Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December 2017 Newsletter

"I don't go to church . . ."

Display images to see this.    While on Manus Island in November, I (Steve) had a long conversation with a Papua New Guinean man who said, "I don't go to church, because it doesn't change people." He explained that he watches the lives of those who go to church and he sees that once the church service is over, they live like everyone else. They are greedy, get drunk, beat their wives, steal, fight, gamble, commit adultery, leave their wives or husbands, etc. Other than going to church on Sundays, they live like people who don't know God. He also said that these people don't really understand what the Bible says, because they don't have it in their own language.
    In Romans 12:2, Paul tells us that Christians should not be conformed to this world (it's way of thinking/living), but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. That happens by reading His Word daily, but how can people do that when it doesn't exist in their language? They can't.
    This man and I then went on to talk about how the Christian life isn't about keeping rules, it's about knowing and loving Jesus. If we truly love Him, then He will enable us to love others. This man had never heard all this before and it clearly impacted him. He thanked me repeatedly and was anxious to talk with his wife about all this, saying, "My wife needs to hear this too!"
    This encounter showed me clearly that wherever we live, people are watching us, and their lives are impacted by how we live. It also underscored the importance of the Bible being available to everyone in their own language!

Display images to see this picture.     Now, the reality of helping a people group to translate the Bible into their own language brings up many practical needs. Among other things, you need a place to sleep, take showers, cook meals, and charge the computers you use for the translation work. So, we are very excited to share that God recently moved the hearts of a Titan widow and her family to help with our practical needs by blessing our family with a house in the village of Pere (a Titan village just off the south-eastern coast of Manus Island)! This gives us a home in the village to live and work with the Titans. This is a huge blessing! The house needs some improvements, as it does not have electricity, so during the November visit to Manus, we moved some solar panels and batteries out to this house. These panels and batteries are part of a much needed solar power system that will give us the power we need to live and do translation work in Pere with the Titans for longer periods of time. The house will also need a kitchen and bathroom. I don't mean remodelling, because all that exists now are two completely empty rooms where a kitchen and bathroom could be (no plumbing, fixtures, electrical, appliances, or anything else). So, much work needs to be done on it, but we will try to get as much done as possible in the coming months in preparation for future long term stays in the village.

Display images to see this picture.     After moving the solar equipment, I (Steve) stayed in Pere village and worked with the Titans on team checking more of their drafted chapters of Genesis (team checking is when we go over drafted chapters as a team to make sure the translation is clear, accurate, and sounds natural in Titan).
    Thank you so much for your prayers for team unity, because our team worked very well together this trip. We have now finished checking chapters 12 through 21 of Genesis, and the team is moving on to testing them with the people in their villages! This will give us much needed feedback and help us further refine the translation.

Display images to see this picture.     After we had finished our team checking on Genesis 21, one of our translators started playing the Tok Pisin (a trade language here in PNG) version of the Jesus Film on our team's laptop. She just wanted to see if it would play, but soon some kids playing nearby came to see what was happening. Before we knew it, more kids started coming and we had drawn quite a crowd around our little laptop. The ages of the kids ranged from toddlers to teens, and even some adults dropped by from time to time. Many in the crowd attentively watched the whole Jesus Film, and talked excitedly in Titan at various parts. As some of the translators and I watched the crowd, one of the translators said, "Oh, if only we had this in Titan, now that would really be something!" I couldn't agree more, and one day, hopefully soon, we can translate the book of Luke and work on dubbing the Jesus Film into the Titan language. After that, we will have a real showing and invite everyone to come to watch it for the first time in their own language!

    As this will be our last newsletter of 2017, we would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Thank you again for all of your prayers and generosity! You are why we are able to continue in this Wycliffe ministry to help the Titans to have God's Word in their own language, so that the veil might be removed and the whole Titan community might behold the glory of God and be increasingly transformed into the likeness of Christ Jesus (See 2 Cor. 3:18).

Please pray for the following (and however God leads you):
  • That the translators would soon share Genesis 12-21 in their villages.
  • That God would speak clearly to the Titans through His Word in Titan.
  • That God would help us to do much needed improvements to the Pere house for our long term sustainability in the work.
  • Where we will live after returning to the U.S. in June 2018: California, or Washington?
  • God's direction and leading for our children's future.
God i blesim yupela (God bless you all),
Steve, Mindy, Karah, David, & Jonathan Clover

Friday, September 1, 2017

September 2017 Newsletter

Display images to see this.    The months of July, August, and September have been very busy ones! Steve left for Manus Island in July and spent part of July and nearly the whole month of August there. Upon his arrival on Manus, there was already a translation workshop running, and he joined the Titans there to work with them. During this workshop, chapters one through eleven of Genesis were drafted!

