Movin’ Along

We just finished up our final semester at NTM’s Missionary Training Center in Missouri, and have made it back to the great state of Texas (and yes, Hudson knows full well by now that TX is God’s country).

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Depending on when our visas can be processed, we expect to leave sometime between April and November of 2014, and we expect this next year to fly by!  We will spend part of this Summer continuing to develop our team of folks here in the States who will join us in making disciples among a people group that is currently cut off from the Gospel of Christ. As we travel to Asia Pacific, it’s crucial that we have a committed team back home who will pray for us and support us. If you would like to hear more about our future ministry and how you can be involved, please contact us!

In the Fall, we will be in Oklahoma doing a Linguistics practicum among the Cherokee (analyzing the phonemics and grammar of their language in preparation for doing the same for an unwritten language in Asia Pacific). Then we will finish up preparations and do some preliminary language study before our departure.

Yay for the light at the end of the tunnel!

Last Semester in MO

This semester – our last here at NTM’s Missionary Training Center in Missouri – we are taking the Linguistics Course. It’s an intense course involving studying the ins and outs of analyzing obscure, unwritten languages, so that in the village we eventually end up in, we will be able to put the unwritten language into writing and translate the Bible into that language, so that the native people will have access to Scripture.

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Some of the languages we look at are more obscure than others

While Linguistics keeps us quite busy, we have managed to carve out some time here and there for personal projects. Jim and Noe have been working with an expert (the father of a friend) to make custom recurve bows for themselves.

Shaping the handle
Shaping the handle

I recently finished a quilt for Hudson. The best part about the process was that he was excited that I was making it for him, and he keeps telling me that he’s also making a blanket for me. The thought definitely counts! What a sweetheart.

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Hudson supervised the whole process

Three!

Happy Birthday to the Sweetest little boy I know! These past three years have been a priceless treasure, and I am overwhelmed and honored that God has entrusted this precious, precious kid to Jim and me.

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Hudson enjoyed celebrating the day with many dear friends. (That is, in addition to the other two b-day parties he has had with family in the last month! He’s begun to think he has a birthday about once/week).

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Bubble popping fun!
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Birthday party #1, pictured with cousin Ethan.

Heartbreak

“You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”  Psalm 56:8

 As excited as we were to meet our new little one this Fall, there’s been a sad change of events. I truly believe we will one day meet this precious child, but we will have to wait until we go home to be with our Lord, as our unborn baby recently has.

As difficult as this has been for us, our heavenly Father has been overwhelming us with His immeasurable love for us.

I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

Psalm 139:7-12

Happy New Year in Texas

It’s just a few days before we head back to Missouri, and we’re loving all the time with family!

 

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Petting the goats with Uncle Jess

 

Baking cookies with Keebs, Ryan and Grandad
Baking cookies with Keebs, Ryan and Grandad

 

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Reading with Great Grandma
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Movie night with Gram

Next week we’ll head back to MO to continue our training at NTM’s Missionary Training Center. If all goes according to plan, we’ll finish our training in the Fall of this year, and head to Asia Pacific in the Spring of 2014.

We hope 2013 is a wonderful year for you and your family!

 

Christmas in Texas

We’re enjoying a couple of weeks in Texas during our Christmas break. Here are a few pics from our time in Clyde with Rachel’s family. We’ll soon head to Dallas for the rest of our time here.

 

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Good thing Great Grandpa Tarver has a big lap
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Bedtime stories with Uncle Luke

 

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Playing tractors with Grandpa

 

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We even had a white Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a very happy New Year!

From Despair to Hope

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, many Christians observe Advent. It is a time to reflect on the longing the Israelites had as they waited for their Messiah, or Savior-King, to come.

