At our annual general meeting on 13 March, 11 of our members received the long service award. We chat with Felicia*, one of the awardees who has served with us for 25 years, to find out what keeps her going in missions year after year. How did you come to know about Wycliffe and why did you decide to serve with us? I became aware of Wycliffe while I was doing a Ph.D. in Chemistry in USA. I knew a couple from church who were Wycliffe members, and the husband was doing his Ph.D. in Linguistics on data from his language project. I became one of their minor supporters.
After I finished my studies and returned to Singapore, I became a book editor. I found the work interesting, but I wanted to do editing in a more worthy cause. Meanwhile, my Wycliffe friends from USA were stationed in Singapore and teaching at the linguistic training school. They told me that they need technical editors. I said, "You mean, I can do exactly what I'm doing now, but for the kingdom of God?" At that point, it wasn't hard to quit my job and enrol for linguistics training.
What is your most memorable experience in your 25 years of service at Wycliffe (and why)? Maybe my most memorable experience was doing field training in the Philippines, in 1997. I am a city girl, and I was dreading several things about the training—living in a village, bathing in the river, using a pit toilet, and towards the end of the training, killing a chicken! By God's grace, my team-mates and I did all that. I learned that it was possible to be stressed out and have fun at the same time! Also, it was the first time I rode in a single-engine plane (carrying up to five people). We were flying from Manila to Bagabag, in the Luzon highlands. Before getting on the plane, we and our luggage had to be weighed so that the pilot could calculate the total load. In a single-engine plane, it is incredibly noisy because of the propeller. We all wore earmuffs to block out the sound. Also, every time there was a gust of wind, you could feel it in the plane. Nevertheless, I wasn’t too worried, and we landed safely.
Tell us about your greatest challenge thus far. My greatest challenge: To lead a language project. It was a cluster project with five related languages, each with several dialects. For the first year, I was following my senior colleagues around and trying to do what they did. Then they both turned 70 and had to return to USA, and the leadership fell on me. Five other people joined our team—none of them had any field experience. I felt like Joshua after Moses departed! I was way out of my depth, and I knew it. Fortunately, unlike Moses, my experienced team-mates were able to come back for one month a year to help me out. I also had fantastic team-mates who were better at everything than I was. And, somehow, we didn't crash!
What keeps you going (in missions) year after year? After returning to Singapore, I did consider doing other work. English tutoring? Returning to book editing? None of it seemed as worthwhile as working with Wycliffe. And nothing is as satisfying as working intensively with the Word of God.
A takeaway from your time at Wycliffe that you'd like to share with those thinking of joining us? Missions is very worthwhile as a career. Don't just think of spending one or two years on this. You won't get to do the really interesting stuff until you stay longer than that and get proper training, and also really get to know the people you work with—and let them get to know you. As Singaporeans, earning money underlies all that we do. I encourage you to defy that. Do not maximise your earning capacity. Work for God instead! Or rather, let Him work through you. Don't miss this opportunity to live in God’s big world!
Considering missions but not sure where to start? Our members come from all walks of life, contributing to our ministry in many different ways. Are you or do you know someone in IT, HR, accounts, admin, working bi-vocationally etc.? We need more than Bible translators to do the job!
*name changed for security reasons