I spent a year of my life living in or near Seoul Korea. During that time I had numerous opportunities to explore and taste all that Korea has to offer. When I first arrived in this mega city I was assaulted by smells I was unaccustomed to. To tell you the truth, the smell of garlic was overwhelming at times but it didn’t take long and I was in love.
Korean food is one of my favorites, whether it’s a simple bowl of ramen noodles with a slice of cheese on top or the thin slices of beefy goodness called bulgogi, I love it! To give you an idea of what I think embodies the flavors of Korea, I’m going to share a simple marinade that you can put on beef, pork or chicken. I’ve even used it as a salad dressing. Anyways, it’s wonderful so enjoy!
Chicken wings on the grill, marinated in the Ultimate Korean Marinade!!
Ultimate Korean Marinade
4 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
2 Tablespoon Soy Sauce (Kikkoman is what I use)
1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Seeds
2 Cloves Garlic, Crushed and Minced
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Sambal Oelek (crushed, fresh chiles)
1 Tablespoon Onion – Minced
In a bowl combine all ingredients and mix together well. Pour the mixture over the meat of your choosing, making sure it’s coated thoroughly and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Grill the meat to your liking and enjoy. Don’t forget the kimchi too, it helps make the meal.
After numerous deployments of our solar power unit, part of the BTAK I deploy, we on the TA team felt it was time to make some changes to the “orange box”. The job of the orange box is to charge a bank of batteries and convert the stored DC power into AC power, like you have in your home. This is a critical component in our kit. Over time though, I’ve noticed some flaws in it’s design. There have been some reliability issues to contend with as well and it’s because of these issues we decided perform an upgrade. So, we contacted a volunteer we knew would do a good job of making the improvements I had in mind and at the same time make it more usable in the field.
The team building the first batch of solar charge controllers. Impressive!
The man we chose to perform this task is Rick Carlson, someone who was somewhat familiar with our system. He assembled a strong team of like minded men to help with the task of research and construction of a new unit. I then gave Rick the new requirements and asked that he prototype a unit and test it until it worked. After a few months and several prototypes later we now have a unit that’s more suited to what’s needed in the field. So, gone are the orange boxes. Say hello to the aluminum beauty that we hope will serve us for a long time to come.
I’m proud of what this group of men were able to accomplish and pray the unit will be as reliable as it was built to be.
For all the good times we had teaching Bible translators, we were really looking forward to getting into a larger city and our hotel. Shelly wanted some comforts from home like a hot shower, a western toilet, reliable internet and maybe even some television. I have to admit, even I look forward to these things after a week or two without them, especially the western toilet!
First thing we had to do though was get out of the village and back to Ternate. The drive back was long, just as it was coming in but we were in good spirits. As we arrived at the harbor to hire a boat and I made the big mistake of being seen. White skin is a sure way to pay more for things and sure enough, we paid more, nearly five times the price we paid in the other direction. That was unfortunate but what are you going to do? The seas were rough and water made it’s way into the boat, so we were happy to reach the other side, grab a taxi and get to the hotel where we would take that hot shower.
The mosque – Our wake up call
Once in the room, if you could call it that, we were soon disappointed to discover there was no shower. Ours was broken, with no hot water, working toilet and a faucet that sprayed water on us when we tried to use it. Oh well, another night of adventure I guess. I prayed Manado would be different. They did have a television though, with HBO to boot. But, the only thing on that night was Joe’s Apartment, a terrible movie. I set the alarm for 0500 which would give us plenty of time to take a bath in the morning and catch a taxi to the airport at 0630. I don’t know what I was thinking though. Who needs an alarm when you have the largest mosque in the city right behind your room. At 0430 the whole city woke to the Islam call to prayer. Shelly now knows how invading it can be. This wake up call went on for an hour but just as that one finished there was another to take it’s place. So from the hours of 0430 to 0630 I was reminded of my promise to God that I would pray for Muslims when I heard “the call”. That I did.
Shower at last! So happy.