Display images to see this picture.     Just after the end of this translation workshop, Steve taught a Paratext 1 course for two weeks. This course covers the basics of how to use the Bible translation software known as Paratext. Paratext doesn't do the translation for us by any means, but it does help translators a great deal by allowing them to type their translation, read lots of different Bibles and other resources, keep track of what words they use for Biblical key terms, back up and share their translation project with other team members, and so much more. We had 17 students attend this Paratext course. They came from 9 different language groups on and around Manus Island, and they all learned so much that will help them to translate God's Word into their own languages.

    After the course, Steve was able to work with the Titans some more, and by the time he left Manus near the end of August, several more chapters of Genesis were drafted. Our Titan translation team now has a rough draft of Genesis chapters 1-30. These still need to go through multiple rounds of checking and revision before they could be published, but we are very excited about the progress that is being made!

Display images to see this picture.     Finally, the first few weeks of September had Steve teaching another Paratext 1 course (yes, he taught two of these courses back to back!), but this one was at the training center in Ukarumpa. There were 15 students for this one, and they came from 7 different language groups from all over Papua New Guinea to learn the software that will help them with their translation work for years to come.

Display images to see this picture.     Not only was I (Steve) the teacher, but Mindy came to observe the class and quickly found herself being a mentor helping two translators from the Baruga language group (and others) to learn Paratext. Mentors are a crucial part in these courses to be there to give whatever individual help is needed to the students, and she did a fabulous job!

    In June of 2018, our family will be heading back to the States after David graduates from high school so that we can get both Karah and David enrolled in college. At this point, we don't know for sure where we will end up living, so we need many prayers to be lifted on our behalf for God's direction. If we move back to Washington, we will need a home to rent there that is big enough to hold all of us. We aren't sure how long we will be in living in the States, but likely for at least one year so that Jonathan can finish his junior year of high school. During our time in the States, Steve will continue to help the Titans by working remotely with them (Paratext allows the translation work to be sent via the internet) and also flying back to PNG to work with them face to face at least a few times during the year.

Please pray for the following (and however God leads you):
  • Team unity for both our family and for the Titans (the enemy wants to divide us).
  • Where we will live: California, Washington, or?
  • Direction for David as to what plans God has for his future.
  • Direction for Karah: should she pursue being a nurse, or perhaps a doctor?
God i blesim yupela (God bless you all),
Steve, Mindy, Karah, David, & Jonathan Clover

Monday, June 26, 2017

June 2017 Newsletter

   The Translators Training Courses (TTC) are an important part of the training that happens here, and Steve was fortunate enough to help with one of them recently. Translators from several language groups from all over Papua New Guinea attend the TTC 1 and TTC 2 courses.

Display images to see this.    During the TTC 2 course, Steve mentored a husband and wife translation team from the Borong people group for about five weeks, helping them to learn and progress in their translation of the Scriptures. They have only been translators for about a year, roughly the same amount of time we have been here in Papua New Guinea. In that time, Steve has helped with three courses here that they were students in and it has been a huge blessing to see them make such great progress both in their knowledge and abilities as translators.

   This couple has also made real progress in their translation work, having already done a first draft of least ten books of the Old Testament (including most of the minor prophets). They are excited to work on more books, as they have a strong commitment to make sure that the Borong people have the whole Bible in their own language.

Display images to see this.   Three members of our family (Steve, Mindy, and Karah) have also been helping in a reading fluency class conducted in Tok Pisin (the local trade language). This class helps Papua New Guineans to improve their ability to read, and the students spend time in class practicing their reading on portions of the Bible. It is wonderful to be a part of a program that helps people to improve their ability to read, especially when the students are doing it because they want to read the Bible. Some of the students even walk for more than two hours, one way, to be able to attend this class! What a humbling and rewarding experience.

   The Titan translation is continuing as well, with more chapters of Genesis currently being drafted. Early stages of work have also begun on a picture dictionary for the Titan language, with the desire to make this available primarily for kids, but adults have also expressed interest.

