August 2013

August 31, 2013:
Dear Friends and Prayer Partners,

It has been eight weeks since our last monthly email update at the start of July.  Now here it is the end of August, and I have been very busy working on the project I made reference to in our July update.  In this message I’ll fill you in on that project and share family updates from Krista, as well as highlight some prayer requests and praises.  We appreciate your partnership in this ministry!

Sometimes people wonder, “What is the most critical computer software in Wycliffe, and the other organizations involved in the global Bible translation movement?”  Is it the software that missionaries use for Bible translation?  Is it the financial software used by Wycliffe to process donations and transfer the funds to the missionaries’ bank accounts monthly?  Is it the software that is used to catalog and track the progress of translation for all the languages of the world?  While these are all critical pieces of the puzzle for Bible translation and language development, I believe that our email systems are the most critical software (or service) for missionaries in our family of organizations!

Email is literally the one computer service every missionary uses, at least in Wycliffe and in our partner organizations.  We don’t really need to know the phone numbers of our missionaries, but we DO need to know each person’s email address, and there are over 13,000 addresses!  Every Wycliffe missionary must have a valid email address.  For many missionaries email is their primary mode of communication with the outside world, fellow missionaries, and their supporters.  For the last 20 years email has been the “normal” way that Wycliffe missionaries communicate with one another, since they are spread all over the world.

Going Google:
When Krista and I returned from our trip to Africa at the start of June, we made the decision that we would not move to Africa right now, and instead continue serving here in the USA, with a global focus to support the fields.  I then began to get involved as the technical lead for a new project called Google Apps, which was taking shape to replace our email systems with Google hosted email services.  We have a great team of leaders on the project, handling other aspects such as communication with the missionaries, training, managing the project itself, and setting policies.  I don’t solve all the technical problems, but I leverage other IT experts to tackle specific issues, and I am the “go-to guy” when a new problem is identified.

Since other people were initially busy on other projects, I also took on the role of the system administrator for Google Apps, which is the all encompassing suite of Google services, about 70 other applications in addition to email.  One of my God-given strengths is figuring out how to do new stuff, and then developing a process to make it repeatable, and I have been doing a LOT of that over the last two months.  In fact I've been putting in long hours, often working nights and weekends to keep up with the pace, and I’m loving it!  I always marvel at how the Lord gifts certain people with specific skills and talents to carry out His work – even in technology, and it’s a blessing to be part of a team of gifted people working on this joint project, which involves both major partners: Wycliffe USA and SIL International.

More than just Gmail:
If you have followed our ministry for the last few years, you will remember that I also worked on the last major email change, moving about 2,000 people off of Lotus Notes to a different email system.  That was just a few years ago, so why are we switching even more people to a different email system again?  The reasons are many, and my boss, Steve, recorded a one minute video which you can watch here that tells why we are making this change.  Communicating the reasons behind WHY we are doing something is important to the thousands of missionaries who will be affected.

The primary driver of this change is to enable better collaboration between people and the various organizations involved in Bible translation and language development.  As technology has advanced in recent years, there are a number of side benefits, such as a lot of storage space online for email and documents, greater flexibility in how to access data, mobile device options, and lower costs to the organization: it’s now a free service for non-profit organizations of any size.

I am still serving in the role of Director of Global IT Development for SIL International, and working at the JAARS center in North Carolina.  Now I am also very much enjoying getting my hands “dirty” with this technical work, in addition to my leadership responsibilities for the IT software development and engineering teams.  It is our belief, hope, and prayer that the new capabilities offered by Google Apps will enable missionaries to more efficiently use technology as a tool in their work to bring God’s Word to the millions of people who are waiting for it!

What about Africa?
I will still be involved with ongoing projects to improve Internet and power in African countries, and help with the training of African IT coworkers.  In fact right now one of my teams is helping provide equipment for cellular and satellite Internet in Mali.  Another team is in discussions with the SIL office in Nigeria to help research and consult for an upgrade of their solar power system, along with new, energy efficient computer equipment.  My boss, Steve, is actually on a trip to Africa right now, meeting with key missionary leaders there to better identify their needs.  So I and those I work with are continuing to be engaged with helping improve connectivity in Africa, and other parts of the world that need it.

Family Updates:
  • Two weeks ago I took Nick back to Liberty University to start his Junior year.  He is taking a fairly light class load this semester, studying Criminal Justice with an interest in Computer Science, and he continues his a part-time job.  This summer he purchased his first vehicle: a used Yamaha V-Star 650 Custom Cruiser motorcycle in good condition.  Nick also spent part of his summer volunteering at the IT Help Desk at JAARS, gaining experience in computer support.
  • Amanda graduated from Appalachian State University on May 11 with a degree in Dietetic Nutrition.  Over the summer she completed three internships to complete the degree requirements and will soon receive her diploma.  She is living at home now and searching for a job in her field.  She has applied for a couple of jobs, and I have listed this as a prayer request below.
  • Krista is continuing her part time job as the manager of a children’s resource center, which is part of the county’s early childhood education program.  This keeps her pretty busy as she works four days per week and sometimes additional hours from home.
Prayer Requests and Praises!
  • We have been running short of financial support for quite some time and are having trouble making ends meet.  Please pray that as the economy improves, those who had to cut back on support would be able to renew it as their own financial state improves.  Of course be in prayer for new financial partners as well, such as those who have an interest in leveraging technology to further the spread of the Gospel.
  • Please pray that the Lord would lead Amanda to the right job, now that she is entering the work force, and that she would find employment soon before her college loan repayments begin in a few months.
  • Krista has had continual back pain for a year or more.  Numerous medical tests have revealed that there is no surgical solution and the only current option is a strong pain medication.  Pray for healing and recovery as the Lord is able to heal this if He so chooses.  Pray also for Krista’s endurance and physical strength.
  • Thank the Lord with us for His guidance in our decision about not moving to Africa, and His leading in Hank’s role in the Google Apps project.
  • We thank the Lord for a great summer with Nick at home, and providing a mode of transportation that will enable him to travel to school and work.
Thank you for remembering us in prayer as a partner in this ministry!

In His Service,

Hank & Krista Scott
Wycliffe Bible Translators