Once in Manado our experience changed. Everything we we hoped for in a hotel we had. The first order of business was to take a taxi into town. Should you ever find yourself in Indonesia, make sure you use the Blue Bird taxis. They run off the meter and are very reasonable. Our first stop was the Manado Town Square Mall. Both of us were surprised at how much it was like malls back in the US. They had Pizza Hut, A&W, Ace Hardware, KFC, McDonald’s and more. We checked out Ace Hardware right away, noticing it wasn’t like our’s at home. They had home goods, appliances, tools and a whole lot more. The prices weren’t that different either.
We Pizza Hut for lunch. I think our kids would have liked the music, loud and poppy. They had strange toppings like fish and chips and others I wouldn’t ever think to put on a pizza. However, they still had a small selection of American favorites which is what we ordered. Shelly noticed the people seated next to us were putting ketchup on their pizza so I looked around and noticed that it was a popular condiment. Not for me though, I put chili sauce on mine!!
After our meal, Shelly wanted to purchase some shorts. She didn’t pack any due to the dress requirements of the workshop and village life. We heard that shorts wouldn’t fly in Manado either but discovered that wasn’t true, for women anyways. I wore shorts one day and got a lot of strange looks so I went back to trousers and jeans. Now Shelly was a happy camper; shorts, shower, toilet and a a variety of food to choose from. I was too, especially after visiting the HyperMart, a large grocery similar to Walmart. They had a nice selection foods, prices were good and they even had fruit bat! I’m not sure I’ll ever purposely buy one but I would eat it if was served. I heard it’s popular there, as is dog and forest rat. I guess more food adventures are in store for us.
Over the next couple of days we explored the city and surrounding areas with our new friends Pak Ferry and Ibu Suzan. They took us to other stores, up to the mountains and to a lake where we had a wonderful lunch of fresh fish and other foods. We met some church pastors, took in new sites and sounds and even had the experience of celebrating the birthday of a ninety year old woman.
On one of our exploration days we went by the school we intend to enroll Simon and Sophie. We were happy that we could investigate and see the school while the students were there. Some things impressed us others not so much. The library for example needed a larger, more diverse and modern selection that what we saw but not so much we wouldn’t let our kids attend there. We also thought that for the money, about $3400 per year per student, the school had a lot to offer. It has a Christian curriculum and from what I can gather, a good selection of extra curricular activities which are included in the cost of tuition. The only unfortunate thing is it doesn’t appear that Shelly will be able to teach there. “Appear” being the appropriate word. God has a way of working things out for His purpose, so who knows?
A church on every corner
For those of you thinking you would like to eventually visit us, there is much to do. Though we didn’t have time to check it out on this trip, Manado is known as a diving paradise. They have volcanoes to explore and a church on every block. I’m not kidding, there are churches everywhere. Manado has a population of mostly Christians and is one of the reasons we are choosing to live there.
I guess to wrap this up, we spent our last day in Jakarta. There we met with two translation partners and had meetings which allowed me to share about myself and new position. I also heard about their vision to reach the remaining Bible-less people. I was encouraged by the excitement they had, knowing Wycliffe Associates wanted a deeper partnership in this Good Work. As we departed for the airport God whispered to me, giving me a sense I peace I was looking for and I knew then that we were where we were supposed to be.
This is God’s ministry and I was called to be a part of it.. You can have a part in it too. Through your partnership in prayer and finances, together we can make a huge impact for His Kingdom. We are happy to be your hands and feet in Indonesia, helping others to accelerate the translation of the Bible into the heart languages of those need it. Please consider clicking on the links below to stay informed and give, even if it’s a little.
After four days of traveling it was nice to be in the village and since we arrived late on Saturday we had some time to acclimate before the workshop began. The first thing Shelly and I did to get settled in was make our way to the local shop owners home and store. That would be our base and place to sleep for the next week. The host family was very nice, giving what they had to make us feel at home. We tried to communicate some but it seemed futile. Often they would just nod and smile but when I attempted my best Bahasa Indonesia their faces really lit up!
