Katherine joined Wycliffe first, in 1993, after graduating from Houghton College in 1992. I am a 1994 graduate of The Citadel and joined Wycliffe in 1995, by which time Katherine had already gone to eastern Africa. Each of us took classes in Dallas to learn how to analyze a language from the ground up and how to study the way a language is used within the larger community.
I went to eastern Africa in 1997 with the goal of gaining experience in language survey methods with a seasoned team so that I could start a similar effort in Nigeria. He and Katherine met in Nairobi just a few days after his arrival, though he was still seeing everything through the haze of jet lag. After completing a 10-week orientation course, David joined Katherine and the survey team in Tanzania.
Well, to make a long story short, we were engaged on May 27, 1998, in the lovely remote village of Mirambo. Our real reason for being there was to help confirm that a Bible translation was needed for the Burunge people, but we did all that and more. We serve an efficient God, you know.
Katherine and I were married on November 7, 1998, in Seattle, Washington. We returned to Tanzania in January 1999 and continued to do language survey work there until the following December. After returning to the U.S., we resumed classes in Dallas in preparation for the work ahead of us in Nigeria. Our first son, Jonathan, was born in Dallas in October 2000, and we traveled with him to Jos, Nigeria, in February 2001.
After fourteen months in Nigeria with little to show of our work, we concluded that the time was not right for us to begin a language survey program there. At the same time, my father’s cancer returned in force, and we decided that it would be a good time and to return to the U.S. so that he could enjoy some time with his grandson (Proverbs 17:6). During that period, we lived close to my parents and visited them regularly while also working at a Wycliffe office.
In September 2002, we accepted an assignment from our coordinator in Dallas to craft surveyor training materials. We spent about a year and a half on the project, eventually producing a comprehensive, web-based series of modules on the most common survey tasks. Since I was the more technically-oriented of the two of us, I took charge of creating the files and the structure, while Katherine’s love for sociolinguistic concepts ensured the quality of the content. In the course of doing all of this work, I realized that I was better suited to a technical role than one in language survey.
In April 2004, I moved to the IT (Information Technology) department with the knowledge I had of computers. The great folks there took me in, and I just started soaking it all in, dedicating myself to providing the best service I could. It’s a fantastic job to have, because I get to know just about everyone based in Dallas. We also get to serve the many people who spend time in Dallas while on furlough.
After more than five years there, much of my time involved servicing desktop and laptop computers, helping people with email problems, ensuring that each computer is backed up, and managing the helpdesk system. Setting standards in every aspect of our work has helped to reduce the number of calls for help and speeds the time we spend servicing hardware and software. The team I worked with continues to make extensive use of remote support technology from Bomgar, which allows us to serve any computer connected to the Internet.
In September 2009, Katherine and I accepted and invitation from our colleagues at Wycliffe’s Europe Area office to come and work with them. The mission of that group, located in Holzhausen, Germany, is primarily to support and coordinate the efforts of the small Wycliffe offices spread throughout the continent. Altogether, these offices work to bring new people into the Wycliffe family and to fund Bible translation efforts going on around the entire world. The IT staff, because of their advantageous geographical position and location within an Africa- and Asia-friendly time zone, are becoming more involved with direct support of Wycliffe workers in other areas who need assistance. My presence in the office will enable Wycliffe Europe to maintain and increase their efforts to provide that support.
Just before Christmas 2010, we finished selling and packing up our household in Dallas. After the winter holidays, we moved to Saint Joseph, Missouri, close to family and a supporting church. From here, we’re working on connecting with the people who will give to our ministry and send us to Germany with what we need to get set up and live there. May that day come soon!