Saturday, February 4, 2017

Changes to Website

In order to communicate more effectively, I will be making some changes to how I send out my prayer letters.  I will not be relying on this blog as the place to post the basis of my prayer updates.  For most of my prayer supporters, the change will be minor, because everyone who gets my prayer letters sent to their inbox will receive them the same way going forward.  The updates will continue to be sent by email each month.  However, if you are one who reads my updates here on my blog, but do not also get a copy sent to your inbox, you will not have access to future updates just by visiting this page.  If that's you, and you want to continue reading my prayer letters, you will need to contact me so that you are not overlooked in the transition.  You can use the link on the right of this page to subscribe by email, or you can directly write an email to me.  If you get in touch with me this month, I will be glad to make sure the next prayer letter reaches you.  Thank you!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Winter Newsletter

Below is the text from my winter update letter. Click here for a printable version of the letter.


Dear Praying Friends,

Yes, I am back in the United States again, having returned from India just before Christmas. I am including with this letter a summary of the work done there this fall and a few pictures too. Praise the Lord for a good trip overall! After a week visiting my family in PA for Christmas, I returned to MI and am settled back in to my routines here in Grand Rapids for January and February.

During this past month, my time spent at the BI office has been full of quite a variety of tasks, some continuing or finishing up the language work from this recent trip to India, some keeping in touch with supporters, and many looking ahead to prepare for my next round of workshops that start in March. I love how God gives me the opportunity in this ministry always to be studying and learning new things, from effective teaching methods to the specific sound system and grammar of a new language.

God also gave me the opportunity to participate in a missions conference here in MI this month, where I received a warm welcome from the church, and enjoyed the fellowship of another missionary too who has traveled to some of the same areas in Asia and had a few faces in his presentation that were familiar to me. At the beginning of the year, a supporting church increased their giving, bringing me even closer to full support. I am now less than $150 per month away from reaching the 100% goal, and am trusting God’s plan for providing it.

Looking ahead, in five weeks I will leave for SE Asia to assist Connie with Falam, Bualkhaw, and Kokak workshops there, and to lead a workshop with the Rawang. The linguistics workshops will be focused on rules to keep writing consistent, including in their Scriptures. The Kokak are one of our newest projects, and we will be working on a basic literacy primer that will be the beginning of teaching reading with a consistent writing system. At the end of March, those of us traveling to Asia will meet up with our coworkers who live in that part of the world for a seminar to encourage, learn, and teach. I will be re-sharing some of the good information and ideas that came from our seminar here this past summer about dictionary making and reading fluency. Please pray with us for each workshop, for the seminar, and for all the preparations going on right now for the busy month of March ahead. God has been opening doors for us, and we pray that He will be glorified as His Word continues to reach and impact people of every language.

In Christ,
Bethany Boston


Praises:
  • Praise the Lord for His grace and protection throughout my trip to India this fall 
  • Praise the Lord for the great spirit among the Ranglong believers 
  • Praise the Lord for the willing work of the Simte team despite busy schedules 
  • Praise the Lord for Lun and Biak’s service in India 
  • Praise the Lord for increased support 

Prayer Requests:
  • Pray for the Ranglong and Simte to complete their Writer’s Handbooks this year 
  • Pray for the Falam, Bualkhaw, Kokak, and Rawang language groups, and the upcoming workshops with them this spring 
  • Pray for unity in decisions made during each workshop 
  • Pray for the Asia Consultant Seminar 
  • Pray for the planning, logistics, and safety for all of us traveling to SE Asia in March 
  • Pray for a pastor for my sending church

Upcoming Travel:·   
  • March 4-April 17 – SE Asia 
  • July – India 

Current Support Level: 96%


Praises on Progress


On arriving in India in late October, we right away began a three-week class in linguistics with three students: Lun, Biak, and Naocha. I am grateful for all the Lord allowed us to accomplish during this time. I taught primarily about types of sounds in languages and how to analyze them. We had fun practicing (and hearing each other practice) all the unfamiliar consonants and vowels! We also looked at how those sounds transfer into different writing systems, and how to effectively teach people to read. Lun and Biak are currently continuing their studies in translation as Lun completes his training to be a consultant soon. This class was Naocha’s first introduction to the world of linguistics, and he is considering the ministry of BI and how God is leading in his life. All three students worked diligently, and were an encouragement to me.