Meet “Breakfast” the guard pig
Sunday morning came early. We struggled to sleep with the heat of the night but the guard pig got us smiling. He greeted us every morning right outside the outhouse and bathhouse. As a matter of fact, there were pigs everywhere. I named a few of them breakfast in hopes that one of them might transform into bacon in front of me. That never happened though. We usually had a simple breakfast each morning, pastries and tea, or coffee once they knew our preference.
Church started at 0900 and we got to sit in the front row as honored guests. The service was completely Indonesian and though we didn’t understand much it was still nice to worship God with other believers. I especially enjoyed the music. There’s something about the way these people sang that lifted my spirits. It reminded me of my aunts and uncles who love to sing hymns around a piano.
After a scrumptious lunch of fish, rice, and vegetables we got to taste a new fruit. I don’t know what it’s called but it was good. Actually, each day we were introduced to a new fruit. Check out the photos and see if you recognize any of them. My favorite was mangosteen, sweet like candy and stains your hands crimson red if you’re not careful. Eventually we had a bizarre foods moment as we both tried durian for the first and hopefully last time. Shelly described it best; smells like a dump truck and tastes like a decomposing onion. It stays with you and will ruin your next meal. Don’t say I didn’t warn you should you ever be brave enough to try it too.
The real reason we traveled all that way though, was to put on a workshop where we could teach Bible translators to use LibreOffice, or more specifically, Impress and Write. It wasn’t easy at first. After showing our partner the training materials we brought, we were encouraged to make changes. He thought the lessons were too complicated in their current state, so we improvised. I’m good at that, so even though the first lesson left me wondering how I was going to get through a week this way, lesson two encouraged us to keep at it.
The camera was a hit with the teams
As a surprise to the translation teams, I unveiled cameras for them to use in their work. They were a gift from members of our church back in Florida (FBCE). The cameras would help them document their work and be used as a tool in conjunction with what we were teaching them. This was a cluster project and by sharing with the other teams how they worked through difficult passages, the work of the other teams would be sped up. That’s our prime objective at Wycliffe Associates, to accelerate Bible translation. My team focuses on doing it through technology!
The other gifts our church provided were Micro SD cards that could hold audio versions of the Bible. These would be passed around some of the villages where it’s the best way to spread the gospel. Some people groups are still without a written language or their literacy rate isn’t very high. So thank you First Baptist Church for helping us spread the gospel to many who would otherwise not be able to access it.
The translation teams were hard working and dedicated to helping their brothers and sisters back home. One translator attended the previous workshop, very pregnant, but didn’t want to miss it because she cares that much. Shelly found out that she too was a school teacher and made only $30 a month. I wonder if I would be that dedicated? Some were old, most were around my age, a third were women. It was a nice group and all of them helped each other when they saw someone struggling to grasp the training.
The last day we asked them to make a five page presentation using photos and video from the cameras. I gave them the flexibility to be creative and all I can say is I was impressed. Several did an amazing job, others did good and even the ones who were struggling did an adequate job. We even found the time to teach ten finger typing as well. Shelly and I left the workshop satisfied from a job well done.
FS with some school kids
FS with a smoking volcano
FS likes bacon too. Breakfast?
A sad moment struck us as our travel partner, Flat Stanley had an accident. While posing for a photo near a well, a light breeze picked him up and delivered him to the depths of the Earth where he resides to this day. Flat Stanley will be missed by us but we’ll be shipping his possessions to his classmates at Peniel Baptist Academy in Palatka, FL. I hope the children aren’t too upset but they should be happy knowing he is resting comfortably in deep pool in paradise.
Shelly chewing betel nut.
Durian! Don’t make me eat this.
Other notable moments were when we both tried chewing Betel Nut. It wasn’t particularly pleasant but our tongues were numb and mouths full of red spit. The look Shelly gave for the camera was priceless and the translators got a kick out of it too. Another favorite was when the teams sang one of their hymns for my parents and let me record it. I think they’ll like it too once they hear it. Unfortunately I can’t post it or any pictures of their faces to protect their identities. I hope you all understand. Finally, there was a celebration and ceremony to send us off. We received gifts of baskets and a copy of a Bible but the greatest gift was the lasting friendships we took back with us. We will miss them but hope to see them again some day.