Please pray for:
  • God to increase the literacy students' hunger for His Word even more and help them to become confident readers.
  • God to continue to encourage the Borong and equip them for the important work of translation that He has given them to do.
  • God to help our Titan translation team on Manus Island to make good progress in drafting Genesis.
  • Steve and other Wycliffe translators to be able to work out necessary arrangements to run some needed training courses and workshops on Manus Island in the next few months and work with the translators.
God i blesim yupela (God bless you all),
Steve, Mindy, Karah, David, & Jonathan Clover 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

April 2017 Newsletter

   On Sunday, March 19th, 2017, our family was officially commissioned to work with the Titan people group of Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Our fellow missionaries gathered around to lay hands on us and pray for our future work to help the Titan people to have God's Word in their own language.

Display images to see this.    Less than two weeks later, near the end of March, Steve arrived on Manus Island to begin a two week stay. Not long after arrival, he traveled by boat to the village of Pere on a small island off the southeastern coast of Manus. He spent ten days there at Pere, starting to learn the Titan language, building relationships, and working with the translation team on their draft of eleven chapters of Genesis.

Display images to see this.   Much like Genesis, Steve's time in Pere was a story of beginnings, and of God's faithfulness. At one point, as the team sat around the translation table discussing how to translate a Biblical concept into the Titan language, Steve had the sudden realization that what was happening at that moment was it. After all the years of linguistics courses, training, and talking to people about our hopes for the future, Steve was finally doing what God had called us to do years ago: actually helping a people group to translate God's Word into their own language! The moment was truly surreal, and yet, it wasn't a dream, it was really happening.

Display images to see this.    Another surreal moment was when he found himself in a traditional dugout canoe, made by hand from a log and complete with outrigger, helping to paddle across to the mainland to meet the leaders of another Titan village called M'Bunai (this picture is from a different trip to M'Bunai by boat). The meeting went well, and the leaders were very supportive of the translation team and have a real desire to have God's Word in their language.

   So far, the Titans only have a rough draft of eleven chapters of Genesis and the first twenty verses of Luke chapter two, so there is much work to be done ahead, but this has been a story of beginnings for the Titans. We know that God is faithful, and that He desires to transform the Titan people through His Word in the language that speaks to their heart; the very language that He made for them: Titan.

Prayer requests:
  • God to strengthen and encourage the Titan translators, and clear any roadblocks that might keep them from sharing what has been translated so far with their communities (village checking).
  • God to help the Titan translators to make time and be strongly committed to work on drafting more chapters of Genesis.
  • God's continued protection, provision, and wisdom for us, and the Titans, as we work with them.
God i blesim yupela (God bless you all),
Steve, Mindy, Karah, David, & Jonathan Clover

Friday, March 3, 2017

March 2017 Newsletter

   Many have asked about what individual family members are doing here, so this newsletter gives an update and prayer requests for each of us.

Display images to see this.    Steve’s been teaching a course at the Training Center here in Ukarumpa, where he’s training national translators to use the translation software called Paratext. We’re also excited to report that he’s in the process of starting to help the Titan (pronounced “tee-tawn”) language/people group of Manus Island (a PNG island) with their Bible translation. They’re one of the most eager groups we’ve seen, and really want the Bible in their language, so we’re excited to be involved with helping the Titans!

Display images to see this.    Mindy’s main job is managing the home, and while our lifestyle is similar to the States in ways, daily chores are more demanding and time consuming. For instance, local produce is available at an outdoor market, but must be bleached, dried, and stored properly, which takes more time than throwing produce from the grocery store in the fridge. Laundry’s also harder as we have to line dry it, and rain often starts by lunch time. She gets up very early to do all this and more before going off to her part-time job in the Literacy and Education Department as the office manager. She manages the logistics of the office, such as emails, answering phones, photo copying, errands, archiving literacy materials, and even sewing curtains for the office! Her gifts free up literacy workers to use their gifts, which leads to Papua New Guineans learning to read God's Word in their own language. Mindy’s a real blessing and we praise God for her!

Display images to see this.    Karah’s 19 now and enjoying her gap-year (which might become 2 years) as the medical clinic receptionist. She speaks the Tok Pisin language well and serves both expats and nationals. Karah also “job shadows” doctors and nurses and loves to observe lab work, take blood pressure, and sometimes accompany doctors and nurses out to villages for immunizations and infant care. She’s gained a heart of compassion and love for the local people and really wants to go into nursing, so college for that will be pursued when we return to the States.  She’s also involved in the Pony Club here, where 6 horses need care, and she loves serving in this ministry.