Lun and Biak then traveled with me for two weeks to work with the Ranglong. These two weeks were full of diligent work, unified decisions, supportive words and actions, and good friendships. Praise God for how He is working through the Ranglong believers! They completed a draft of their Writer’s Handbook during the first week, and over a dozen literacy teachers prepared and taught lessons using Old Testament stories during the second week. Pray as we continue to keep in touch to make further additions and revisions to this Writer’s Handbook during 2017. Pray also for the Ranglong literacy teachers and the impact they will have through enabling people to read Ranglong, and their Scriptures.


Afterwards, I journeyed on to another nearby state to work with the Simte on their Writer’s Handbook. They already had a good draft they have worked on for a few years, but this workshop was needed to complete missing sections and make final revisions. I am thankful that, despite some schedule conflicts that the Simte creatively worked around, the revisions were completed during this week. Just today I received word from the translation team that they and the literature committee are in the process of looking over printed copies of the draft to collect some feedback and catch any remaining errors before the book is printed. Please pray that their progress continues by God’s grace. 

My final workshop with the Tangkhul had to be canceled due to concerns with unrest and potential strikes that would prevent travel in that area. Instead, God gave me a few days of rest at the end of my trip. Pray that I would now be able to meet with the Tangkhul later this year and we could work through some of their questions and concerns about their orthography. Thank you for your prayers for me throughout this trip and for our friends in India!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Light

During my time in India this fall, several different brothers and sisters in Christ earnestly asked me to pray with them as they desire to serve the Lord in places that are spiritually so dark. One brother spoke of the small group of believers in his home area who are opposed by the predominantly Muslim community around them at every move to share the gospel. Another brother just getting started in ministry spoke of his struggle to fulfill the role of oldest brother in his family, when every special occasion and holiday brings up the need to intercede between him and his sister, who are believers, and his parents and other siblings who follow Hinduism, in order to preserve relationships while avoiding all idolatry. One young couple asked for prayer as they will return soon back to their home area where they are serving the Lord starting a small church there. They have very few Christians for fellowship and encouragement, and again their families are not believers and do not support them, but they are asking for God's grace to share the gospel in this place. In the short days of the winter season, I am reminded of how God uses His disciples to be lights in the darkness, and am praying for strength for these brothers and sisters in Christ who have taught me more clearly what that looks like.

I also had the privilege of seeing the ongoing effects of the light of the gospel in the Ranglong community in India. In 2018, the Ranglong will celebrate 60 years since the first Ranglong believer was saved and baptized, and they are already planning for this special occasion. They are a small language group with a few thousand speakers, but they have a strong testimony to God's work in their lives! I had the privilege to hear the story and see the grave of a Ranglong family member who lived to the age of 101, had been a devout Hindu for many years, but came to know Christ at the age of 97. The Ranglong now have their New Testament, and are making good progress on their Old Testament translation. The believers in these churches are faithfully working together to learn and to share the truth of God and His Word.


As I spent two weeks with the Ranglong during this trip, I delighted to see what God is doing through them. They have expressed gratitude for the help that the workshops have been for them and what they learned, but I am quite sure that I learned more from them. Here are some pictures and a little glimpse for you of these brothers and sisters in Christ.