Just Thursday evening, I read the book of Lamentations. It is a short book of the Bible that really gives a picture of how desperate the situation was in the centuries leading up to Jesus’ birth.  Unspeakable atrocities were occurring – things that should never, never, never happen – things that I won’t even repeat in this blog. The rest of the day, and into Friday, I was reflecting on the distress and the desperation they were going through. Their desire for someone to do something. For someone to bring justice.  The Israelites had received prophecies that a Messiah would come, and many of them knew that their only true hope was His coming, whenever that would be.

Of course, it was the next day (after reading Lamentations) that the reports started coming in. We watched in shock as we learned what took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This was not just a story from centuries ago that I can simply shake my head at. This was tangible. I still cannot even think about it for a moment without tears welling up. Oh, my heart aches for those parents and everyone involved.

Those who have put their belief in Jesus Christ know that this will not always be reality. The Biblical prophets paint a clear picture of the Justice and the Peace that will be had when Jesus, the Savior-King, comes again. Right now, we wait, longing for that time to come. We as a society do what we can to try to prevent these atrocities from happening, but the only thing, the only thing that we can put our hope in that won’t disappoint is Jesus.

As I celebrate the first coming of my King this Christmas season, I eagerly anticipate His second coming. And make no mistake – believers and unbelievers alike – He is coming back. Justice will reign.

Living Not-So-Simply

After two weeks of “Simple Living” (a class/experience here at the Missionary Training Center) here are some pics!

I have jokingly accused Jim before of being addicted to the internet, but after two weeks of no internet, for me meaning no email, food network, facebook, cnn, etc,  I can pretty confidently say I was a pot calling a kettle black!  These past two weeks we also had very limited electricity (refrigerator and lights only, but lights out after 8pm), no computer, no vehicle, and limited water. We also went “wilderness camping” for three nights…it was a  fun time.

Here is Hudson helping me roll out dough for pasta (did I mention that all food had to be cooked from scratch?).  This boy loved all the flashlight activity we had going on in the evenings.

 

 

This is one of the oil lamps Jim made for us using a coke bottle, kitchen twine, and vegetable oil (Girls like guys with skills).

 

 

Part of the assignment for married men was that they had to cook at least four of the meals and a loaf of bread. I now refuse to let Jim claim ignorance in the kitchen. He did a marvelous job with each of his meals!

 

In getting ready for these two weeks, for some reason I thought we’d have more spare time. I ordered a new book and got supplies for a couple of new projects. But, we still had all of our normal homework and responsibilities to do, except now with fewer resources and appliances to help, so our time filled up pretty quickly.

The rest of the pictures are from our camping trip. We and our team used coordinates and a GPS to locate and hike out to our assigned camp site. The kids all donned their backpacks (at least for a little while) as we hiked out.

Taking a breather before finishing the hike.


 

Jim made us a shelter using tarps. In this picture it looks pretty small, but it was big enough to sleep the three of us. Again, the guy has serious skills.

Jim helped set up a solar-powered water pump to pump water up the hill to our campsite. Soon after came the clouds and rain, which of course kept the much-needed sunbeams from powering our water pump.

The boys men enjoyed all the opportunities they had to use their axes and machetes, chopping firewood, building benches, etc.

Below, our team was in a competition, racing to melt large ice blocks (in the buckets) to retrieve our next coordinates (that were inside the ice blocks), which we would use a compass and a map to get to, so we could retrieve some rations. We had a fun team!

Hudson loved his first camping experience, and we all enjoyed being out there with good friends.

 

Kinship

One of the things we’re studying right now is genealogies and kinship systems. It may sound boring, but it’s actually quite fascinating to see how different cultures view their kin so vastly differently than we do. Virtually every culture uses one of six different kinship systems. The way a culture views/organizes their kin greatly affects not only their relationships with one another, but the way individuals interact with the rest of the world.

In the “Hawaiian” system, a person calls each blood relative of their parents’ generation “mother” or “father.” They call each blood relative in their own generation “brother” or “sister.” And these aren’t just arbitrary titles; they view family relationships vastly differently than we Americans do.

