Ending the year on a sad note

June (Gleason) Pubols

A few hours before the New Year approached in Europe, we received a call that Jeff’s mom had passed away.  New Years Eve was a sad night for us. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s just three and a half years ago, and passed away as a result of the disease.  She was 85 years old.

Jeff’s mom was a follower of Jesus, and it gives us joy to know that she is in heaven with Him. She is completely healed and reunited with loved ones that have gone on before her. While we can take comfort knowing we will see her again, the loss of family members is difficult.

Please be praying for us as well as Jeff’s family. Here are two specific prayer requests:

  • For safe travel for Jeff out to California as well as for his brother who is coming in from Japan.
  • For everyone to feel the presence of Jesus and his comfort as they grieve.

Connecting

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This week I’ve been at an event sponsored by the Lausanne Movement called the Younger Leaders Gathering.  The event includes evangelical leaders (mostly under 40) from more than 150 countries.  The event is being held in a Christian college campus in Jakarta, Indonesia. The sessions have focused on participating in God’s story. There’s also been a lot of opportunities to connect with the other participants, which has been fun.

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My last time in the area was more than 10 years ago, so I decided to connect with a few colleagues while I was here. Marnix and Lena are part of Kartidaya, the Wycliffe Global Alliance organization in Indonesia.  Kartidaya’s staff are involved in translating God’s word into languages in Indonesia, as well as literacy and development.

Marnix is Kartidaya’s director, and we first met on my trip to Indonesia all those many years ago.  He also came for dinner at our house in Orlando a few years after that.

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I spent time meeting with Marix and another colleague, Helma (who works in communications for Kartidaya) to talk to them about what was happening with Kartidaya. I hope to send a team out to do some story gathering here in the near future. For now, I got to enjoy the reconnecting with colleagues while eating one of my favorite foods from this part of the world – satay!

Back to France

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Jeff and his team have been working on upgrading computers for Wycliffe offices around Europe to Windows 10.  So, this brought us back to the Wycliffe France office for a week.  I was able to come along to spend some time talking with the director about communications strategy.

We stayed in the little attic apartment at the office. It’s way up at the top of the building, and it’s only windows are sky-lights.

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The office is in the city of Valence.  The trees were all in bloom, and we could smell spring in the air.

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It’s an old city with a history stretching back to Roman times.  While Christianity has been in France for a long time, those practicing their faith are very few.  Protestants account for about 3% of the population. However, Wycliffe France still has more than 40 staff working worldwide serving in Bible translation.

Multilingual Computing

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Computer support in Europe means needing to navigate operating systems in different languages – at least 14 of them!  That’s how many languages are used by the Wycliffe Global Alliance organizations in Europe supported by the IT team Jeff is on.

He’s had to learn a few translation hacks to work on computers across the continent.

  • Google Translate: This is an obvious one.  While Google translate usually isn’t a great tool for translating complicated texts, it does fairly well with operating system terms like “start”, “menu”, “continue”, and the like.  And, it also helps with simple text conversations with users who need computer help.
  • Word Lens: This is the program Jeff is using in the photo.  Using the camera on your phone, Word Lens will translate the text on your screen in real time.  It’s not perfect, but good for the simple stuff. This has recently been incorporated into the Google Translate app.
  • Google Chrome web browser: Translation is one of the built in features of this web browsing application. Again, if you expect a rough translation, it can be fairly useful to help you get the gist of things you may need to view in other languages on websites.

These tools are great when you are working in languages that have software written for them.  But, for the many small language communities where Wycliffe works translating the Bible, these tools simply wouldn’t work.  That’s because the Bible may be the first piece of literature these communities have ever had in their own language.

Along with the translation of the Bible, many communities will work on dictionaries, writing down their history, folk tales, poetry, medical or farming information, educational curriculum and more.  As a matter of fact, the more literature a community has in their language,  the more likely literacy is to take hold in a community. Who knows – someday, some of these communities may have their own translation of the Windows operating system, too!

Merry Christmas!

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One of the things I love about this region are the Christmas decorations.  Even every little village has some kind of Christmas decor.  The main street in the city where we live is always full of Christmas trees and lights.  It’s so beautiful.

IMG_20151215_171102Since we’ve been here we’ve had a real Christmas tree each year.  I love the smell of the evergreen inside.  Thankfully, the cat doesn’t seem at all interested in the tree!

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Another great part of the holiday season here is cheese.  Since we live very close to Switzerland, we also get  fondue and raclette (two different kinds of melted cheese).  Raclette is available at the local Christmas markets, but you can also do it at home.  We haven’t done that, yet.  However we have taken advantage of the prepackaged fondue.  Yum!