We’ve been in Florida for 2 weeks now, and for the most part we’ve been taking it easy. Really easy. Just soaking up this warm Florida sunshine for the 2 weeks of ‘snowbirding’ that we will get this winter – it has been cold everywhere else, ever since we left Montana. BUT, we did go into civilization twice (like these RV parks with 400 to 800 sites are not ‘civilization’ 😉 ). Our first excursion was one of our best finds EVER!!!
We were in Florida for months last year, and we had no idea this was here; the Wycliffe Discovery Center at the Wycliffe Bible Translators Headquarters in Orlando. Wycliffe takes it name from John Wyliffe, who was a professor at Oxford University; he was the first person to translate the Bible into English. The Discovery Center has a nice museum that you can tour on your own, or they offer the Vision Tour, which is a 20 minute tour, every hour between 9 and 3. You can also attend Face to Face at 1:00, which is a half hour program where a staff member talks about their missions experiences in various parts of the world.
For our visit, we put together our own group (we didn’t have to look far 😉 ) to be able to do Wycliffe’s 3 hour student program called Wycliffe A to Z Adventure – Mexico: Then and Now (there is a new country/program each year). The program is available, with 2 week’s notice, to groups of 12 or more.
I wasn’t sure how the program would be for our group since we have such vast age differences, but it was fabulous! First, we filled out name tags, then we had a little intro where the staff asked the kids a few questions, told them some facts about different languages all over the world, and laid out the rules. There are 2 very important rules in the Discovery Center that absolutely must be followed! You must
1. Learn Something New (they ask you at the end)
2. Have Fun
Next, we watched a cute cartoon that explained what Wycliffe Bible Translators does and why. We learned about people’s ‘heart language’s (the language that you think, dream, and talk in), and a bit about Cameron Townsend, who started Wycliffe.
Next we were given clipboards, pens, and scavenger hunt pages. There were several different difficulty levels for the scavenger hunt (Molly doesn’t read yet, and they even had one for her! <3 ).
The kids went around and found out different information from the displays in the discovery center.
While the Mexico: Then and Now program is mainly geared towards grades 3 to 5, there is another program, the Mission Encounter, which is for middle school to adults. Because the center knew of our age range, I think we got a mix of the two! 🙂
The Discovery Center is very well done, and is full of varied hands-on activities for all ages.
There were stations that told you about other languages, including doing a rubbing,
listening to recordings to find answers to your scavenger hunt, and
a place to write or draw why the Bible is important to you.
The focus of the center is to bring awareness to Bible translation efforts.
Did you know there are roughly 7 thousand different languages in the world today? Of those, there are nearly 2 thousand people languages (180 million people) that do not have ANY of the Bible translated into their language, and the vast majority of the other 5 thousand languages do not even have a complete New Testament.
Did you know that the entire Bible is only available in 513 languages (out of 6900+)?
Can you imagine trying to read the Bible in a second language?
or not at all?
Most of the staff have been missionaries in one capacity or another. ‘Uncle’ Gary, who was one of the three staff members that presented the program/tour for us, was a missionary in Mexico (and other countries too), and this is a canoe that he used down there. They had to cut the 12′, one ton wooden canoe in half to bring part of it back because it wouldn’t fit in the puddle jumper of a plane that they used to get in and out of the area that he was laboring in…
Even Beth got into this great experience! It really was an eye opener in regards to how many people do not have access to any Bible at all, while we can go down to Walmart and pick one up for 6 bucks, or get online have hundreds of options available!
The scavenger hunt is meant to be done individually, so the kids just scattered and did their thing… the scavenger hunts were very self-explanatory, and it broke the questions up based on the area where the answers could be found.
One of the activities was where the kids would type their names into a computer, and it would print out a page of their name as it would be written in other languages (have them type in their full names – it’s cooler!)..
There were tactile activities…
as well as visual and auditory…
The kids had to read and research, and every one of them was totally engrossed (I have a couple that will participate if they HAVE to, but there was no raised eyebrows saying they had to at Wycliffe!). In fact, I’m pretty sure we could have just left Beth there 😉
Displays explaining what dialects are and why they matter when it comes to translating… Uncle Gary gave us such a great tour of the Discovery Center (with a little help 😉 )… After our tour and scavenger hunt, it was potty break time. Some of you are wondering why there is a picture of a bathroom sink in this post, but those of you with littles will get it. The restrooms here were very nice, and they also had pint sized toilets and sinks in them!!! Caleb could wash his hands without being held up (not that he uses the restroom yet!) – yay, because that kid weighs a ton! LOL! (they also had diaper changing stations in each)Then it was off on our Mexico adventure. Located in just down the hall from the Discovery Center, this big classroom was decorated with Mexican flags and pictures. The kids were taught about translation efforts for Mexico, and the challenges of getting the Bible to people in their heart languages.