Stay tuned for the final post as I will share about the exploration phase of our trip. But first check out more photos in the gallery below.
Early morning departures are never fun. The thought of waking up at 0300 to catch a flight doesn’t exactly excite me, not in the least. But, I, along with Shelly and Flat Stanley (a project for Peniel Baptist Academy) were soon on our way to the airport. This was the second morning of early departures for us. The day before we put Simon and Sophie on a plane so they could spend a week with their grandma in Minnesota. Our first stop was Houston and after a short layover we lifted off again, this time bound for Tokyo.
Tokyo was a welcome sight after having spent half a day on a plane. We arrived early in the morning and was soon on the hunt for a McDonald’s and a hot tea for Shelly’s sore throat. Flat Stanley wanted in on the action too and to his satisfaction, found a drink machine. Following a visit to the United Airlines ticket counter for a seat change, we were back in the air on our way to Singapore.
Sometime just after midnight we landed in Singapore. Our first impressions were WOW! what a clean and modern airport, currently a favorite of all I’ve ever been in. After a short taxi ride we were soon in our hotel. Still wired from the travels though, we decided to grab to a bite to eat and made our way to Clarke’s Quay where the hotel staff said there were shops and restaurants. Though it was now 0200, there was a little Shawarma stand that still had some chicken, and there it started, a first of many in new foods for myself and Shelly. This morsel of goodness was fantastically delicious and extra spicy too. Back at the hotel around 0300 we quickly fell asleep, tired from nearly 30 hours of traveling.
The day and a half stop gave us a chance to recharge, adjust to the time zone and explore some on our limited budget. Shelly was still sick and now I was coming down with a cold. Whether I picked it up from her or someone on the plane I don’t know. Sad thing is, we were both miserable, but it didn’t keep us from visiting a philatelic museum, botanical garden, Chinatown, a Buddhist and Hindu temple. Our last adventure in the city was a boat ride down the Singapore river where we could take in the view of the tall buildings and interesting sights.
Gluttons for punishment, we were back on a plane again, finally headed toward Jakarta. This would be the first stop of three in yet another overnight haul some 1500 miles back across the globe. When we came in for the landing I noticed how large Jakarta was. The city sprawled out for miles and miles but being that Jakarta has nearly 16 to 20 million people I guess that makes sense. The airport wasn’t as nice and clean like it was in Singapore but it did have a Starbucks and a KrispyKreme. Who would have thought I would be having a cafe latte around midnight from Starbucks… in Jakarta of all places? It was good, Shelly had tea because she still had a sore throat. We also caught up on Facebook after we discovered they had wifi. For those of you who aren’t connected with me on FB you may want to consider it as I usually post while I’m on deployment. It’s a good way to keep up with us. Just a thought anyways.
Soon we were back on the plane again and after a mere thirty minutes in Makassar, we got on the plane for the last time on our journey to Ternate. For those who take the time to look at the photos you’ll see that we landed at sunrise. It was beautiful, a gift from God and thank you for making the long journey. We weren’t done traveling though. We still had to wait at the airport for a while before taking a boat across the channel to another city AND a take a 3.5 hour car ride to our final destination. But before doing all of that we had a plate of Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and a Coke. I tried my hand at conversing with locals while waiting and used my limited Bahasa Indonesia while they tried out English on us. We were extremely tired but we made it to the village. More adventure would be in store for us over the next nine days and we’d soon be teaching LibreOffice to a group of Bible translators.
Continue to the next post and see how the Lord blessed us with new foods, friends, sights and a chance to work with some dedicated people who want nothing more that to have The Word in their own heart language.
Overlooking Tomohon from a high vantage point on a volcano with rain clouds rolling in.
Around the time of my deployment to Uganda last year, I was asked if I’d be interested in teaching at a workshop in Indonesia. The workshop objective was to train four Bible translation teams in the use LibreOffice, a suite of programs similar to Microsoft Office. With excitement I said YES, even though it meant giving up plans to lead a deployment team in Madagascar.
Risk! One of my favorite games of all time. Let’s play!
