Posts tagged ‘Christianity’

January 11, 2016

Reflecting the glory of God

by bzephyr

File0000010-CropColor780

Next week, we head to our remote village in Papua New Guinea in preparation for our next Bible translation workshop. This time, our teammate John will be joining us from the States, and we will conduct final consultant checking of Titus and Philemon for the 10 language teams we work with.

File0000011-CropColor780

These are relatively small language groups, each between about 400 and 5000 speakers. Yet each one represents yet another community for whom God has done marvelous things to redeem a people for himself — people redeemed from unavoidable selfish and unkind actions, redeemed from false belief, redeemed from fear, from death, from terrifying spirits, people redeemed from the devil — those who will surround the throne of Jesus and give him great glory from every nation, tribe, people, and language.

File0000027-CropColor780

These are pictures from the recent singsing at our project’s building dedication. Look at these faces, and see people who were made to reflect the glory of God in Christ.

File0000014-CropColor780

From Titus 1:2…

I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. (NLT)

File0000111-CropBColor780

File0000036-CropColor780

File0000037-CropColor780

File0000043-CropColor780

File0000047-CropColor780

File0000055-CropColor780

File0000057-CropColor780

File0000061-CropColor780

File0000095-CropColor780

File0000115-CropColor780

File0000120-CropColor780

IMG_3473-CropBColor780

IMG_3474-CropColor780

IMG_3531-CropColor780

IMG_3532-CropColor780

File0000137-CropColor780

IMG_3472-CropColorH780

February 16, 2014

A world where norm will no more be

by bzephyr

Robertson Norman
The lines below were penned after I received the news a bit more than a week ago that my great uncle Norm had left this earth after 88 years and gone to be with Jesus. He and my dear Aunt Doris had recently celebrated 65 years of marriage. At nearly 6’6″ Uncle Norm was the biggest man I had ever seen when I first met him as a small boy. Even more than his sheer size, the stories my father told of him pioneering in the Pacific Northwest made him larger than life to me. With his big “Cat” bulldozer and his crew of men and logging trucks, he would contract work from the forest service, and the adventures that he had as they pioneered new roads and slipped down rugged mountain slopes are the stuff that hero tales are made of.

Yet more than all that, Uncle Norm represents to me the strength of character and firm faith of one who was confident that he served the King and Creator of the majestic world surrounding him. And he also served his family, community, and fellow man with the same kindness of Another who had stooped so low to care for a world in need to lead them to a higher place and a better Home. My family and I have benefited from Uncle Norm and Aunt Doris’s daily prayers on our behalf. I wish that I’d have had the chance to live closer to him and experience life with my Uncle Norm more intimately. I know that Norm provided a certain exceptional quality of life that is joy and peace and strength to those who lived within the shade of his shelter, anything but the norm in this present world with dark valleys and with devils filled. But Uncle Norm and I share in the confident hope of an abundant adventure of the new and glorious creation of our Savior, whose life and light will have no end for those who trust in him.

A world where norm will no more be

…a giant tree’s been felled this morn
this norm, i hardly knew
and though half a world away i too am shaken
and long that i could go
home,

where my dad grew roots
with other boughs of family line,
had nearly split apart,
yet for this sapling and my seed
the Wind has carried far
and we know not our mountain land
that beckons in my blood.
it’s kin is dear to them who are so very close to me
but i mourn the loss i can not now find,
this giant of a man.

…a servant of creation’s King
this norm, i hardly knew
is summoned forth to hear “well done”
while i, in service yet, remain in this world
history,

where relations whom i wish i’d known
impressed their hands like works of art for all to see
deep in the planet’s soil
engineered behind the scenes
not only earth’s terrains,
fine landscapes brushed on hearts and souls
in a little place that calls to me,
a dale, with those to whom i’d flee,
a town where faithful home was made,
a world where norm will no more be.

