You know how sometimes when you come to an end of a book, you wish you could read a little bit more? Find out about what happens further down the road? Or get answers to questions about specific characters or events? I certainly do! And today, I got to experience just that…
I wrote a little while ago about the Sonlight book we have been reading: And the Word Came With Power. It is all about a young American farm girl who becomes a missionary to far off Philippines. There Joanne Shetler begins translating the New Testament into the Balangao language. It took 20 years. And in those 20 years, deep relationships were forged and the most amazing miracles happened. Not least of which was the radical conversion of hundreds and thousands of Balangao and surrounding tribes.
Reading this book was just a wonderful experience, if not rather exasperating! The girls peppered me with questions every few sentences, it took quite some doing to stay patient with them! They were riveted to the story, often jumping up and down on their beds in excitement at what God was doing in and amongst the Balangao people. It was almost sad when we finished reading the book last night.
One evening last week, after praying for the Balangaoes with the girls, I decided to see if I could find out what they were currently doing. Google led me directly to a blog recently started by a woman called Robyn. It tells of the current bible translation work – the Old Testament. And it details their needs. They have just recently completed their bible translation centre building. Of course, I was excited to show the girls the next morning and, as mentioned in the previous post, Kiera wanted to write to them.
When we finally finished the book, Kiera noted that the person writing the blog posts is “Robyn”. And Robyn is the name of one of the missionaries working in Balangao. Could it be the same person? We read some more from the blog and realised that twins, Robyn and Joanne, are mentioned in both the book and the blog. In the book, they were little babies. And now they are both working on the bible translation! Wow! For us to leap from 1980-something to 2011 in the space of a few minutes of reading felt like time travel. Everything of the book was so fresh in our minds: the people, their love for the Word and the gospel; the miracles God provided; and the on-going work mentioned towards the end of the book. Marrying events from 30 years ago to events of this very year in the click of the mouse was surreal indeed. But, oh so inspiring!
And exciting! Today we got a reply from Joanne Shetler herself answering some of our questions and inviting us to ask some more.
Reply from Jo Shetler
What fun to read this from Taryn! Yes, these are the Joanne and Robyn mentioned in the book. And Doming is their Uncle. Joanne and Robyn’s dad is Doming’s younger brother. It was Doming who got the ladies interested in doing Bible Translation and he “signed them up.” Doming passed away from cancer in January 2007, we miss him terribly.
Keep asking questions and leaving comments and we will try to answer them.
How wonderful to have answers to our questions. How sad that Doming has passed away, but how wonderful that he is with the Lord! Between me and the girls, we have dozens of questions. We are most grateful to enjoy the rare privilege of getting the real-time epilogue to a brilliant book. And what a wonderful way to connect with the very people we are praying for, across the ocean in a land far away! I love how God’s provision of technology allows us to connect with missionaries so quickly and personally. As a child growing up, I remember feeling quite removed from the life of a missionary. I remember a slide show or two from missionaries on furlough, depicting a strange land I didn’t feel connected to at all. I went away feeling that mission work was noble, albeit scary, and probably not for me. My girls, however, feel most differently. They have met real missionaries, prayed for them, eaten meals with them, read the most amazing biographies and been excited about God’s work. And now, they get to enjoy the personal connection with a people they’ve grown to love through the pages of an inspiring biography.
Again and again, I am so very grateful to Sonlight for introducing us to amazing living books that inspire, challenge and grow my children! And thankful to the Lord for His hand in it all.
- Balangao Project 2011 Blog
- Hayes Happenings: previous post on Balangaoes
- Our questions for the Balangao Project and their answers
- Joanne Shetler: a short biography