March 2014 Update: Tickets to Cambodia purchased!

Here it is, the big news: We’ve reached our support goal! Thanks to the generous commitments of many individuals and twelve churches, we received clearance from EMU International to purchase tickets to Cambodia. We fly out of Atlanta on July 3 and arrive in Phnom Penh on Independence Day.

So now what? During the next four months we will:

  • Share our vision in 4 more churches, including a missions conference we’re at right now in Colorado. (We were graciously released from four speaking commitments in April and May.)
  • Spend time at our home church, Hampton Park Baptist, and revisit a few of our supporting churches.
  • Have a baby girl (Amy’s doing the hard work on that one).
  • Be examined for ordination by the pastors at Hampton Park (Josh).
  • Get rid of stuff (an ongoing process—sorry if you missed the book giveaways!).
  • Pack.
With the Gottwalses

During our visit to a church in Georgia that supported my grandparents for many years, we stayed in the home of the elder for missions, who not only looks like me, but was also an English major, loves C.S. Lewis, and owns a white Camry.

If you’re interested in some recent happenings, take a look at some of Amy’s posts on our family blog. You can read about how I met my long-lost near-twin (pictured above), find out our kids’ latest stats, and see photos of our kids during our recent stay in Alvarado, TX.

As always, we thank you for your prayers for us. The Lord has given us safety on the road, kept us mostly healthy, given Amy a good pregnancy, and encouraged us through fellow believers as we’ve shared our vision. We’ve continually been amazed by how quickly God has connected us with financial partners.

Please pray that God would (1) continue preparing us for our transition to Cambodia, (2) give Amy and Baby Sister health and safety, (3) grant us wisdom for packing, and (4) give me time and motivation for language study when we’re home in April and during parts of May and June.

Many of you prayed God would bring our monthly support to 100% by early spring so that we can depart for Cambodia in early summer. As we like to tell Becca when God answers her prayers, “God said yes!

If you plan to print this update, you may wish to download the PDF version, which is formatted for the printed page.

Jarai Bible (Vietnam dialect) published online!

This morning at the end of my Bible reading time, I was thrilled to open the Bible app on my Nexus tablet and struggle through the first couple verses of in Jarai (with the help of Lap Siu’s online Jarai dictionary). That’s right: the Jarai Bible, Old and New Testament, has been digitally published and is downloadable as part of a BIble app! Here’s a little of the backstory.

During my time in Texas, I became friends with a Jarai man who had spent years translating the Bible into his native language. He grew up in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and immigrated to the States as a college-aged young man. By the end of my time in Texas, he had finished translating and revising the Bible and was doing final checks: for example, making sure that each name mentioned in the Bible is consistently spelled, and ensuring that every opening quotation mark is matched by a closing mark. (Thrilling work, yes?)

Four days ago I received an email saying that the completed Bible has now been published online and is available on YouVersion’s Bible app. This is probably the very first complete Bible to be published in Jarai. Go to www.bible.com/versions/894 if you’d like to see the translation. The Jơrai Bible Association plans to print the Bible next year in Vietnam and begin distribution. (Jarai, Jorai, and Jơrai are all variant spellings of the same language name.)

Some of the challenges of translation were immediately obvious. For example, maidservant translates into 5 Jarai words: pô ding-kơna đah-kơmơi, literally, ‘person servant female’. (Jarai doesn’t use the hyphens, but I’ve added them to show which pairs of words have the meaning of a single word.) The Hebrew, like the English, uses a single word, שׁפחה. The compactness of Hebrew poetry is hard to transfer into another language, especially when it takes several words to unpack a single Hebrew word.

The Jarai dialect used in this translation is a fairly standard variety in Vietnam (it’s from the Pleiku region), and I believe that the translator aimed to use vocabulary that is shared across dialects. However, the language changes dramatically as you travel from Pleiku to the border with Cambodia. This new translation will certainly be a help to the Jarai Christians in Cambodia (some of whom now have smartphones and can download the app!), but the church there needs a translation or revision that is aimed specifically at the dialect (or cluster of dialects) spoken in Cambodia. It’s our aim to help the Jarai church in Cambodia produce exactly that. Someday, we hope to announce here that the Cambodian Jarai Bible is available for download to your smartphone.

123:1 To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he has mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud. (ESV)

December update: Before we go to Cambodia, we’re having a …

I won’t beat around the bush: we’re having a girl! Not long after Isaiah was born, Becca started praying for a little sister. (Becca loves Isaiah, but apparently a little brother just didn’t cut it.) We announced the baby’s gender to Becca on her birthday: she was thrilled. You can watch her reaction at www.jensendimension.org/its-a/. Amy is due on April 13.