Ranglong Writer's Handbook Workshop

We spent week one on the Writer's Handbook. About a dozen Ranglong speakers with particular skills and interests in language study and teaching came each day. Many in this group had to take vacation days from work to attend, and at least one teacher had to use his medical leave days in order to be permitted to be absent from that week. A few pastors also came, including one who has published a short grammar of the Ranglong language. I was delighted to receive a first edition copy! He has a good eye for seeing patterns in his language, and has created quite a few very useful charts to explain parts of Ranglong, which he has allowed us to freely use. I am grateful for Pastor Lianzamthang's work, especially since I love a good symmetrical chart! Together with coworkers Lun and Biak, we all explored the mysteries of Ranglong grammar together in this workshop and are pleased with the progress the Lord allowed us to make. I am also thankful for a volunteer in the US who is helping to type up the large amount of information collected that week, so that a full draft of the Writer's Handbook will be ready for revisions very soon. The Ranglong tell me that they look forward to taking the Grammar and the Writer's Handbook to the local government offices to demonstrate that Ranglong is a legitimate language and to gain opportunities for education in the Ranglong language.


Brother Lun and Pastor Lianzamthang
 We spent week two training literacy teachers, particularly to use OT stories to teach reading skills as well as background knowledge for reading the NT. We especially worked on comprehension and fluency as important skills beyond just sounding out the words. The work of God among the Ranglong churches was especially clear this week as they demonstrated such unity and support for one another as they focused on literacy ministry. Those who attended the workshop were all actively involved in teaching already, and included both men and women, older and younger, working with different age groups from preschool to adults, and were from several different churches and several different villages. Without any direction from me, they thoughtfully organized themselves in groups for preparing their lessons that allowed the experienced teachers to work closely with those inexperienced, and there was not a single person attending who sat back as a spectator. Even more, when the teachers practiced their lessons at the church in evening Bible studies, the rest of the congregation came to be their students and to give encouragement, recognizing the importance of what these teachers will do for the spiritual growth of their people. They thanked us for coming and have already written about how they are using their lessons in their classes, but Lun, Biak, and I could hardly find the words when we tried to express to them what a privilege it was for us to spend those two weeks with them.
Preparing literacy lessons together
Practice teaching with supportive church members


I hope this letter can give you just a little better picture of what is going on in India, particularly among the Ranglong people, and I hope you will join me in praising the Lord for the amazing work He continues to do through them! I appreciate your continued prayer as I stay in touch with these projects in India, as well as prepare for my next trip to Asia in March to work with several different languages. In the meantime, I am back in Grand Rapids, preparing materials as well as continuing deputation ministry, waiting for God's provision of that last 5% support. I also have a missions conference here in MI this coming weekend. Thank you so much for all your prayerful support and joining me in this ministry. Whenever you remember to pray for me, please pray also for our friends like the Ranglong and God's work in bringing His Word to them.





Monday, December 5, 2016

Final Week

After a few more weeks of workshops here, I am pausing to write you a short update of what God has been doing, before I begin this last week of meetings and travel. This has been a full trip – full of multiple workshops in several locations, but also full of blessings and God’s goodness. I have already begun to write a prayer letter with more details about each of these workshops and answered prayers, which I will better be able to share with you along with pictures when I return to the US soon. But please join me even now in thanking the Lord for these praises and in bringing these requests to Him for this final week.

Praises:
  • Safety in traveling to Tripura and Manipur states 
  • Host families which have been more than gracious and treated me as family 
  • Good help, company, and support from my co-workers Lun and Biak as we traveled together 
  • Enthusiasm and unity of the Ranglong believers, which was evident during the linguistics and literacy workshops as well as local church services, as men and women of all different ages, backgrounds, and experiences happily served together 
  • Support and encouragement of the Ranglong church members for their literacy teachers, as they became the students for the literacy teachers to practice teaching their lessons during evening services 
  • Goals met for both Ranglong and Simte in completing the sections of the Writer’s Handbooks that were planned for these workshops 

Requests:
  • Final editing of the Simte Writer’s Handbook draft going on currently 
  • Linguistic workshop with the Tangkhul language, and travel to that workshop this week 
  • Ongoing strength, health, and wisdom in completing these last workshops 
  • Travel home to the US on December 10-11 
  • Communication with these language groups throughout the year, to know how to be a blessing and to serve together with them well 

Thank you for your prayers and partnership in this ministry!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Unexpected

As eyes were on election day news in America, some unexpected news was received here in India. Effective within hours of the announcement, all 500 and 1,000 note rupee currency is no longer legal for most purchases, and must be deposited or exchanged at banks for smaller denominations (or eventually, newer versions of the currency). These bills account for the majority of currency in circulation in the country, and everyone is surprised and affected by the policy, which is an effort to target illegal use of cash. Those with legitimate funds can certainly exchange the bills, but the logistics of this sudden and large scale change will have impact on daily life here in the immediate future as the transition is navigated. Please pray for wisdom, patience, and a smooth transition for those at BIIS and the ministry.

