Friday, June 17, 2011

We wanted to share a brief update, a challenge, and an exciting story about the importance of IT workers in Bible Translation. 

  • We have had a very busy month with VBS, work, finishing school, and now visiting with family in Florida.  Tara and the kids are enjoying some time in Florida with her family. 
  • Tim’s work permit application has been sent to Papua New Guinea!  We cannot begin applying for our visas until his work permit is approved.
  • We at 35% of our monthly support.  In order to reach our goal of 50% by the end of June, we need an additional $730 in monthly support. 
  • We are looking for advocates.  What are advocates?  Advocates are people that will share with their friends/co-workers/family, etc about us and the need for Bible Translation.  They might host a home meeting and invite their friends over, so we can share with them.  An advocate could arrange for us to speak at his/her church or small group or put us in contact with a pastor, missions minister, or teacher.  Could you help?  Please email us back and let us know how you can be an advocate.  Tara is in Florida until Thursday the 24th and can schedule a time to share or meet with you to discuss about being an advocate.
  • Will you commit to pray once a week for us?  Would you choose one day a week to commit to pray for the work and needs of Bible translation, the people of Papua New Guinea, and for our family?  Let us know what day you will be praying for us.  We want to pray for you on that day.
  • Has God laid on your hear to be part of His Great Commission by sending us to Papua New Guinea?  If so, please click here and complete the online form. 
Why is computer work an important part of Bible Translation? 
Board a plane in Dallas, Texas. Travel for four days on 15 flights far into Southeast Asia. Now climb into a truck and journey up into lush green mountains on a deeply rutted, often muddy road. Hike over slippery landslides if necessary. Eventually you’ll come to a little village nestled into a mountain valley, where the local language is Yawa, but where the people have traditionally worshipped in the national language.

As you walk through the village, stop and talk to church leaders. Ask if anyone preaches from the Yawa Scripture portions published over the last 20 years. “Elder Sefnat does all the time,” they’ll say. Sefnat will show you two small worn books protected by brown paper covers—Yawa translations of John’s writings, Acts, and nine epistles. Tucked into the pages are little slips of paper with dated sermon notes, references to Scripture passages in those two little books, and unpublished verses that mother tongue translator Andowa has handwritten for him.

Grandpa Bertasar
Stop by a thatched-roof home and ask if anyone there reads from the Scriptures in Yawa. Everyone will point to a bearded old man called Grandfather Bertasar. “He read to us this morning,” they’ll say. “He told us how to apply it to our lives, too.”

Walk on and you’ll come to the village church. Take a deep breath because you’re about to encounter an amazing scene!  In this very remote village, where there is neither electricity nor phone service, translator Andowa sits at a laptop computer. A dozen people cluster closely around him, listening as he reads aloud a Bible passage in Yawa. The volunteer reviewers enthusiastically discuss it, looking for ways to improve awkward or unclear sentences. When they‘re satisfied with the way it sounds, Andowa revises it on his computer. Then, since his specially-designed software has a send/receive function, he logs onto the internet and “syncs” his draft.

Andowa learns to use satellite equipment
Halfway around the world in Arlington, Texas, Wycliffe translator Linda Jones will get up tomorrow morning, sync up her computer, and read the draft that Andowa has revised. She’ll check to make sure the meaning hasn’t been altered and send back suggestions for the next round of discussion.

 This is how the final revisions are being made to the Yawa New Testament. It’s all possible because a new geostationary satellite began circling the equator in early 2009. Just two weeks after it went into service, IT specialists from Wycliffe’s Seed Company brought a computer and a small satellite device to the village, showed Andowa how to connect to the satellite, and taught him to use OurWord—the special software for mother tongue translators created by Wycliffe member John Wimbish.

Andowa & friend going to the church
Andowa and Linda have been working together long-distance for 17 years now, ever since Linda and her husband, Larry, had to move away so Larry could take on various leadership roles in Bible translation. Scripture drafts went back and forth by mail and in hand-carried packets. Linda and Larry made trips to the village. Andowa made trips out of the village. Always God helped them find a way forward, but they thought they had reached the end of the road when it came to the final revision process. “We did not see how we could finish the final revisions without greater community involvement,” says Linda. “It just looked impossible. I could not go there for any length of time, and they could not come here.” And then came the satellite—and IT specialists who knew how to take advantage of the satellite! 

 There have, of course, been a few maintenance problems with the equipment and satellite connection, but IT personnel have repaired most of them remotely. Only once did a faulty part have to be hand-carried to the city and back. That led to two and a half months without communication, but eventually the connection was repaired and revisions moved forward!