Since playing the board game RISK as a child, Madagascar always held a fascination with me. A large island nation with exotic flora and fauna, Madagascar is a place unique in the world and one that I will keep on my ‘Bucket List’ of must visit places. Indonesia though, if looking at a RISK board, has always been a strategic location. Often, I would pile up my armies there and slowly push my way into Asia. It’s a strategy that isn’t always the easiest but if done right, pays great rewards. From a Bible translation perspective, Indonesia is even more strategic. Twenty percent of the world’s spoken languages come from the island nations of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Now I was being asked to make a play in that country. I can let you know that we rolled sixes. For those of you who’ve never played the game of RISK before, that’s good! The workshop went well and the translators learned what they needed to make good reports. More on that in another post.
Phil and Shelly teaching LibreOffice
RISK isn’t a game to be played alone though. As a bonus, Shelly agreed to join me on this trip as a teacher. There was hesitation from her at first, mostly due to the nature of the trip and length of time she would have to commit, but it all worked out. She was given permission to take time off from her preschool teaching job. I’m glad because it gave me a chance to do ministry with her. I also got to show her what I do while I’m away on deployments. Shelly proved a valuable teammate and did an excellent job teaching and networking. She finished the trip with a better understanding of what I do and knows hard work is involved before, during and after. One day in the village she told me I make it look easy and exciting on Facebook. Her perception that I was having loads of fun while she strained back home wasn’t accurate. The truth is, her job of maintaining the house while I’m away isn’t easy, but my deployments aren’t a cakewalk either.
Shelly made many new friends.
This story isn’t just about a workshop though. The other news I have to share is that at the same time I was asked to teach, I was also encouraged to apply for the Indonesia Program Manager position. This was a High Priority need for Wycliffe Associates. After prayerful consideration and discussions with Shelly, I did apply and was accepted for this leadership role. This was an answer to prayer as I have felt called to serve God in that part of the world. Not only has He answered, He has opened doors and lit a path to get us there. Additionally, this trip afforded us an opportunity to explore the city where we might live, to garner insight on what it will take to live there as a family.
To keep in the RISK theme going just a bit longer, what you need to know is our family will be making a troop movement sometime in July, God willing. There is quite a bit of things to do prior to packing our bags though. First and foremost, we have to be 100% supported to be granted permission to go. We’re still a ways off in our support but we have faith God will continue to bless us just as He as always has. There will also be some one time expenses as well and we hope that some of you may partner with us to help with; schooling for the kids, airfare to get us there, language school for me and Shelly, down payment for rent and so on. To ease our financial burden some, we will have several garage and estate sales. Our plan is to sell all of our possessions with the exception of keepsakes and heirlooms to keep us light and nimble. Hopefully this will provide us the funds to refurnish our house over there.
Our prayer is that you will consider partnering with us, not only as prayer warriors, but as financial supporters too. There’s a lot of work to do if we are going to reach the remaining 400+ people groups in Indonesia still without scripture. I know that together we can make a huge Kingdom impact. Want to take a RISK with us?
It only seems like yesterday that I was in Central African Republic. Some of you recall the the struggles I had getting there and some may recall the struggles I had working there. I know I do! Well, I received an email recently that let me know the struggles persist and that we need to continue to pray diligently for our brothers and sisters there.
Hi all, (8 January 2013)
Here’s the latest crisis, in addition to what you’ve probably heard through the media.
The rebels now hold two more cities in the Southeast and South of the country. In one of them (Alindao) is a team of Bible translation, 4 persons (Project manager, Simon was still in mission to Bangui when the city was attacked) with their families and as in the previous case, all communication possibilities were cut. These teams were preparing to leave the city when the rebels came.
Because of your prayers, we received news of the [Banda-Linda] team in occupied Bambari. They were able to send someone who traveled through the bush to reach the river and by canoe to Bangui carrying their computers and [translation] data. They are doing well, but have almost nothing in terms of money, medicines and food for their survival. The rebels now control the river so it is not possible to send them any help. Humanitarian organizations began to have access to rebel-controlled areas but can not provide assistance to all those injured, raped, mutilated by the rebels, not to mention the sick. Bangui and the towns south and west are currently safe, but everyone in these cities lives in fear. I can say that we are always alert level “Orange” and not “Red”, which corresponds to the implementation of all safety measures that we have taken.
