Yep, it’s time to get out our suitcases again. We are preparing for an important trip to Bolivia. We leave the end of this month for Bolivia. One project we’ve been working on is to update the literacy training that missionary candidates receive and then to train the trainers. This trip to Bolivia is a part of that process. We are so excited to work with about 15 students from Bolivia and Peru, as well as help train the literacy course teachers and field literacy consultants. And we have an added blessing of being able to visit our daughter and her family who are serving at a school for missionary children in Bolivia!
Posts Tagged ‘literacy’
When we first started the literacy classes in Patpatar one of the students that attended was a young man who had a wife and several young children. He was a hard worker but quiet and reserved. His struggle with what might be anemia often causes him to be bed ridden on a mat in his small hut. He had no formal education but wanted to learn.
The first day of literacy class for him was difficult. How to hold a book, how to hold a pencil, being able to recognize his name on paper, tasks we don’t usually give much thought to, was all a struggle. He wasn’t a quick learner, but he persevered. Four months later he stood timidly before the crowd gathered for graduation and slowly read a simple story. But what has happened since then?
I want to tell you about an email we got from Madonna, our coworker in Papua New Guinea, regarding him. In her email it said,
“I just found this photo today… I thought you guys would be thrilled to know that God has used you tremendously.”
Attached was the photo you see above. The young man who had to be taught how to hold a book is now a believer and is growing in the Lord and reading God’s Word for himself.
It has been a long time since I have updated you about what is going on in the lives of the Patpatar and in our lives. It has been more of a challenge to keep you posted as we are here in the states. As our time here in the States winds to an end I will once again send out some regular updates so you can be in the loop. We have heard some exciting things and look forward to sharing those with you in the coming months.
We have two months left before we leave for Papua New Guinea. For now, we are soaking in all the lasts that we get to do in America. The girls have done their share of sledding, but still had to try to catch a little more falling snow before the heat and humidity of the rainforest surrounds them.
Because of a Book,
Fact: Creating and teaching a literacy program for the Patpatar was interesting. In the Patpatar alphabet the letters c, f, j, q, v, x, y, z do not exist. However there are lengthened vowels which means you hold the vowel sound out slightly longer for some words. We represent these by placing two of the same vowel next to each other: aa, ee, ii, oo, uu.
Recently we received word from Hernan, the Kuna brother who is coordinating the literacy effort that he has been training literacy teachers from several more Kuna communities who didn’t participate in the workshop last November. (more…)
I spoke about a topic that has become more important to me each and every day:
Seven years ago, Lael and I went through Perspectives and were “ruined for the ordinary!” For the first time we heard about unreached people groups and the biblical basis for missions. We were determined to leverage our short time on earth for nothing less than this great commission to see every tribe, tongue and nation reached with the gospel. We were fired up and couldn’t wait to get out there and do “something!”
And that’s the problem. Our “something” was completely undefined. We had no idea what ministry among an unreached people group would look like. We knew we needed a plan. As George Walker, one of my favorite instructors saw, “We genuinely felt the weight of own not-enough-ness!”
The Needs You Don’t Know You Need To Know About…
That’s where New Tribes Mission came into the picture. We toured the Missionary Training Center and were blown away by how thorough the training was. Now we’ve gone through all four years of their training (two years of Bible school and two years of missionary training) and I can’t imagine what our overseas ministry would have looked like had we left straight for the field after college. There were so many issues we didn’t even know we needed to be thinking through.
Now we have a game plan for things like: acquiring a new culture and language, pushing through culture shock, creating an alphabet, developing a literacy program, setting up a medical clinic, running a house completely off of solar, implementing Bible translation techniques, creating chronological Bible lessons that aim at worldview level issues, understanding an animistic worldview, maintaining a healthy marriage in a stressful situation, protecting our children, taking a newborn church on toward maturity in Christ through strategic teaching, discipleship and outreach, preventing and addressing team conflict, tailoring a unique homeschool curriculum for our girls, avoiding syncretism, modeling discipleship from day one, preparing for emergency situations, leveraging various translation and linguistic software, adjusting to an event-oriented culture while maximizing time management, and counting the cost now. That’s just from the classroom side of things.
I can’t begin to describe all the valuable lessons I’ve learned from daily rubbing shoulders with staff and instructors who have been there and done it. God has used the discipleship process here in at the MTC to not only strengthen my walk with Himself, but I’ve also learned some incredibly important leadership principles.
If you’re planning to go long-term, get extensive pre-field training this side of the ocean.
One more thing. NTM has an incredible language, culture, and translation consultant program. When we’re out in the tribe trying to learn a difficult language and a strange culture, these consultants will come out regularly to help us get unstuck and reach the next level of proficiency. Doug Schaible likes to say that NTM’s consultants are like the wench on a Jeep. When you get stuck, they pull you out so you can get back on the road. I’m so glad that NTM has people in place who will be able to continue equipping us at each new leg of this long journey toward seeing a mature tribal church who is glorifying God.
Thanks again for joining us on this journey!
One of my favorite teachers, George Walker, served for many years among the Bisorio people of Papua New Guinea. Today the Bisorio church is thriving and has its own tribal Bible teachers and elders. One of the church leaders, Suduwama, asked George to pass this stirring message on to those of us in training at the Missionary Training Center.
“Don’t turn back form the work which you are learning about and being strengthened in. Do not turn back from that work which God has given you to do. Be strong. If you give up and turn back and do not go to tell those who have never heard, then who will go and tell them? Those people will continue living with their total sin debt. But so that they can be forgiven and free from their sin debt, they must be told God’s Word. Be strong in continuing to do the work of God.”
