The interpreting marathon is over and I’m back at my desk in my home office in El Paso.
This picture was taken during the closing session of the final day, when Juan led a time of intercession. Prayers were offered in Korean, Tagalog, German, Spanish, Portuguese and English (in a variety of accents) as we worshipped our awesome Father and asked for His blessing and guidance.
Eida and I first met Juan in 1982 when we first went to Colombia to teach in the missionary training center. He was a member the first class of candidates. Juan has been a key member of the group that redesigned our mission into an international partnership of fields and agencies from all over the world. His classmate, Andrés Jiménez, also participated in this Forum in his capacity as Director for the field of Colombia. It’s amazing what God has done since we sat in a tiny classroom together 27 years ago!
On the closing day, the 8-year history of the development of the new working agreement was reviewed, questions were answered, and the delegates formalized their acceptance of the agreement by signing for the entities they represented – both sending countries and church-planting fields.
It was a real honor for my teammate Duff Gustafson and me, not only to be present for this historic occasion, but to assist in the process by interpreting for the speakers and translating into Spanish the collection of documents which make up the new working agreement.
Now it’s back to the daily business of moving my pile of text and video translation projects ahead, completing reports, and keeping our support team (that’s you) up to date. The first Spanish version of an excellent missions video was waiting for me to review when I got back to El Paso. More on that later. Pray that we’ll make good progress on getting this and many other resources into the hands of people who will use them to advance God’s kingdom.
August 12, 2009
I’m writing you from an interpreter’s booth at NTM’s USA headquarters. I arrived on Sunday and will be here till the 19th, a week from today. Every morning at 8:10, I put on my microphone headset with the headphones and begin interpreting for Stuart Briscoe till 9:30, trying to follow him as closely as I possibly can.
Dr. Briscoe is the former pastor of Elmbrook Church and a well-known author. His teaching comes into my ears in English and out my mouth in Spanish, being broadcast to the headsets of the Latin Americans attending this forum who don’t understand English. It may be some of the best teaching that I’ll ever have the privilege of speaking, albeit imperfectly. It’s an excellent study of the life of Peter ― deep, yet entertaining.
Throughout the rest of the day, my teammate Duff Gustafson and I take turns interpreting the four remaining hour-long sessions at the microphone until 4:30 in the afternoon. On a couple occasions, I’ve interpreted (or “interrupted”) for our Latin American brothers alongside them at the lectern, speaking alternately as they shared their thoughts.
This “Field Ministries Forum” is an annual week-long gathering of leaders and consultants from our NTM fields around the world. Ministry strategies and methods are explained and discussed and experiences and learned lessons are shared for the mutual edification of these key people who encourage, guide and coach our cross-cultural church planters.
There are pastors here from Venezuela, a field where the mission has largely been shut down, triggering as a result the formation of an alliance of national churches from different denominations and associations united for the first time in the cause of carrying on the work of reaching tribal people for Christ. It’s very moving to see how God is moving the national churches and NTM to work together in ways that we never have before.
And it’s thrilling to be a part of helping our Latin American brothers function in a role of full partnership on an international level in our fellowship. This is a wonderful thing that God is doing, and your support makes it possible!
God willing, I (Steve) will be flying to Florida early Sunday morning. I like to get there in time to have a day of cushion before our three days of meetings begin. It gives me time to finish up reports or to meet with other people who work on staff, many of whom we interact with by email or by phone but seldom get to see in person.
The meetings are from Tuesday through Thursday, and my flight home is scheduled for Friday, a week from tomorrow.
Please pray for wisdom as we assign priority levels to projects and discuss how we can use the skills of our small team most effectively in producing Spanish-language training and equipping materials for our Latin American cross-cultural church planters.
Also, please pray for our daughter, Esther, as she seeks direction from the Lord regarding her next ministry assignment, and as she looks to Him to provide the support she needs.
The early stages of a missionary career can be very discouraging, wondering when (or whether) God will pull the support team together which will allow you to carry on a full-time ministry.
Art and Marlene would also appreciate your prayers. They were very happy and relieved when Marlene’s green card was recently approved. Besides working and studying, they’re very busy preparing for their June 20th wedding. We’re looking forward to meeting her family – hopefully, they can understand some of our Spanish as we try to decipher their Portuguese.
Good news – one of the guys is in detox (but it’s not the guy in the picture, sorry). Ralph started coming to church on Eida’s Sunday morning church shuttle run from the grocery store where they hang out.
Ralph really wants to break free of his addiction-controlled lifestyle, so he asked if we could help him get into a detox program. After a couple of weeks, a free bed opened up at the detox center. Our friend Grant, who has a real heart for these men, took him there and walked him through the tedious process of qualification and check-in.
