Can Bible translation training go on despite the lockdown?!

March 2020

Dear Friends,

We had fun creating our end-of-the-year report but, judging by the pile of envelopes that were returned to us, our address list is way out of date. If you reply with an updated mailing address, we’ll gladly include you next year. In any case, here is a link to the short video we made:It is a hard lesson to learn, but God has been preparing us for the present climate and stretching us to go out of our comfort zone. The last week of February I (Doug) was supposed to be in Switzerland, training people on how to create keyboards that work on both computers and mobile phones. There isn’t a more basic need for any kind of work in a language than the ability to type in that language. Without it, the history and values of a language community are not passed on to their youth, and Bible translation is hardly possible. We worked hard to promote the workshop and get people to sign up, even passing out invitations at UNESCO in Paris for the Language Technologies for All conference in December. But it wasn’t to be. Not enough people signed up to cover our cost of running it, and so on December 31st, I had to pull the plug.

I was frustrated—even angry.  I thought I was responding to God’s leading by planning this workshop, yet all that time and effort preparing had been for nothing.  …or was it?

What if we tried to run this workshop online instead?  The thought wasn’t pleasant—after all, much of my time at a workshop is spent looking over people’s shoulders to offer advice and correction. How does one do that online?!  Together with colleague Ron L., who had done this sort of thing before for a smaller class, we mapped out how we could both present to and work with the class to produce their keyboards in one week. The class spanned 18 timezones… starting in California at 4 am or all the in Papua New Guinea at 10 pm. After the two hour training session, we organized two-hour work sessions at different times so that everyone could join one in a time zone that worked for them. We had a total of 11 staff members working with 34 participants in 20 countries! And despite it not being our preferred method of training, many keyboards were completed and made available to those language communities at the end.

After learning the important lesson God had for us in early February, we are now better prepared for virtual classroom training—which is suddenly looking like the new normal in the face of the Coronavirus. This very week, I was supposed to be in South Asia to train new consultants.  That isn't happening—on so many levels! Once again I was faced with disappointment, but recovery was much faster as my team instantly re-tooled for a virtual workshop. The downside? I have to pull a night shift to be present for the hours of the workshop.  That will be challenging as the office is right next to the bedroom. Both P.J. and I will have to keep the volume down on our different virtual meetings while the other is sleeping.  But like you, we are all making difficult adjustments in the months ahead.  We are just happy that this important work can continue despite the constraints.

He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Eph 2:10 (NLT)

Partners in the Gospel,    (Phil 1:5)

Doug & P.J. Higby

Prayer & Praise

  • Pray for the South Asia virtual workshop taking place on March 18-24. Most of the participants are on lock-down, but it is difficult to concentrate on all that is going on.
  • Pray for a way to get computer equipment that was donated to the workshop participants over there now that the trip is canceled. A number of their computers will benefit from upgrades, making them more effective at helping Bible translation teams.
  • Praise God for transforming the Switzerland workshop into a virtual workshop, ensuring that the Higby's were prepared for the current crisis.
  • Give thanks that the Higby's son Henry has completed medical school and is starting a 3-year medical residency with his wife and son.


⚠️Spoiler Alert!

Pray for the plans to fund-raise this summer for future Language Technology Use Workshops. Due to budget shortfalls, Doug's department is lacking the necessary funds to hold future workshops. We hope to hold a unique fund-raiser this summer in hopes to cover the remaining budgetary needs for this fiscal year.

Your gifts enable the Higbys' continued ministry with Wycliffe.
  • By check
    • Payable to: "Wycliffe Bible Translators"
      with the memo: "Doug & Priscilla Higby"
      Mail to: Wycliffe Bible Translators, P.O. Box 628200, Orlando FL 32862-8200

Doug & Priscilla Higby are missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Both are serving SIL International: Doug is the International Coordinator for Language Technology Use, and Priscilla is supervising academic publications.

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Mailing address:
934 Alger St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507
Phone: (616) 808-8129, 808-1126
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