Newsletter, April 2016

After more than two years in the making ….

OK, not really.

The worst newsletter writers in all of Christendom bring to you the summary of summaries, an imitation CliffsNotes® of our Wycliffe ministry since 2013.

That’s bad. That’s really, really bad. It’s award-winning bad. And bad means not good, not right. It’s not right that I fail to communicate with the people who care about the work that we do for Wycliffe and with the people who faithfully ensure that it continues. Without regular contact, I’m apt to focus on what is in front of me and to put out of my mind that and those who are not in front of me. We have two conflicting sayings in English, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Our ministry to Wycliffe has been steady and predictable for many moons now. Yes, you can indeed read about it—and see pictures!—in our newsletter. It’s a short read:

April 2016: A Liddle Good News

If you read that, then the following pictures and descriptions will make more sense. Since the newsletter was actually written, Katherine has moved into the library’s new space, and I have finished assembling my wireless access point mounts.

Progress in the library
More has been done since this photo was taken, but this new workspace was a nice addition.
My final design
This is my final design of the wireless access point mounts to go on the walls of the new guest lodgings.


Workaround, workaround … I work around!

You know, half of my job exists because people have problems. Most people don’t come to me unless they have one. Sometimes the problems are small and easy, and sometimes the problems are—well, not.

A crane hoists a wall into its new position on the upper floor.
A crane hoists a wall into its new position on the upper floor.

Back in March, I heard that there had been a little incident on the construction site at Wycliffe Germany, where they are busy expanding their lodging and meeting facilities. In the initial excavation phase, a machine had severed some of the phone cables that traverse the center. Oops. Most of the lines in two buildings lost their connections, and several others were reduced to poor quality or instability.

Later that month, I was approached by their business manager about the possibility of installing a VoIP-based phone system to restore the lost phone lines. (The network cables had been untouched.) Such a system is what I installed in our own office in 2013. One difference was that this new system would have to work for a while with what remained of the old one. It was destined to become the only system, but it would be just a workaround in the meantime so that some important calls could get through.

To make a long story short(er)—remember, this happened back in March—my colleague and  I installed the new system and the first of the phones. (That was a really long workday.) Later, we tested and recommended some cordless units to put to work in the tricky areas where corded desk phones just won’t work. Slowly, we are going to plan and install our way from the initial workaround to the final replacement system.

The excavator and its companion in front of our building (on right).
The excavator and its companion in front of our building (on right).

It seems that we’ll be needing some kind of workaround at home, too. The road through our village is being repaved and the sewer system renovated, and the sewer work is right in front of our apartment now. On Friday, the excavator stumbled upon an undocumented pipe—our building’s drain pipe, from all appearances. If the window’s open, and we run a little water, then within minutes we hear a trickling outside. Fun, huh?

Earlier, I didn’t mention that one of the phones I replaced is the one used by my wife. If I can wrangle a picture or two out of her at work this week, I’ll write about what Katherine is up to these days over at Wycliffe Germany.


Hitting the mark … or not

Last month, I provided support at a conference center in the Netherlands for a regularly-occurring event that I have helped before. Among the attendees are many people who are a little Internet-shy, so you won’t see any pictures of the event or detailed descriptions of it here.

All of the attendees are involved in what I would describe as creative ministries that use innovative methods to reach people in challenging circumstances. Read that however you will. The event has grown each year that it has been held, and this year, nearly 400 people were present. The event’s main dilemma is finding a suitable venue. It must be out-of-the-way so as to not attract too much attention, it must provide a variety of meeting spaces, and it’s got to have good Internet access.

Mobile Access Points
These mobile wireless access points I set up were put to good use at the conference.

That last bit is where I come in. I’m not going to bore you with the details of the hurdles that we faced, but it wasn’t easy to satisfy the Internet-hungry crowd that was meeting there for ten days. It became important for me to seek creative solutions myself, manage the expectations of the event staff and attendees, and communicate clearly with the center IT staffer. Besides this, there were a few people who needed intensive work done on the computers they brought.

I was both exhausted and exhilarated. The work I did over the course of the event was the most fulfilling I had done since the last time I had helped them.

On and Off the Mark
It was his first bullseye. You can see the satisfaction on his face, can’t you?

As I pondered the effect that this opportunity had on me, it reminded me of my son’s novice experiences in archery. It is far more rewarding for him to hit the center of the target than it is to hit it at the periphery—though hitting the target at all is still satisfying. Missing the target altogether is never fulfilling.

When I get to participate in events like that of last month, and use my skills as I did there, it’s like hitting the bullseye. My daily work? Well, much of the time it’s more like hitting the white and the black, to be honest. I can be content with those results, but I yearn to get closer to the center. Take a look at Jesus’ parables recorded in Matthew 25 and Luke 19, and you may get an even better sense of what I mean.