2012 in brief review

Once you fall out of the habit of updating a blog it doesn’t take long to forget that you even have one. During 2012 I was settling into both work and social routines here in Dallas and blogging didn’t happen. I’ve decided to make an effort again in 2013.
I’ve added another page to this blog to archive my newsletters and rather than try and write some overwhelming mini-novel describing the last 12 months of my life I’ll instead include a bit of a year in review in photo form.

In March while working on my car I discovered that you can break a steering knuckle trying to dislodge a ball joint. Fortunately after getting all the broken parts off my car I was finally able to fix it.

In May I got to be the best man in my brother Matt’s wedding. (Brother not pictured.)


We had a major hailstorm in Dallas in June it did a lot of damage but mostly farther north.

This scorpion on my shoe was just one of the many that my roommate and I got to deal with this summer. Our room seemed to be a favorite place for them to hide.

A group here plays volleyball on a sand court during the summer and the unseasonably warm weather extended our window for outdoor sports into the fall.

I got to practice creative pumpkin carving last October.

My parents and my brother and sister in-law visited me for Thanksgiving!

The fall finally came and I discovered my guest house room had a view.

I got to celebrate a wonderful white Christmas in Dallas!

Why I’m thankful to be here at the Dallas Center

I got to hear some great stories at lunch last Friday from a gentleman named Ernesto. He is on his way back to Brazil to collect words and complete a dictionary for a native language he worked on 40 years ago. He told me about building an airstrip in the jungle and described how when they thought they were done the pilot flew over and then let out a basket with a phone behind the plane and circled the runway to lower it so he could tell Ernesto that it needed to be widened. I’d read about something like that in The End of the Spear and it was neat to hear someone who had seen it done first hand.

Ernesto was clearly excited to be going back if a little apprehensive about jungle living at his age. He told me that he became interested in translation work after seeing a demonstration by Kenneth Pike and George Cowan done in England in the early 1950s. So he became a translator just as Wycliffe was starting to grow into a global organization.

He was in Dallas preparing a computer and getting some training with FLEx(the program I’m currently helping develop) so that he can enter the data. When he was last in Brazil he used a shoebox system that SIL trained him in. The system involved an actual shoebox and index cards, he told me he still has them. Part of the system was to use holes punched in the cards for each morpheme. If the word didn’t have a morpheme you would cut a slot there. Then if you wanted to see all the words which had a certain morpheme you would stick a coat hanger through the hole for a morpheme and lift it up and all the words that had that morpheme would come out of the shoebox. I’d heard that translators used to use shoeboxes, but never had someone who used the actual system describe it before.

Ernesto’s son also became an SIL translator in the 1980s and he learned on the Shoebox software that SIL wrote as computers became more portable. Today I get to work on the latest tool in that line.

The history of Bible translation has so many stories like those of Ernesto, and working in Dallas I get to hear them now and then. That’s one more thing for me to be thankful for today.

Wycliffe Day of Prayer

November 11th has a double significance for those associated with Wycliffe in the US. Not only is it Veterans day, it is also Wycliffe’s World Day Of Prayer.

Veterans day is celebrated on November 11th because it was on that date in 1918(at 11a.m. no less) that Germany signed the armistice agreement bringing an end to the first World War.

Wycliffe observes a world day of prayer on November 11th because it was that day in 1933 that Cameron Townsend and L.L. Legters were attempting to enter Mexico to begin work there. When they were initially turned away they began to pray and Townsend remembered that he had a letter in his pocket from an educator in Mexico who had invited them to come work there. They presented that letter to the guards and spent the time praying and singing while the guards called Mexico city. The answer came back ‘permission granted’ and the two entered Mexico.

It was a significant day in the history of Wycliffe Bible Translators and we mark it as an organization each year with a day of prayer.

I am thankful to be involved in an organization with such a history of prayer.

In other news I recently sent out another newsletter. I’ve linked it here in case you aren’t on my mailing list.

A fun Google maps discovery

I was looking up directions to a swing dancing venue in Dallas and I decided to study the map around my house to get a better feel for the lay of the land. I’m getting a good sense of the area and I am starting to get around without relying on GPS too much. So there weren’t too many surprises for me on the map until I noticed what appeared to be an airplane in a nearby lake. When I zoomed in on it I found this gem.

Here’s the Google map coordinates. It’s kind of cool to see it in context. Eventually the image will get replaced I’m sure.

It makes me wonder how many other planes you could find if you started looking for them on maps near airports. Just one more way that the internet can make hours disappear.

Settling into a new routine.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Dallas for over a month now. I’ve been trying to figure out what life looks like for me here and a rough routine is starting to come together.

