We resist buying into the lie that new is, by definition, better. We did not move from tenfootfamily to “A to Z” simply because the alarm clock on boring went off. We began tenfootfamily exactly 8 years ago with the primary purpose of sharing pictures and stories of our toddlers growing up as world travelers far away from grandparents and friends. We didn’t expect to have a website of our own back in those internet middle ages, but it is time.
In discussing possible names, ruling out full names for security reasons, we wanted something that represented the work we do. And one of the most significant things we do is develop the alphabet for unwritten languages. We found that “A to Z and back” can have three meanings that ring true for our ministry & life.
1. We work with peoples to develop their writing system from beginning to end, and then we start over at “A” with another unwritten language. It is cyclical.
2. We move between multiple home locations. In our first 15 years of marriage we moved 17 times. While we could not sustain that pace, we will always be traveling from “A to Z… and coming back” Lord willing. It is mobile.
3. Lastly, this work with alphabets is ongoing; we do not work from “A to Z” and finish. Since Kent’s primary focus is on African tone systems, which is a young and developing field in linguistics, there are going to be things to edit or revise. The goal is a writing system that is easy to read and embraced by the community, so that one day the translated Scriptures will be too. It is a process.
The five of us could not be part of this wild cyclical, mobile process without the partnership of many. Whether it is a timely prayer over us at 2am, or $13.35 in pocket change, we are humbled by the sacrificial support of our partners, which is a continuous reminder of God’s power and faithfulness. You are in this with us. But He will complete it.
We just sent out our Oregon itinerary: http://eepurl.com/bt0bDX
So what, we’re starting up a new blog. When we signed on to work with Wycliffe, we hadn’t yet heard of blogs (amazing how things change), and each time we come back to the US for awhile, there seems to have been a complete makeover on how Americans communicate. After our first term, we discovered blogging, and used it during our second term. But we started a number of blogs, most of which we didn’t know what to do with. One survived, which was essentially stories and pictures about life in Africa. We weren’t really sure about talking about work issues (either how much people would care about the details, or what the rules were on this kind of communication). So we hesitated talking much about work on our blog, and didn’t have any real way to do that.
Meanwhile, Facebook and other social media took over the internet, and blogs seemed to be already largely passé. Who wants to sit through a couple pages, when you can get the gist in 140 characters? Most of our successful communication with people during our second term in Africa seemed to be through Kim’s time on Facebook, as ironic as that seemed to me.
But we continued to put out quarterly newsletters more or less faithfully, and we continued to put out more frequent text Email updates, though those were less frequent than we had hoped. And over the years, our address list transitioned from one system to another, and got more complicated and cumbersome. This became so extreme that the last couple times we sent something out, we took waaay too long to get the address lists ready, and probably made a few mistakes (sorry!).
So we decided to make an overhaul of our communication, and this summer seemed as good a time as any to do it. We now have one place to park all of our communication, at atoznback.org. This site has some basic information, as well as links to other resources such as this blog, a sign-up page to receive our news, and a new page on Wycliffe.org where people can also connect with us, including supporting our Wycliffe ministry financially.
And the news sign-up and distribution is being handled by mailchimp, which seems to have become a standard for polite (non-SPAM) distribution of Emails. It has bugged me for over a decade, that we don’t have any straightforward way for people to say “Thanks, but we really don’t want your news anymore.” So the one or two people who have said that really stick out to us, and everyone else just keeps getting our news. We hope and trust that they want it, but now people have a non-intrusive way of backing out, if they want to.
In addition to mailchimp organizing the list, it also organizes groupings. We’ve always had a quarterly newsletter which is both printed and mailed, as well as Emailed, as well as more frequent text-only updates. But this also had become excessively complicated in our database, especially where addresses went stale, or we hadn’t heard from someone in a long time. Now, if someone is getting our more frequent news, but just wants the quarterly newsletter (or vice versa), they can just click on the “update subscription preferences” link, and indicate whatever they want to receive. So in short, we’re looking to put the power to the people, in addition to streamlining our processes; hopefully we all see that as a win-win.
So I’m not sure how much, or in what way, this blog will get used, but I have hope for the future of our communication. I’m looking forward to more information and relationship, and less frustration and logistics. But then again, aren’t we all? ;-)