2012 Summer Fall Update

Americans are a major sender of personnel and finances to translation projects around the world and there are three factors influencing this. First, nationals want to play a more active role in Bible translation. Second, the local population encounters few cultural obstacles. Third, current events show that Americans are now unwelcome in many countries.

With the world in a state of uncertain change, Wycliffe recognizes the need to use resources and talents to enable nationals to carry out the Bible translation work on the local level.
A translation consultant checking the book of Acts with a team of national translators

A translation consultant checking the book of Acts with a team of national translators

But nationals have their own issues. They would be active in the work of Bible translation were it not for two major obstacles—good training and adequate finances. We hear many express an interest in becoming pilots, translators, mechanics, and so forth. They say the problem is they can’t get the training they need and they have little or no money.
To overcome this problem and still speed Bible translation, our organization is responding in a new way. Instead of sending people to fill a single role we send people who can train several to go and provide that service in multiple places. The trainers duplicate themselves and remain a resource to those doing the work.
And that is where I come in. After an auto accident a few years ago I realized the need to duplicate and pass on my skills. My contribution to Bible translation could have come to an abrupt end that day. But the Lord had different plans.
While I was recovering I started working more aggressively with our recruitment department. The Lord blessed and our previous updates show how He sent us qualified staff. Our current staff handles the more physical work and I am called upon when problems become complex.
I also began the arduous process of assessing needs world-wide. And it got much more detailed than I ever imagined. For example, I recently went through all the job assignments in SIL and found who  is “out there” working strictly as mechanics.
Once again we served at JAARS Day in June. We had over 700 guests that day. Kathy greeted guests at the Information Table. Josh Mills and I had many conversations with the public. One volunteer is selected to receive a free airplane ride each JAARS Day. This time it was awarded to Kathy.
Recently I went through over 8,195 names and discovered only eight people functioning exclusively as mechanics and some needed updated training. I am now in the midst of doing that. After the assessment I focused on trying to recruit and train men who could go to different parts of the world to work as trainer/mechanics. Mechanics from the U.S. who join Wycliffe come to the JAARS Center where I can test their skills. I confirm they are qualified or give them additional training.

Since I began this approach an additional seven men are in progress or recently reached their assignment. I am helping them gather the tools and diagnostic information they need to do their job. The man I sent to Papua New Guinea, Jonathan Smith, has electronic experience so I sent him to train others. I am in the process of locating some test equipment and repair manuals for Jonathan. All of it requires that I study to stay current on technology and then I maintain contact with those who rely on me for answers. We connect through email and Skype.
In conclusion, my defined role is trainer/advisor for the Auto Shop here at JAARS, which  maintains our fleet and missionaries cars on a local level. My role for global services falls under my partnership with the Land Transportation Department. We reach out globally to provide answers and training to our overseas colleagues. Since part of this process involves recruitment, the quarterly JAARS Day provides a connection to the public.There is a lot of conversation that takes place and needs follow-up.
On the personal front: this past summer my seventy-nine year-old father became seriously ill and tests finally revealed he had West Nile Virus. To complicate things, my mother had broken her should two weeks prior and my dad was her caregiver. In the hospital she would not leave his side. He nearly did not survive and after being hospitalized one full month, he is home recuperating.
In the days when he was the most critically ill, he completely lost his memory. We read the brain damage from West Nile is permanent so there was concern about his prognosis. We praise the Lord and are happy to report his memory completely returned! He continues to recover and recently was able to begin driving again.

To end with, we are sharing some photos of road conditions our colleagues face. The photos are courtesy of our colleague, Dan Hudson, of Land Transportation, from his recent visit to Papua New Guinea.