Our committed monthly support level is now at 72%. As usual, you can see the breakdown at the bottom of our Praying and Giving page, jarai-in-cambodia.org/pray-give/. Additionally, our start-up fund—the ministry savings required for moving to Cambodia and settling in—has reached 100%.

Because of winter storm Electra, a meeting scheduled in PA for tomorrow (Dec. 15) was rescheduled for Dec. 29. We’ll then hit the ground running in the new year with a different church nearly every week through the end of March.

Thank you for your prayers for us. The Lord has given us safety on the road (many roads!), kept us healthy, given Amy a good pregnancy, encouraged us through fellow believers as we’ve shared our vision, and strengthened our desire for ministry among the Jarai in Cambodia. And we’ve been amazed by how quickly God has connected us with financial partners.

Please pray that God would continue (1) preparing us for our transition to Cambodia, (2) connecting us with individual and church partners, and (3) giving Amy and Baby Girl health and safety. We’re praying that God would bring our monthly support to 100% by early spring so that we can depart for Cambodia in early summer. Would you join us in praying for that?

August Update

Two months ago we told you about our June trip to Cambodia. (And Amy wrote about our trip — with photos — in four installments on our personal blog: first, second, third, fourth.)

In July and August, we’ve been doing deputation (partnership development) full-time. For me, this typically involves calling and emailing pastors to schedule services, setting up meals with friends for individual presentations, sermon preparation, and various other tasks. In terms of actual travel, we’ve had three services and a week at a camp as the featured missionaries. We thank God for giving us a full schedule of services from now through the end of the year, with a growing schedule in the New Year.

Becca and Isaiah have traveled great so far (PA and NY), in no small part thanks to Amy’s amazing skills as in-transit entertainer. So far, I’ve stayed awake while driving, thanks again to Amy. (And thank you for your prayers for both these matters!)

We are excited to report that our current support level is at 36%. (To see a breakdown of the numbers, go to our Praying and Giving page and scroll to the bottom.) We anticipate that we will be at 49% when our sending church completes the process of approving their support for us.

Would you pray with us:

  • That Amy would have grace for helping the kids with all the travel (which is quite unsettling for their schedules).
  • That in the next two months we can schedule several more presentations with individual prospective donors.
  • That God would give us safety on the road.
  • That God will be preparing us for our first year in Cambodia: spiritually, emotionally, physically

Post-Cambodia Update

Trip Overview

DSC_1308

Two weeks ago, when I wrote our last update, we were in the middle of our Cambodia survey trip, and as I mentioned in that update, I had been sick. I’m happy to report that within four days of getting sick, I had completely recovered (though I still felt physically drained). I’m also glad to tell you that Amy never got sick, for which we thank the Lord (and thank you for praying!).

On Thursday morning (6/13), we completed our drive to Ban Lung. My sickness curtailed some of our plans for that portion part of our trip, but we still fit in the essentials: a survey of Ban Lung, a visit to a Jarai village (though only for a couple hours), time with our future co-workers, participation in the Saturday evening fellowship of missionaries, and worship at a local church (Khmer rather than Jarai).

If you’re interested in additional details about the trip, you can scroll down and read those further down. (You can also see photos from the first half of the trip on our personal blog, here and here. Photos from the second half of our trip will be posted on that blog over the course of the next two Thursdays.)

Plans and Prayer

Last Friday we arrived at our new home in Spartanburg, SC (graciously provided to us by Cleveland Park Bible Church). Two days later we were formally commissioned by our sending church, Hampton Park Baptist. The rest of the year will be devoted to meetings with churches and friends to present our ministry — and to making calls and sending emails trying to set up these meetings!

We thank the Lord (and you!) that our committed monthly support level is now at 27%.

Please pray with us:

  • That I would be diligent and successful in setting up church meetings and meals with friends to present our work.
  • That God would help us to minister effectively at our home church and in the churches we visit.
  • That God would be preparing us for the transition to Cambodia (emotions, expectations, and preliminary language study).

Trip Details

Ban Lung Survey

Thursday afternoon, J.D. Crowley drove us around Ban Lung, showing us how the city has been growing and modernizing. Hotels have been going up, electricity has become more reliable, and most of the forest has given way to agriculture.

Ban Lung is where the other EMU families live, as do several missionaries from other organizations. Ban Lung provides good access to many of the tribal areas in Ratanakiri province: some tribal villages are less than a 20-minute drive from there.