Thank you for praying for the dialogue going on between the rebels and the government. Pray that compromise can found, despite the pessimism that we have seen on both sides.
Please also pray for the protection and survival of our eight colleagues and their families in the areas occupied by the rebels, for strength and wisdom in managing the crisis at the ACATBA.
“Eben-Ezer, thus far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12
Fraternally in Christ,
Praise the Lord the team from Bambari was able to get their work out safely but more so that they themselves are safe. What an incredible act of bravery to risk their lives to keep God’s word safe!
Bertin summed it up best for me one day. He said “Phil, the enemy is trying his hardest to make sure Bible translation doesn’t happen in CAR. Satan will do his best to disrupt and plant seeds of doubt and discouragement all to keep us from doing what we’ve been called to do.”
As things begin to settle down in CAR there is hope I’ll be able to return to work with some of the same teams again and deploy additional technology to new teams. The Word is desperately needed in the heart languages of these people. Please pray along with me that this will happen. Lets keep Satan from having further victories.
I love chili, especially good chili, so when friends recently asked me to make some AND offered to supply the venison, I said absolutely! I’m always in the mood to cook and it had been a while since I’d made venison chili. Well, this batch turned out so good I thought I would write down my recipe and share with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as my friends and I did. As always: Make it your own and experiment to your hearts desire.
1 lb Ground Venison (Hamburger as a substitute)
2 Strips of Bacon – Diced
2 Cans Beans – Drained (I use 1 can pinto and 1 can kidney)
1 Can Rotel
1 Cup Beef Stock
16oz Tomato Sauce
1 Tablespoon Oil
1 Cup Onion – Chopped
1 Cup Green Bell Pepper – Chopped
1 Clove Garlic – Crushed and Chopped
1½ Tablespoon Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1½ Teaspoon Dried Italian Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
This chili is unbelievably good!
Place diced bacon in a pan and begin to render the fat and until the bacon just begins to crisp. Without draining the bacon fat add the ground venison and cook until done. Place the cooked meat in a colander then drain the excess fat and set aside.
While the venison is cooking: Place the oil in a large stock pot and cook the onion, garlic and peppers over medium-low heat until tender. Add the Rotel and spices then mix thoroughly. Next add the tomato sauce, beef stock and beans. Add salt and pepper sparingly. Bring the mixture to a boil then cook uncovered over low heat for 15 minutes. Add the cooked venison and continue to cook for another 20 minutes periodically checking the spices and tweak until you’re satisfied. The chili should now be thick and full of flavor.
Serve in a bowl with a side of Fritos or other corn chips and top with cheese. Yum!
Note: This dish is great as leftovers and you may find that it tastes even better the next day. Also, feel free to add or remove as much cayenne pepper according to your spice tolerance.
For years, Sivini’s business was hatred: running his tribe’s “revenge operations” against other tribes, in a bloody centuries-old custom of strike-and-strike-back.
Sivini was a legendary fight commander among his people. Time and time again, he led other men into neighboring areas to carry out revenge killings. But one day Sivini was in search of farm equipment for his tribe.
By God’s perfect timing, a Translator’s Training Course was under way that same day in the same area–with Papua New Guineans studying and learning to translate the Scriptures into their own languages. These training courses are always filled to capacity, because people are so hungry for the Scriptures in their many languages. But at the last minute, one man learned he would be unable to attend; someone would have to go in his place. A friend of Sivini’s knew he was in the area–grabbed him–told him he could get in to this extremely exclusive event–it would be really interesting, he promised–
–and that’s how a blood-thirsty tribal killer found himself learning how to translate the Bible into his own heart language!
That day, as the group translated Genesis 4, and made their way through the tragedy of Cain murdering Abel, Sivini was stunned. “Abel’s blood calling out to God from the ground,” he remembers, “the words pierced by heart.” He could almost hear the blood of his many victims calling out to God from the earth where he had so brutally slain them.