Display images to see this.    David recently turned 17, and though our other two kiddos have quickly adapted and embraced the new culture and language with little culture shock, David has had more difficulty. Change of any kind is not easy for him, so we are very proud of him for pushing through the difficulties. After missing a whole term of school while we attended POC, he had a lot of catching up to do and struggled to make it to the end of his 1st semester. However, now he’s back to his old self and his normal 4.0 GPA. He’s adjusting well, and though he’d rather be back in the States, he never complains and is trusting deeper in God than he ever had to before.  It’s excellent to see his faith grow in many ways here.

Display images to see this.    Jonathan’s 14 now, loves it here, and is the happiest we’ve seen him since California. He has transitioned, adjusted, and adapted well. He knows the Tok Pisin language, and is making friends easily. The others in his 9th grade class have made him feel very much a part of things here. Missionary kids are unique that way as they all know time is short, so friendships form quickly. It’s been a real growing up time for him, and he’s learned so many valuable lessons that he’d never have learned in the States, like new cultures, language, village living without electricity, how to build and start fires, how to go barefoot with the local kids, climb coconut trees, and so much more! He’s enjoying this adventure and growing in his faith by leaps and bounds! Honestly, we’re not looking forward to uprooting him again and taking him back to the States, as he’s very content to stay here.

   We praise God for you, our many partners, friends, and family members who give generously, lift us up in prayer, send care packages, and write to encourage us! Please know that our ministry here with Wycliffe of helping Papua New Guineans to have God's Word in their own languages couldn't happen without you. Thank you!

Prayer requests:
  • Steve to teach clearly and accurately, and students to learn, remember and use what they learned to translate more effectively. Also, for Steve to learn the Titan language, get started in general, and especially for travels to and from Manus Island.
  • Mindy to improve her Tok Pisin, and boldness to speak it more, as well as for much needed energy for each day! Building friendships with local PNG women, as well as with expats.
  • Karah is beginning the process of starting online college courses here, so wisdom and help with that as well as internet to be consistent and reliable for this.
  • David to feel more comfortable with PNG surroundings and make real friends here. Also, wisdom for future college plans.
  • Jonathan to adjust to high school well and handle the stress of an intense homework load.
  • Spiritual warfare: the Holy Spirit to guard our hearts and minds.
  • That illnesses would not hit us, or would pass quickly, as viruses abound.
God i blesim yupela (God bless you all),
Steve, Mindy, Karah, David, & Jonathan Clover

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January 2017 Newsletter

The best Christmas gift ever!

   Have you ever given the gift of Scripture for Christmas? Some of us have probably given Bibles to loved ones for Christmas, but what about giving the very first portions of Scripture that have ever been translated into your language? Well, as English speakers, we missed that opportunity by hundreds of years, but some folks on Manus Island got to do just that.
   You might be saying to yourself, “Beep, beep, beep, back up the truck! Manus Island? Where’s that? I thought the Clovers were in Papua New Guinea!” Well, read on!

Display images to see this.     Manus Island is off the northern coast of the Papua New Guinean mainland, but it’s still part of the country. There are approximately 30 languages on Manus and the smaller islands around it, but only a few of these languages have any published Scripture. But God has been moving. He’s been stirring up the hearts of men and women from about half of the languages on Manus to work on translating God’s Word into their own mother tongues. Praise God!

Display images to see this.    In December, I (Steve) had the opportunity to go to Manus Island with another Wycliffe translator, Jerry Pfaff, to help him run a translation workshop for two weeks. During this workshop, we helped people from 8 languages to work on translating God’s Word into their own mother tongue. By the end of the workshop, each of these languages had at least their initial draft of 10 chapters of Genesis completed (they started work on these at the previous workshop).

Display images to see this.     Jerry and I also had the special privilege of helping some of them as they worked on translating Luke 2:1-20, which is the Christmas story. When the workshop was over, some were going back to their different villages with the plan to share, for the first time in their own language, the story of the best Christmas gift of all time: the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world.

Display images to see this.    Our family enjoyed our first Christmas here in PNG, and we hope that your Christmas was blessed too. We also hope that it was filled with the wonder of God being born in human flesh on a mission to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, because that is a merry Christmas.
Please pray for: 
  • God's wisdom and guidance as we explore the possibility of helping the Titan people of Manus Island to translate God's Word into Titan.
  • God to strengthen us, protect us, and help us through the many challenges of serving here and missing home.
God i blesim yupela (God bless you all),
Steve, Mindy, Karah, David, & Jonathan Clover