Jarai Village

DSC_1399

On Friday, we drove half an hour to Blang, a nearby Jarai village. The village is situated just off of the main road (paved!) that goes to Vietnam. There’s electricity running to a house or two in the village. We spent our time visiting with a Jarai Christian leader and his wife. The husband wanted to give us his testimony of coming to Christ: it’s a beautiful story of how the love of Christians was used by God to draw him to a firm faith in Christ. He spoke in Khmer (his second language), with J.D. interpreting for us.

Future Co-Workers

DSC_1467

It was helpful for both Amy and me to spend time with the Crowleys, Kanes, and Farmers. All three families helped us get a good perspective on the challenges of transitioning to life in Cambodia. We were helped not only by asking questions but also by observing each family’s life together.

Our Impressions

Amy’s overall impression was that Cambodia is a bit more developed than she had expected. She anticipates that one of the hardest challenges will be balancing family life and the demands of language study, especially during our early years in Cambodia.

My own impressions were colored quite a bit by jet-lag for the first couple days and then, as that was wearing off, the physical and emotional drain of being sick. I found the heat of Phnom Penh somewhat more oppressive than I’d remembered. I much preferred Ratanakiri, which is milder and greener.

Our survey made me painfully aware of how attached I am to comforts such as air conditioning, good water pressure, and clean bathrooms. I had prided myself (based on my previous two trips) on being adaptable and unattached to basic American luxuries. I’m now making it a matter of prayer and reflection to prepare my heart for the changes that await us in Cambodia. In many ways, this is basic Christianity, the willingness to suffer (or in this case, be mildly uncomfortable) for the sake of eternal goods.

Thank You!

Thank you for your interest in our ministry and for your prayers for us. Feel free to forward these emails to anyone else that you think would be interested in our ministry plans. (And if you received this email from a friend and want to sign up for yourself, you can do that on our website.)

Update from Cambodia: Hello from Cambodia!

We’re about half-way through our time in Cambodia now, and we thought we’d share a few highlights of the trip so far. (For your help. I’m writing this early Thursday morning, so you’ll be getting it late Wednesday evening U.S. time.)

We arrived in Cambodia on Saturday afternoon and spent the rest of the day sleepily interacting with our hosts, the Jeremy Farmer family, and their other guests. We turned in early and got a good night’s sleep.

Sunday we went to a Khmer church. There was a translator (complete with wireless headphones!) so we were able to follow the basics of the sermon. Afterwards we stood around and talked with folks — several of the church members have good English.

Monday we spent the day with the Farmers, going with them while their kids got immunizations, visiting the “Russian Market” (it’s not Russian), and taking an audio tour of the Killing Fields.

Tuesday morning we were supposed to drive with J.D. Crowley to Ratanakiri province, an 8-hour drive from Phnom Penh. But unfortunately, a stomach bug that was passing around laid me low Monday night. No details, but I was pretty miserable for a day and a half. Amy was a great comfort to me and very sweetly attended to my complaints. It was a wonderful reminder of what a wonderful companion and friend God has given me.

Wednesday (yesterday) I was feeling well enough in the afternoon to take the first half of our trip to Ratanakiri — we stopped the night in Kratie town, the capital of Kratie province, half-way between Phnom Penh and Ratanakiri. This was the stopping-off point for Jeremy, Brian, and me when we went from Phnom Penh to Ratanakiri in 2006. But back then, the drive from Kratie to Ratanakiri took all day (early morning till about 11 pm on the back of a taxi truck!). Today the roads are better and we anticipate that the drive will take 4 hours!

Once in Ratanakiri we will meet with missionaries, see the area, and hopefully visit a village or two. Right now our plans are not completely settled.

Thank you for your prayers for us so far. Please continue to pray:

  • Pray that Amy will not get sick.
  • Pray that my stomach will continue to settle and not interfere with plans for Ratanakiri.
  • Pray that God will continue to providentially give us the right experiences to prepare us for moving here one day.
  • Pray that we can encourage the believers we spend time with.
  • Pray that our kids will continue to do well with their grandparents in PA (so far they’re doing great, though I’m not sure that Amy and I are doing so well: we miss them).

From Kratie, Cambodia,

Josh and Amy Jensen

Pre-Travel Update: Cambodia Survey Trip

For the last few days, we’ve been with Amy’s parents in York, PA. The kids will stay with them while Amy and I travel to Cambodia. This evening we (Amy and I) will be driving to Huntington Station, NY, where Amy’s brother Sam lives with his family. They’ll be driving us to the airport tomorrow.

