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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Homeward Bound

It is crazy to think that our time in Salasaca is now over and that we are leaving Ecuador on Thursday. So much has happened during these past 6 weeks, and Jonathan and I have grown so much as a result of the challenges and blessings the experience has brought. So here is our last week in Salasaca and some concluding thoughts...

Monday and Tuesday
I was sick most of the week before, so I was glad to be finally out of bed in time for conulant checking. The translation team had finished the comprehension check of the book of James --where they have a Salasacan read a passage and answers content questions-- so they were ready for the next step. We met with the consultant over Skype, and they went verse by verse through the book. It was a very neat experience. The consultant spoke a great deal of English the first day, so I was able to understand a lot. The next day he spoke mainly in Spanish, but Larry let me know what was going on. James was an internsting book to observe because of all the idioms.
There were several difficulties in the checking because Salasaca Quichua doesn't have several words that are necessary in translating James. They don't distinguish between compassion and mercy, so it made translating James 5:11 very difficult: “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” Also, the idea of testing of your faith created issues because the language does not have any comprehension of the idea of testing. One humorous part of the consultant checking was James 3:9, which talks about cursing. Salasaca Quichua doesn't have a word for curse, so the consultant suggested putting a curse instead. They co-translators started sharing all these different curses in SQ. It made for a good laugh.
The consulting checks went by a lot faster than we expected. We spent so much time in the earlier part of the book that we expected it to last through Wednesday. Everyone was relieved to have the book finished by Tuesday. Now the translation team just needs to make some changes that were suggested. Then a meeting with all the translators and the book will be ready! With so many long hours spent on translating, it was a relief to know a job was well done.
On Monday we went with Kris and Andy-- someone who has been in Ecuador for the past 6 months and happens to live less than 20 minutes from where Jonathan and I will be living in Ohio-- to one of the schools. Kris read the Little Red Hen in Quichua to the three different classrooms, and Jonathan, Andy, and I played the roles of the dog, cat, and mouse accordingly. It was a lot of fun. We passed out copies of the Quichua book and gave the school several different Arch books—simple Bible stories that have been translated into Quichua.

I have been working on transcribing a book into Salasaca Quichua. Nancy, one of the co-translators, had read a Quichua story to me about a bird and an ant. I recorded it and transcribed it into both IPA-international phonetics alphabet- and in Quichua. On Wednesday, I had Nancy check my transciption so that I could make it into a book. I got the stamp of approval, so I started making the book. The book will be given out to students as a means to encourage reading in Quichua.
More often than not, literacy and translation go hand in hand. Most Salasacans are not very good Quicha readers. Though Quichua's orthography is similar to Spanish, most people don't take the time to learn these differences. It is extremely important though that Salasacans are able to read their own language, because if they don't, the translation of the Bible wouldn't be useful. In addition to doing Bible translation, the two families also focus on increasing literacy. They have made several primer books which help with the ease of reading. They have also translated Arch books to make the transition easier. Like the Little Red Hen, the book I translated will be handed out at schools.
After Nancy and Juana left, Jonathan and I took on the role as mom and dad. We had volunteered our services so that Larry and Susan could have some time away from being parents. We made hamburgers for dinner and played more legos than I imagined could keep them entertained. Jonathan was in heaven, because the two hours we spent playing legos at his house while in Latacunga wasn't enough. We also invented a really fun way of playing Ticket to Ride with just two teams and watched part of Journey to the Center of the Earth.

It didn't seem to matter that we kept the kids up late, because they were up and ready at 7 to spend a fun day with Maggie and Jonathan. My cough had woken me up during the night, so Jonathan took over breakfast and let me sleep. I'm so thankful to have a caring husband. After breakfast we played more Legos, Monopoly, and colored. Jonathan and I made brownies for our last youth meeting during some down time.
From the day of being parents, we have concluded that God has his reasons for giving you babies instead of 8 and 10 year-olds. You need all that time to develop the patience and endurance it takes. I'm happy to have just my husband in the family for now.
We enjoyed our last Thursday dinner with the Salays. I think that our Thursdays won't be as much fun without our weekly get togethers. It has been so much fun getting to know this wonderful family over the past 6 weeks. God is using them in so many ways, and He is giving them strength when things get hard. They have been such an encouragment to Jonathan and I in more ways than I can express.