Unexpected events bringing uncertainty to life's plans is a common experience to us all, on small or large scales, and in different aspects of life. But always the unexpected can be used by God to remind us of our reliance on Him, who is never surprised. I am quite sure He is doing exactly what He has planned, and that His plan is good. And with that in mind, I am writing to you today also to share some of the good things He has done in these first few weeks of my time in India this fall.

Thanks for praying for the linguistics class that has been in session these weeks. With just two days left, the majority of topics I planned to teach are behind us, and I am seeking to challenge the students - my coworkers - with a few final projects to reinforce practical ways to use the knowledge they have worked hard to gain. Each one has given diligent effort and made my task of teaching a joy. Please continue to pray that they will finish well and that God would direct how we use the last little bit of time we have for this class.

Praise God also for the opportunity I had to talk with Pastor Peter during my first week here while he was checking the book of Daniel with Hebrew consultants. One evening we set aside a few hours to discuss the Ranglong dictionary as well as the upcoming literacy training to be held in his village later this month. This time for face-to-face communication helped to clarify for both of us how we can be prepared for the literacy workshop. After setting up his computer with the software for the new dictionary files and testing how the program worked for us, Pastor Peter remarked how clearly he could see the grace of God in bringing together the burden on his heart for the impact of a dictionary, the special speaker at BI this August to give us insight into dictionary making, and the timing of all this together with workshop schedules. We rejoiced together in how God is graciously answering prayer.

On Monday, I plan to leave for the Ranglong workshops in a neighboring state, along with Lun and Biak. Please pray for the travel itself as well as the work to be done for the Ranglong Writer's Handbook and the training for literacy teachers during the coming two weeks. I am grateful to be working together with the Ranglong believers as well as with coworkers Lun and Biak, and appreciate your prayers for them as well.  I will be sure to collect stories and pictures along the way that I can share with you soon about what the Lord is doing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fall Newsletter

Below is the text from my fall update letter.  Click here for a printable version of the letter.


Dear Praying Friends,

With just a few days remaining until I leave for India, I am writing to remind you to pray for this trip, as well as to share with you what God has been doing in answer to your prayers this fall so far. From my move to Grand Rapids in August, to the annual seminar and meetings at BI afterwards, and the deputation meetings to follow, I am thankful for how God is answering your prayers!

Thank you for your ongoing prayers for ministry through deputation. God gave me several meetings in September and October that were very encouraging. I appreciate those of you who have shown me kindness and hospitality during these recent visits. Recently, I received word from another church planning to take me on for support. Praise the Lord for this increase, and new partners in ministry! I returned to Grand Rapids from my trip to MN and WI meetings this week, and those were my last deputation meetings for this year.

On Saturday, I begin my trip to India. Thank you so much for all of you who have been praying with me for the preparations for this trip. I have seen the Lord answering your prayers in many gracious ways: good communication through email across continents while working out schedules, wise input and decisions from language committees on plans for workshops, cooperation of computers and software, receiving helpful suggestions for edits and revisions, and opportunities to get together and receive help from coworkers on projects. There are so many moving parts and unpredictable factors involved, and these blessings are clear evidences of God’s goodness.

As you continue to pray throughout this upcoming trip, please remember to pray also for those I will work with in India. Lun and Biak, an Indian couple, are serving with BIIS. I will be teaching them about linguistics and literacy, and they are already helping me with logistics of the trip and specific language feedback too. Pray also for the Ranglong, as they work on their Writer’s Handbook and hold a training workshop for literacy teachers. The Simte are also working on their Writer’s Handbook, and the Tangkhul have several specific questions to resolve about their writing system. Pray for each of these people to be blessed and edified by the workshops this fall.