In that defining moment, Sivini began to feel something he had never felt before: the possibility of cleansing. The very next Sunday, he walked to the front of the local Christian church to publicly repent of his past. He asked for prayer. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ, and in that moment, the God of forgiveness and peace lifted Sivini’s burden of guilt.
Everything about Sivini is different now. Hatred turned to love, by the miraculous power of God! “Even my looks have changed since I accepted Jesus,” Sivini says joyfully, “because now I no longer carry the weight of the guilt of my past. Who but Jesus could do such a wonderful thing?”
Today Sivini is committed to Bible translation,”[translating] God’s talk…so that my people can know the Lord. I want them to find peace and freedom and forgiveness of sin, just like I have.”
Sivini (right) hugs his former enemy’s leader at a peace rally.
This is the life-transforming work that God is now doing in Papua New Guinea, and around the globe, through the unique and critically important ministry of Bible translation.
We are so privileged and blessed to be a part of what God is doing around the world today, by using the gifts He has given to us so that we can help accelerate Bible translation. Thank you for partnering with us through your prayers, giving, and encouragement that enables us to keep going!
We don’t know how much longer the windows of opportunity will be open in many of the countries where we serve, so let’s press on together while there’s still time!
The past four months have been a whirlwind, actually longer than that when you consider Shelly and Simon went to Thailand early this summer. Our family has been separated by thousands of miles most of the past 5 months or so. It hasn’t always been easy. Nigeria was difficult because I missed my family so much. Central African Republic was hard because of the spiritual attack I was under. But Uganda… Uganda was a pleasant. No, Uganda was a gift, a reward from God for all I had been through this summer.
Uganda wasn’t supposed to happen for me though. When I returned from my previous trip to Central African Republic I was told I should focus on partnership development again. My ministry account was running down at a rapid pace and it was looking like I might be in rough shape pretty soon if I didn’t get back on course. All the time away was preventing me from sitting down with people to share my ministry opportunity. You see, after the spring banquet tour I took a course on partnership development. The class was great because it taught me the importance of finding ministry partners instead of occasional supporters. I soon began calling on some of you to listen to my stories and how together we can make a difference in the lives of millions of people by helping them have the Bible translated into their mother tongue. It was helping, not just because a few started monthly support but also because many of you started praying for this ministry on a regular basis.
So why did I go to Uganda? Because the need to go was great. When I heard about the difficulties Bible translators were having in Uganda to get reliable power and communications I couldn’t ignore them. When I prayed about what I should do I put my trust in the Lord to give me clear indication and He gave it. I knew He would take care of my needs because He has never let me down. After all, our God is the great provider.
Amazingly enough, in six weeks I put a small team together. Besides myself I had Pat Ridenour from the Wycliffe Associates IT department, my friend John Prescott and a volunteer, Dan Boone. I was able to secure all of the equipment for the deployment in time which was no small feat either. Everything came together like clockwork, praise the Lord!
Training Dan and Pat how to train others to use the charge controller.
Once we arrived in country and got settled in we had a day of training, dispersed travel funds and repacked our bags. The plan was to have two teams, one to go to the north and the other to go to the central and eastern parts of Uganda. The final location in the southwest would be handled by me and Pat.
The small car had difficulty navigating the rough roads.
John and Dan flew to Arua where they were supposed to be met by a driver and his 4×4. The driver showed up but not with a 4×4. Instead, four people, a weeks worth of luggage, solar equipment and three heavy batteries made their way down an adventure filled road in a small Toyota sedan. I say adventure because even a small pothole was made to feel like a moon crater with all the weight in the car. They would get stuck often and be forced to pull the batteries out just to navigate bad spots in the road like you see in this picture. Eventually they arrived and what a reception they received!
John and Dan were met by a royal bunch. The King of Zombo district made a showing of support for the Bible translation work being done.
The king of Zombo district and his entourage made a showing. They were curious about the solar panel and BGAN satellite installation and wanted extend a warm greeting. After the ceremony the team was able to get to work putting the panels on the roof, preparing the computers and training the Bible translators in the use of the BGAN. After a day in Zombo it was time for the next location. Back in the car with a little less equipment the drive didn’t get any easier. Out of gas!
