Well another Christmas is well upon us and another opportunity to celebrate the birth of the Savior. Kathleen and the boys have been busy this afternoon doing some last minute baking and such. The believers here in Taperillas are getting together tonight so the kids can do a program and then a sing-fest of sorts. Kathleen spent the morning with many of the church ladies making sweet bread and other treats to be given out after the service. Our boys have been practicing together with the other kids who will be involved since late Nov. and I'm sure will be relieved to get it over with (it's one thing to stand up and recite in front a whole bunch of people but another to do it in a language not your own). Then tomorrow there is another church service planned with a big meal afterward, then soccer and games all afternoon at the community field.
Well since we last wrote, there have been a few developments...probably the biggest is the arrival of another family who will be our co-workers. Seth and SaRee Lamb and their three little boys are now setting up their house and hope to begin formal language and culture study by mid-January. Their arrival has been a tremendous help and encouragement to us. Also arriving is a Bolivian national family (Willy and Ely Copa) who have had ties to the mission for many years now. They will be here for a year as a practicum of sorts. New Tribes Mission in Bolivia is wanting to begin the process of training Bolivian nationals with a heart for cross-cultural ministry, and the Copas are slated to eventually be part of the team who will be doing the training. For now, though, they will be experiencing life as new missionaries, focusing on learning the language and culture also.
About a week ago there was a bunch of engineers and government officials who met here with the community concerning the new road. The final outcome is the road will go ahead soon and will go right below our house (as opposed to above)...so it looks as though life will be very noisy for awhile. We were able to secure a guarantee that there would be no dynamiting near our houses, so that is at least something. There comes a point where one just has to let go and rest in God's sovereignty when it comes to situations that we just don't like... I think we have reached that point.
We had our long awaited language check not too long ago. The field is now experimenting with different evaluation techniques, which are really much more natural and accurate as to determining just where we are really at. Both Kathleen and I were given the go-ahead to work part time on various ministry projects, while still continuing on with our Simba studies....we praise the Lord (and thank you for your prayers) that we are far enough along now in the language to become more involved in the work here. Kathleen will be starting work on developing literacy materials, and I will be working on a Simba / Guarani New Testament revision. Our language consultants are also the field Bible translation consultants and while they were here we spent considerable time going over the first four chapters of Mark. The final conclusion is that a revision is definitely needed...to be honest I was secretly hoping that it would not be necessary, as it will be a lot of time involved in doing it. But a clear translation is an absolute must if the church is to mature and stand on its own. For now, I am trying to put in an average of a couple hours a day on it.
We have been quite busy these past couple weeks preparing for a group of 15 people, who will be coming here from the States just after the New Year......please pray with us that this will be a profitable time for all as they work with the Simba believers on the Bible Center construction. We'd also appreciate your continued prayers for our other co-workers, who may not be able to return for a while due to medical problems. As well, please pray for our language helpers (Martin, Daniela, Julio and Daniel) as we continue to meet with them and work through various discipleship materials with them. Finally, rejoice with us as we will be giving out Christmas morning in church new copies of the first printing of Genesis in the Simba / Guarani language! This is probably the only gift most will receive this Christmas, and we pray they will treasure it and learn to read it well.
In closing, we want to thank you for your many gifts of prayer, support and encouragement to us throughout this year. May your Christmas be a joyous one as you celebrate the best gift of all.... "Immanuel--God with us!"
Love in Christ Jesus,
Bill and Kathleen Mann, (Joshua, Jonathan, & Jesse)