It was hard to believe that this would be my last day doing linguistic things for my internship. Our final language session with Bertha was a lot of fun. We went on a walk and used the Quicha that we knew: “There are 2 sheep”; “That is a flower”; “What is this?” We have really appriciated Bertha's patience with us as we've been learning. She has always been so encouraging with all of her allimi (good job). I, of course, got sunburned during our walk. I'm now supporting a v-neck tan.
I spend the rest of the day finishing up my book in time for kids club. Jonathan has been working on all the necessary adult things that we need to have by the time we return to the states: renter's insurance, car insurance, health insurance, and all the other fun things you can imagine. Why can't we stay in Ecuador where we can live for $5 a day?
With my book finished, we helped Larry out with Kids' Club one last time. Jonathan led them in a game of Spud after we had finished playing all the boardgames. Larry read them the story of Jericho, and I had drawn a picture for them to color. It was my last piece of work, and sadly Jonathan's coloring job was only able to be displayed on our fridge for a couple of days.
Friday's are our most exausting day, because we only have an hour between kids' club and youth group-- or we are only supposed to have an hour but everyone shows up late. Larry, Jonathan, and I decided that we attempt to climb Illiniza Norte (just under 17,000 feet) the following day. This meant we would have to leave our place at 4:30. It was going to be a short night.
The youth started to arrive at 8. We ended up with 15 students, which was our lowest number, and most of them were from church. We played this really fun game where everyone is a statue except for a tourist and a tour guide. They walk around with a flashlight, and if they see a statue move, the statue joins them as a tourist. This was the perfect game with the number we had. We also played 4 corners – I was surprised by how much they liked this. Jonathan gave a wonderful devotion about hitting the mark. He had them throw darts and then tied it to how we are dependent on Christ. It was wonderful!
Nancy had asked us the day before if we could stay in Salasaca longer to work with the youth. The whole church has been greatly concerned with what will happen once we leave. We invited the president of the church, the pastor, and other church leaders to come to our last meeting. They all did, and after the youth meeting, everyone-- youth included-- discussed what would happen. Jonathan encouraged them to continue meeting. The hard part had been done- getting everyone together-- and the meetings could easily continue with a little effort from the youth. We encouraged them that they all could play a role in leading. We also encouraged them to pray about it and to trust God to take care of the details. Salasacans often want to do things big or go home, but they could easily maintain the meetings. They finally decided that they would meet the following week. Lord, please let these meetings continue.
Jonathan and I went to bed after 12. It was a short night.

We really wondered what we were thinking when we decided to climb a mountain after so little sleep. It didn't help that when we got to the foot of the mountian at 7:30 that there were clouds overhead. I was still recovering from my bad cough and congestion, so we took things real slow. We were doing very well at first, but then came the steep up hill. We were completely in a cloud, and were soaked before we knew it. The cold breeze didn't make anything easier. We were ¾ way up, when the cold and my cough started to get to me. We weren't really prepared for the cold weather-- we thought it would be a sunny day-- so we decided to turn back. It took us forever to get down the steep slope. I have a huge bruise on my rear to show how hard it was. Though it was difficult, we all really enjoyed the experience. It was a nice hike 95% of the time, and we will all have to summit when Jonathan and I return to Ecuador.

