It’s my turn to share! (Gary)
Hats versus Hats
Missionary professors wear many hats. Here are two of mine.
A typical Thursday Night – for 4 hours it’s my class in Advanced Hermeneutics. It’s one of the more strenuous courses at ESEPA, with six of our top students in the master’s program. We talk at length about how best to interpret the Bible and wrestle through issues of semantics, context, contextualization, etc., etc. The students are expected to be self-starters: so student Nani spoke for an hour on how the doctrine of inspiration affects our Bible reading, just for a start. Then Esteban spoke for a while, comparing how the ancient church fathers Clement of Alexandria and John Chrysostom interpreted the Word. They led the discussion for a while, then I jumped in with some teaching on how we need to depend on the Spirit in Bible study: exegesis, linguistics, theologizing, applying the text.
Exhausted yet? Yeah, well, just wait 24 hours!
A typical Friday Night – We go over to see Heather, another American missionary. Her garage is a magnet for kids from the barrio. And while she leads a Bible study for adults, I work with between 5-7 kids, including our Sammy. These are “kinesthetic” learners, which is Greek for lots of noise, motion, running around, games, me shouting: “Ready! Last chance for the bathroom! Line up! Attention! Shout your name!” We are going through the miracles of Jesus, so we are hearing about how he resurrected the son of the widow of Nain, just as they were carrying his body out of the city (Luke 7). I had unhooked and taken over our garden hammock. As a graphic part of the story, the boys took turns hauling the “dead man” around in it; then to top it off I gave them wild rides, spinning each boy airborne in a circle. Then games. And just when the garage seems about to burst, Heather pops in with cookies, along with an ice-cold Diet Coke for the overheated “Grandpa.” She spells me while I go and visit with the adults for a few minutes.
One of my professors, years ago, would teach complex academics during the day, but then every week head out to lead a group of boys at his church. I’ve never forgotten it. The boys’ group is my main ministry in our church and a way I teach the gospel in Costa Rica.
Yes, missionary professors have to avoid distractions; they have to make sure they do the main thing; and they have to do the main thing most of the time. But in the work of the gospel, they will probably wear several hats.
Many blessings! Gary and Karen
Being a Missionary in Costa Rica
Proverbs 8:13 says that “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.” Being a missionary doesn’t mean just moving from one place to another, or even learning a new language. It also means listening and learning how people think and express themselves, and then responding with God’s Word. Our work helping the process of Bible translation with Wycliffe Associates teaches us the same thing, that communicating the gospel in another culture is not a simple process.
What’s it like to live in Costa Rica?
- If you are a Costa Rican, you call yourself a Tico (men) or Tica (women).
- For breakfast you probably had “gallo pinto” – black beans with rice – maybe with eggs or “farmer’s cheese.”
- In the morning, you ask your friends “How did the day dawn for you?”
- When you leave, you say Ciao (like “chow”).
- When you sing Happy Birthday, it’s the same song sung in Spanish, but after each line you sing “cha-cha-cha.”
- When someone asks how you are, you say “I’m well, thanks to God.”
- If you see it’s drizzling outside, you say “It’s doing cat fur”!
- If someone tries to “kid” you, he is not pulling your leg, but “pulling your hair.”
- Your wife is not your “better half,” but “my half-orange.”
- I had a wisdom tooth extracted last week – I learned that in Spanish, it’s a “molar of good judgment.” You leave it, not for the Tooth Fairy, but for “Tooth Mousie Perez.”
- If truckers or bus drivers are going slow and clogging the highway as a protest, in English it’s a “slowdown.” In Costa Rica it’s a tortuguismo, from the word for turtle. They are “turtling.”
- The day of the Virgin Mary is August 2; Mother’s Day is August 15.
- Drop by the Chinese restaurant and you can order an eggroll, or as it’s called, a Chinese Taco.
- If you think an issue is clear-cut, it’s not black-and-white, but white-and-black.
