What Exactly Do You Do?

Dear Family and Friends,

Welcome to our new blog! It’s taken some time to learn but we are giving it a try. Our purpose is to help you read our updates without a lot of the ‘computer congestion’ that takes place in email. Using this will allow more photos in our updates. Let us know what you think. Our first topic will be a bit lengthy but hang in there! Future updates will be more brief.

The first topic we’d like to address is a refresher in what we do here at the JAARS Center. For review, JAARS is an organization that falls within the Wycliffe Bible Translator’s family of organizations. Wycliffe’s mission is to translate God’s Word into every language in the world; many do not even have a written alphabet. Our translators are trained at SIL in Dallas, Texas. The Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics is there. “SIL” originally stood for the Summer Institute of Linguistics. Wycliffe’s founder, Cameron Townsend, held the first classes in the summer. The name has stood.

Explore the weblinks on the sidebar for more detailed information.

To do Bible translation effectively, translators need to live with people groups. They have a variety of needs to function in this environment such as housing, computers, transportation, etc. JAARS provides this much needed technical and logistical support. We fall in the category of transportion, specifically land transportation.

When we mention the word “missionary” there is probably a particular image that comes to mind. Maybe we don’t quite fit that image. To explain the complex role we play we’re going to give you an example that would be easy to understand.

To get an idea of the job just take a look at the families, say, in your church. Maybe you have 50, 100, perhaps 400 or even more. Imagine two or three (at the most) mechanics keeping all their vehicles running. Here at JAARS we have 600 families at any given time. They are here for a variety of reasons. Their lives always include long road trips. Reliable transportation is a necessity.

Imagine, too, the families in your church have older model cars, because it just isn’t practical to purchase newer vehicles. This may be due to lack of funds or a furlough spent here in the U.S. Does this help you see the picture? Mike and his mechanics do their best to keep 600 families on the road. Plus, there are the 30 vehicles the JAARS Center uses for various tasks.

Now, imagine you are serving as a mechanic overseas in a remote location. The vehicles you work on are not like American cars. They have different, what we call, ‘specs’. They require different manuals and quite a bit of research. Sometimes you have to place a call to the JAARS Auto Shop and talk to Mike via computer or telephone. You may send an email with photos attached. Your parts place may be a several hour drive so you need to make sure you get the exact information you need.

Another facet of the job may require a trip to an SIL Center overseas. Mike has made two trips thus far; Ethiopia and the Philippines. These trips enabled him to experience firsthand the obstacles faced by mechanics overseas. He was able to provide valuable updated training. The training involved translators, several of whom were women. He recently heard that these women are now doing their own maintenance checks under the hood of their vehicles before traveling back to their assignment. This is a result of the training they received from Mike.

These are just a few details but we hope this gives you an idea of what the ministry is like here. It is a busy and full life. There are many Wycliffe translators right here at JAARS working on many language projects via computer and we get to see the progress of Bible translation firsthand. It is a complex and very interesting task and we get to see translation take place with the latest technology JAARS has developed. In our daily living we mix with those who are on the front lines as well as others in support roles such as ours. It is a blessing to see our part in this wonderful process and the eternal hope given to those who have received the Word of God in their own language.

Regarding Ethiopia we may have an answer to prayer for someone to go there long term. There is a mechanic here that served long term in Kenya and is interested in returning to Africa. Mike suggested the need in Ethiopia and he is interested. With his experience in African culture he would be a great choice to go. We will keep you posted on this. This mechanic would like Mike to write updated training manuals before he goes. Pray God provides Mike with the time to do this.

The Chad trip was cancelled this year due to political unrest and an evacuation of the SIL Center there. The situation is still unsettled. We have a pdf file from a colleague we can email to you if you would like more information on that. The SIL Center there continues to be in the midst of much political turmoil.

Pray for us about a trip to Papua New Guinea in the future. The SIL Center at Ukarumpa is Wycliffe’s largest overseas center. The automotive shop there is quite large and they could use some updated training.

We welcome any comments regarding this blog (use the link to our email for this) and we’d like to end with a question. How many languages do you think are currently spoken in the world? Let us know if you have an idea. Go ahead and guess. You might be surprised! We’ll have the answer in our next post.

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