I am excited to announce my new book, Hudson on a Mission, available for pre-order today through CMM Press. This has been an exciting project for me, because its a natural outflow of our ministry as parents, missionaries, and mobilizers. My desire from the beginning has been to produce a book that will be a useful tool for helping our son (and other missionary kids) prepare for the sort of major cross cultural shift that is a part of international missions, as well as provide families with a fun tool for teaching their own kids about what God is doing among unreached people groups throughout the world.
For the past four years the majority of my free time has been spent in the company of Jared Weichert and Noe Martinez. Half a year ago – upon the completion of our NTM missionary training – Jared and his family packed up and left for the green pastures of California to begin the next phase of their lives. With the NTM Linguistics training nearly in the rear-view mirror, today was Noe’s turn to overload an SUV and move his family one step closer to church planting among an unreached people group a world away.
I’m not nearly as outgoing as I appear at times (or maybe as I imagine I appear). My friendships tend to be few and deep, with most other relationships relegated to the friendly, shallow depths of casual acquaintance. I dealt with Jared’s move by attaching all the more deeply to my friendship with Noe. With Noe gone, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.
It occurred to me this afternoon that having to say goodbye to best friends may be a part of life for most people, but for missionaries it’s a regular consequence of obedience. I find myself wondering if Paul might have added to his list in 1 Corinthians 9, “Do I not have the right to the proximity of close friends?” Any other career would allow for this. But already I have left friends and family behind, only to make new friends and leave them behind as well. The future promises more of the same as my family descends further from home into one of the most remote regions in the world.
Of course, I owe a debt of gratitude to the Apostle Paul for reminding me that there is a bigger story being told. I have been set free. Because Jesus Christ died for me, I am free to live for him even when it is not convenient. I am free to say goodbye to dear brothers because I am loved by the One who gave me a nature that is relational at its core.
It may never get easy to say goodbye, but brothers, it is worth it. I’ll see you on the other side…
One of our classes right now is Phonetics. In the upcoming years we will likely be learning an unwritten language, so we have to be able to recognize, as well as reproduce, many sounds that we English speakers are not used to making. Jim and I both really enjoy this class, so we want to give you a taste of what we’re learning.
One thing we’ve had to learn to do is to make “unaspirated stops.” The letter “p” is one that English speakers aspirate when it is at the beginning of a word, but not when it is in the middle or end of a word. We are so used to this that it is often very difficult to not aspirate a “p” that is at the beginning of a word. To make an unaspirated “p,” put your hand an inch or two in front of your mouth, and try to say the word “pill” in a normal voice without letting a puff of air out with the “p.” … Can you do it? It will sound similar to the word “bill,” but there is a slight difference between the unaspirated “p” sound and the “b” sound. It is important to be able to distinguish between the two, because in many languages it will be the difference in two completely different words. In Thai, for example, the only difference in the word for “older sister or father or mother” and the word for “crazy” is that the former begins with an unaspirated “p,” and the latter begins with a “b.”
Vowels. Can you tell the difference between the vowel sounds in the words “caught” and “cot?” Perhaps you say these words the same, but there should be a slight difference in your mouth’s position – and this slight difference, in a tribal language, could be the difference in you speaking correctly and in you embarrassing yourself horribly or insulting your listeners. When we are learning our language in the tribe, our tribal language-learning helpers will not think to point out these seemingly slight differences to us – just as to us English speakers, we would not think that the words “pete” and “pit” sound similar, but most Indonesians cannot distinguish the difference in the two words. So, in order to learn the language, we must be able to recognize the slightest differences in vowel sounds.
Glottal Stops. Say “cotton” out loud. I’m willing to bet that you did not pronounce the t’s in the middle of the word, but instead made a glottal stop by closing your glottis (in your throat) to stop the air. Some British dialects use heavy glottal stops for words such as “bottle,” or “cattle.” Virtually all native English speakers unconsciously use glottal stops before words beginning with a vowel. Say the letter “a” out loud. Can you tell that you closed your throat before making the sound? Now say “hay.” Now say “hay” again, but this time with only thinking the “h,” and say the “ay” out loud. In English, the presence or absence of glottal stops does not change the meaning of words, so we don’t even recognize that we use them. But the presence or absence of glottal stops in many other languages can determine the meaning of words. For example, in one language in the Solomon Islands, the only difference between the word for “you” and the word for “adultery” is nothing more than the glottal stop. – yikes!
This Thanksgiving season, I am grateful for NTM’s training!
I mentioned in an earlier post that NTM missionaries have begun teaching chronologically through the Bible in the Akolet tribe of Papua New Guinea. They started on January 4th, and have taught 5 days a week for about an hour each day. If you have not already done it, I’d encourage you to check out their blog or sign up for email updates so that you can follow the progress and pray with me that God would do an amazing work in the hearts of the Akolet, and that he would give those missionaries the energy and endurance to work faithfully to the end.
In just these few short weeks, we are already able to see how God’s word is challenging the Akolet to examine their worldview and think about what is true. I have read several great quotes from the men and women attending the teaching, but there is one I especially wanted to share. Gelio was asked by Ryan (one of the missionaries) to tell him what he thought of the teaching so far. This was his response:
“Ryan, it’s like this. Remember that cake you gave me one time? This teaching is like that cake. I’ve never tasted anything like it, and it is so delicious.”
If you’re interested in reading more, check out these links:
The teaching is about to begin! Pray with us for the Akolet people of Papua New Guinea as they will hear God’s word taught in their own language for the first time.
Follow along at www.martinpng.com.