Is it urgent, or is it important?

Dear Prayer Team,

Happy June! Can you believe we’re in the sixth month already? It feels like New Years Day was just a few weeks ago.

Looking Back:

I came back from my visit with colleagues on Monday. I’m grateful for the chance I had to connect with some good friends and mentors, and participate in a mini-course called “Culture Meets Scripture.” I also started helping with planning the distribution of digital Scripture media resources for a few upcoming Bible dedications in related languages. This particular aspect of ministry isn’t yet well-developed, so we are blazing new trails!

Something that I am learning is that the most urgent issues are rarely also the most important priorities. As I consider which task to spend my time on, I need to ask myself, “Is this urgent, or is it important?” It’s often better to pick what is important.

I almost extended my visit by another week to participate in a second mini-course, but decided it was more important to advance my Quechua language learning. However, when I got back I found that my Quechua family’s schedule didn’t line up, and that I wouldn’t be able to go to the village. I was immensely discouraged that day. Even so, I reminded myself that I needed to make the most of the situation and started to think of the ways I could advance my language learning in the city.

But even so, other urgent matters came up. Emails. Errands*. Planning for coming events. I did spend two days at the Bible translation office with colleagues and was able to visit a bit with Quechua family members in the city. I heard a few new words and phrases. But I found it really hard to “switch gears” and engage with those isolated utterances in the hustle and bustle of the city. I didn’t manage to learn them.

Meanwhile, my first trip back to the States approaches, and I feel like I haven’t progressed enough. As I write this, I realize that this mismatch between my expectations and my progress is a new stressor.

Looking Forward:

This week I’m in Lima, where the partner organization will be providing training to about 40 people of local Bible translation organizations from all over Peru, Latin America, and even the world.  Then I’ll have about four days at home before leaving again to the jungle city Pucallpa, where I will actually be helping to facilitate a mini-course.

Looking to God:

Please join me in praising God for a great time with colleagues last week. Also, for happening to find just the right bookshelf to put in my kitchen, freeing up a lot of working space. Sometimes, the little things can make a huge difference!

Please pray for:

  • Wisdom to decide between what is urgent and what is important.
  • That I and my team members would be able to take in all that is taught next week. For me, that I would be patient in the areas that are review for me as a linguist.
  • For healthy goals and expectations
  • That I would have a healthy balance between work and rest, while keeping up with my various responsibilities.
  • I have been fighting various skin infections since September. This last one has been proven to be quite stubborn. After more lab work, my dermatologist just started me on my third or fourth medication! Please pray that this 30-day treatment would work. 
  • For language learning progress, in whatever ways possible.

Please also pray for my colleague Solia Rios. She was going to go with the team for this training, but had to drop out due to a serious illness.

Thanks so much for being a prayer warrior and an encouragement. I couldn’t do this without you.

God bless you,

Alex

*Life here consists of so many errands! “Amazon” may be in our backyard, but they don’t deliver packages.

Travels Tomorrow and Beyond

Dear Prayer Team,

Thank you for your prayers!

Praises:

  • For new work experiences in the village, and for an idea for a potential language tutor there.
  • For good community

Prayer points: (Same as in the last post, as they are still relevant)

  • For a visit to a neighboring city to spend time with some colleagues. I will be mixing some rest with mentorship and talking about digital Scripture engagement strategies in the Americas. Please pray for safe travels, productivity, and balancing work with rest.
  • For the team’s application to the partner organization for project funding. Please pray that the partner organization would have wisdom as they consider the application.
  • For my planning of my first visit back to the States. This is new territory, and there are a lot of logistics to work out! For example, travel dates, speaking dates, where I’ll live, and how I’ll get around.

How can I pray for you?

Thanks so much, and God bless,

Alex

Stress Down, Travels Ahead

Dear Prayer Team,

Thank you so much for your prayers! In the last many weeks my stress levels have gone down significantly. I’ve learned some new approaches to problems and stressors that are going to help me long-term, and I know that your prayers have played a big part in that.

This past month has had a very different pacing from what I’ve been used too.

Praises:

  • For the time with my forerunners Terry and Karla Smith. For the mentoring I received, and the progress we were able to make on converting the dictionary format.
  • For the community check of the book of Malachi last weekend. We were able to make several improvements. In some ways this short book challenged them to grow in their beliefs about God, helping affirm the value and effectiveness of the Panao Quechua Scriptures.

