Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
I know it’s a bit late for a Christmas letter, so let’s call it a New Year’s letter instead. How was your Christmas? Did you get to celebrate with loved ones? Here we definitely did not have a white Christmas – it was brown as normal at this time of year, with temps in the 80s. (I know, life is rough!)
As I look over this last year, I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness and of the ways that He is opening doors I couldn’t have even imagined. Rejoice with me in what this year looked like on this side of the ocean:
- January – We had our first “alphabet party” (orthography workshop), and an alphabet was created in My Language for the first time in history! It was great having the help of a friend who knew what she was doing and some local missionaries, and getting to work alongside some of My People to create it. I so appreciate them all, and have been grateful that we’ve been able to continue working together on and off throughout the year.
- February – Adama* and I attended a grammar workshop for 3 weeks.
- March – I attended a week-long conference on developing orthographies in African languages. Since it was in Kenya, my parents joined me afterwards for a safari!
- April-June – I continued learning My Language and culture, as well as having more alphabet parties to look at other issues in writing My Language.
- July – I spent the month in Senegal. We had our field’s field conference, and I also had to sit and wait as more paperwork was signed for me to be able to return back to My Country again. At least I got to house-sit for friends who lived a 5-minute walk from the beach, so a week or two of that waiting included long walks on the beach. I was so glad to return home at the end of the month, though!
- August – Our first little book, a counting book, was “published!” (To publish it, I just went to the local “Office Max” and got it printed, cut, and stapled.) So exciting!
- September – More learning and life on life.
- October – My time of weddings began! Since the end of October, I’ve been to weddings of at least 4 good friends, as well as others who I don’t know as well. It’s a joy to get to be here to celebrate with people whose big life events I had missed over the past few years. We also published 14 other little picture books in My Language. It’s amazing seeing people excited about reading in their language for the first time ever!
- November – One of the highlights was a week-long “Alphabet Party 6” with my friend who knows more than I do about these kinds of issues. We delved deep into grammatical tone. Basically, it means that we have at least 10 words pronounced “yah,” 5 words pronounced “you,” and 6 words pronounced “bee.” Most of these are differentiated by tone. So we had to figure out how in the world you write that so that we have some idea of what was written!
- December – Lots more weddings and an engagement party. And celebrating Christmas with my friends here. The other big milestone from the last few days is that our dictionary is now up to 2022 words! When we think that there were 0 words written in the language a year ago, it’s pretty exciting! (Speaking of numbers, another fun number is 7000. Since I got my new motorcycle a year ago September, I have driven it more than 7000 km, or 4350 miles, around town! It’s true that we aren’t allowed to go so many places around the country anymore, but we can still travel around town and I make full use of that freedom!)
What does 2023 look like? I have lots of dreams and hopes and plans, but as even My People here say, “Man makes his paths, but the Lord directs his steps.” I would really love to be able to start translating the Bible before the end of the year, but that would take a miracle as there are lots and lots of steps between now and then. But I’ve seen God open so many doors this last year, why not believe Him for the impossible again?
In that vein, would you pray for me over the next two weeks? In a week, my language and culture consultant is supposed to be coming out to see how well I understand My Language and My Culture. Though I know that I have a whole lot to learn still, I would love for her to give me the green light, saying that what I know is good enough to be able to keep growing in understanding through daily life encounters, and so I don’t have the requirement to continue to study language in the same way. Of course I’d still continue to study and learn and grow, but having the official requirement off my shoulders would be nice. However, if she sees that I’m not there yet, I know I need to keep studying hard so that I can communicate effectively in this language. Can you pray that the evaluation would go well and that she would see accurately where I am, through sitting in on my classes and on visits with people, etc.? Thanks!
And thank you also so much for your part in making all of this even be possible! I know that there is no way I could be here doing what I’m doing, or watching God do what He’s doing, without you standing with me through prayer, financial partnership, and encouragement. So thank you for making a difference among My People!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
* Name changed for security reasons