Soon the final draft of the New Testament will be sent to the printers, and the Yawa people will begin preparing for the dedication, set for June 2011. Elder Sefnat, Grandfather Bertasar, and translator Andowa are waiting. Dozens of reviewers and their relatives are waiting. The Scriptures are reaching yet another group of people, isolated, but not forgotten by the God who loves them all. He has conquered space and distance.

Honestly, I’m not sure what Tim is more excited about- using his existing IT skills to support Bible Translation or acquiring all the new skills and technology to support Bible Translation.  I do know that God has worked to hone his IT and trouble-shooting skills the last 11 years to be used for His glory.  It is exciting to see how  God is going to work to bring Wycliffe to its goal of having a translation project begun in each of the nearly 2,000 remaining languages by 2025.  WE (including you!) are going to get to be a part.  We look forward to sharing our first New Testament dedication with you!  Thank you for partnering with us!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


So, this blog post started out being just an update on what is going on in the life of the Ellis family.  It turned into a reflection of family. 

The cousins after our night swim.
Right now I'm sitting on the couch at my mom and dad's house in Florida enjoying the quiet.  I don't get that very much, which might explain the lack of postings...either that or the brain overload.  Anyway, Andrew, Bekah, and I are down in Florida for a couple of weeks visiting with my family and friends.  Originally it was only going to be a week, but we managed to work it out so we could attend our family reunion last weekend.  It was so much fun.  I have to say the best part was seeing my kids getting to know cousins they didn't know.  Every day we are asked when we are going to see them again.  They have not had the advantage I had growing up seeing my cousins on a regular (even if it was just annually) basis.  Even after all of these years, we still love each other and remember the fun we used to have.  I'm disappointed we haven't made it more of a priority over the years to attend with the kids.  I always used to think "maybe next year".  Well, this year I knew I wouldn't be saying "maybe next year" since it would be at least 4 more years.  Now Andrew is asking if Kansas is next to Georgia, so he can visit his cousins.  (Apparently all the geography and mapping lessons didn't exactly stick...)  I LOVE it! 

We celebrated Father's Day before we left for Florida.
I've really approached this summer and even this school year with a different focus.  Too many times I have said "no" to various activities because I didn't want to spend the money or it would throw a kink into my schedule.  This year I've been determined to say "yes" more if it involves making lasting memories with those we love.  The biggest memory maker of all is still to come, and the kids are totally oblivious.  I, on the other hand, am bursting at the seams and counting down the days!  On Monday, my parents are taking us to Disney!!!  OK, so I've been to Disney more times that I care to count, BUT my kids have never been.  I remember hearing Mrs. Barbara tell us in a Mom's Bible Study to keep the special things special- don't let them become ordinary.  I remember going to Disney as a child with my parents for the first time.  I was about Bekah's age.  It was so incredible.  I still remember begging my dad to go on Space Mountain with me.  At least this time, I have two little ones that will. Granted I will need to make sure that Bekah wears her tennis shoes that give her that little bit of height.  I'm so excited about sharing this experience with my parents and the kids.  There is only one thing that would make it out of this world- Daddy (aka Tim).  I'm praying he'll get the chance to come with us on Monday.  It would mean taking off of work, but I so want him to be part of the memories.  I want our kids to remember begging their dad to go on the rides and him saying "no".  I want them to have memories with all of us there.  Of course I don't know what would be the biggest thrill to them- having Daddy here for the weekend or Disney.  It would definitely be a toss up! 

The older cousin throwing the younger ones in the pool.
I guess tonight I'm reflecting on family because I know that our family dynamics are changing.  They are nothing like how I grew up- grandparents down the street and related to half the town.  We live about 2 hours away from our closest relatives Tim's aunt & uncle, who we see about once every 3 years.  The kids have never known what it is to have grandparents able to come to each and every event they are in.  Living in a transition city like Atlanta means many of our friends are in the same boat.  Little did we know that our move almost 11 years ago would ultimately prepare us for a family dynamic we never imagined in Papua New Guinea.  No one will ever replace our earthly family.  But, I'm so grateful for the people God places in our lives to be our surrogate family and to be the surrogate family our earthly families (both our parents & our kids) need.  I would be foolish and very naive to believe that our decision to follow God's call only affects the four of us.  It affects so many around us.  I wish they didn't have to feel the pain of a loss.  I know it will be much harder for them because they must carry on with their daily routines while we experience new adventures and have a surrogate family awaiting our arrival.  I thank God for the people He has given to encourage our family, especially my mom.  If you are one of those- THANK YOU!!!!  You are a partner with us and God is using you in ways that you will never imagine.  Thank you for being willing to step up, so we can follow God's call. 
Bekah jumping into the pool and her brother is right behind her jumping to make sure she is ok.   
OK, enough sentimental stuff.  I must decide what we can do tomorrow to keep my kids from killing each other while Nini is at work.  Yeah, we still have work to do on the whole family thing with the two of them!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Challenge

