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Posted on June 13, 2020
I have several things relating to Bible First to report on, so let's get to it!
Bible First Reprint — English
I mentioned this last month, but we are in the process of combining the Bible First lessons into a single book. That project is moving along, slowly but surely.
Bible First Reprint — Ukrainian
My biggest project for the last month was preparing the updated Ukrainian Bible First files for printing. We hired a designer to do most of the heavy lifting, but that last little bit was still quite a chore! It's kind of like packing your house for a move. At first, things go quickly, but trying to get that last 10% of the stuff in the boxes seems to take forever! Regardless, the job is done, and the printer is doing his thing. Sometime in the next week, we should be taking delivery of our updated Ukrainian lessons!
Bible First Online
We are currently using Bible First Online in our ministry, but before we can open it up for others to use, it needs some work. Josh Steele is currently working on that, and while I could jump in and help, I feel taking a step backwards would be more beneficial in the long run. It's been two years since I've done any serious web development, so I've decided to take some time for a little "continuing education" to freshen up my skills before stepping into the fray.
In general, the coronavirus situation in Ukraine has improved, and the government has relaxed the quarantine. However, some areas of Ukraine have stricter quarantines than others. Our area of Ukraine is one of the areas where the quarantine has remained more strict, and despite that, we have seen quite the uptick in cases in the last week. And while the situation is far from critical, we definitely don't want it to get out of hand.
So nice to be able to play at the park again!
After a cool spring, summer weather has finally arrived, and with it, summer vacation! The girls are almost done with their last few schoolbooks, and then it's time to relax and enjoy the summer!
Posted on May 16, 2020
When our team first wrote the 20 lessons of the Bible First correspondence course, the way we intended them to be used (and the way we still use them) was to send them out to the student as the student completed the lessons. But after we released the materials for purchase in English, we learned that a lot of people were using Bible First for family devotions, Sunday school classes, etc, and so there really wasn't as big of a need for the lessons to be split up as we had envisioned. In addition, one of the common complaints we get is that the lessons are too expensive. Recently, it was suggested that we could print all the lessons as one book, which would likely allow us to make the Bible First lessons available for 20-30% less!
All that to say, our latest project is to reformat the Bible First lessons for print in the new unified format. We are also in the process of correcting typos and such that have been found since the last printing. It's going to be a big job, but we believe that the new format will be a solid win all around.
A Zoom meeting of most of the guys that had planned to come to CMO. Some of them are planning to get together for their own outreaches in the States.
Despite the coronavirus, we recently received our new residency permits, on the very day before our old ones expired! We are good to go for another year!
Thankfully, most of the news on the coronavirus front in Ukraine is good! So far, Ukraine has been able to avoid an initial spike of cases similar to what happened in China, Italy, and New York City. As of about a week ago, the government has started gradually relaxing the quarantine restrictions, and while cases will likely rise, hopefully they will do so at a manageable rate.
Our new normal.
For weeks, the kids have been waiting for the day that the parks would reopen. There was at least one letdown, when we were expecting a slight rollback of the quarantine, but it got delayed. But about a week ago, the long-awaited day finally came! The next thing we are looking forward to is being able to see our friends again. Facetime and such is nice, but it's just not the same!
Posted on April 15, 2020
When our team first decided to create a web-based version of our Bible First correspondence course, we anticipated that it would alleviate a lot of the pain points of running a correspondence course through the mail. What we did not anticipate, however, was that Bible First Online would come of age in the middle of a global pandemic, when many traditional methods of evangelism would have to be set on the back burner, temporarily at least.
As I write this, we have upwards of 40 students studying the Bible online, and regardless of what of what happens with lockdowns or curfews, God's Word will continue to go forth! (As long as the Internet stays on, anyway!)
The Spanish Bible First text is ready to go! The interface still needs to be translated, and various other things need to be taken care of, but at least the text of the lessons is ready to go!
This is a screenshot of one of the Spanish lessons in development. As you can see from the "Read/Quiz/Activity" links above, the interface is still in English.
Carpathian Mountain Outreach
While we'd like to move forward with preparations for CMO and hope that things will be better in two months, it is looking more and more like that is just hoping against hope. With that in mind, we have decided to cancel CMO 2020. Lord willing, and the (coronavirus) creek don't rise, we will be back in the saddle for next year!
We are currently in the process of renewing our residency permits. We recently submitted our last round of documents, so hopefully in the next week or two we will have our new residency permits in hand!
I'm sure everyone is tired of hearing about the coronavirus, so I'll try to keep this brief. The bad news: as of my last update, Ukraine had 3 cases of coronavirus, now it has 3,764 cases. The good news: Ukraine has been able to slow the rate of infection, and so things are progressing slower than they did in places like Italy or America. Unfortunately, it's possible that things are much worse than they seem, as Ukraine has only done a tenth of the testing (per capita) that the US has done.
On a practical level, most everything is shut down here except the essentials, like grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and the like. Public gatherings of more than 10 are not allowed, so no church, school, etc. All the parks and playgrounds are closed, but the good news is that we can still go on walks.
Not surprisingly, we are going on a lot of walks these days. We continue to homeschool, but I guess that should go without saying, as everyone is homeschooling now! For the time being, everyone is happy and healthy, and we hope to keep it that way!
Enjoying a warm spring day at the park before the quarantine kicked in.
Posted on March 13, 2020
Bible First Online is chugging right along! So far, we haven't found any serious bugs in the system, and we are hoping it will stay that way. Josh is continuing to work on improving BFO, and smooth out BFO's rough edges.
My main project at the moment is converting the Spanish Bible First text to the format it needs to be in so that it can be used in BFO. Twelve lessons down, eight more to go!
Meeting Our Students
Our trip to Rivne to meet our students went well! We met Maria, Petro, and his wife, Halyna. We had some good conversations, and Josh was able to share the Gospel. (We aren't really sure if they are saved yet.) Hopefully our meeting was an encouragement to them to continue studying God's Word, and the next time we go to Rivne, I think our new friends will be happy to see us!
Left to right: Nathan, Serhii, Joshua, Petro, Halyna with Hosanna, Maria, and Rebekah.
Carpathian Mountain Outreach
On the one hand, things are shaping up for a great CMO this summer. The applications are coming in, and we have a great team lined up to go. On the other hand, Ukraine just today announced that it will close its borders to foreigners for two weeks because of the coronavirus. So while it's possible this whole coronavirus thing will have blown over by June, if it doesn't, well, all bets are off.
Since everyone is talking about the coronavirus, I guess I'd better do so as well! If I wanted to portray the situation as very bleak, I could say that the number of cases in Ukraine tripled overnight. On the other hand, Ukraine is currently in much better shape than a lot of places, with only three reported cases so far (up from one yesterday). So it's really not so bad. We are sitting tight, eating healthy food, exercising, getting our rest, and trusting God and our youth to carry us through on the outside chance that one of us even catches the bug.
Outside of the coronavirus, life continues as usual. Melissa's piano skills are coming along nicely, Lydia's reading is really taking off, and Briana has been enjoying getting to "do school" with the big girls. (Katelin has been trying out a new curriculum that has worksheets for the little ones.) Jonathan has become quite the talker, and it seems like he learns a new word about every day or two! His newest word is "oc-pus" (octopus).
The pretty Day Girls enjoy a pretty day
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