…a big ol’ rig has slipped down new road
this norm, i hardly knew
and too, though in another world, my view is cleared
to use whatever Master’s “cat” might cut new bush
highway,

where humps and roadblocks bar the way
and trail’s end is yet uncharted
by brothers, sisters too, in fellowship,
heirs who share our Pioneer’s faith
on paths to home or distant shores,
blazed with blood and sweat and prayer,
roads revealing old and New, tracks to reunite.
earthly routes both smooth and worn, dirt and stone,
will not endure like narrow Way that we must seek,
converging on that golden Street.

such norm of life that some have known
through highways, history and house
has come and gone, though we’re not surely left alone.
a taller Tree has toppled death and new creation grows,
uniting every clan on earth to serve their King,
alive again, and bound for our true Home…

printersornament1

The verses above are a poetic duet that I wrote with some help from a fellow pilgrim of the faith after reading this other poetic duet moments after I heard the news that my Uncle Norm had waved goodbye to this earth. Thanks Hasty for your thoughtful input on stanzas four and six.
May 26, 2013

Renovation Days 21 to 22

by bzephyr

On days 21 to 22 of the Aitape West Translation Project’s renovation, we saw door frames and window louvre frames installed…

IMG_2946cropsmall

The kitchenette in the flat was moved to accommodate access to the old toilet and shower rooms, the plywood walls were put up, and a new door installed…

IMG_2963cropsmall

And the old flat has access to the new bathroom…

IMG_2968cropsmall

Split blackpalm “limbum” was collected for siding…

IMG_2985cropsmall

Meanwhile, next door at the office, Onnele literacy teachers Rosalyn and Linda are enjoying the new things they’re learning about dictionary making…

IMG_2992cropsmall

The overflow pipes for the two tanks were creatively fitted, even though we didn’t have the right connections. Wayambo improvised with some tightly wound sheets of plastic…

IMG_3004cropsmall

The plywood walls and limbum siding starting going up…

IMG_3010cropsmall

IMG_3017cropsmall

IMG_3025cropsmall

The view from the developing new bathroom with its new door and plywood walls…

IMG_3042cropsmall

The siding needed to start above the first floor windows so that we could hang the downpipes in front of that space in the days ahead…

IMG_3074cropsmall

It was the last day for the translators and literacy team to be together. Tomorrow, the literacy team would head home and the translators would continue revising their translations of 1 & 2 Timothy. Today, the literacy team returned the favor and helped the translation teams read through these letters and made valuable suggestions…

IMG_3058cropsmall

May 26, 2013

Renovation Days 19 to 20

by bzephyr

On days 19 and 20 of the Aitape West Translation Project’s urgent renovation, we saw the kwila hardwood floors being installed…

IMG_2824cropsmall

The translators also returned from their communities where they had been village checking 1 & 2 Timothy, and they consulted with the literacy teams about the progress they had been making on their dictionaries…

IMG_2860cropsmall

I continued to work on cleaning up the last computers still effected by viruses…

IMG_2864cropsmall

Jacob continued to get lessons in carpentry…

IMG_2873cropsmall

Hey, there weren’t doorways there before!

IMG_2910cropsmall

We often joke around with Wayambo and tell him that he is a man who wrecks buildings and puts holes in them where they didn’t exist. But we really wanted these holes. The new room will access the old toilet and shower rooms. And there will also be an optional doorway connecting these two flats…

IMG_2886cropsmall

The hardwood floors were also installed upstairs…

IMG_2892cropsmall

And from the opposite angle…

IMG_2894cropsmall

Window frames were installed…

IMG_2900cropsmall

Arop translation advisor, Emil Ninkure, helped teach some of the dictionary lessons…

IMG_2914cropsmall

With the translators and literacy team working together, we had more people than ever at this workshop…

IMG_2926cropsmall

May 16, 2013

Renovation Days 16 to 18

by bzephyr

On days 16 to 18 we saw the roof worked on, and the second water tank put into place. In this remote part of Papua New Guinea, we collect rain water off our roofs and store it in large water tanks to be used for showers, laundry, dishes, and drinking.

The second floor wall framing was completed, and also the roof extension…
IMG_2777cropsmall

Wayambo impressed me as he sat on the most precarious batten and fascia board, and then started bouncing up and down…

IMG_2791cropsmall

The inspector came by to check on the work…

IMG_2786cropsmall

The second water tank set in place…

IMG_2810cropsmall

And the tank was ready to be used…

IMG_2812cropsmall

And that very night, we got a really big rain that made both tanks half full from only half the roof.IMG_2804cropsmall

But in the Aitape West Translation Project we are completing this renovation as we build a bigger staff in order that we can supply the peoples of Papua New Guinea with God’s living water…

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
For you will go out with joy
And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  (Isaiah 55:10-12)

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:10)

May 10, 2013

Renovation Days 8 to 11

by bzephyr

In the Aitape West Translation Project, one of our main goals is the training of trainers so that Papua New Guineans are equipped to serve their own communities and also share their skills and experience in helping others from the various 831 languages in this country. So two years ago we realized that we had a need for additional staff to train our PNG colleagues from the 11 languages in this project. We are now seeing new teammates join the project.