Our final week in Salasaca flew by. We couldn't believe that Sunday came so fast. Jonathan and I had spent a lot of time deciding on our final lesson topics. We settled on 1 Corinthians 12-- talking about us being a part of the body-- and warning about false teaching. I spoke on 1 Corthians 12, and Jonathan taught on the other topic. We tried to encourage them that God gave them gifts that they can use to serve the church. They can also use these gifts to keep the youth group running. Jonathan's topic was really necessary because of the influences around them. He encoruaged them that they need to always go to the Bible to varify things they hear.
The sad thing was that half of the Sunday school class was working on throwing us a good bye party-- called a Despedida. We generally keep on teachign Sunday school till we hear them singing in church, but this time someone came in to get us. The church wanted to say good bye to us. Jonathan played a song with one of the students, and then said a thanks to everyone. The church gave us some nice Ecuadorian bags. After that, we went to the youth's party. Sadly, they separate the guests of honor, so Jonathan and I sat on the opposite side of the room as everyone else. Several students gave speeches of how they will miss us, and Jonathan and I were able to express our appriciation. We had cake, jello, sang songs, and said all of our good byes. Please be praying for the youth of Salasaca as they continue to meet. Pray that God will raise up leaders within them and will encourage them to serve.
We had a good bye lunch with the Salays and Waskoskys afterwards. We are really going to miss theses two families. We packed up our things and headed back to Latacunga.

We have really loved our time in Salasaca, and we are glad that we will return to Ecuador some time in the next 18 months. Please continue to pray for all those we have met.

We head back to the states Thursday evening, if we can catch a flight.

Monday, April 19, 2010

God Steps In

More Youth Ministry

On Friday night we had some thirty students come for our second youth meeting at the translation center, probably half of them aren't believers, and maybe 7-10 of them I've never seen before. It was exciting to see so many people come. We played games as best we could, crammed into the room we had at our disposal. We barely fit everyone in, but fit we did! Afterwards we had a time of singing and a devotional. I talked about either being slaves to sin, or slaves to Christ. About 10 people left when we took out the Bible, unfortunately, and they came back after we had finished. I was a little discouraged by that, not for myself as much as for their own sake--I really wanted them to hear the truth and the good news. I keep praying for them. Please pray with me in this.

On Saturday night, late, it all of a sudden dawned on me that I hadn't planned the lesson for Sunday! I was falling asleep and felt rather ashamed for having overlooked one of the most important things I'm doing here in Salasaca. I knew I wanted to talk about salvation by Grace alone, but didn't have a lesson plan or anything. Sunday morning I woke up praying for a specific passage to teach on. I was lead to Ephesians 2, and a couple ideas popped into my head of how to illustrate this passage. I briefly studied up on it, grabbed a whiteboard marker, and left with the Waskoski's for church.

I was quite aware of the importance of this principal and wanted to communicate it well to a people who lean towards legalism and works-based salvation. I prayed a lot during the worship service.

When the students came in another idea hit me. I wanted to explain to them the importance of why I was teaching seemingly abstract beliefs rather than "applicable" teachings on dating, obedience, alcohol abuse, or other things these youth might be facing in everyday life. I drew a pyramid on the white board and divided it into three horizontal sections, and labeled the sections (from top to bottom) beliefs, values, actions. They picked up really quickly on how our beliefs form our values, and our values direct our actions. They also agreed then that if I only told them to do certain things, one ever week for the six weeks I was with them, that they would listen for maybe that week. But if their beliefs lined up with Scripture, then their values and actions would follow. From there we went into our verse by verse study of salvation by grace and not by works in Ephesians. I don't remember everything I said. What I vividly remember is seeing their eyes locked on mine, their heads nodding with understanding, and the look on their face that they were still thinking a lot about what they had just heard. The kind of thing that excites a youth worker. The kind of thing that makes us tick. I knew they were glad to hear this news, and I knew they understood what was studied, and I knew I had very little if nothing to do with it. I walked away with my heart singing silent praises to a gracious God who loves these kids fathoms more than I.

Friday, April 16, 2010

We've Only Just Begun...


Many things have happened in the last two weeks that make us feel like we're finally beginning our ministry here in Salasaca. It makes it hard to think that we are leaving Salasaca in only 10 days. We've had more cultural experiences, deepened relationships, learned more of the language, and have grown even more, and it feels like we've only just begun.

Linguists Hard at Work

The back translation for the book of James has been sent in to the consultant. A back translation is the Quichua translated back word for word (pretty much) into Spanish. This is then checked for accuracy by the consultant before going to a committee which will then further check it for accuracy. Maggie got to sit in on the comprehension check of James: The book was read in the Quichua and a young man answered comprehension questions based on what was read.