Prayer points:

  • For the chance to meet many new people and participate in the regular daily activities when I spend 10 days in the village, starting on May 3rd.
  • For a visit to a neighboring city to spend time with some colleagues. I will be mixing some rest with mentorship and talking about digital Scripture engagement strategies in the Americas.
  • For the team’s application to the partner organization for project funding. Please pray that the partner organization would have wisdom as they consider the application.
  • For my planning of my first visit back to the States. This is new territory, and there are a lot of logistics to work out! For example, travel dates, speaking dates, where I’ll live, and how I’ll get around.

How can I pray for you?

Thanks so much, and God bless,

Alex

The Conundrum of “Dying to Self”

Hello Prayer Team,

Thank you so much for your prayers! It is in times like these that I especially feel grateful for all of you. In Luke 9:23, Jesus tells the crowds, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (NLT). Becoming a missionary means leaving my identity as an American and taking up the local cultures as much as I reasonably can. I was expecting this transition to result in some suffering, but I did not expect “dying to self” to cause such great amounts of stress. This stress has been so strong for so long that it is affecting my emotions and relationships with others. In some ways I feel stuck. Does “giving up my own way” mean burnout-inducing stress? It can’t! How did the first disciples do it? Needless to say, I’m still learning.

I am in regular conversation with many supervisors and mentors in Wycliffe, and am also blessed by a Quechua team and family that care greatly for me. Already, I am starting to get some insights and some practical ideas for reducing stress. I’m in this for the long haul!

Please continue to pray that God would continue to guide me and give me the wisdom, courage, and discipline to make much-needed changes. The “tyranny of the urgent” often makes it difficult for me to do the things that are more important but less pressing.

I am also counting my blessings. I thank God for all of you, for my family back home, for my colleagues, and for Wycliffe, an organization that cares wonderfully for its missionaries.

Thanks so much, and God bless you,

Alex

Prayers for belief, for translation

(Note: You can see updates to this post in the comments below.)

Hey there prayer team,

How are things? I have a couple of requests for you, real quick:

I just got word that my grandfather, who is not a believer, is starting to look into the faith. He’s looked into it before, but has never made a decisive decision. Please pray that he would have the courage to respond to the evidence as presented in The Case for Christ movie and book that he’s getting into.

This week on Tuesday the 19th and Wednesday the 20th, representatives from the partner organization will be meeting with the entire translation team to talk about funding some of the project costs for the next few years. Please pray for us today as we edit the complicated translation schedule, and as well as Tuesday and Wednesday, that we would have great communication and be of one accord.

Also, I think I may be starting to fight a cold.
Thanks so much! You mean the world to me.

God bless,

Alex

The Joy of Scripture in the Heart Language

Dear Prayer Team,

How are you?

Just yesterday I got back from my second week-long stay in the village. I’m really starting to get used to life there. I’m able to eat the foods with more ease and know how I fit in to the family a bit better. While I haven’t found a formal language tutor yet, I made a couple of visits to the town of Panao in which I got to know some more Quechua speakers. This broadening of my community encourages me. I also had the chance to help many of them access God’s Word in their language. The joy on their faces as they read and hear it reminds me that this is all worth it.

For this past week, I am very grateful.

As I mentioned last week, some representatives from a partner organization are coming to Huánuco on the 19th and 20th of March to discuss the possibility of providing some funding for the translation work.

The translation team has some legwork to do to get ready for the big meeting, and so we will be getting together on the 7th and 8th to get ready.

Please pray for us, for the right decisions, organization, and good communication.

Please pray for me, for focus and clarity on how to spend my time. Also, that I would know when I should lead and where I should trust other’s leadership. All of us are growing in new roles!

Thanks and God bless,

Alex

Please Pray: Big Meeting Coming

Hello Prayer Team,

Greetings from Huánuco!

I hear that the winter is starting to thaw out up there, at least for those in the Pacific Northwest.

I can hardly believe that my one-year anniversary in Peru is less than three months away, and that my first visit to the States is less than 8 months away!

Some praises and prayer requests:

Praises:

  • I had a few large unexpected expenses last month, but God put it on the heart of a ministry-partner couple to give a special gift that not just covered the expenses, but will also go towards getting me settled in the village! As soon as I found out, I felt like the addressee in Philippians 4:19: “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (NLT). I am so grateful.
  • While in Lima I connected with a colleague who specializes in language learning, and he offered to help me and another colleague by providing some guidance and structure to our Quechua Language learning.
  • My schedule is freer now than it was last year, making it easier to get to the village.