This happened about ten days ago, and when he finished he went into a 30-day rehab program. The key factor in beating addiction is getting established in a stable constructive lifestyle after going through detoxification. Ralph needs our prayers.
Now Jimmy (pictured above) says he wants to do it, too. Jimmy is the guy Eida first started talking to. You might remember that in June of last year, he and his buddy Ron had decided to go through detox together, but they backed out. Ron died about a month later.
Please pray that a free bed would open up for Jimmy and that he won’t back out again. These guys tend to act according to the way they feel at the moment, rather than following through on a set plan.
It’s hard to know where these guys are spiritually. They seem to swing back and forth between warm feelings for “Brother Jesus” (Jimmy’s favorite term) and bitterness against God for the situation they are in, depending on their level of intoxication and the mood of the group at the moment.
The Lord was very kind to me on this journey to California – in the first place, he provided a generous gift so that I could rent a car.
When I went to pick up the Dodge Neon I had signed up for, the rental agent gave me a Ford Mustang instead – a convertible, no less – for the same rate. God seems to enjoy spoiling us once in a while.
I enjoyed visiting overnight with Dave & Peggy Coots in Phoenix on my way west – they’re raising chickens to lay eggs! Took me back to my youth. The Missions Festival at San Gabriel Union Church was great, then I drove to San Jose and shared supper and a great time of fellowship with the Neighborhood Bible Church Global Outreach Team. They asked a lot of questions, which is always dangerous, since Eida wasn’t there to remind me to keep my answers brief.
The opportunities to catch up with old friends and spend time with family were the icing on the cake. Esther “happened” to be in Atascadero (her amazing friends had brought her to see Rafael Nadal play in the tournament at Indian Wells!) so we were able to have lunch together twice.
No doubt you can appreciate what a daunting task looms before her as she looks to the Lord to raise up her monthly support. How kind our gracious Father to arrange things so I could encourage her in person. Thank you for praying for our wonderful daughter.
¡Feliz Año Nuevo!
Hope your New Year got off to a good start. We found really cheap tickets for the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve (great weather, not-so-great game) and spent New Year’s Day morning watching the Rose Parade and eating Eida’s delicious cinnamon rolls!
I must confess that when I think about the political situation in the world, I find it hard to face the next 350 days with bubbling optimism, but I remind myself that God is sovereign and all-powerful. He is working everything together for our good and for His glory.
The economic news is bleak, it’s true, but it helps me to look back at 1980 when our missionary career began. Remember the Carter administration? Remember lines at gas stations and odd-and-even license plates? Then there was 12% inflation and unemployment near 10%… God brought us through all that, and He’ll see us through these times, too. Threre’s no need to despair; we have our forever HOME to look forward to!
NTM missionary videos are valuable tools used on our Latin American fields to educate churches about pioneer cross-cultural church planting and to inspire Spanish-speaking Christians to get involved in missions.
One of the projects we have in the oven right now is the Spanish dubbing of a 10-minute condensation of the Ee-Taow story. Our representatives have been asking for shorter videos to show in churches because often they don’t have enough time in a church service to show a 35-minute movie.
After overcoming many obstacles (like finding the elusive international master), we were encouraged to receive word today that the “first draft” of the Spanish condensed version is being sent to us from Chihuahua for checking and editing. Pray, too, that we can find a suitable Spanish recording of the closing song. That will take some searching and negotiating of rights, etc. –- it’s all part of the process of producing these missionary challenge materials.
- – - – -
May this be a year in which many people around the world and in our own neighborhoods have their first opportunity to hear of God’s provision of eternal life through Christ.
Of all the things you might have had on your mind this morning, one of them probably was not …
WHAT IN THE WORLD MIGHT STEVE BE DOING AT HIS DESK TODAY?
But since you are part of this team, I thought I’d share something with you. It won’t take 10 minutes. I’m working on editing the Spanish translation of a training powerpoint for Bible translators. Here’s a sample:
In means-purpose relations, the purpose is stated explicitly, but it is not stated as fulfilled.
- They moved so as to be nearer his work.
- She followed the instructions closely, in case she got lost.
- They saved for years so that their son could go to America.
- I gave him a note to take to his teacher
Answers the question, "What was done in order to achieve the purpose?
Here’s what it looks like in Spanish:
En las relaciones medi-propósito, el propósito se expresa explícitamente, pero no se declara el cumplimiento del mismo.
- Se mudaron para vivir más cerca del trabajo.
- Ella siguió las instrucciones al pie de la letra, para no perderse.
- Ahorraron dinero por muchos años para que su hijo pudiera ir a América.
- Le dí una nota para entregar a su profesor.
Se contesta la pregunta, "¿Qué se hizo para lograr el propósito?"
Does that look like fun?
