December News – 20% Raised!
Art by Elizabeth Jancewicz, from Dancing Ants (Naskapi legend)
We hope December finds you well as we celebrate the birth of Jesus together. As Christmas approaches, we’ve been finding inspiration in Jesus’s incarnation as an example of cross-cultural ministry. God became human (to fit in with the locals!), lived among us and spoke our languages. He communicated his love for us by identifying with us. We aspire to his example in our own ministry – meeting people with God’s word in their own cultural context and in their own language.
Caitlin and I are now settled in Courtenay where we’re anticipating the arrival of our newest family member in January. As many of you know, we plan to spend the next while here in our hometown building the remainder of our financial and prayer support before we move to Kawawa (Quebec) next summer to provide support to the Naskapi Old Testament Translation project.
We’ve now officially raised 20% of our budget we need to meet before we leave. We’ve been encouraged at the positive response we’ve received from people already, and by churches who already have a passion for reconciliation with Canada’s First Nations.
Since we returned from Kawawa we’ve had the opportunity to attend several linguistics conferences as well as a retreat for Wycliffe members working with indigenous languages in North America. This has been great for connecting with experts doing similar work from both secular and Christian-based perspectives.
The Cree Initiative
As some of you know, our work up north will fall under Wycliffe’s contribution to the Cree Initiative – a series of translation goals identified by First Nations church leaders from across Canada. These include starting a new Bible translation project with the Oji-Cree of Kingfisher Lake First Nation (Ontario), finishing the Plains Cree translation (Saskatchewan), and connecting with the Cree nations in the northern prairies to judge interest in developing similar projects there.
Our role in this will be to provide technical linguistic support to one of these projects after we finish our internship with the Naskapi. For more info, check out Wycliffe’s profile of The Cree Initiative.
It’s been really exciting for us to see the Cree Initiative gaining momentum, with churches and organizations like the Canadian Bible Society putting their weight behind indigenous Bible translation. The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, the National Indigenous Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada and one of the minds behind the Cree Initiative, says,
“…here in Canada we are realizing that even when people are still fluent… in English, it’s critical for the spiritual well-being of those people to be able to use the scriptures in their own language.”
And so it feels to us like God is weaving our little story into the much larger narrative of what he’s been doing among the First Nations of Canada (Canada’s fastest growing population).
The Kingfisher Lake Oji-Cree Translation Committee (Northern Ontario – purple on the above map)
The Home Front
On the home front, we recently moved in to an apartment in Courtenay. We really appreciated the support of everyone who was looking out for us with housing options (it’s surprisingly difficult to find a good rental in the Comox Valley – landlords were getting up to 60 applications).
We’ve also been lent a van for our time here, and we were extravagantly blessed at our baby shower. Caitlin has been doing lots of knitting for craft fairs, but she’s starting to feel more tired again as she heads deeper into her third trimester. I started some part-time technical writing (I’m writing a user-guide for some performance management software). So far it has made a good complement to Wycliffe partnership development, since I work from home and it’s very flexible. I’ve also given sermons at a couple local churches since we returned from Kawawa, a new experience for me. Overall, it’s been great to reconnect with our family and home churches here in the good ‘ol Valley.
Cait’s Corner God’s Timing: Never Late, Seldom Early I just have to tell everyone the story of how we’re now in our new home. These last 2 ½ years have been a process for me of learning not to fret when it doesn’t seem like we are going to have what we need. Each time a need comes up, whether it’s a big one like our computer suddenly dying, or a relatively smaller need, like an unexpected medication expense, God has provided without our even needing to tell another human being about it. So I am learning to trust. When we left Langley in August, we knew that we were going to spend awhile traveling about and not be settled in a home of our own, but I said from the start that with this baby coming in January, I wanted to be settled somewhere by the beginning of December at the latest. So that’s what I started to pray for. In October we began looking for a place to rent, but doors just kept closing for one reason or another. As October turned into November, and November steadily marched on, people continued to ask us about our housing situation. I’d reply that we hadn’t found anything yet, but I was still praying for the beginning of December. As the last week of November was drawing to a close, I was starting to feel perhaps a little silly, as quite obviously if we hadn’t found a place for December by then, it really didn’t look likely. But God doesn’t seem to operate only within statistical likelihoods. The last week of November we had emailed a woman who had a place available for the beginning of January, but she responded that she was looking for someone more long-term. But then the evening of November 29th she called us and said, “Well, I’ve been thinking, and why don’t you guys just come take a look at the place, maybe tomorrow morning?” So the next morning we met her, looked at the place, and she offered it to us! And despite the ad being for the beginning of January, she said we could move in the next day! So on the very last day of November, we saw a place that we had no idea was even an option, signed a lease, and moved in the next day, December 1st. God’s timing is never late, and seldom early. (And yes, that is a Lord of the Rings quote; what can I say? It fits.)
Our next major trip will be to Guelph, Ontario for the month of April, where we’ll help facilitate a translation workshop for Indigenous Bible translators from all over Canada. We’re looking forward to reconnecting with the folks from the Naskapi translation team and meeting the translators who speak Plains Cree and Oji-Cree for the first time. During this time we’ll also get to complete a Wycliffe orientation course (for those of you who are following, this was the course originally scheduled for October).
The Naskapi community of Kawawa recently experienced a tragedy – three of their young men in Montreal fell three stories when the balcony they were standing on collapsed. Two have died and one is in serious condition. Every family in Kawawa will be touched by this, so please pray for their well-being.
Also pray in particular for the Naskapi translation team currently working on the Old Testament:
Silas: Translating Judges
Amanda: Translating Joshua
Tshiueten: Translating Exodus
This team just finished a workshop where they reviewed each others’ translation drafts, the “team check” stage in the translation process. They also produced Naskapi radio programs based on their translations of Exodus, Joshua and Judges so the whole community can hear them for the first time in Naskapi during the Christmas season.
Thank you for your continued prayers and may you experience a renewed understanding of Christ and his peace this Christmas.
Matt & Caitlin