- Fall out of an airplane? Hope you have your paracaidas on! (literally a “fall stopper”)
- In Costa Rica, the answer to just about any question (How are you? What’s up? How’s the family?) is Pura Vida, literally “Pure Life.” It means something like, “Life is good!”
- And finally – a Costa Rican holiday is the Anexación del Partido de Nicoya, on July 25. This celebrates the adding of part of our country to Costa Rica, and is celebrated with country dancing. Click HERE to see a video!
Karen says: Thank you for your prayers in these last 7 weeks. God has answered those prayers in many beautiful ways. On June 28, Mom spent her last moments in her frail earthly body comfortable, peaceful, and surrounded by loved ones. Now she is enjoying eternity with the Lord she served so faithfully.
Contributions may be made to Woodlyn Baptist Church, Woodlyn PA, or Shriners Hospital for Children.
Gary says: Thelma accepted the Lord as a teenage and had walked with him for eight decades. My lasting image of her will be with her sitting in her special rocker, with her Bible and magnifying glass in hand, praying and studying the Scriptures.
Let’s study the Evangelio de Marcos (Gospel of Mark)!
One of Gary’s courses this term is a study of Mark. Every Wednesday morning at 8am, they spend three hours on this wonderful book.
One big focus is “Who is Jesus Christ?” From the very first verse (“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”) to the account of his death (the centurion: “Surely this was the Son of God!”) the students trace how Jesus is God’s unique Son, who rocks the world by healing the sick, telling demons what to do, and even – gasp! – taking it on himself to forgive the sins they had committed against God. Besides doing their own analysis of Mark’s “christology,” the students have two other projects: talking to a youth group about the person of Jesus, and talking to a non-Christian about who Jesus claimed to be. This class is heavy on studying, but also doing and telling.
In the gospels, Jesus is Continue reading
Ben and Stephanie would like to announce the birth of a healthy baby boy
born on March 3!
Grandpa and Grandma are over the moon with joy; Karen was there to welcome him, and we will both visit again next month.
Thanks for your prayers for the pregnancy, both Steph and Alastair came through it fine.
From Karen: January 15 – Gary was there when they finished the Bible!
[Note: When we teach ESEPA students how to study the Bible using the Inductive Method, one of the most important principles we must communicate is that in order to understand a sentence correctly, it must be read IN CONTEXT. I hope now you see why that is important; the title of this article could signify a lot of different things, depending on the context. Continue reading to find the context you need to know in order to understand what that title means!]
Last year Gary connected with Wycliffe Associates, who invited him to be part of a unique project: writing a guide for how to translate the whole Bible, verse by verse. The final goal would be to translate that instruction manual into 50 trade languages of the world (French, Hindi, Russian, Cantonese, etc.) and freely distribute it worldwide, along with open source Bible translations . Then, members of many new people groups will immediately be able to start translating the Bible into new tongues and dialects. This would truly jump-start spreading the gospel! (Read the story here – https://unfoldingword.org/)
Gary has enjoyed the project immensely, and it has been a great fit for his gifts and skills. It has also been an excellent opportunity for him to put a new layer on his biblical language abilities: learning to think from the perspective of a non-English Bible reader. He has worked on these Translation Notes for Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Revelation, Deuteronomy, Lamentations, 1 Chronicles. Here is a page he worked on for Rev 13:3-4 –
Hundreds of people and dozens of committees were working toward a January 15 deadline. After some work on 1 Chronicles, Gary thought he had completed his part. Until the unexpected email on Jan 14, asking if he could finish the very end of Ecclesiastes by the next day! Fortunately, he was able to put aside other work and dedicate himself to this last job. When he pushed the send button late that night, he was submitting the draft of the last Translation Notes for the entire Bible, which now go on to another level of experts. But on this level at least, he was the one who “finished the Bible” for this project!
Late-breaking news – Gary has just been recruited to work on the next level, so it looks like he will be working with Wycliffe Associates in 2016.