Entering a Season of Travel

Dear prayer team,

Thank you so much for your prayers! So much has happened. I can’t believe it’s been a month already, and I wish I could have updated you sooner.

Praise God!

  • I was able to get my Peruvian residency renewed without any issues.
  • The workshop I gave in Huánuco went really well. Eight participants from three local Bible-translation organizations came to learn how to distribute digital Scripture media in their language areas. I felt like I could have spent days or weeks more preparing, but in the end I was able to teach all of the important material without difficulty. At the end, one of the participants told me, “Thank you so much for teaching us these skills. Sometimes we feel that these skills and resources are only for the rich city folk. But now we know that they are for us too.”
  • My laptop is back in working order! We found that my laptop was overheating and shutting off, which may have contributed to the hard-drive failure. We performed some maintenance on the cooling system.
  • The Bible translation conference in Dallas went really well! I was able to network with other colleagues and keep on-pace with the developments in Bible translation, as well as get connected with resources that will be of practical help to me and the team on the field. I learned how to use the latest version of our Bible translation software (Paratext). It contains some major improvements, and I can’t wait to train the team when I go back in January.

Please pray:

  • Please pray for me as I coordinate all of the details for my visits with partnering churches, families, and individuals. I have an aggressive travel itinerary that intimidates even me!
  • Please pray that my laptop would have no more issues. It’s impressive to think of how much of an interruption it was to not have my hard drive data for a full month!

Thanks so much. You mean the world to me.  

God bless,

Alex

Planning my first workshop, amidst computer woes

Dear prayer team,

Thank you so much for your prayers!

Praise:

  • I was able to get a newsletter out! Not quite by when I had hoped, but it’s done nonetheless. I am glad that I had it done and scheduled to send just before my hard-drive failure (see below).
  • Several people from three different local Bible translation organizations have already signed up for my workshop on Monday! I will be teaching them some tools to distribute digital Scripture media. This will be especially helpful for the November Bible dedication, when I’ll be away in the States. 

Please pray for me. My levels of stress and anxiety increased significantly last week. This is due to:

  • The renewal process for a government document I need before leaving Peru
  • My pending trip to the States, and the preparations required
  • Planning and executing my first workshop (on Monday and Tuesday)
  • My hard drive failing last week. Fortunately, all my data was backed up, and my computer can still run okay on its other disk. But I am having great difficulty getting my backed-up data back down from the cloud. It is hard to plan a workshop centered around technology when my primary tool (my computer) is compromised. I have the most crucial files, and will wait until Wednesday to resume data download attempts.
  • Navigating some cultural relational challenges

Please pray that God would clear obstacles and give me peace and wisdom in these matters. Please also pray that he would make it clear when and who I should go to for help when needed.

Thank you so much! You mean the world to me. Looking forward to seeing many of you soon, 

Alex

Three Bible Dedications Later

Dear prayer team,

Thank you so much for your prayers! A cluster translation project involving several neighboring languages has completed, resulting a spurt of Bible dedications! It’s been an intense month of traveling, late nights, and big celebrations. My role was to lead up the distribution of digital Scripture media.

Praise:

  • For the thousands of people who came to the Bible dedications, and for how they were impacted by God’s Word and the story of the translation projects.
  • For the people who are now regularly encountering God’s Word through Scripture apps, audio, and video on their phones
  • I was able to complete 59 handwritten thank-you notes and get them sent off to the States and Canada! Even though it took several days and a few hand cramps, it was a small sacrifice compared to the sacrifice that all of you make on a regular basis for me. These cards (many admittedly overdue!) should be arriving to their destinations about now. If you’ve made a donation since I moved to Peru, you should be getting a card. If it doesn’t come by September 8th (or September 15th for Canada), please let me know! Thank you for your your partnership.
  • For God’s provision of a car and a place to live while in the States

Prayer:

  • That people would continue to share and pass along the digital Scripture resources, as they are impacted and transformed by them
  • I just started dating a wonderful woman of God who is already working with the Quechua here in Huánuco. Her name is Patricia. Please pray for us as we seek to know each other and God’s will at a deeper level.
  • Continued grace and peace in the face of stressors and delays
  • That I would be able to get out my next newsletter by Thursday afternoon!

