Don’t think you have to be a linguist to serve with Wycliffe! SkillServe is a short-term volunteering opportunity open to people at any stage of life. Generally between six weeks and two years, it is designed to match people with skills as diverse as childcare, administration, finance, software development and project management to specific needs around the world. Naomi and Chiara share their experiences.
After only discovering Wycliffe in April 2017, I recently found myself on a plane to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), ready to embark on a six-week adventure.
Following two international flights, I met my host family in Entebbe airport, Uganda. My journey with the Morgans began with two Mission Aviation Fellowship flights. We weaved through the clouds on our tiny plane and landed in Isiro, in the north-east of the DRC.
I spent my six weeks living in a brick hut with a roof made of leaves, right next door to the Morgans’ home, with a beautiful backdrop of tropical forest.
My main assignment was to help look after two of their children, but during my stay I also accompanied Paul Morgan to the translation office to shadow his work. I tagged along to a technical checking session, learning how to spot spelling errors in a language unknown to me using incredible software. I also participated in a final checking session in which we went through John 4 verse by verse looking for possible misinterpretations. This experience opened my eyes to the long, but vital, process of Bible translation.
Laurel Morgan and I also ran a Bible vacation week, teaching local children about the fruit of the Spirit and sneaking in some multi-language literacy teaching. This showed me the importance of preparing people to receive their Bible.
I also enjoyed teaching in a local English class of around 35 students. This showed me the desire Congolese people have to learn new languages and opened my eyes to the difficulty of teaching in a context where interactive whiteboards and projectors are far from available.
My SkillServe experience taught me more than I thought it was possible to learn in six weeks and has given me a passion to serve to meet needs I didn’t know existed.
This summer I spent five weeks with a German family working in Chad with Wycliffe, looking after their three young children. Having done Experience Wycliffe last year, I was interested in seeing what it would really be like to live and work for Wycliffe overseas. It was awesome to learn how to look past the daily ups and downs to find God’s vision for the work of this family.
I was glad to be able to get a proper idea of the language work that the family was doing by visiting the office where they work with local people. I even got the opportunity to start learning some Chadian Arabic, which was much more challenging than I expected – four weeks was not long enough! The small ways I was able to use it to greet people made it worth my frustrations, though.
Most of my time was spent playing with the children, but I learnt much more than just the German word for ‘fire engine’. It was amazing to be living in this place so different from anything I could imagine, and yet to be able to settle in. I was thankful to have more time than usual to think, read and reflect. I was struck by the stark dependence on God in the life of this family and of others I met in the city, and how people praised him regardless of circumstances. In Europe, it’s easy to forget that Jesus is the bread of life; in Chad, it seems impossible to live without that knowledge. I felt really welcomed by the family and was hugely blessed throughout the time I was able to spend there. Thank you Wycliffe for this opportunity!