The blessings and curses of communication

You can take the look of surprise off of your face now. Yes, I am writing another update, after months of silence.

Even under normal conditions, I have never been the type to write or call home much—my mother will testify to that. The past several months of my work have been addressing communication itself and have highlighted its blessings and curses, its joys and sorrows, its ease and difficulty.

Much as we did in 2009, our family of organizations in Wycliffe are moving to yet another email system. The last time, only about 1500 accounts switched—this time, all of the accounts are being changed. Spurred on by a desire to add services and reduce maintenance and complexity, this crew of thousands is migrating from our home-hosted email system to Google Apps for Nonprofits.

Thankfully, we have a lot of clever people working for us, and these folks made the process quite easy. It’s so easy, in fact, that the whole project is about 80% complete. But guess whose part of the world represents most of the remaining 20%?

So far, I myself have managed the move for my brothers and sisters in Sweden, Hungary, Romania, Denmark, and the Netherlands. I’m now working on the few accounts in Slovakia.

The tricky part? Communicating with all of these people in such a way that each person clearly understands what is happening and knows what I need from him or her to give the move a happy ending. Most of these people didn’t grow up speaking English. Though each can use it quite well, there have been plenty of instances in which I let a subtle phrase or word choice worm its way into my instructional messages. I’m trying to bring these people a benefit to their work, but things like language or past email practices can pose a hindrance.

Indeed, there have been ups and downs to this experience. My thoughts during such times recall one of the last things that Moses did with the Israelites before his death. God told him to put half the tribes on Mt. Gerizim and the other half on Mt. Ebal. Blessings would be pronounced from the former and curses from the latter. The tribes would be given a choice about the future—to do what is right and be blessed, or to do what is wrong and be cursed. It’s an interesting read; you can find it in Deuteronomy 27.

Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, in modern-day Nablus.Many promises are made about technology, both that which exists now and that which is promised in the future. We humans often treat technology as something of a “promised land”. Like Canaan for the Israelites, there are both blessings and curses to be found in this new land. We see every day that there are right ways to use technology—and there are wrong ways to use it. It can be a help to us, and it can be a burden to us.

My job with Wycliffe is to direct people to the helpful side of technology and to battle against its burdensome side. It sometimes feels as though my chair is perched on the edge or line between those two places. With your prayers, friend, and your support of our ministry, you ensure that hundreds of Christians working for the cause of Bible translation are not without that guidance. Thank you!

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David Liddle

I grew up in Media, Pennsylvania, close to Philadelphia. I graduated from The Citadel in 1994. In 1995, I joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and have served in Africa, the United States, and Germany. Katherine and I were married in November 1998.

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