Thanks so much prayer team. You mean the world to me. It’s going to be great to see so many of you in the coming months.

God bless,

Alex

Answered Prayers

Dear prayer team,

Thanks for your prayers!

I asked you to pray for productive language and culture learning and warm and restful nights free of allergy symptoms while in the village.

That very same night after posting the last update, I started sleeping much better. I also felt towards the end of the two weeks that I was making some progress.

I asked you to also pray that God would fill me with his patience and grace as I deal with the constant stressors of missionary life.

While the stressors have continued and even increased, God is helping me through the encouragement and guidance of some friends and colleagues, both near and far. I am learning a lot about how to adjust my expectations and avoid getting into stressful situations to begin with.

I asked you to pray for my home church Mountain Creek, as my pastor broke her foot right at the start of a major leadership transition.

Though Pastor Vanessa has a long and difficult recovery ahead, just this last Sunday she was able to start preaching again.

I also asked you to pray for a productive week of language learning with Edmin. Early in the week Edmin got really sick, so we weren’t able to spend many hours focused on language learning. But what time we did have was very helpful, and for that, I am grateful. I am also grateful for all of you that responded to my Facebook post requesting prayer for Edmin. He is already mostly recovered, much faster than I could have expected.

For these reasons, and for God’s wonderful provision in so many ways through so many people, I think of what Paul wrote to the Church: “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” (Philippians 4:19 NLT).

My present prayer requests:

  • Continued grace and peace in the face of stressors and delays.
  • For me and my colleague Othmar as we get ready for the coming Bible dedications. For planning, finding and training volunteers, logistics, preparation of the digital media…
  • That I would be diligent in my communications with all of you- my ministry team! It’s time for me to write a new newsletter, and I also have about 60 thank-you cards to write- hopefully before August 10th. I want to get better at maintaining long-distance relationships, always showing an attitude of gratitude.
  • For a language tutor

Also, I feel the need to recognize the loss of two long-time friends and mentors this past month: Tim Ooyman and Dallas Cross. They played such a huge role in making me who I am today. Their deaths were both unexpected. 
Finally, while I never had the chance to get to know him well, I am also saddened by the sudden loss of my step-uncle George Thompson. 
Please pray for their spouses and families. 

I can’t say enough how grateful I am for all of you!

God bless,

Alex

Back in the village, at last

Dear prayer team,

Thanks so much for your prayers! I’m in Tipsa these weeks but bolted down to the city to run some errands today.

Please join me in praising God:

  • I recently returned from the jungle city of Pucallpa, where I helped give a workshop about language shift to 16 indigenous students, among which was most of the Panao Quechua translation team.
  • For the translator Edmin, who is setting aside a whole week next month to help me with my Quechua
  • That I was able to get my tickets for my first visit to the States. (October 5th to January 2nd, being in Dallas until October 18th)

Please pray for the workshop results:

  • Courage for the students, who observed how their languages are shifting from generation to generation.
  • Clarity for the students as they prepare to help guide the course on language shift in their own communities, and help them take the steps needed to ensure strong language use well into the future.

Please pray for my language learning:

  • That I would be able to find some language tutors!
  • For productive language and culture learning these two weeks in the village, including warm and restful nights free of allergy symptoms
  • For a productive week of language learning with Edmin

Please also pray that God would fill me with his patience and grace as I deal with the constant stressors of missionary life.

Finally, please pray for my home church Mountain Creek. Sadly, my pastor broke her foot right at the start of a major leadership transition.

Thank you so much. I couldn’t do this without you.

God bless,

Alex

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