Actually, it is pretty interesting. In order to translate this stuff, we first need to understand it (since our translations are “meaning-based”). So as we work, we’re learning. This material is actually helping us understand some aspects of the things we already do as translators.
And every once in awhile we bump into fun little things. One of the illustrations this morning referred to “popcorn” and because I have lived in Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico, I’m aware that they have a different name for popcorn in each of those countries. So I googled it and this is what I found:
Argentina: pochoclo (de pop y choclo), pororó (del guaraní), ancua (en el norte)
Bolivia, Brasil: pipoca
Canary Islands: cotufas, roscas [spirals]
Chile: cabritas [little goats]
Colombia: maízpira, crispetas, totes
Cuba: rositas [little roses]
Mexico, Spain: palomitas [little doves]
Paraguay: pororó (en guaraní)
Perú: canchitas, cancha
República Dominicana: cocaleca
Uruguay: pororó, po
Venezuela: cotufas, gallitos [little roosters] (en parte de la región Zuliana y Andina)
Since I can’t use the whole list, I’ll select a few that will cover the locations where this presentation is most likely to be used.
God is on His throne. Let’s work while it is day; the night is coming when no man can work. Hope you have a great day!
We are sad to report the passing of Ron Holsapple, one of the homeless men Eida has been reaching out to. When she visited the grocery store last Wednesday there were several police cars near the back of the building where Ron and Jimmy camp out. They told her that Ron had died. Jimmy was nowhere to be seen –- he has negative associations with law enforcement.
However, Eida did see him a day or two later and Jimmy told her that Ron had quit eating, the only “nourishment” he was taking were alcoholic beverages. Jimmy says he warned him that he needed to heat, but there was no reasoning with him. It seems that he basically drank and starved himself to death.
Eida has been trying to dig up some details about Ron’s life in order to help the Medical Examiner notify his next of kin in Illinois.
Only God knows Ron’s eternal destiny. Eida shared the gospel with him on several occasions and he says he was raised going to church. But he didn’t give us a lot of cause for hope.
Please pray that Jimmy and the other guys who hung with them would take this as a wake-up call.
I had a very nice visit with my parents in San Jose. Dad organized a big dinner on Friday night, August 1st, which was their 55th anniversary. It was quite an affair with many of their old friends, including some original members of their wedding party!
Our son, Art, took the occasion to propose marriage to his girlfriend Marlene Ormonde (a sweet girl who is a college student from the Azores), so it was a memorable evening on several levels. (Yes, ladies, she did accept.)
On Saturday afternoon I had a very enjoyable visit with our good friends, the Skovmands, and on Sunday, we enjoyed worshipping as a family at Valley Church of Cupertino. I was invited to share about our ministry with an adult Sunday School class. Their genuine interest and concern (despite the flaws in the presentation) were very encouraging.
The Amtrak train ride to Paso Robles to meet Esther on Wednesday morning was fun. Then while we made the two-day drive from Atascadero to El Paso, she told me all about her short term missions trip to the Czech Republic. She had a very positive experience and even was extended an invitation to return to take a full time ministry position there.
After a couple of days relaxing and watching the Olympics here with us, Esther resumed her trip this morning to the Missionary Training Center in Missouri with Eida as co-pilot. The last time we talked they were in Amarillo asking me to look up Starbucks for them online, so they’re making good progress. Eida plans to fly back from Kansas City on Saturday.
Please pray for God’s direction for Esther as she completes her last semester of training. We know God has a special place for her to fill in ministry because she is a special young lady.
Meanwhile, I have piles of work to do, the first of which is to move everything on my old computer to a new Dell laptop which the Lord has provided for us. What a blessing! And WHAT A MONSTER JOB!
SLR Team Meetings
That’s our team — Duff Gustafson and yours truly — doing what many of you do every day: sitting in a conference room with our laptops, reporting on the year’s accomplisments and prioritizing lists of projects for the next 12 months.
So what was so special about what we were doing in that conference room?
- These projects have eternal consequences –- their purpose is to equip Latin American missionaries to take the good news of abundant and eternal life in Christ to tribal people who would otherwise never get to hear.
- SLR is setting the pace. Other NTM regional leaders are noticing, “Hey, that Spanish Language Resources thing is a good idea! How could we put together a resource translation team for our region?”
- Some of the most important team members are missing from the photo! You all –- our support team –- are key players in making it possible for us to do this work.
We are very grateful for a support team with the vision and foresight to see the value of investing in third world missions in this way.
Our role is very specialized — equipping Spanish-speaking church planters. It’s not an easy ministry to explain to the average church member, but you all are not average.
You understand the value of the kingdom enterprise in which you have invested through us, and we are confident that God will reward you with generous eternal dividends.