Our Changing World
None of us could have predicted how much our world would change in 2020. In fact even if someone had foretold our current circumstances, it is doubtful that any of us would have believed them. Thankfully, none of these things have surprised our all-knowing Lord.
Many of you will remember that Debbie and I left the USA in early February for a planned four-month-long ministry trip to Asia and Europe. Even before we left, there was news of a virus outbreak in China, and we wore masks as we passed through Seoul and other Asian airports, as did most of our fellow passengers. But after only six weeks and three translation checks in the books, we had to cut our trip short when the pandemic began impacting everything and the airlines started to cancel international routes. We were able to come home in late March and self-quarantine, a prelude to the lockdowns that would prevail throughout the world.
The biggest silver lining from the COVID cloud for us was the opportunity to devote a majority of April through July to the careful review and editing process for our Tugutil Bible. The postponement of the final 2½ months of our trip allowed me to focus on making sure that our terminology was consistent, spelling mistakes were corrected, formatting of the text was uniform, etc. Now, round one of that editing step is complete, and the Tugutil Bible is one large step closer to being printed. We have of course had to push back the timing of the printing and the dedication ceremony, but we are thankful that we were still able to make progress despite the unusual circumstances.
During the spring and summer, Debbie was able to continue working at the hospital, taking on other roles until her physical therapy department re-opened. For a few weeks she even helped out in the section of the hospital where COVID patients were treated. We are very thankful that the Lord has kept us both healthy and virus-free. Once the lockdowns were eased, we also resumed going up to Michigan every other weekend to help care for my parents.
As I’m sure is the case for nearly all of us, we have adjusted to the need for living more of our lives online. We had to “attend” church online for far too long, which only made us appreciate in-person fellowship that much more when we could once again go to church. I have also had several online committee meetings with fellow translation consultants, despite a 14-hour time difference for a couple of them who are on the other side of the world! But even more challenging is a brand-new endeavor that I am currently navigating – conducting a translation consultant check online with a missionary team and native speaker who are over in Thailand. Due to the time difference, I work with them from about 8:45 p.m. until 1 a.m. each weeknight, assuming that our internet connection holds up. It is far from ideal, but there are significant advantages – no 13-hour flight to Asia and no separation from Debbie are required! Next month I plan to conduct a translation workshop online for another team in the Asia-Pacific region, if the technology there proves capable.
Despite the turmoil we are experiencing in our nation on so many fronts, we as believers can rest in God’s promises. We are thankful for the knowledge that we are not citizens of this world, but rather citizens of heaven, where we will experience the blessings of eternal life which await all believers!
In the meantime, let’s be praying for our nation, since ultimately God is our only hope for a peaceful society that reflects His justice for all.
For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. – Jeremiah 29:11, NET
Because of Calvary,
Bob & Debbie Clark