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. Katherine and I met in Nairobi just a few days after my arrival, when I was still seeing everything through the haze of jet lag. After completing a 10-week orientation course, I joined Katherine and the survey team in Tanzania. I also attended an concentrated, month-long course in the Swahili language.
Working intensely in close quarters allowed our team to get to know each other well. Well enough, that is. To make a long story short, Katherine and I 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 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 I worked at a nearby 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 started soaking in their skills and know-how, dedicating myself to providing the best service I could. It was a fantastic job to have, because I got to know just about everyone based in Dallas. Our team also served the many people who spend time in Dallas while on furlough.
After more than six years there, much of my time involved servicing desktop and laptop computers, helping people with email problems, ensuring that each computer was backed up, and managing the helpdesk system. Setting standards in every aspect of our work reduced the number of calls for help and shortened the time we spent 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 an invitation from Wycliffe’s Europe Area office to use my skills and experience to assist them. The mission of that group, located in Holzhausen, Germany, is primarily to support and coordinate the efforts of the Wycliffe offices spread throughout the continent. These offices work to bring new people into the Wycliffe family and to fund Bible translation efforts going on around the entire world.
Katherine, the boys, and I moved to Germany in August 2011. From then until July 2017, I worked with many people in many places to help smooth their everyday use of technology. The geographical position was advantageous to locations in Africa and Asia, allowed our IT staff to support Wycliffe workers in areas beyond Europe. My presence in the office enabled Wycliffe Europe to maintain and increase their efforts to provide that support.
Our family returned to the U.S. this summer to reconnect with the individuals and churches who support our ministry with Wycliffe. We’re living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, during this time. We hope to return to Germany next summer. The plan is that I would then work mostly for Wycliffe Germany and the Karimu conference center. Katherine would resume her work in the library that serves the training program and translation workers living in the region.
The ministry of Bible translation, and all the activities related to it, is dependent on ministries such as ours. All of us engaged in any Wycliffe work are dependent on the oft-unspoken ministries of those who give and those who pray for our success and well-being. If you would like to be one of those people, please visit the “Join Us” and “Contact Us” pages. Thanks for reading!