Serving together,
Mike and Kathy
Praying together

2012 Winter Spring Update

Greetings from Mike and Kathy,
Josh Mills, 2005
See the photo to the right? Remember this guy? If not, rewind to 2005. Josh Mills arrived at the JAARS Center in 2005 and worked in the Auto Shop with Mike for six months. He was at that tender age where young men seek what is to possibly be their life-long career. Josh was earnestly seeking the Lord and asking the question—should I use my mechanical aptitude for Bible translation or should I seek secular employment. Josh had not yet attended any kind of mechanical training but had great aptitude. Plus, he had a servant’s heart and learning attitude.
In the meantime, he completed his schooling, took a job, and began paying off school loans. Josh still sought the Lord’s leading regarding using his mechanic skills at the JAARS Center. Josh then began the arduous task of applying for membership in SIL, the parent organization of Wycliffe Bible Translators and JAARS. He had a sending church. He had an experienced person to help him navigate raising prayer and financial partners. However, Josh had too much school debt to be confirmed as a member.So Josh worked. And he worked. And one day, he became debt-free. And very soon thereafter he became a member.Then Josh had to raise financial support.  So while he worked he continued with much effort and prayer to raise the needed support to serve at JAARS. He also completed SIL’s six-week Intercultural Communications Class, or ICC. All SIL members have to complete this pre-field training class before beginning their assignment.One day Josh called again. He was at 100% financial support. He packed up everything, said his goodbye’s, and arrived at JAARS on March 30th.Josh also made the sacrifice to become Automotive Service Excellence Certified, ASE, which carries a huge stamp of approval not just for our missionaries here but for the governments of the countries SIL works in.On  April 2, this year, Josh began to work at the JAARS Auto Shop full-time.
Josh at ICC, January 2012
Why do I tell you his story? Because Josh is a fine example of rare sacrifice to pursue the Lord’s calling to missions. It’s been seven years. Did you catch that? SEVEN years! He worked diligently. He prayed diligently. And he stayed focused to reach his destination.  And now he’s here. Each day required several small steps toward reaching the goal.
What have you been diligently praying toward, working toward? We encourage you to keep praying and serving the Lord. He will bring to pass what He has called you to.
 Other Happenings
Pastors in developing countries have a great need of transportation for evangelism and to minister to their congregants, sometimes even to escape danger. “With Open Eyes” meets this need with motorbikes. Phil Heinecke and John Pepper returned from a Land Transportation trip to Kenya. John is the LT Director and Phil is our newest mechanic. JAARS Land Transportation is providing training in maintenance and repair. There are great opportunities for our help there.

Mike talks with Will Austen from the “Institute for Affordable Transportation”. He will ship two BUV’s here for testing and evaluation. After this, they will be hauled to Samaritan’s Purse Headquarters in Boone, NC. (See the following link for a review of the BUV.) http://mike-kathysmith.blogspot.com/2011/03/iat-overview.html Also, there is talk of possible involvement in building a BUV micro-factory overseas.
First JAARS Day of the year
Mike speaks to one of many visitors that day
One of the four-wheel drive vehicles used for rides
Airfield prepares for aerial demonstration
Mike was on the rugged trails doing four-wheel drive rides and Kathy was registering, greeting, and directing the public at the Information table.
Kathy in the cold hangar, bundled up at the Information Table. You can see the Land Transportation
display in the background.
 BRRR—the wind was cold but the fellowship warm. Our staff at JAARS Day had many meaningful conversations and made lots of contacts all for the sake of Bible translation. There was a 5K race with 82 runners participating, and we were able to tie this into the 10K race in Nairobi that promoted awareness of the Bibleless. We had over 500 visitors. Food service served 445 people, 75 rode in the 4-wheel-drive vehicle, and the helicopter sold out of rides.
We will stop with March for now. There are many other events taking place here and for that we’ve added a Facebook page to give brief, weekly updates.
With summer now upon us Mike is involved in a world-wide detailed survey of the mechanic needs of every Wycliffe entity. We will update you in the next post. It is a big task but is already underway and we are finding out how big the need is. The Lord has continued to provide staff not only for the automotive needs at JAARS but world-wide. We just completed a Technical Evaluation on another mechanic. He and his family are beginning their assignment in Papua New Guinea next month.
This year got away from us very quickly and we are already working on our next update, which will include highlights from April and May. We encourage you to visit our Facebook page, where we give brief weekly highlights. Click on the following link and then click the “Like” box. Mike & Kathy Smith: This Week at JAARS
As ever, we thank all our prayer and financial supporters for your faithfulness these many years—now going on nine!
Mike and Kathy

