I DID indeed get my visa in time and I spent the entire month of August in South Asia teaching International Phonetics and Culture/Language Methods at a Wycliffe South Asia facility in the north part of the country. I apologize for not sending updates from South Asia as I attempted to email and update my blog, but security would not allow it from my location. Thank you so much for your prayers and for those of you who sent extra support to help with the journey. I’ll try to recap the highlights.
Obtaining the Visa
This is what I had asked for prayer about. The visa process had been outsourced to a new company in July and the waiting time was 10-14 days to get a visa, but I only had 2 weeks before my journey! So, I made the trip in person to Chicago, 460 miles away, leaving at 2 a.m.! I made it to my appointment and after a long wait was told it would still take 10 days! The lady behind the counter said she would put a “rush” on it, but I still wasn’t convinced. Had I made this whole trip in vain? I drove back the 460 miles the same day unsure if the trip was successful or not. The visa arrived in just 4 days! Praise the Lord!
Departure and Arrival…
I left the U.S. on August 1st arriving in northern South Asia the evening of August 3rd, a Saturday, and began teaching that Monday. The material I taught from was SIL European-based, so I had a bit of a learning curve, but I feel the process has only enhanced my teaching back here at the NTM training center. My students, four couples and three single guys, were from four different language groups, Telegu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Hindi with all speaking Hindi and English to varying degrees. Upon completion of their training in October, each of them plan to go out as Wycliffe translators to various regions of South Asia. I was able to get to know each of my students pretty well as I lived with them, ate meals with them, taught them, enjoyed chai tea with them, and relaxed with them in our free time. I was able to learn a lot about their culture and the predominant religion first-hand as many of them were born and raised in this belief-system. In a farewell speech one student commented how their teachers never ate meals with them and “hung out” with them like I did! They were surprised I even ate like them without utensils!
I was there during the monsoon season so it rained every day and was quite overcast and muggy the whole time. We were in the foothills of the Himalayas, but it never cleared enough to see the high Himalayas in the distance. Many of the local shops were Tibetan and Nepalese as there are many immigrants from there. My teaching load was mornings, afternoons and evenings including one Saturday as well so there wasn’t much time for sightseeing. However I did travel by train with one of the students on a weekend to a holy city on the Ganges River. It was quite an experience traveling by economy train and battling crowds in the stations. There were even monkeys swinging all over the train station as monkeys, as well as cows, are seen as gods and they are allowed all over the roads, neighborhoods or wherever they want to go. The young man I traveled with even told me that his mother used to wash his face in cow urine and make him drink it as a child because cows were holy, even gods and by doing this they take part of god into themselves! He named off 20 or 30 gods that they worshipped and had shrines to in his house! I also managed a trip to see the Taj Mahal after my teaching was finished as it was only a 2-hour train ride from my departure city . 2 bus stations, 2 train stations, and 5 airports and a three hour drive later, I was home! The following day I was already back teaching at our training center.
It’s been nice being back and reconnecting with family. In my absence a lot happened. Kaitlyn our eldest moved back home and she continues to work at two restaurants, Grace our second moved into a new rental, Paula our third child went back to Bible School for her second year and Kurt entered high school for his first time, right after a breakup with his girlfriend. God was good, though, in helping Anna Marie deal with all of this!
Praise: For my visa, successful trip to South Asia, Anna holding down the fort at home, Paula’s finances for Bible school initial fees.
Please pray for:
1. Kurt to make good godly friends at high school and to do well in adjusting.
2. For Paula at Bible school and with her tuition and part-time job.
3. For Anna Marie as she balances bus-driving with waitressing and our family.
4. For my South Asian students as they finish training and move to various parts of India.
5. For Kaitlyn and Grace in their jobs and walks with the Lord.
6. For me as I teach and connect with students in our training center.
7. Anna’s mom Gail showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease. For Anna’s dad Ernie too as he deals with this.
Thanks so much for all of you who give faithfully and even gave extra for my trip and for Paula’s Bible school,
In this together,
John, Anna Marie, Kaitlyn, Grace, Paula and Kurt
This time of year we look forward to celebrating our Savior’s resurrection as we observe signs of life from once dormant vegetation.
“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime”- Martin Luther
“The entire plan for the future has its key in the resurrection”- Billy Graham
We also look forward to our spring break, a five-day weekend around Easter. Our daughter Paula will be driving down from Wisconsin to visit so that will be an added bonus.
In our coursework here at the missionary training center in Missouri, we just finished working in the Culture and Language Acquisition Practicum with third semester students. I dress up as a Dobu Islands tribal man for 15 sessions spread over 6 weeks and took on the total character of an unsaved tribal man speaking another language and with a different culture. Eight students worked closely with me learning my language and culture and how to work together as a team. Next they will develop some Bible lessons and attempt to communicate God’s Word with my people.
