Archive for May, 2009

Lydia Teera (center) with two HIV positive teenagers in Bundibugyo, Uganda

Lydia Teera (center) with two HIV-affected teenagers in Bundibugyo, Uganda. HIV is the same disease that killed Lydia's father and stepmother when she was a teenager.

Lydia Teera, 34, is Wycliffe Africa’s first Ugandan missionary based in Entebbe, Uganda.

Doug Wicks, Uganda’s partnership director for the work of Bible translation, linguistics, and literacy training in Uganda and Tanzania explains, “Rather than receiving expatriate missionaries from other countries, Lydia’s church has decided to support and send out Lydia to serve the Ugandan churches and minister to them — specifically in getting Ugandans access to Scripture in a language they can best receive and understand.”

Wicks describes Lydia as “highly reliable, totally committed, faithful and dedicated to seeing the lives of Africans changed by the Word, just as her life was changed.”

When Lydia was 17 her father died of AIDS. A year later, her stepmother also died from the disease.

Lydia is one of ten children, so her brothers and sisters were separated and now live scattered throughout Uganda and the United States. Lydia’s pastor in Entebbe took her in and began to disciple her.

“She could have worked in many occupations because she is such a gifted individual, but she chose instead to follow the Great Commission and wanted to be sent out by her church,” Wicks says.

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It was an emotional day in Bundibugyo, Uganda, as we listened to testimonies of how HIV has impacted the lives of workshop participants. They were completing a week of training so that they could go back to their communities in DRC and Uganda, ready to use Kande’s Story not only as the basis for giving hope to those already infected, but also as stress prevention.

Robin Rempel of SIL, who works closely with community organizers, has been instrumental in the promotion of the workshop and translation of materials.

Scripture translation is also underway, with the books of Mark and Acts already complete. One testimony yesterday was of how the Bwisi translation-checking committee is responding. It has moved from, “we are here checking your translation” to “we are here checking our translation,” with the Bwisi committee members showing great ownership over the process.

I left my friends Scott, Jon and Nick eating Indian food last night as I left Entebbe. They’ll continue on to Tanzania next week, continuing to update the blog as they go.

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Wycliffe Bible Translators International has an excellent summary of Kande’s Story on their website.

When AIDS materials and campaigns are presented in languages of wider communication, they’re often difficult to understand for rural people who communicate primarily in local languages. Kande’s Story, a biblically-based study program addressing AIDS, is one answer to the overwhelming need.

In most communities in sub-Saharan Africa, local churches are respected and active in community life. Using Kande’s Story in the local language, they can present facts about HIV and AIDS in a culturally acceptable way, and help people prevent the disease and reduce the stigma and rejection that come with it. Following up that teaching with what local language Scriptures say on HIV/AIDS-related issues motivates people to change their behavior.

People groups all over the world have experienced community impact as the result of Wycliffe and SIL’s language development work in the areas of prenatal care, nutrition, clean water, general hygiene, malaria and HIV/AIDS.

Today I, along with our team from Wycliffe USA, will be visiting the Bwisi translation and literacy team, including Timothy Bandirana, who completed the Bwisi translation of Kande’s Story in September 2008.

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Schrock and Awe

That’s how Terrill and Amber Schrock describe their blog site. After our visit with them, I’m convinced!

Honestly, I don’t think they would self-describe with the term “shock and awe”…just their blog. Modest, humble, hardworking, compassionate, giving…those are the terms that come to mind first.

Yesterday they hosted us on a visit to the Ik community, located in northeastern Uganda. The Ik are isolated geographically from their neighbors, mainly due to inter-community warfare, and have built their villages in the hills overlooking The Rift Valley.

The houses are round with grass roofs, and each small “compound” is divided from another by strong fences made from local wood and shrubs. Escape routes are well-devised, just in case of an attack from a neighboring community.

The Ik have many needs, Scripture being one. Terrill and Amber feel called to this community…it starts with Bible translation, but they want to give the community hope in other areas, too–areas like health, education and cultural preservation.

Another term that comes to mind: perseverance. These things will come with time…and lots of prayer. It will take hard work and perseverance.

Thanks for praying for the Schrocks.

Tomorrow we’re off to pay a visit to the Bwisi translation and literacy team, including Timothy Bandirana (originally from Bundibugyo), who completed the Bwisi translation of AIDS material in September 2008 after 4 years of work.

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Terrill Schrock

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No, it’s not what Google would have you think (“Did you mean Kaboom?”). Rather, according to their website (yes, they do have one),  Kaabong district was established July 1, 2005. The district borders Sudan and Kenya in the north, Kenya in east, Kotido in south and Kitgum in the west. It’s rocky, has one valley, and is punctuated with hilly landscapes–that’s how it’s described geographically. Its people are described as nomadic pastoralists because raising cattle is a major activity. Agriculture is done on a small scale due to the dry season in the area.

Does it really say dry? Maybe Scott and Jon have already had an impact on the area?! According to what I’ve heard and read (mainly on Twitter), they’ve seen nothing but rain since they arrived! I understand those at EnterMission on Wednesday (our weekly chapel in Orlando) will get to see a video clip of them pushing their vehicle out of the mud…can’t wait!

Nick and I are off early this morning…yes, it’s already early here–dealing with jet lag–but a little later than right now.  Still early by most standards: off at first light to the airport and an MAF flight (yes, MAF Uganda has a website, too) taking us to our destination where we’ll meet up with Scott and Jon, and have lunch with yet-to-be new friends, Terrill and Amber Schrock (who, yes, also have a website).

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Love One Another

Amber Schrock, 28, a community development specialist with Wycliffe Bible Translators, volunteers her time as a nurse to assist her husband, Terrill Schrock, 28, a linguist, who within the last year has begun to work with the Ik people group in northeastern Uganda. Amber received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Florida State University.

“I wanted to put my skills and education into practice. I want to bless people. I thought it would be a good way to get Terrill into good standing with the Ik community,” Amber says.

Amber’s clinic is located beside their house in the back of a storage unit that is curtained off. She usually sees 30 people each day, three times a week–but sometimes she sees up to 60 patients in a single day. If a patient is too sick to come to Amber’s clinic, she will go and pick them up and take them to a hospital. There are ambulance services available here, but Amber called and they said they could only pick up the patient if she would buy the gas. So, Amber decided to go and pick up the patients herself.

Amber gets emotional as she explains, “The first couple of times I took a patient to the hospital, and I took back a corpse…that was really hard for me.”

She sees a lot of respiratory infections, diarrhea, dysentery, pinworms, and malnourished children at her humble clinic. She also sees many patients with diseases related to alcohol abuse…hepatitis and liver disease.

Today she treated chicken pox, skin rashes, respiratory infections and a bullet wound. Three weeks ago, warriors came and shot inside the window of Amber and Terrill’s guard’s brother. The bullet grazed his hand. Amber cleaned the wound with iodine and antibacterial cream.

“I see birth and death,” Amber says. “I don’t get emotional about the small issues. I do get tired.”

Why does Amber do this work? “My parents had a huge impact on my decision to help others. My Dad taught us to follow God and to serve other people. After high school, I pursued a career to ‘love one another,’” she explains.

Right now, according to Amber, it’s not safe enough to live with the Ik. But by having a public face and public identity with the local people and providing basic healthcare, she believes they’ll be able to establish rapport and gain acceptance with the Ik people.

“We really do believe that people need to meet basic needs before they will be open to Bible translation,” she says. “They are thinking about hunger, shelter–not, ‘Who is this man named Jesus?’ Once these basic needs are met, then the Ik people will start thinking, ‘Who is God?’” 

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