Prayer:

  • I haven’t been able to make it to the village since I got back from Lima. By the time I was ready to head up, the rest of the family started trips of their own! Please pray that I would be able to make it up soon, and that God would provide an urgently needed language tutor while there.
  • Stress and some general discouragement continues to be an issue. Some if it is related to feelings of loneliness. Please pray for wisdom and encouragement.

Major prayer request:

  • Some representatives from a partner organization are coming to Huánuco on the 19th and 20th of March to discuss the possibility of providing some funding for the translation work. Please pray for us as a team, as we get ready. Especially, for organization and good communication.

What are you looking forward to this spring? As for me, I look forward to building stamina and gaining language proficiency as I work in the potato fields.

Thanks so much and God bless,

Alex

Grateful for good travels, grateful to be heading back

Good day Prayer Team!

Greetings from Lima. It’s incredible to think of all that has happened in the past few weeks.

I’m grateful for safe travels from Huánuco to Lima, and then to another city for some Bible translation consultant training. While at the Lima retreat, I was able to network with many colleagues I hadn’t met yet, as well as identify more causes of my high stress levels.

Today I’m wrapping up loose ends in Lima, and then getting on a night bus back to Huánuco, where plenty of work awaits! Please pray that God would continue to guide me in managing my stress levels.

Please also pray for a safe trip back, and that I will find an opportunity to spend some time in the village soon.

I keep seeing photos of the Pacific Northwest and of the Northeast, all covered deep in snow! Any way I can be praying for you?

Thanks and God bless,

Alex

Visiting Lima, Visa in Hand

Dear prayer team,

Thank you so much for your prayers!

I’m excited to share that I now have a visa, allowing me to continue my work here! This has been a long process requiring three cross-country trips, so it’s a relief to finally have it taken care of.

In last week’s update I mentioned fighting a cold. I’m grateful to report that, not only have I fully recovered, but I was also able to spend six whole days in the village! (My longest visit yet.) That time was very helpful and learning some Quechua and relating with the people there.

Please pray for me and my colleagues across all of Spanish-speaking South America, as we travel to Lima this weekend for 2 ½ weeks of meetings and restful team building. Please pray for traveling mercies for those traversing windy mountainous roads, and for effective planning and good rest during the event.
I know that I have recently been struggling with some stress myself.

I’m working on my next newsletter- it’ll hopefully be out later this week.

Thanks again for your prayers!

Alex

P.S. For those of you praying for my mother’s recovery from her surgery, she recently had her last follow-up appointment and is pretty much fully recovered! Thank you for being a part of her recovery process.

From Remote Villages to the Largest Farmers Market

Dear Prayer Team,

Happy New Year! Thank you so much for your prayers.

The visits to the remote villages to share hot chocolate, Christmas bread, and the Good News all went really well. Thank you for praying for our safety. These visits will be the focus of my next newsletter, so please be on the lookout for that!

I am also grateful to have had a couple of opportunities to meet with the missionary colleagues David and Diana Weber. David has started to go over the Quechua grammar course with me. (He used to teach it to new recruits, but with fewer new people coming to Peru these days, the course is no longer formally offered.)

Progress on the dictionary format conversion has been minimal due to the recent holiday season, but I expect the pace to pick up. Please pray for me and Karla Smith, that we would both find the time to advance the project.

For the past few weeks I have been fighting some kind of cold. The other day I did go to the doctor and fortunately, these past few days I have been feeling better. Please pray for healing and guidance as I spend my time- I haven’t been able to go to the village as hoped.

Every Saturday the biggest market in my state sets up in front of my house, and it’s predominantly run by Quechua people. I was able to get a device that broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal that connects devices. …Not to the internet, but to a hard drive full of Scripture media in five Quechua languages. I have permission to hang a big poster in front of the house on Saturdays, and I’ll have the device on in the front window, so that people can connect and encounter God’s Word in their own language. Please join me in praying that lots of people take advantage of this opportunity! But first, I need to have the poster peer-edited, printed, as well as make an actual web-version of the content that they will engage with, so that they can get online and see those resources in the same format anywhere, anytime.

Thank you also for your prayers for my mother Vivianne. She had her surgery shortly before Christmas and it went really well. While she still has some pain, weakness, and numbness, she is really well along in her recovery!

Thank you so much for your prayers. Take care and God bless,

Alex