Below, our new teammate Luke from the UK demonstrates some features of the computers that these literacy personnel are using as they work on their dictionaries.

IMG_2454cropsmall

The quick influx of new staff has also created an urgent need for additional facilities in our remote village training center.

By day 8 of our renovation project, Wayambo had started making some significant changes in the existing downstairs flat. He had moved the kitchen counter over about a meter in order to make space for a new hallway to the old toilet and shower rooms from the new flat being built outside this kitchen window. This existing flat will receive the new bathroom.

IMG_2764cropsmall

And the framing for that new hallway has started…

IMG_2763cropsmall

Wayambo started fitting the new shower tray…

IMG_2396cropsmall

And we saw a new ditch dug to direct the waste water from the new shower and hand basins…

IMG_2289cropsmall

And one of the jobs that I’m spending a lot of time on in this project: the plumbing. On day 11, it was once again Sunday, so time to rest. But we did allow our water pumps to work all day as we pumped water from the remaining existing water tank to the repositioned water tank. And before we turned the generator off for the night, we were able to start getting water out of the newly plumbed water tank. Tomorrow, we’ll move the second water tank so we can start building the two new rooms.

IMG_2464cropsmall

These days also marked the dictionary workshop being into full swing after the translators left to go home and check 1 & 2 Timothy with their communities. But they also marked the start of several days of cleaning viruses off our 22 project computers and our local network. Below, Beth (right) and Luke’s wife, Laura (left), help run the virus scans.

IMG_2295cropsmall

Everywhere we look these days, we see people working together to support the growing work and ministry of this Bible translation project. We are blessed!

December 31, 2012

The good #1: Rebooting our collaborative approach

by bzephyr

A reboot of our Bible translation project in August means that some language groups will now WAIT to receive God’s Word. Waiting is good? My Papua New Guinean teammates think this reboot is one of the best things that happened this year in the project based on our team’s evaluation of how things were going over the last few years.

As promised here, I’m summarizing some of the good and the bad from this last year, and what I’m doing now to put first things first and sharpen the ugly worn-out tools.

IMG_1228crop

James, Jonathan, and Otto above are assembling the Christmas Story from Luke 1-2. These were printed with their local Onnele language and pidgin trade language in a parallel-column diglot format. This is the format that many pastors in the area believe is needed to enable them to effectively use their local language more in worship. This is because churches almost always include people who have married into the language group or traveled from neighboring language areas.

One of the key defining aspects of our multi-language translation project is that we highly value the collaboration that occurs with one another as we work on the same chapters at the same time. Nine languages worked together recently to produce those Christmas diglots. We have learned over the years, however, that this model is difficult to maintain when different language teams are able to proceed at different rates. This was especially true while we were completing the very lengthy books of Luke and Acts. One solution has been to allow the quicker teams to work on other things while their teammates catch up.

We can no longer allow the slowest teams to dictate the progress of all the others, especially if all teams do not show up to all workshops. It’s one thing to allow the quicker teams to work on something else while the teams with more difficult translation challenges catch up. It’s quite another thing, however, if some teams fall behind because they repeatedly miss out on some workshops. We have been looking to the completion of Luke-Acts this year as the appropriate time when we would need to “reboot” the project and initiate new patterns for working together.

With the start of 1 Timothy in August, therefore, we now expect language teams to have a third translator ready to stand in for another if one of the regular two translators have a good reason for not attending. Also, frequent absences may require that translation committees need to designate a new translator.

So we are now starting to follow a tighter schedule of translating shorter books and taking them all the way through to consultant checking and publishing each year. The new understanding is that if a language team misses a workshop, they will not be able to receive that short book this year. This may mean that some languages in the project will need to wait to receive that portion of God’s Word. But what we are already seeing is that teams are more motivated to attend or make arrangements for another to stand in their place if their absence absolutely cannot be avoided.

December 28, 2012

The good, the bad, and sharpening worn-out tools

by bzephyr

I recently submitted a quarterly report entitled “Partnership, ownership and a leadership wake up call.” I was the leader. I needed to wake up.