The kids did a skit that re-enacted how Cameron Townsend got into Mexico…
Jake made a great entry official, and Emma and Peanut are in the back being the border guards that won’t let Cameron in 😉
We learned some of the religious history of Mexico, and about Las Posadas, which is a Catholic holiday with origins in Spain, but mainly celebrated in Mexico, Guatemala, and some of SW US. (it’s actually a very interesting little celebration; it would be fun to take parts of it to create our own little tradition). Very condensed – a group goes from house to house knocking and asking if there “Is any room for baby Jesus here?” – then they all go in and pray around the nativity.
I loved this nativity… (Sandie, watch for one of these next time you go into MX for dental work; I’ll pay you back. K?) 😀
It was made out of a coconut or some gourd (I forgot to go back and look at it closer), with the top cut off and hinged back on! <3
The kids were given passports to stamp at each station; the passports had the name of a people group printed on the back of them, as well as a pronunciation guide, where they live, and the number of people in this group so you can pray for them; the groups printed do not have the Bible in their heart language.
Then the kids broke up into two groups, olders and youngers, and went to different areas.
The littles (Joel could have gone with the others, but this way the numbers were even 😉 ) first learned about the landscape and animals of Mexico, what it took to get The Word to these people (translation efforts in Cameron’s time meant lugging a heavy and huge typewriter over mountains and streams). One of the other stations was about who needs the word of God, and how we can help them get it. The kids had age appropriate activities; there was a had a cute coloring/tracing page for Molly,while Uncle Gary told the kids about the progression of ways that the word is taken to people groups.
Thousands of groups do not have the Bible translated into their written language, but some groups do not even have a written language! Wycliffe doesn’t just translate to written word, it also works on verbal translations. Uncle Gary showed the kids older audio players compared to what they have today. He even told them about some of the players that get God’s Word into restricted countries – audio players that work as regular MP3 players, but that also have secret files that you can only access if you know how (a hidden audio Bible).
The bigger kids got decoders to complete their worksheets, and had to ‘translate’ some of the words to be able to read them in their heart language… 🙂
There was a table covered in Mexican instruments, and we listed to some upbeat Latino music and tried to sing some of our traditional songs to it (there were lots of laughs during this activity! LOL!)…
And then there was the ‘dress up’ area where we got to try on traditional Mexican garments…and they were nice clothes.
and there were enough for our tribe.
(LOL!)We even got hats and mustaches 😉
and it was way.fun. We loved the A-Z workshop! The program lasted 3 hours, and it was non-stop. There was no standing around, or waiting on the group as there was always something to do and see! The staff was over-the-top accommodating, attentive, and they were passionate about translating and missions! Every one of them was patient, genuine, and fabulous with the kids.
The workshops, whether it’s the A-Z Adventure (which we did) or the Mission Encounter, are for groups of 12 or more, with 2 weeks notice (they use a lot of volunteers for the program, so need some notice for scheduling); cost is $8 all inclusive (covers Discovery Center admission of $8 adult, $6 student).
It really is an incredible deal and experience. Every one of my kids (well, except Caleb, but he’s only 2!) has requested we do this again next year!We learned about ways that we can help support missions…and Wycliffe has a very nice gift shop. Proceeds from the shop go directly to help with Bible translation.The gift shop featured a lot of artisan work from all over the world, so you can help support Christians in other countries by purchasing their wares…The Wycliffe Bible Translators campus is gorgeous. But they are good stewards with it also. Even when they were building it; Uncle Gary told us about Wycliffe building the pond that is behind the Discovery Center. They used volunteer labor, rented the equiptment, and ran it from midnight on Monday morning to midnight on Saturday night. At the time, if you were around, and could reach the pedal, you were driving a dump truck! LOL! The land around here (all of FL. I think) is a flood plain – the water level is basically at ground level, so you want to build up the ground that you will be building on with additional dirt; they dug out and created the on campus ponds to get the dirt to use to build up the construction area, and to sell to local contractors, and saved the organization over one million dollars over having it subbed out.The center has an on-site cafeteria for employees and visitors. For some of my littler ones, it was their first cafeteria experience. LOL!They had sandwiches (boys said the Buffalo Chicken sandwich was wonderful),
There are lots of different programs that are offered on the campus here, and while Wycliffe offers these great programs for those of us that are able to visit them in Orlando, they also have some great online resources that are available to everyone! Visit www.wycliffe.org/kids to check out the free lessons, project ideas, and activity pages they offer.
We had an incredible visit to theYou can find out more about Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the Wycliffe Discovery Center in Orlando. You can also ‘like’ their FB page here. 😉
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