News from Mark and Diane
family, friends, and supporters;
life at this juncture is unremarkable in every respect – no great
crisis to report, no milestones achieved. Just the kind of ordinary life
which we always look upon with sentimental fondness in those seasons
when Providence seems to frown upon us. So at the risk of boring you,
allow us to share something of our life and ministry these days.
fellow servants, Mark and Diane
to care for little Sylvie who is a healthy, irrepressibly happy little
girl who has brought much joy to our somewhat bland lives. Even Mark has
conceded that her sparkling eyes and squeals of delight make her at
least as cute as the cats. And quite unintentionally she is giving Diane
“street cred” with Kwong women on the all-important subject of
baby-rearing – a subject for which Diane has always been painfully
conscious of her lack of credentials. In fact, Sylvie is turning out to
be a better poster-child than one of our own would have been since she
is black. Were she our own child, her robust health would simply be
written off as merely the inevitable consequence of being white. But a
black baby growing up with an intact uvula and without drinking the
contaminated water which Kwong women insist is essential for a baby’s
development, now that’s a head-turner.
She lives with us most of the time, but her father and older
siblings take her home a couple times each week – something we
encourage since ultimately she is theirs to keep and raise. However, it
is also a reminder of the pain which awaits us in October when she will
no longer need sterile baby formula and she and her joy will leave us
permanently to return to her birth family.
the variegated roster of translation projects with which we are
currently occupied, you would be excused if you concluded that we are
mindlessly flitting from this project to that. To wit: 1
Corinthians is finished, and Diane has begun translating 1& 2
Timothy and Titus. Well enough. But Mark has gone back to writing more
lessons for the “Kingdom of God” discipleship series which we last
worked on 15 years ago. Meanwhile, a translation consultant, Anne-Marie
Gimenez, has come to Chageen for two weeks to do the final
quality-control check on the book of Psalms, and another colleague,
Larry Gray, is preparing an abridged version in French of Richard
Baxter’s 1656 Puritan classic “The Reformed Pastor”, which we will
soon translate into Kwong as well.
The common denominator behind this apparent lack of focus is
the anticipated opening of the Kwong Vernacular Bible School in June
2017. Each of these books of the Bible, as well as the discipleship
lessons and the Reformed Pastor will be essential to the training up of
a new generation of Kwong pastors, and so has earned a place at the top
of our priority list. Pray with us that we finish these projects in a
timely manner and with suitable quality.
One of the
high points of the Kwong cultural calendar is the annual fishing derby
which happens sometime each May. On the appointed day, which carries all
the anticipation and hype of the opening of trout season in some states,
thousands of Kwong descend on the hapless inhabitants of one
particularly large pond which is otherwise off-limits until the chosen
day. It is quite the festival, and Mark was on hand again this year to
“see and be seen”. (Diane was home with Sylvie.) During the course
of the day he had the following revealing conversation about Kwong
culinary technique with a gentleman who was laying a filleted catfish
out to dry in the sun on the shore of the pond:
Mark: Are you going to smoke the fish?
Gentleman: No, I’m just going to let it lay here in the sun.
M: But won’t it taste better fresh or smoked than rotten?
G: No, rotten is better.
M: How’s that?
G: Well after three days in the sun, the fish develops all
kinds of additional flavors which it doesn’t have when it is fresh or
smoked. In fact the flavorocity becomes so dense that you can actually
make three good meals out of just the one fish. Otherwise, you have to
eat the whole fish in one sitting to get the same amount of flavor.
M: Hmmm. Who would have ever guessed…
may remember our appeal at the end of last year for funds for a new
guest facility in N’Djamena. Well, it’s happening. Many thanks to
all who contributed.
beginning of rainy season means cooler temps (down from 112°). It also
means that the velvety “red bugs” come out. This guy is about ¼
catfish fillet – ready to ripen in the sun.