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

With another year of God’s faithfulness behind us, we wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year. Though our trials have been many, so have our blessings. We remain focused on providing efficient and affordable land transportation to meet the needs of Bible translation worldwide. We look forward to sharing with you the many facets of the ministry here. As ever, we thank you for your faithful prayer and financial support.
In addition, we’d like to share with you the following short video from our President, Bob Creson. It is a message specifically for you. This next year Wycliffe will see the number of language groups needing Bible translation drop below 2000. We remember when we first joined it was around 3500. You can look at our previous blogs and see the way Bible translation, with the help of new technology,  has rapidly increased.

We encourage you to follow us on Facebook. Click the link on the sidebar which reads “Join Us on Facebook” and click “Like” at the top of the Facebook page. We usually post a quick update every one or two weeks. We have found this to be effective in keeping you posted on the details of life at JAARS. So much is going on here that new news quickly becomes old news. The Facebook page gives a smaller slice of life around here. We think you’ll like it.

So again, we wish you a blessed year ahead. May the miracle of the Christ child and His reconciliation stay with you every day.

Rejoice and be at peace,
Mike & Kathy

This Week at JAARS: VSAT Communication

Kathy sang at JAARS Vespers service yesterday and we enjoyed hearing about a trip to a tiny nation. Our JAARS Network Communications Department arrived to set up VSAT for the SIL Center there. This will provide high speed and more dependable Internet.

They worked up until the evening when it was time to go to the airport. Finally finished and time to leave, they prayed, and flipped on the two power switches. Wow, everything turned on just fine. They did a quick test and were off to the airport. When does THAT ever happen on any project? What a demonstration of God’s faithfulness!

Cross-Cultural Driving

Some driving habits around the world may surprise you. Many Bible translators and others can recount amazing stories about travel in foreign lands. But next time you hear such stories, think about their very real safety implications. The World Health Organization reports that “of all the systems that people have to deal with on a daily basis, road transport is the most complex and the most dangerous.”

Here are just a few examples of driving practices around the world:

  • In Ethiopia, a left-turn signal indicates that someone is turning left. But it can also signal that it is safe to pass. The driver following must decide which signal is intended. Wrong guesses lead to many accidents.
  • In Australia, kangaroos and wallabies are among the primary causes of accidents on rural roads. The country has an estimated 200,000 kangaroo-related accidents a year—a figure which some dispute as significantly low.
  • In some countries, if a vehicle breaks down, the driver stops in the traffic lane and places a large object, such as a rock or log, several hundred meters behind so that he can “safely” make repairs. Often, once the repairs are completed, the rock or log is left in the roadway.
  • In one African country, flashing headlights at an intersection means the driver is going to yield to oncoming traffic. In another African country, this same signal means the driver is going to proceed regardless of oncoming traffic.
  • In the mountains of Peru, roads can be covered quickly by landslides. In other cases, the slide moves slowly, and drivers must judge whether they can drive to the other side of the slide before it carries them sideways off the edge of the mountain.
  • In many remote areas, taxis are small cars that normally seat five adults. They often carry eight or more people in the interior, plus more on the roof. If the vehicle gets stuck, all the passengers will serve as a “pit crew” and hop out to push.

These are some of the challenges faced by our missionaries. We are constantly researching and assisting them in the numerous problems they face everyday. Our goal is to keep them driving safe, reliable vehicles. We thank you for your faithful prayer and financial support to make it possible.

Mike and Kathy

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