P1060865-crop-more-saturation-photorealistic

At the end of the report, I mentioned that it might have been called “The good, the bad, and the ugly” and I thanked our international partners for supporting us and praying for us through our successes and stresses. As the team leader for our multi-language translation project in Papua New Guinea, I reflected in this report not only on the Triumphs made over the last year but also on how our team is learning to adjust after many unforeseen difficulties had nearly spelled Disaster for me personally, my family, and other key team members.

In this and the next several posts, I will summarize the good and the bad from this past year and what we’re doing to get out the ugly. It’s part of what I’m doing to look critically at our past and make adjustments for the future.

The good

This has been an amazing year of progress in terms of church partnerships and local ownership, Scripture use, holistic language development, and leadership development. While continuing to get more Scriptures translated and out into the hands and ears of the people, we have also been developing key relationships with district-level church leaders and fostering local ownership of this ministry and its fruit. At the same time, we have been widening our language development activities, which will contribute to language vitality and the use of God’s Word. We have also facilitated many opportunities for growing leaders among our PNG colleagues as they look to their futures in reaching beyond their own languages and helping other language groups in this widening Bible translation movement.

The bad

In hindsight, we realize that we attempted to do more this last year with fewer people, and it has nearly killed some of us. I have been functioning as the team leader and looking after various other jobs as they come up while still performing my normal role as a translation advisor/trainer. I have pulled other members of our team along with me in a vicious cycle of living under the tyranny of the urgent. Several unexpected difficulties took us from urgent to crisis mode on several occasions. Our whole team has hardly had a break from one activity to another, and so we are looking to learn from our mistakes and plan better for the future.

The ugly

Computers can be a beautiful thing… if they work right. Otherwise, it can get quite ugly. My computer is now four-and-a-half years old. But often it’s not the machine’s fault. There’s also “user error.” I have sometimes spent 80% of my computer time simply waiting for it to respond, to reboot, to finish a task. So much for multitasking. I’ve known some of the issues for quite a while, but I also knew that implementing the solutions would mean a significant delay in the next urgent tasks before me. Oh! How I wish I had taken the time a year ago.

EliWallachTuco-cropIn the classic Clint Eastwood film The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Tuco Ramirez (“The Ugly”) says, “There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting.” Perhaps it’s that rescue mission–the desperate act of cutting the rope before the world around me dies–that has pulled me along in the never relenting pursuit of completing tasks without pausing enough to sharpen my tools. But even more critical than working with good tools is relying on the true Redeemer of the world. I must look to Him more desperately rather than feed my own messiah complex as I pretend to cut the noose from the necks around me.

On another occasion, Blondie (“The Good”) says, “You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” I don’t think the pressure I feel is like that of someone holding a gun to my head. But it may be more on the level of another of Blondie’s quotes: “Two hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money. We’re gonna have to earn it.” But all those desperate acts of cutting, digging, and earning our keep — it too easily crowds out a bigger perspective, a greater Will. And without that, there really would be nothing left to say ‘Hold on!’ to the heart and nerve and sinew that are nearly gone.

If my life was broken this year, I simply watched the things I gave it to for too long, ever stooping to build ’em up with worn-out tools. It was ugly. It was time to sharpen the saw.

Sharpening the ugly saw

Required reading for me as a young missionary candidate (along with many other more theologically-focused works) was Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Here are the seven habits…

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think win/win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

As I think about the successes and failures of the past year, I can see that our Triumphs were partially due to following such habits as #1, #2, #4, and #5 above. Likewise in relation to these seven habits, I can see that we nearly met with Disaster because we failed to put first things first (#3), synergize with others (#6), and sharpen the saw (#7).rudyard-kipling-crop

Those are seven great principles. And I also found the Results-Based Management planning that we did this last year in our project to also be a valuable tool. If only those dreams and thoughts, however, are the things that become our aim, become our master, I’m afraid I’ll fail to treat Kipling’s two imposters just the same. Both Triumph and Disaster merely pose in the place of a greater Master.

There’s the King of kings to walk with, and there’s a greater common Touch that counts with all men. In the midst of all our critical evaluations, our organizational planning and strategizing, we must not fail to live life abundantly now on this earth as our spirits walk in step with the Spirit of the King of all things, allowing him to write his Story on us and through us to all those around.

You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  –2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

In the next several posts, I will give more details about the good, the bad, and what I am doing now to put first things first and sharpen the worn-out tools.

%d bloggers like this: