Archive for April, 2013

April 30, 2013

On translating 1 and 2 Timothy….”this truth came straight to my stomach”

by mendibpng

During the past three translation workshops, the men have been drafting, checking and revising 1 and 2 Timothy. This is the first set of pastoral epistles that they have translated. What I heard over and over from the translators was how Paul’s words to Timothy grabbed their hearts when they began to translate it into their own languages. I wish I could convey the excitement that went around the room as the men told me how translating these epistles have encouraged them. Verses like:

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:15 NIV)


The advice that Paul gives Timothy is to stand strong and do this work. This letter he wrote to Timothy but it feels like he wrote it to me. If I want to be a leader, I need to be good in the eyes of others. I must be a good teacher, a good example. If I’m a teacher who doesn’t live right, then people won’t support me [in my translation work]. But my community will support me if I am a good example and a good leader.  This truth came straight to my stomach. When Paul advised Timothy, Paul advised me. (Jack, Barupu translator, pictured above)


Acts and Luke were the first books we translated. They are full of good stories. But now, there were some things we weren’t clear about and now we’re benefiting from the teaching of 1Timothy. There’s a lot of good advice in this book. It’s a good thing because I want to be a good leader. People have picked me to be a leader, and I want to keep the good challenge in this true talk. (Clement, Pou translator, pictured above)

April 29, 2013

“The work will not fall down without you….”

by mendibpng

Most people in Papua New Guinea know that we live in “The Land of Unexpected.” Sometimes it feels like an adventure. Sometimes it’s tough to swallow.

I’ve learned that although I appreciate knowing what is happening (and I really like my lists), if I lower my expectations and let go of My Plans when necessary, the frustration levels decrease. I still experience distress at times, particularly when a big change happens the night before (like last month when Jacob had a double ear infection and we weren’t able to leave for another planned vacation). All this to say, I’m learning that Good can come out of Hard Things if I allow myself to go through the process of grieving and transitioning.

In January we all had an opportunity to hold onto our plans loosely. We planned for our teammate Beth and I to go on a Walkabout: to do reading fluency workshops in seven villages (at the request of church leaders) and to introduce the idea of listening groups using solar powered audio listening devices, (AudiBibles: pictured below charging in the sun) containing the recorded book of Luke.

It turns out that Beth became severely ill, struggling to breathe and talk. At the same time, Ben and I caught a respiratory virus over Christmas. We had planned as a family to go to Madang for a much needed holiday, but sickness consumed us and we decided to cancel that trip. When it appeared that all three of us still struggled with illness well into January, we decided that a Walkabout would be physically impossible for us. Ben arranged for our intern Luke to go on a SALT (Scripture Application and Leadership Training) course while we all stayed in Ukarumpa to recover.

We called Emil, the Papua New Guinean leader of the project,  telling him that we would have to cancel the Walkabout because we were sick. He quickly reassured Ben, saying, “that’s ok, we’ll hold a translation workshop for 1 and 2 Timothy ourselves. You stay there and get better.” Ben assisted the translators remotely from Ukarumpa with their translation questions and computer problems via Skype while our teammates Luke and Laura were on the ground trouble shooting computer and generator issues.

When I asked the translators how the workshop went, Clement said,

We didn’t worry about you being far from us. We could maintain it and keep going without you there. If you aren’t here, the work won’t fall down. We just thought about the work and kept going. If one of us has a problem in our lives, where someone is sick or dies in our family, we are a team, we can keep working.

Another coworker, Jonathan, a man of few words, but wearing a huge smile spoke up,

we’re in the group and we work as a team.

Most Melanesians value teamwork and good relationships, so my heart jumped when this translator said this.

On another note, the fact that we can have Skype communication and cell phone reception all over the Aitape West make working remotely much easier. Onnele translator Dominic explained,

this Skype we have, it makes our work easy. If we didn’t have it, our work would be hard.”

We knew that this technology has made relating to our Papua New Guinean colleagues even better.

It keeps us connected, and available to each other, which is really important for maintaining relationships in the culture we live in.

To Ben and I, it appears that Skype chatting also allows our colleagues to speak freely about difficult and deep issues—we suspect this is because it’s not face to face, but fits in the indirect way of communicating, something we’ve come to recognize as a cultural trait here. Nearly every day, when we are away, we receive some word from the translators asking for help on technical problems or asking us to pray about personal problems they face.

I’m thankful that this work isn’t just dependent on us being around for it to happen. God has placed these gifted men, leaders in their communities, here on the Aitape West Translation Team for the purpose of taking the Scriptures to their people.

They can keep going, even if we aren’t physically present.

In fact, it’s sometimes a good thing when we can’t be here, because they have more opportunities to take initiative on their own, practice leadership and continue working together as a team.

April 26, 2013

Confessions of a missionary wife: traditions, why??

by mendibpng

Last year we celebrated a Passover Seder for the first time, thinking we would want to make it a family tradition in years to come. However, Easter just happened to fall after three weeks of meetings and our Branch conference and also on the weekend before our family planned to leave for a short vacation before heading to our village in Arop for a translation workshop.

The elements required for a seder: parsley, salt water, bitter herbs, boiled eggs and lettuce.

I thought and thought about it, and something drove me to do a Seder, even with the other stresses lingering. Last year, it was all new to me but I had kept all the recipes and lists I needed to pull it off. I decided this year to make things as simple as possible.  But the ‘day of’ our anticipated Seder rolled around and I wasn’t feeling great. Ben asked me if I really wanted to do this thing and as soon as I hit the kitchen I knew I did. It felt like some inner force compelling me to go ahead. I’m so glad I did…here are some pictures from that night.

Luke looks on while Jenny Beth dips parsley into salt water signifying the Israelites’ tears and bitterness upon their slavery in Egypt.
“Pass the Matzah bread, Noah!”

Our festivities weren’t over, though! Sunday morning we all traipsed down the hill for a Easter sunrise service and potluck breakfast.
One of the fun Ukarumpa traditions on Easter is for everyone to come with a flower to decorate the cross during a short worship service.

When we got back from the sunrise service, I worked on our lunch of ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted broccoli and hot cross buns.

Ever since the Seder, I’ve been asking myself why do I make such a big deal about holidays? I have to admit that I do not stay up all night cooking the day before, nor do I require people to dress in their best clothes—we’re talking more of casual traditions…I do what I can and what I want to do in the moment.

For my important disclaimer: I am NOT a homemaking goddess. I dearly wish I was less of a messie and more of a perfectionist in all things. And yet, I would very much prefer to throw something together without a recipe, unless I was making it for the first time. It doesn’t always come out the way it’s supposed to!  Even of they aren’t perfect, the things I can manage to throw together at the last minute mean something to me.

Since I love making lists, here are the reasons I came up with, starting from the most important:

  1. The deeper parts of me, being a ‘homeless Third Culture Kid’ is a big part of why traditions are important to me. Creating memories with my family gives me a sense of belonging and satisfaction and I hope it serves that purpose for my TCK kids and husband (he misses home too!). I think it effectively acts like a balm to the grief of separation from loved ones.
  2. Traditions make our family more cohesive. We’ve all got a comfortable feeling of “this is what we do.” We’re a unit.
  3. I do traditions because I enjoy it. I remember someone give me good advice: “keep on doing things that you enjoy even when you are overseas—this will help you be there longer.”
  4. Traditions make me feel closer to those we are separated from. Some day, we will be back in the U.S. celebrating Christmas with both sets of grandparents after a separation of four years.
  5. Celebrating traditions expresses to those around our table that they are worth the effort of whatever we have done to celebrate the occasion. I suppose food is always a big part of these things, and food must be one of my love languages to others.
  6. It’s a chance for all of us to do something together. Often someone’s helping me in the kitchen to stir the gravy or Ellie’s out picking a beautiful bouquet for the table. The twins, now three, especially feel like Big Kids when given a job to do.
  7. We often have the chance to celebrate with friends, who essentially have become our family whilst living overseas. I love making memories with friends!
  8. Traditions give us a chance to stop and think about the significant event that we are celebrating (someone’s birthday, Jesus’ birth, how much we love each other…in this case, how the Israelites escaped Egypt and how their story relates to Jesus’ death and resurrection….)
  9. Ben gets into the festivities just as much as I do and so it’s something fun we enjoy doing together.
  10. Doing ‘tradition’ with littlies is really fun for all of us big people. The joy that crosses their face at a chocolate Easter egg, for instance, cannot be matched anywhere.
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