After many warnings to the driver about the amount of fuel in the tank the car eventually ran out of fuel 10 km out of town.
From Zombo the team made their way to the Madi North translation team near South Sudan. The roads improved some but the adventures never ceased for the team. One night they spent two hours trying to find a place to sleep. Believe it or not but there was a convention in the town they stopped at and nearly every room was booked. They finally found a sub par hotel and spent the night, anxious to get on their way. In the end they accomplished their task to install their equipment and get the teams trained before catching a bus back to Entebbe to meet up with me and Pat.
A Bible translator is happy to receive the training which will allow him to communicate with his translation team.
Of course Pat and I weren’t without our own adventures. Task number one was to help Sam, our SIL Uganda representative, with some of the driving duties. I was at the wheel first and helped us get through Kampala. Fortunately I had a few cups of coffee in me so I was alert for the British driving system in a city that reminded me of the driving nightmares of Manila. Unlike the other team our first day on the road was good in terms of road conditions. It didn’t take long and we were working with the Ruruuli – Runyala team.
Pat worked on the computers and BGAN training while I worked on the solar power systems.
Once we finished up with our first team it was time to get back in the van and make our way toward Abim. Sometime late in the night we crossed the Nile river. That was a first for me. The crossing was also supposed to be a place we would see monkeys and baboons. Too bad we couldn’t see anything but I could tell by the sound of the river that it was raging. Eventually we make it as far as Lira and settled in for the night after waiting nearly an hour to receive our dinner.
On our way to the Thur project near Abim we stopped at a small town so Pat could stretch his legs. While in the town of Obalang I noticed a few people with amputated limbs and a large mound with a cross at the foot of it. I asked Sam about it and he said it was an area hit hard by the LRA (Kony). It was a very strange feeling to be there and see the aftermath of this evil man.
My time in Thur was most memorable and I think Pat would agree too. The translation team lived and worked as a community dwelling like you see in the photo below. I ended up making a custom platform for the solar panels so they could be brought in at night. Simon Peter, the translator told me they have too many raiders visit them and would be happy to walk off with the panels for their own use. By bringing the panels in they will be safe.
A favorite location for me and Pat. This was a custom installation to accommodate the needs of the translators.
Just as we were finishing we noticed the rain clouds coming in. The drive out to Abim was about as bad as it can get. We got stuck in one location on the way out and knew it would be wise to depart soon or risk being stuck out there for additional days. But, because hospitality reigns supreme, we needed to eat the lunch that was prepared for us by the translator’s daughter. It was a treat to eat in their home.
The men of Thur are tough but the chicken is tougher !!
Our final deployment location in the east was with the Kupsupiiny team. These people live high in the mountains along the boarder of Kenya. The challenging part of working there is the rain and lightning. During our lunch it started to hail. The hail actually accumulated enough that we could make a snowball with the ice. Who would have thought that possible on the equator but it happened. We also got stuck again and again. Rain and African soil may as well be brown ice. The tires just spin and you don’t move, especially if you have to go uphill. But we didn’t let that stop us. Just like I teach in the BGAN lessons, you have to practice patience.
It took more time because of the rain but we eventually had enough good weather to get the job done.
As the rain would stop we would start to work. When the rain came back we would train. We also spent time getting to know the translation team and learning why they want God’s word in their own language. If it be only so the witch doctor we heard each night would learn who Jesus is and accept Him as his personal savior, I would be satisfied. This particular witch doctor would whip the animals into a frenzy three times a night.
With the work done we took a break to enjoy the local coffee.
With the job complete we took an opportunity to enjoy a nice cup of Ugandan coffee grown right on the slopes we were standing on. A real good cup at that!
When we returned to Entebbe we saw John and Dan off but not before he helped me make a wrap up video. We also enjoyed a day of relaxation and spent the final day there working with the team from Kisoro. Because we were only supplying them with a BGAN we had them come to us. A savings of both time and money ($1900). As you can see, it was quite the adventure and I hope that someday we can work together but if you don’t feel the call to go you can still help Bible translators by partnering with me through your prayers and finances.