God’s hand has really been evident in my transition. I’ve been connecting with quite a few people from a church in Arlington, and that might be where I settle long term. It’s only a little over 20 minutes from here, about 15 minutes from work. I can stay in the house I’m renting now for about a year, so I have some time to figure things out.
Work has been great, it didn’t take me long to get used to the project and start contributing which is a good feeling. Everyone else on the software team seems happy that I’ve been able to plug in so quick.

The weather has been brutally hot, but most everyone in Dallas seems to hide indoors during the summer, and everywhere you go is airconditioned. So the heat isn’t very hard to live with, but I do miss my outdoor activities from SLO.

I sent out my last newsletter mostly by good old US Postal service, but I don’t have the address of everyone who normally gets them electronically. So here is a belated link for everyone who didn’t get it:   June\July Newsletter

I’ll be posting again soon with some new updates, and probably a new newsletter. So keep an eye out.

Dallas, get ready, here I come.

I plan to write a more detailed update soon, but since I don’t know quite when I’ll get to it I just wanted to post a quick update. I’ve reached 100% of my financial support and have been released for my assignment in Dallas! God is so good, and seeing him provide in these last few weeks has been so encouraging. I’m packing and sorting through 12 years of accumulated junk and I hope to be on the road by Tuesday. Waves of excitement and sadness are hitting me as I prepare to go, but the big breakers are excitement. The sadness waves aren’t worth surfing.

Almost time to leave SLO

Only 9% of my minimum financial support level remains. I’m so close to leaving for Dallas that I can feel the humidity already. This video has been making the rounds among my San Luis Obispo friends. It’s especially poignant for me since I’m so close to leaving this town behind. I know I’ll enjoy Dallas, but the central coast is still tough to leave.

Something very cool came up recently with regards to my move. God has provided the perfect place for me to move to in Dallas. Another Wycliffe missionary working in Dallas heard about my housing search during their weekly prayer meeting and contacted me. He is living in a house for the next year and was looking for someone to move into an empty bedroom. It is an ideal situation as it will give me both a place to move into and someone to help get me plugged into life in Dallas. The room just became available in April. How providential.

Wycliffe work in Burkina Faso & 74%

Today one of my friends cued me in to this article on Burkina Faso. Mission Network News was reporting on how Wycliffe was using cell phone technology to get the scripture portions that have been completed in the Kaansa language to the people more readily.

Cell phones are everywhere now, and I could definitely be working on software for phones when I get to Dallas. The developers I’ll be joining mentioned the phone work they were doing when I visited them, and it seems there is an increasing opportunity in that area. I’m celebrating the fact that I’m at 74% of my support and getting close to departure. I’m getting more and more excited to start working in Dallas. If God is moving you to help me with the last 26% of my monthly support needs you can see how on the partnership page.

Another New Testament Completed

I was surprised to see this reported by ABC news, but I’m glad it was! A complete New Testament in the Gwich’in language was just dedicated in Fairbanks Alaska. The Baltimore ABC affiliate’s report mentions that Meggie and Pierre DeMers have been working on this translation for 31 years. Praise God for their faithful service.

The article mentioned that the Gwich’in are the only Athabaskan people to have the New Testament in their language. I did a little digging and found that this isn’t quite accurate. Several other languages of Athabaskan peoples have had New Testaments published, although all the ones I found were in Canada not the United States. I’ll give the reporter the benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps Gwich’in is the only Athabaskan language in the USA with a New Testament.

In any case it is exciting news! But there are still over 2,000 languages out there that still need translation projects to begin. I’m eager to get to Dallas to start my assignment with Wycliffe, and add whatever I can to the effort.

Blogging before the rapture

Isn’t it amazing how much press Harold Camping and his followers have generated? My friend Ben Gerth has put up a very good and sound rebuttal of Camping’s prediction and teaching in general on The Gerth Family blog.

I only have a little to add to the conversation.

Camping is predicting that the rapture will happen today at 6pm EST. Rather than focus all our attention at ridiculing his position why waste this opportunity to ask people the serious question, are they ready? One thing that is clear about Christ’s return in the new testament is that we should be prepared. I think it is worth spending some time reflecting on the thought, “If I knew Christ was coming back in one year, would I be doing anything differently?”

1 John 2:28
And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. (ESV)

As a side note I also find it very intriguing that many of Harold Camping’s views on God are remarkably close to those of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This interests me as the rise of the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a significant cult was also tied to rapture predictions and such predictions have marked their history. William Miller predicted the rapture in 1874-75. His teachings influenced Charles Russell who founded the JWs. Their end of the world predictions included 1914, 1918, 1925, 1941, 1975, 1984 and 1994 the same year as Camping’s last prediction.

So even though no date setting prediction of the rapture has any credibility, and I don’t think that there is much harm in having a little fun with it, there is a reason people are drawn to it. It might be easier if we knew.

Romans 8:22-24
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (ESV) Emphasis added