when I was tired but the finish line of a project is in view, and kept me focused when so many options tugged at my heart.  But these days, I wish my mind would make a switch.  I wish I had a little more of that distance runner in me.  You can pray that for me.

In the mean time, as I learn how to go the distance in order to be more fruitful, here's what the hustle over these last few weeks has looked like!
Working with two language helpers and new field staff (6, including children) to get them going learning Hausa!

Presenting shoes after the sports camp Carol and Adams lead

Going to get shoes with girls who still needed shoes after Carol left!

Arranging a sleepover

Hosting the sports camp on our compound

Enjoying the Aunties visit!

Helping direct the 24 children doing two plays in a local outdoor theatre.

Empowering 40 girls with Scripture and wisdom that will help them guard their hearts and bodies.

Providing the necessary drinks and foods for my family!

Organizing and MCing a cultural day at our church with my husband and our pastor.
 Loving and delighting in these beauties. Daso is on break, so we are doing fun lessons to teach extra fun things!

Keeping up with this cutie!


Discipling children with a GREAT team of teachers at our Thursday Bible study for kids!
This week I'm working with a curriculum to prepare it for an organization that will be using it next year!  What a big job it is! 

On Friday the DD kids (Dance and Drama kids) from the Orange Hat will be presenting their dramas at two local schools!

Friday we will be doing a mini training and Scripture sharing at a local theological college (where I taught last week on two different topics before rushing to staff conference Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.)

Thank you for praying for us in the hustle and please pray that we'll continue to seek God and hear him clearly for direction. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

What do you do, Zach?

So Zach, we understand that you lead the Scripture Engagement team.  But what does that mean?  And what do you actually do?

What do I do?
I have had people ask me this question several times over the past few years.  What do I do?  Sometimes I even ask myself!

I would answer that I lead a team made of three teams that all have similar goals.  There is the EthnoArts team led by Peter.  They help communities to engage with translated Scriptures through the use of local arts like song, dance, drama, storytelling, and appropriate illustrations.  Then there is the VMS team led by Iliya.  They help communities record Audio versions of translated Scriptures and also dub films into these languages.  Then there is the "General Scripture Engagement Team" led by Princeton.  They have done a lot of Scripture Listening and Reading Group trainings (which you can learn about through Christy's blog, Come and see).  They also are getting ready to help communities in two new ways.  One is through Children's Bible studies translated into their own languages.  Another is through what we call "Faith and Farming."  Many Nigerians are farmers, and we want to help them see that the Bible has a lot to say about farmers and farming... it applies to their lives too! So what I do is I help our team to do many things.  Once in a while I get to do the "fun" fieldwork myself, too.

Wow, that was a long paragraph where every sentence could be a full blog post.  Would you like to know more about these things?  Please, do ask!  (And also, check out the thirteen blog posts on the Scripture Engagement Team)

You noticed that the phrase "helping communities" appeared a lot in the last paragraph?  That is a big theme for me.  I spend a lot of time talking to Peter, Iliya, Princeton, and the rest of the team about this.  How do we really help communities to use Scripture rather than just doing things for them which will stop the moment we leave?  It takes a lot of careful communication and preparation, and often plans get cancelled or delayed, just when things were getting set up.  That is something you can pray about: that plans will go through when they should, and that we'll have good backup plans of important work when our first plans change.

My sister Carol got to see some of what I do first hand!

I also want to ensure that our team is learning from our experience, and from other's experience around the world.  This means we need to be writing up lessons learned and reading up on what others are writing.  That's partly why I traveled for a conference last year.  I had a paper I had written about what we had learned about Scripture Engagement in Nigeria; others needed to hear it.  There is something else you can pray about.  I guess I wrote the paper a little too quickly.  There are over two hundred corrections I need to make by Tuesday next week to get the final version of that paper submitted to the conference proceedings.  Please pray for focus and for this useful paper to be done on time so others can get access to it.

In addition to all the leading that I do, I am also a director, the "Scripture Engagement Director", so I spend time on the day to day details that makes our work run smoothly.  That means looking at budgets, signing off on expenses, planning annual reviews and setting job descriptions for new staff and those that have changed their roles.  Besides all that, I also receive about 250 e-mails every week.  All of this busyness bring up another prayer item.  I don't want to lose my focus of what is really important to do each day!

It also means advising Tom, our director, on new initiatives.  One of the big areas we have spent a lot of time on is trying to make our program for Nigerian Missionary Staff successful.  I think the conversations around planning, fixing, and planning again for the program have been some of the most challenging conversations I have ever been a part of.  There a wide variety of opinions about how to move forward, which sometimes have led to stressful meetings.  Perhaps even more challenging is the way many aspects of this program have felt impossible at times.  Please pray for us as we are about to take another big step on this journey.  We are finally writing down policies about how this whole program is supposed to work. Please pray for unity and for God to guide us on a way that will lead to success! 

Oh, yes.  I am also a part time survey consultant.  This means that I review and approve survey proposals and reports and help other survey consultants in training to grow in their skills.  I love teaching, but for some reason I have not been invited to do that very much.  That brings up another prayer point.  John, one of my colleagues, is preparing to travel to South Sudan to help them do a survey of a language there where they may start translation work. Please pray that John and I will have good meaningful time to prepare for this trip well (including a mock training of the people he will meet there!)

I love being a daddy!
With all that busyness, you might think that I am too busy to hear from you, or too busy for visitors who pop in with questions.  Actually, I love having people drop by.  Many different people come by asking for anything from the Bible in their language, to potential requests for our teams to serve, to random things like supporting a children's Bible TV program.  For each visitor I consider it an opportunity, and intentionally turn away from my computer and give them my attention.  Also, it means a lot when I hear from partners like you who stand with me in this work.  I treasure words of encouragement and especially words from Scripture.  I also love to hear about what is happening in your lives there.  This work that we are all doing together would be impossible if you stopped your praying part.  Please keep praying with us, and let me know how I can help you to pray better!

Oh yes, two last things.  I am also a daddy.  I love that job.  Playing, teaching, loving, and sometimes correcting and watching God make these girls grow.  Finally, as a husband, I am also the number one supporter of any activity you may see that Christy is doing.  It might be tech support, or being daddy, or some other logistics, or being the co-planner.  Whatever it is, whatever Christy does, I am a big part of that.  (You can see a lot of what Christy does in other blog posts, so I won't share more about that here!)  Please do pray for wisdom and peace being a daddy.  There are a lot of choices to make! Sometimes I find it hard to stop worrying that I have made the wrong ones. And pray for me to be a good listener as a husband who supports Christy in the ways she really needs it.

Perhaps you come away from all this merely with a sense that I am really busy, but still not able to picture what I do.  If so, just go back and read the bold bits where I ask for prayer.  That is the most important part of this post!

Chosen Banquet

"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.   God decided in advanc...