In Christ,
Bethany Boston



Praises:
  • Praise the Lord for my new home in Grand Rapids 
  • Praise the Lord for increased support 
  • Praise the Lord for all we learned at the BI seminar about dictionary making 
  • Praise the Lord for good meetings on deputation this fall and opportunities to visit supporters and family along the way 

Prayer Requests:
  • Pray for completion of deputation and remaining support 
  • Pray for the Ranglong, Simte, and Tangkhul people and the workshops in India 
  • Pray for travel to each village for workshops 
  • Pray for Lun and Biak as they train and serve with BIIS 
  • Pray for a pastor for my sending church 

Upcoming Travel:
  • Oct. 22 – Dec. 11 - India 

Current Support Level:
92%

Friday, September 30, 2016

Packing Again

Though I have completely unpacked from my move here to Grand Rapids, I currently have sitting out in my bedroom a couple of suitcases again.  I just got them out because it is time already to start repacking for the next couple of trips.  My larger suitcase is there so that I can be literally weighing out the decisions of what is or is not going with me to India in a few weeks.  My duffel is collecting the things I need to take with me on my trip to WI and MN these next two weeks for deputation meetings.  With all the practice, my packing skills continue to adapt and improve!  I do travel a lot, and though I'm sure it may seem at times as you read my letters that I never really get home and unpacked, God does graciously give me time throughout the year both to rest and to work at home.  I am thankful for the time I've had these last couple of months to settle into a new home and routines here in Grand Rapids.  I am also thankful for God's provision of many places to unpack - places both in the US and overseas, places with family and friends, places that I make my home.

As I ask for prayer for upcoming travel, let me also remember to share with you what He has done in recent weeks in answer to your prayers.  My time in September was split between the BI office and deputation.  God gave good times of fellowship in PA and NY at a deputation meeting, at a supporting church, and at a church fellowship conference.  I got to visit my parents and home church in the process, as well as reconnect with several missionary friends and listen to many good sermons.  I also visited one new church, and updated another church with several faithful prayer partners.  Now, having returned to Grand Rapids, I've taken some time to focus on necessary tasks in preparing for the workshops in India.  Thank you for your prayers, as God's gracious hand has been evident throughout these recent weeks.  Would you continue to join with me in prayer, taking a few of these praises and requests to our heavenly Father?

Praise the Lord for:
  • the opportunities coming up to visit several different language groups in India and for working out the schedule and details for my stay there.
  • good meetings in PA and NY.
  • my car being repaired in PA.  It decided not to start one morning - but it was while I was parked outside my parents' house, as good a time and place as any.  Someone from my church willingly helped me out, and had a new battery installed before the conference was out for the day.
  • new glasses, arriving soon.  I was quite surprised to learn at my recent eye exam that I needed a weaker prescription than my current one, but I was glad to learn that this needed change should reduce eye strain and headaches, and just in general feel a lot better and make work at the computer easier.

Pray for:

  • my upcoming meetings in MN and WI
  • my remaining 10% of monthly support.
  • my India trip, beginning October 22nd, safety in the travels, and for preparations for the Ranglong, Simte, and Tangkhul materials I am working through now.
  • a pastor for my sending church.  My pastor recently resigned to go to another ministry.  Pray for his adjustment to his new ministry also.
  • encouragement for my sending church, who are an important part of my spiritual support system.  Pray for guidance and strength as they begin the process of seeking the next pastor, and that they do not grow weary or impatient along the way.
  • needed administrators in leadership for BI - directors for BI and for BIMS.  The director of BIMS (Myanmar office) recently resigned, and his service has been foundational and key to the ministry there for years.
  • the completion of the translation center being built in Yangon, which will allow more effective and efficient use of resources for workshops there.
  • the annual banquet and fundraising efforts for BI here in Grand Rapids on October 20th, which is focusing this year on the needs of projects in Chad and the Central African Republic.