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October was a month of travel for the Rowbory family, with all of us zooming round England to visit friends and family during the mid-term break before David flew off to America to attend and present a paper at a Bible translation conference. We’ve also been arranging meetings and speaking to groups around Scotland about what we’re doing in Nigeria.
England: flying visits
This is the first time we have had to fit our schedule around school holidays and unfortunately we just didn’t manage to fit in seeing everyone that we would have liked to in England. But it was delightful to see a healthy mix of relatives and friends, lots of fine autumnal English countryside, and all-important homeschool field trips to the British Museum and Roman Baths. We’re grateful to everyone who was bold enough to put us all up and we thank God that we managed the drive without any particular hitches barring traffic jams and travel sickness.
Within a few hours of arriving back in Glasgow, David was on a plane zipping back down to London (somewhat gallingly, after the long drive north) and then over to Dallas for a biennial Bible Translation conference. You might remember he travelled there 2 years ago – a first time to the USA – and found it was a great chance to connect with other Bible translation consultants from around the world and gather some helpful insights for our work in Nigeria. This time, in line with his consultant development plan, he had a paper to present: Making Dictionaries Serve Translation. It still needs some final edits but David has to submit it this week for publishing along with all the other papers that were presented at the conference.
Aside from all the information presented and the encouragement of hearing others struggling with determination to translate the Bible around the world, David really appreciated reconnecting with fellow alumni from NEGST in Kenya, where we studied from 2007-9. Some are now involved in Deaf Bible translation work, others are consultants and have taken up significant roles supporting Bible translation and theological education across Africa.
USA: Visiting friends
There were also a good number of Wycliffe UK people to see, some of whom we very rarely see in person any more. David finally met several other software support people whom he had only every interacted with over the internet. The conference lasted only about 4 days and then, having travelled so far, it seemed a good time to take up a longstanding invitation and visit our friends the Langs in Colorado. We had studied with them in Nairobi, going through many ups and downs with them, and their youngest daughter arrived 3 weeks before Rebekah was born.
Making Julie profoundly envious, David had a few more days visiting Jeremy & Jamie and their 3 kids and getting a taste of the Rockies, a spot of shopping for American goodies and some time to catch up after 6 years. (After a succession of perplexing health issues put paid to their plans for Bible translation in Tanzania, they have ended up based in Colorado but with Jeremy coming to Nigeria once or twice a year working with the Mwaghavul Old Testament project. So we have actually seen fleeting glimpses of Jeremy over the last 2 years.)
Arriving back in Scotland in time for a Tron Church evening service, David the next day represented Wycliffe and Bible translation at an Edinburgh University Christian Union event. Later in the week he had an afternoon talking about Bible translation with the Cornhill Scotland Training Course.
In November/December we hope to visit several more churches in Scotland and Northern Ireland, continue with a little remote work with Gworog translation and get ready for returning to Nigeria. We were encouraged to hear that Nigeria Bible Translation Trust eventually had its missionary quota renewed by the Nigerian government — necessary before we could renew our own work permits. We plan to return to Nigeria in early January, but can only do that if our permits are renewed and passports are returned in good time, and if we’re able to secure a modest increase in regular funding.
We’re so grateful to God for supplying our needs for life and work in Nigeria over the last 4 years through generous friends and relatives (and for studies in Kenya before that). As you probably know, Wycliffe Bible Translators doesn’t pay us a salary, but instead we all have to find people and churches who will invest in our ministry.
Several people have asked us recently about how our finances are looking at the moment, and we’re grateful for your concern. We’ve recently gone over all of our finances, looking ahead for the next year or so, and in summary it looks like we’ll need supporters to give another £500 / month from January to allow us to continue working in Nigeria.
When we first went to Nigeria we had saved up some money for startup costs with the house and car which was a very good help for the start and we have kept on a fairly even keel since then. But immigration matters / work permits have been a little unpredictable and more expensive than first budgeted. Housing costs, living costs and health insurance have risen a bit with inflation and as our family has grown. And obviously the costs of flights too and fro has increased a bit as the family has grown older. We’ve been very grateful to have a good gardener and househelps working for us in Nigeria, but again that takes its toll as we try to pay a fair living wage. We do hope that letting our Glasgow flat may provide a little supplementary income in addition to paying the mortgage but so far we have only broken even on that.
So now we have a request (but we’re not just asking for money). Many of our Nigerian colleagues have recently been building up their own support networks, not only asking friends and relatives to support them but looking to find friends of friends who would be excited to invest in building God’s kingdom. Do you know anyone who might be interested in finding out more about our Bible translation work? We don’t want to do a hard-sell, but we would love to broaden our support network and broaden the horizons of Christians here who may just take it for granted that we can read God’s message in language that makes sense to us. Perhaps you might know someone who would like to support one of our Nigerian colleagues. If you do think of someone who might like to know more about how Bible translation is building God’s kingdom in Nigeria, why don’t you mention it to them and put us in contact?
Our recent video vimeo.com/126826648 gives a bit of a snapshot of what we’re up to and our support pages www.rowbory.co.uk/support give some more information. We’re very grateful for any thought you can give to this, and please pray that God would provide and make our partnership something that not only strengthens the Nigerian church but blesses Christians here in the UK too.
Spreading the gospel nearer to home too
Finally, has it occurred to you that talking about what we’re up to in Nigeria might be a way of having a ’good news conversation’ with friends who don’t yet know and trust Jesus? We were so inspired and delighted when we heard that that very thing had happened with good friends of ours in Glasgow. A Nigerian dress (of all things) prompted a discussion about our work of translating the Bible, which was just peculiar enough that it opened up the door for a chat about the Bible and why it’s worth everyone in the world understanding it. We’re happy to supply some nice cheesy Nigerian photo notebooks, postcards or other things if it would help you reach your friends with the gospel. Just ask!
Thank you for your prayerful interest and concern for us and for Bible translators in Nigeria.
Love from David, Julie, Rebekah, Elizabeth, Abigail and Helen.
ps. Geeks interested in David’s paper should find it at blog.rowbory.co.uk before too long.
pps. Please just ask if there’s anything more that you’d like to find out about how the Wycliffe finance system works.