Maggie is currently hard at work on a tri-linear story using IPA, Quichua, and English. This short story about a bird and an ant serves as her official academic project.

She also continues to work on transcribing a story from co-translator Juana concerning ropemaking. This book will be added to the Quichua library encouraging new Quichua readers to practice their Quichua.

I am working on a how-to book on how to make a Baita (the woman's shall). I solicited the basic instructions from Nancy, a co-translator, in spanish, then translated the steps into English. Larry will translate the steps into Quichua and this tri-lingual book will hopefully interest Salasacan new readers as well as supporters in the States. We've only just begun!

Youth Minsitry

What if you only had six hours to convey as much of your Bible knowledge and spiritual growth to twenty teenagers? What would be at the top of your list?

Every Sunday we've taught a Bible study to the youth of the church. They are very bright and are quick to search the text for answers to questions. There really has never been a youth focused study or youth group in the history of the church, and there is a need for one. The Gospel was the topic of the first three lessons. If anything else, when we leave I want these students to know the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes Rom 1:16b. I pray that if nothing else, these students will know the gospel well enough to take to heart and share with others.

Last week we had invited everyone from the Bible study to our house for a snack and some games last Friday night at 7. At 7:45 when no one had arrived yet we were doubtful that anybody was going to come at all. But by 8 we had some 20 students, and more trickled in afterwards. We had a great time playing group games, singing worship songs and I taught a devotional on worshiping God no matter how you feel at the time. It was only afterwards that Edison, one of the guys I've gotten to know told me that there were a considerable amount of unbelievers there and asked me to share the Gospel message with them next time. We laughed and had fun until eleven when I finally kicked everyone out, exhausted from a full day (kids club had been all during the afternoon). Nobody had ever had an experience like that before and everyone wanted to do it the next to Fridays we are here: Today and in a week. Please pray for this excellent witnessing and discipling opportunity. We've only just begun!

Cultural Experiences

We have had some exciting new experiences in the last couple weeks. First, Juana taught Maggie and I how to hand spin! The women of the area are always walking and spinning wherever they go. Juana made Maggie an authentic Huango (pronounced Wuango), a drop spindle. Maggie is now beginning her career in spinning wool to make ponchos and baitas (shalls the women wear). We also got a chance to begin plowing a field using two bulls yoked by the horns. a long wooden shaft then comes down between them and a piece of metal serving as a plow is attached to the shaft. Someone leads the bulls and some one plows. Maggie is a significantly better plower than I, and will be offering classes upon returning to the states. We've only just begun!

On Top of the World

Just this last Monday Maggie and I set out to meet up with Rick Borman, a good friend of ours, to join him on a mountain climb up Sincholagua. Rick was leading a group of some 15 people, and two more didn't add to the load. On Monday we hiked a good two hours through some mud and up steep paramo countryside and camped on top of a ridge. We slept until 3:45 AM, took a bite of cold oatmeal, changed into warmer clothes and at 4:20 started up the massive 16,000 ft pile of rock. We pushed ourselves hard and arrived at the summit of Sincholagua at 9:17 AM. The climb was beautiful, and it was Maggie's first time climbing with me. There's nothing like feeling as if you're standing on top of the world!

Prayer Requests:
Please pray for us in the following ways.
- Health. We've been on and off with stomach bugs and strange coughs. Please pray that God would keep us healthy the rest of our time here.

- Travel. Traveling in Ecuador is always risky buisness. Weather we're visiting my folks up in Latacunga or just going into Ambato, the nearby city. Larry (the missionary we're working with) wants to make a video game out of it, it's that bad.

- The Youth. With only a week and a couple days left, pray that we would be able to leave them with even one thing that they can hang onto in the years to come. Pray for their growth, and that they would find courage to witness to their unbelieving friends.

- Jobs. We head back to the US at the end of the month and though we have a place to live, we don't yet have a place to pay for it. But we're not worried! God has and will provide. Pray that he does so in exciting ways.

Thank you for all your prayers. Please contact us in any way-- we love to hear from you! God Bless!