Thanks for helping me keep the real vision in the forefront of my heart, Suduwama.
Believe it or not, our 3.5 years of pre-field equipping with New Tribes Mission is drawing to a close, and we’d like to take a few moments to share with you all about our future. With that said, we have posted several new blogs that are more reflections on and lessons learned from the last three years of training. Click the link at the bottom to go to the blog.
We’ve been bouncing around between Oklahoma and Arkansas ensuring that grandparents get their much needed grand-baby time! Now we’re back in Arkansas and will be at New Heights on Sunday worshiping together and touching base with some of you all.
Lael will be receiving specialized (and very intensive) linguistic training. We all have received some linguistic training during the normal 3 semester track here in Missouri, but Lael will be focusing on this specific problem: how do you accurately break down an unwritten language and produce a usable alphabet (i.e. create an orthography)?
To remedy this problem of developing an orthography, Lael will be taking the equivalent of a 20 hr. semester class load (not including several hours of practical homework each night) of solid linguistics classes. The alphabet Lael will create in the tribe will be extremely important, because it will be the foundation for literacy, Bible lesson development and Bible translation for the tribal people.
While Lael is developing her linguistic muscle, I’ll be working on staff with the mobilization and development office at the training center. I worked in that department as a student last semester for my campus work detail. I’ll be working on developing/writing/editing digital textbooks for some of the specialized courses on campus, as well as scripting various mobilization video projects. That journalism degree keeps coming in handy : )
We’ll be focusing on reconnecting back in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. We’ll also be trying to finish raising our recommended financial support, so we can make it to Papua New Guinea in 2014. A sincerely humble thank you to everyone who has been faithfully partnering with throughout our years of training! We couldn’t do this without you, and we wouldn’t want to! Drop us a line, if you’re interested in joining our partnership team.
Lael will be putting her linguistic skill to the test as we go to a Cherokee reservation in Tahlequah, OK for the LING Practicum. For six weeks, Lael will be working with a Cherokee language helper and develop her own alphabet for the Cherokee language. Practice makes perfect….and perfect is close enough!
Papua New Guinea accepts new missionaries in February and August (due to their six-month national culture and language program). Please pray for us as we endeavor to be wise stewards of our time and accomplish two vitally important tasks: taking the time to build relationships and plug back into life at our sending church and with friends and family, and completely raising our field-recommended financial support.
We want to accomplish both of those things well before we leave. This means that if we make it to our required financial amount, but have not had enough time to connect with our church, our ministry partners, our family and friends, we will probably go in August instead of February. Conversely, we don’t feel right about leaving prematurely with only 75% of our recommended support with a hope of just “getting by”. Getting by often translates into having to shift focus away from where it should primarily rest: the tribal people among whom we’ll be serving.
Please pray for us as this year unfolds, and God continues to surprise us with plans far more beautiful and rewarding than our own could ever hope to be.
Looking to Him,
The last 3 1/2 years have been interesting to say the least, due in large part to the fact that God has stretched me in more ways that I could have imagined. Honestly, it’s been a journey of unexpected joys.
Sure, there have been stressors, but I’ve seen enough of those turn out for the best far too often not to notice a pattern: God is faithful. At New Tribes Bible Institute, many of my questions about Scripture were answered, but those answers prompted more questions. I realized the necessity of embracing my role as a lifelong learner (especially in our cross-cultural line of work).
Coming into the Missionary Training Center, I had so many questions about life on the field. I knew all the generic answers to those questions, but when it came to specifics like, “How am I actually going to break down an unwritten language? How am I going to run completely off of solar? How do you actually write/plan/run a literacy program? What does translation and curriculum development look like? What happens after the church is born?
I was clueless.
Well, those questions and many others have been answered during our time here, but I have once again realized that I still don’t have all the answers…and I never will. There has to be some element of trust in God. Signing up for this transient life demands both flexibility and spiritual dependence. My relationship with God has to be paramount.
I’ve come to understand that many of my questions are simply opportunities for God to continue to improve upon His perfect record of faithfulness. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, God takes the simple evils of Satan and Man and weaves them into a complex good.
Last year at this time we were looking ahead to the Kuna literacy training as a huge step of faith with a whole lot of work needing to be accomplished. Here we are looking back on the pictures of the literacy training held in Panama a few weeks ago, thanking God for His provision and wisdom! Many of you were part of the team through your prayers and gifts toward the project.
More than 110 people from 42 different Kuna villages or churches attended the literacy training. The joy and energy was fueled by their enthusiasm for teaching people to read in preparation for the whole Bible in Kuna! Who can’t get hyped to think that soon the Kuna people will be able to read the Psalms, Proverbs, and all those beloved Old Testament stories? (more…)
Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
This has been the theme in my life since June when I first sensed God calling me to an adventure with Him in Papua New Guinea. It has been a whirlwind since the moment I filled out the preliminary questionnaire to last week when I joined 6 others at the NTM home office for a week of pre-field training. I cannot express how good God is and what peace He has given as I’ve tackled unbelievable amounts of paperwork and e-mail correspondence and not to mention the learning curve called “support raising.”
This is the beginning of a new journey and I’m excited to share of God’s faithfulness and His provision. Stick with me and we can praise Him together as He reaches the lost with His message of hope!
Joyce has returned from her time in Asia-Pacific with a full heart. Over and over it was obvious that God was leading, encouraging, giving health, wisdom and protection each step of the way. (And thanks for asking… I survived as a bachelor, although we have no plans of being separated again in the near future!) (more…)