In curriculum development our students learn how important it is to choose the correct terms to present God’s word. Take the simple word “good,” for instance. When we think of “good” we think of things like “kind,” “pleasing to God,” “right,” …etc. But in the Dobu mind “good” refers to “somebody successful in using sorcery or magic for garden work, stealing, making somebody sick, and adultery!” To refer to Jesus as “the Good Shepherd” can really paint the wrong picture in the Dobu culture!
Also think of the passage in Ephesians 2: 8, 9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the (free) gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” The word used most often in the Dobu language for gift, “hadia” refers to a gift that expects something in return as the Dobu culture is entirely based on exchange. This word should not be used to refer to God’s free gift of salvation. The correct word “oboboma” is hardly ever used in the Dobu culture and only rarely refers to a gift between father and child that does not expect anything in return. Few students get deep enough into their culture study to realize this and often default to using the incorrect “hadia” resulting in believers thinking they have to do good works to earn God’s salvation!
Even in the Asia-Pacific Bible, the translator chose to use the word “Allah” to refer to the God of the Christians which is the same word “Allah” used as the God of the the predominant religion there. This causes lots of confusion because the God of the Bible is so very different than the god of the dominant religion in Asia-Pacific.
Paula in Bible School!
As you remember, last year our third daughter Paula decided to finish high school a year early and head off to Bible school in Wisconsin. At 17 she is the youngest in her class. She is in her second semester and loving classes and really growing in the Lord. She works part-time as a nanny for a family from India and also as a waitress at a Greek restaurant; quite an international experience in itself! We recently visited her up there and put some new tires on her car. Please pray for her as she often feels the distance from family and friends and even drop her a line to encourage her!
She has been diligent working to help pay school bills, but is reluctant to ask for any help. If you feel led to write her or help out financially towards her Bible schooling, please write or send check to: Paula Weeks, NTBI Waukesha, 915 N. Hartwell Ave., Waukesha, WI 53186
Anna and Our Other Children
Anna still enjoys driving school bus and waitressing as well as an on-campus Bible study. Kaitlyn, 21, continues to waitress at two different restaurants and Grace, 19, works at Pier One Imports and is developing her own home/office cleaning business where she already has a few jobs per week. Please pray that they would desire to walk with the Lord. We love them dearly and enjoy our times together with them, but they are making their own decisions now. Please pray also for Kurt, 14, to desire to walk with the Lord and read His Word. He is doing well in school and is a good kid, but as a teenage boy, difficult to engage in long conversations.
Letters of Appreciation for our Ministry
It is always encouraging to receive emails of appreciation from former students. One former student from Asia-Pacific writes, “Dobu was one of the most helpful of all the classes—perhaps because it was so hand-on and interactive, I definitely remember more from it than any other class. And because Dobu was so interactive, I also remember a lot from the other classes that dealt with it, like Curriculum Development, and the one about the New Church . I also learned far more about teamwork in Dobu than I did in the actual teamwork class.”
Thank you so much for your faithful prayers and support. Without it we could not be doing the ministry God has before us.
- For my nephew Josh and his family as they travel to Asia-Pacific as missionaries and adjust to a new culture and language. For their safety and health and well-being.
- For Kaitlyn and Grace to choose to walk with the Lord.
- For Paula at Bible school to be encouraged and for her finances for school. For summer employment for Paula.
- For mine and Anna’s relationship.
- For Kurt to desire to walk with the Lord and for his friendships to be honoring to God. Also for Kurt, 14, to get a part-time summer job.
- For our ministry here at the Missionary Training Center and relationships with students.
- For your prayers and support of our ministry.
- For our health and our children’s health.
- For our daughters’ strong work ethic.
- For our home which we always thank the Lord for.
- For our part-time jobs God has provided and strength to do them along with ministry.
- For Jesus Christ’s victory over the cross and over death!
“…Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:54-57)
John, Anna Marie, Kaitlyn, Grace, Paula and Kurt
Well, Paula and I are back from California, a real whirlwind trip. Thanks for your prayers. We weren’t able to make it up to Portland, Oregon for Jasper’s Memorial service, but we heard from my mom that it went well. Please continue to pray for Jessi and Leif, Jasper’s siblings and his mom Julia.
Paula and I flew into LA and then took a shuttle bus up to Santa Barbara where my sister-in-law Debbi met us and took us the next 1 1/2 hours to San Luis Obispo. We stayed in my mom’s house, but she was up in Portland, but we had a great visit with my brother Matt and his wife Debbi. Matt had Friday off so we all enjoyed time together Friday.
I even got in some disc golf as there’s a park just a short walk from there.
Saturday, Paula and I drove 10 hours up to Eureka my hometown.