Our big request right now is for Becca. This morning she woke up with a fever, which we had a doctor check out to see whether she needs an antibiotic (she doesn’t). It’s probably a normal viral infection, but please keep Becca in your prayers over the next couple days. When she’s sick, she prefers to be near Amy, so our leaving this evening will be hard on her. Pray that she would be content to stay with her grandparents and that she’ll be feeling better very soon. And pray for Amy’s parents, and her sister, Emily, as they keep the kids. We’ll be away from the kids from this evening (June 4) till sometime June 18.

For Amy and me, please pray for:

  • quick adjustment to the time zone (11 hours ahead of Eastern U.S.)
  • no problems with connections or baggage (our suitcase plus 3 50-lb. boxes)
  • the right experiences and the right conversations with the right people to prepare us for (1) moving to Cambodia and (2) preparing ourselves during our year of partnership development
  • grace to share with others — so we will not only receive but also give during the trip

Our schedule is something like this:

  • A day in Shanghai (25-hr layover): we have friends to stay with, thankfully!
  • Three or four days in Phnom Penh with the Jeremy Farmer family
  • Five or six days in Ratanakiri province with the J.D. Crowleys and Brian Kanes. We hope to spend a night in a village. We also plan to participate in an early church service in Bland Village on 6/16, our second Sunday there.
  • A Sunday afternoon drive back to Phnom Penh, and a Sunday night flight back to the U.S.

Thank you for your prayers!

Josh & Amy Jensen

Good-bye Texas!

Prayer update from May 25, 2013:

Dear friends,

We wanted to share a few praises and prayer requests before we start a busy time of travel that will take us from Texas to New York to Cambodia, then to South Carolina.
Praises:
  • graduated from UT Arlington with my degree in linguistics on May 12. We have made many wonderful friends and experienced God’s grace is many ways during our time in Texas.
  • With the help of friends and my parents, we packed up our apartment and got most of our things to Spartanburg, SC. (My parents drove the Penske truck to SC. We stayed behind in Texas for a couple weeks to wrap up a few things and take a weekend vacation in the hill country of Texas, just below Austen.)
  • We are now at 23% of our monthly support level (all from individuals so far).
  • Our schedule of meetings in churches in 2013 is off to a good start. (We had a wonderful time a few weeks ago at North Houston Baptist!)
Prayer requests:
  • Tomorrow after the morning church service, we start a long drive. Over the course of about a week, we’ll travel about 1500 miles: Texas to Atlanta (my grandma lives there) to Greenville, SC (where my parents live) to York, PA (where Amy’s parents live). Please pray for safety (alertness and skill for me as I drive, and protection from danger) and for the kids to stay happy!
  • After a few days in York, Amy and I leave Becca and Isaiah behind with their grandparents and drive to NY. On June 5 we fly out for Cambodia, where we’ll be till June 17. Please pray that this will be a productive and informative trip for us. What we learn will help us prepare for our eventual move to Cambodia.
  • Pray that we will show love and forbearance towards each other as a family, and pray that we will walk with God in His Word and in prayer.
Thank you for your prayers! We rely on the help that comes from the Lord. And thank you for your words of encouragement to us!
Josh & Amy Jensen

 

Defense passed, new website

Email update from April 3, 2013:

Dear friends,

Thank you all for your prayers over the past month. Please join us in thanking the Lord for these two things:

  • The Oregon Coast
    The Oregon Coast
    I passed my dissertation defense on Friday!
  • Our first missions conference last month (in Oregon) went very well: we made new friends and got a great introduction to deputation. (Welcome to you Oregonians who are getting your first update from us!)

Here are a few things that we’d appreciate your prayers for:

  • Dissertation Defense
    Dissertation Defense
    I have some revisions to make on my dissertation: I’m hoping to complete them by April 15. I also have an article to revise and submit for publication sometime this month.
  • We are beginning to contact more pastors this month, in the hopes of getting a chance to present our work in churches.
  • Amy will be doing a lot of our sorting and packing over the next two months. Pray that she’ll have wisdom about what to get rid of and what to pack away for South Carolina.

We recently created a website that introduces our family and our ministry burden: jarai-in-cambodia.org. [And here you are!] Take a look, and if you have any suggestions, please pass them along. I’d like the site to communicate as clearly and effectively as possible, so if there is anything that is unclear or extraneous, or if there’s anything you think should be included but isn’t, please let me know. And feel free to pass the link along to anyone you think would be interested in our ministry (including your church leaders).


Thank you for your prayers!

Josh & Amy Jensen