In one system (Crow), a person would call their father’s sister’s son, “father,” and would call their mother’s brother’s son, “son.” They would call their mother’s sister’s son, “brother.” Now, we Americans think of all three of those relationships as simply “cousin.” But, people using the Crow system have a very different type of relationship with each of those cousins. (And of course, if we were to explain to them the way most Westerners view kinships, they would think we’re crazy!)

So, why is it important that Jim and I be able to analyze kinship systems? I mentioned above that the kinship system a culture has affects their interactions with one another. It will be very helpful for Jim and I to understand the relationships in the village we enter so that we can understand some of the responsibilities, living patterns, etc. that go along with those relationships. And not so obvious at first glance  is the way that these systems affect the values and priorities of a culture – it’s huge.

Not only is understanding their kinship system helpful for learning how they do and view life, but it will be crucial as we teach Biblical truths. The Bible speaks repeatedly of our relationship with God in familial terms. It calls God our “Father.” It says Jesus is God’s “Son.” It says we are “children of God.” We are “co-heirs with Christ.”  We need to first understand what their concept of these relationships is so that we can correctly relay the rich Scriptural meaning behind these terms and phrases.

Fun stuff!

 

Phone-what?

We just completed a class called Phonemics. No doubt you’ve heard of phonetics, which has to do with the different sounds in a language. Phonemics also involves the different sounds in a language, but it has more to do with the analysis and classification of those sounds. You probably don’t care about all the details involved in analyzing a language, but I thought you might enjoy seeing some fun examples in the English language of the kind of thing we’re working with.

In the English language, we have too many consonants and not enough vowels. For example, the letter “x” is not needed. In each word it is used, it could be replaced with either “cks,” as in “ox,” or “z,” as in “xylophone.”  And each vowel we have is used for more than one sound. The one letter “a” is used to represent a different sound in each of these words: apple, allude, ate.  But not only do the single-letter vowels represent multiple sounds, there are some letter combinations that represent different sounds, as in the different pronunciations of “ough” in each of the following words: Though, through, rough, cough.

English is messed up! It is one of the few languages in which Spelling B’s could even exist; in most languages, if you know how a word is pronounced, there could only be one way to spell it.

One thing we must consider when analyzing a language is how the native speakers of a particular language view the sounds in their language.  There may be multiple sounds that they view as the same sound. In  English, we view many different sounds as the “t” sound. The “t” in the word “water” is not really a phonetic “t” sound. It is actually a “flapped r” sound, as in the Spanish word “pero.” But, we perceive it to be a t sound (You can see why I say that by watching a parent slowly pronounce the word “Wa-ter” to their kids. They probably won’t use a flapped r. They use the actual t sound when they slow the word down to teach it to someone).

Also, every single native English speaker pronounces t’s that are at the beginning of words a little bit differently than we pronounce t’s  that are in the middle or the end of words. The t sound that we use at the beginning of words is actually an “aspirated t,” which is a completely different phonetic sound than an “unaspirated t,” which we use when a t is in the middle or end of a word (If a consonant is aspirated, it means that a puff of air is released when we make the sound). You may not even be able to tell the difference between the sounds if you listen to yourself, but native speakers of many other languages think the aspirated consonants we use in English (initial t’s, p’s and k’s) sound awful, especially when we carry them over to their languages. For example, in the Spanish language, no consonants are ever aspirated, but we native English speakers, when speaking Spanish, tend to aspirate the t’s p’s and k’s that are at the beginning of Spanish words, and that is one of the many little things that gives us a foreign accent when we speak Spanish. Likewise, native Spanish speakers usually don’t aspirate any of their t’s p’s or k’s when they speak English, and that is one of the many little things that gives them an accent when they speak English.

Interesting stuff! Jim and I will need to be able to analyze an unwritten language with great detail so that we can appropriately reduce the language to writing. And we’re digging into it so that one day we can deliver the written Word of God to a people group who has never had it before!