Thinking about Christmas … in July

Manger with hay and swaddling clothes in old stable


I’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas lately. Recently we have been translating Luke chapters 1-2 in the Ludari Roma language and therefore have been studying a lot about the birth of John the Baptist, and of the Lord Jesus.

We all know the story and are aware that Jesus was placed in a manger after he was born. However, when we came to those verses (2:7, 12, 16) in the Ludari translation, we hit a snag. The translator first used a Croatian word that means “hut”. We pointed out that that was incorrect and suggested another Croatian word. That other word means “manger”, but is rarely used in Croatian and is often misunderstood. When we asked the translators to explain in their own words what it means, they gave a description of an open-sided, covered barn or stable. We explained to them that that was not correct either since the term in Greek is for a feed trough for animals.

My Croatian colleague mentioned that when he was doing research on how the Ludari tell stories in their language, he noticed that the storyteller used a Ludari word (not Croatian) for a wooden food trough. It turns out that many Ludari Roma, generations back, used to specialize in woodwork and often made items from wood, including feed troughs.

We discussed this with the translators and their response was that it would be very strange to put a baby in a food trough. And yes, we explained, that was exactly the point. The King of the Universe, the newborn Messiah, of all people, deserved glory and honor at his birth, but ironically, he was placed in the most humble place imaginable–in a trough for feeding livestock.

We put the Ludari word for wooden food trough in the text in Luke and are excited to have not just an accurate translation and one that is recognized in the Ludari culture, but one that has the shock value to communicate the humility and condescension of our Blessed Savior. So, as always, thank you for praying for wisdom for all of us as we continue to translate the Bible into these Roma languages.

Praying with the translation team before editing the translation of Luke 1-2 in Ludari


Now for some pictures that are more appropriate for July: We enjoyed celebrating the 4th of July earlier this month. Pam, Ariela and Daniel, in keeping with our tradition, made a Jello desert and cheesecake to celebrate.

Speaking of celebrating, even though we are saddened by the deaths of Todd’s father and Pam’s father, we celebrate their lives and have so many fond memories. In celebration of Pam’s dad’s life, Pam’s sister Kim (pictured below) bought Casey’s coffee and donuts for them. That is “quintessential Dad” for them since their dad, Mal Hughes, loved coffee, loved donuts, and loved spending time with his daughters. It was an appropriate celebration for Pam and her sister, remembering the things that brought them and their dad such joy.

Here are few updated prayer requests:

  1. Please pray for Pam’s mom, Barbie Hughes, as she prepares to move from Dallas to Kansas City. Pray for the logistics of downsizing and making this major move to a small apartment.
  2. We have gotten preliminary approval from our insurance for Matthew’s prosthetic! He met with the prosthetists who cast a mold earlier this week. It should be ready in about six weeks! Pray that it will be a success.
  3. We’re thankful that we have been able to speak and give our missions presentation at First Family Church in Albia, Iowa, and at Zion Church in Freeport, Illinois recently, and plan to speak next month at Fellowship Bible Church in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Pray that we will be able to speak at various churches, and let us know if you would be interested in having us come speak to your church or group.
  4. Pray as we will be traveling this weekend to Todd’s dad’s memorial in Oklahoma City, July 30, and to Pam’s dad’s military burial in Dallas, August 13.
  5. Pray we can finalize all the corrections for the publishing of the Gospel of Luke and 50 Bible stories in 4 Roma languages (Arli, Bayash, Chergash and Gurbet) in August and get them printed, and that we can successfully plan for Todd to visit Croatia and Serbia in September, to meet with the Roma translators and to help them distribute these books to Roma who speak these languages.

Thank you for praying!


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