We ate out Vietnamese food with my oldest brother Dan and his wife Kim and daughter Kelsey. We stayed with them up on the top of Kneeland in the mountains.
On Sunday I was able to speak in the morning service at Grace Baptist Church. It was great reconnecting with many old saints in the church, including Ralph and Virginia Buerer, both about 92 years old! Sunday night we had a big bar-b-que up at Dan’s with many visitors too.
On Monday we had lunch with Wes and Jan Wieman. On Tuesday Paula and I drove back down to San Luis Obispo stopping in San Francisco again for about 3 hours eating crepes on Polk Street, going to Lombard’s crookedest street then to Pier 39. We finally got to see my mother Mary that night. The rest of our time in San Luis Obispo was awesome visiting with my mom.
Paula got to join mom and Debbi at Grace Church’s women’s Bible study and they celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday. On Friday Matt and Debbi and us took my mom to Madonna Inn for her 80th birthday meal. Matt and I also snuck in a motorcycle ride to Lopez Lake.
Saturday we took the train down to Ventura where we visited and stayed with friends John and Joy Whipple and boys.
We went to the beach, seafood lunch at the Ventura Marina and wonderful steak dinner at Joy’s with her folks Pastor Amos and Ernestine joining; Pastor Amos was the pastor at Grace Baptist Church my whole growing up years!
Thanks for your prayers. I had a great time with Paula and visiting my mom and so many other friends. Please continue to pray for Jasper’s family that he left behind and for God to work His glory through it all,
In this together,
Sorry for the long hiatus with no updates! Things are going well here in Missouri at the MTC (Missionary Training Center). We’ve just finished CLA Practicum and Phonetics has already begun, however I’m only going to teach Block 3 as I’m heading out to California. I also was able to just help teach four sessions at a local college, SBU in Bolivar, MO. This was a phonetics and language-learning seminar for Inter-Cultural Studies students heading overseas this summer for their 6-month practicum. But let’s talk about our upcoming trip tomorrow!
That’s right, California! I’m flying out tomorrow, April 19th along with our third child Paula, 16. We plan on visiting my mother in San Luis Obispo and also my brother Matt and his family who live there as well. Then we’ll travel to Eureka, CA where I get the privilege of sharing at our home church Grace Baptist Church on Sunday the 22nd. This should be a nice “kick-off” to the following Sunday’s Missions Conference and we’ll get to share a little about my nephew Josh Weeks and what awaits he and his family as they head for Asia Pacific in November. We’ll linger in Eureka through Monday then Tuesday drive back to San Luis Obispo where we get to visit my mom for three days and celebrate her 80th birthday together! It’s been 3 years since we’ve seen her our other family! My cell phone is 573-836-2225 if any of you want to connect with us somehow!
On a tragic note, we just received word three days ago that my nephew Jasper (my oldest sister Julia’s second child) was just in a fatal off-roading accident. Please be praying for Jasper’s older sister Jessi and younger brother Leif as well as for his mother Julia and father Dean Allison. Pray that God would work through this whole situation for His glory. Please pray also for Paula and I to have quality time together in our travels and for a great time sharing at our home church. Please pray also for Anna and the kids who aren’t traveling as they stay behind in Missouri.
Thanks for all,
In this together,
Dear Praying Friends,
I had always heard the general rule of thumb, both parents never get sick at the same time. Could you imagine what things would be like in a world where that was allowed to happen?
Well, just 7 days ago it happened…and continues to happen even as I write! About 10 days ago Anna Marie became very exhausted and run down with a high fever too. We later learned that she is suffering from Dengue Fever. Just 7 days ago after returning from Jakarta, I came down with chills, fever and a terrible sore throat. Mine was diagnosed as strep throat, something I’ve heard about, especially with kids, but have never experienced.
Praise the Lord that the kids have remained healthy. Kurt got a fever and sore throat, but he took a three-hour afternoon nap and jumped up doing karate or something, full of energy! KIDS! I wish we adults would heal up more quickly!
Grace continues to heal. Her foot and her scalp wound both became infected so she is sharing antibiotics with dad. She still hasn’t gotten back on the motorbike, which incidentally only suffered a broken tail light and cracked headlight mount, ya, Japanese built.
What a way to approach the holidays! Please pray for us to continue to heal and that we’d somehow be able to get into the holiday spirit! There will be more Christmas activities to attend with our local churches and friends. We do look forward to all of this, but just a bit apprehensibly as we wait on the Lord’s timing in getting better. Please pray also that the kids have an enjoyable Christmas. Last year was our first Christmas in the past 10 Christmas’s to spend it celebrating with family! So we now begin the next "drought" celebrating Christmas without family. Please pray that we’d look to Jesus as our true meaning to celebrate!
Thanks for taking the time to pray,
John for Anna, Katie, Grace, Paula and Kurt