I shared with our prayer partners last week that we have been issued a challenge.  We need to have 50% of our monthly support by the end of June.  OK, this usually accompanied by questions and maybe some confusion.  I'm going to attempt to clear this up, or at least make it as clear as mud.  =) 

How do you decide your monthly support needs?
We have a budget that Wycliffe gave us based upon our needs and the cost of living in Papua New Guinea.  It is the amount that we need to cover our expenses while living in Papua New Guinea.  Costs for the kids' education, insurance, housing, food (yes even enough for our growing boy), medical care (well typical, so as long as Andrew doesn't break anything major...), taxes (social security, medicare), even costs for our return flight home for furlough are all included in this amount. 

Doesn't Wycliffe give you a paycheck?
Yes, as employees of Wycliffe, we get a paycheck.  That paycheck is based upon the gifts of the people that partner with us.  We get paid from the money that is sent in on our behalf to Wycliffe. 

Why do you need monthly support?  Isn't this just a mission trip?
In the past Tim has gone on mission trips to various countries.  Those times we just needed a one time contribution to get him there and home. His job here in the State provided income and vacation time that he used. This is not just a trip, but a new life for us.  We will be living and working in Papua New Guinea.  His job here in the States will not continue to pay him because he will no longer be employed by them.

Why 50%?
Before we can register or attend our Intercultural Communications Course (ICC) in North Carolina in August, we must be at 50% of our regular support.  This course is only offered twice a year- August & January.  If we are unable to attend in August, we will not be able to leave in January for Papua New Guinea because we'll have to attend ICC in January.  We have to complete this month-long course before going to Papua New Guinea.

How much until you reach 50%? 
We need $800/month to be at 50%.  We are currently at 34%. 

When do you need to be at 100%?  
We need to be at 100% by the beginning of December to be released to leave for Papua New Guinea in January.  Until we reach 100%, we cannot leave for Papua New Guinea.  Our first assignment will be to complete the Pacific Orientation Course (POC).  This is the 15 week course that will prepare us for about anything we will encounter.  It is only offered in January and August, so if we are unable to have our support at 100%, we will have to wait until August 2012 to do the training. 

Can I give a special or one-time gift?
YES!  We still have to raise the money for our plane tickets, training, travel, and moving expenses to get us to Papua New Guinea.  We are estimating those costs at $25,000-$30,000. Airfare alone is about $6,000 for the 4 of us to get to PNG- without extra luggage or costs associated with layovers.  That's just the beginning.  We've received about half of the $13,000 at this time.  

Do I have to start giving today?
We understand some people need to finish other commitments or want to begin giving when we actually leave for Papua New Guinea.  That is fine!  All we need to know now is what God is leading you to give monthly (or quarterly, annually, etc) and when you plan on beginning to start giving.  This way we can update our records.

How can I give or pledge to give?
We make it simple.  Click on our Invitation to Partnership (ITP)  and complete the form under "Click to Pray or Give".  This will give you options of how to give and send us a notification of your commitment.  It is really easy.  You can choose to do EFT, mail in a check, or even send it monthly through your online banking.

Right now I can't give financially, what can I do?
  • The MOST important thing we need is PRAYER!  Please pray that God will enable us to meet this challenge.  Pray for the ones He has touched to give financially.  
  • We need advocates-people willing to share on our behalf, or host a home meeting, or invite us to share with a small group or church.  Email us through our ITP  if you'd like to be added to our prayer list or advocate on our behalf.  
  • We need encouragers.  Things get tough and stressful and sometimes just an email letting us know that you are thinking about us and praying for us means more than you'll ever know!  If God lays us on your heart, please lift us up in prayer.  
  • Share your prayer concerns with us.  We consider it an honor and privilege to partner with you in prayer.  Please email us on how we can pray for you.  God has shown us that when we focus on the needs of others and lift them up, He blesses us tremendously.  It is a reminder that He is on the throne and is sovereign.  
I'm sure there are more questions that I haven't answered.  Please feel free to ask.  Post a comment, and I'll try to respond!