Below is our team in the village during Thanksgiving last year. (L-R Jacob, Ellie, Beth, Luke, me, Jessie, Laura & Luke, Noah and Jenny Beth. Ben-not pictured), with John and Bonnie working remotely. Luke and Jess have returned to the U.S., but others have joined us.
In the early days of the project, we were able to work with fewer staff; however, we began asking God (and our leaders) to send us more personnel because the workload became too much for a small number of people. Let me introduce you to the extraordinary people we get to work with….
John and Bonnie wrote a book about the tsunami that changed their translation project forever. Their one-language translation project became a multilanguage project for 11 languages in the Aitape West region of PNG. They wrote a book called Sleeping Coconuts, which tells the story of their involvement in the project. John now helps the team with translation consulting and computer support from his location in the U.S. They welcomed us to the team in 2002, and we learned a great deal from them about living and working in PNG. We are grateful for their [continued] contribution to the project as they also serve in other capacities with our organization.
Beth (pictured above grading TEE papers) began working with our project as a translation advisor nine years ago for Group 1, four related languages. However, as the team began producing scriptures in these language groups, God made it clear that we needed someone full time in Scripture Use, so Beth took that role on. She has been instrumental in bringing audio players to the project and facilitating the recordings of Luke and Acts on them, as well as teaching TEE (Theological Education by Extension) for translators and Christian workers who want to go deeper into God’s word. She is currently working on DVDs which show pictures of the Jesus film and include audio from recorded scripture.
Luke and Laura came to us last year, in order to help us provide some needed linguistic research into the language of Sissano. Not only did they accomplish this, but they also helped us on the ground with various workshops in dictionary making, devotions and giving tech support to our translators when the rest of our team was unavailable. This week, they will return to the UK to have a baby, and although we are sad to ‘goodbye’ to them, we look forward to finding out how God will use them in the future. We are going to miss this lovely couple!!
Jerry (pictured above, recording with Leonce and Kenny) and Cindy (pictured below, with Missy and Beth) joined our team recently. Jerry spent the last few months recording Luke and Acts for the language groups that still hadn’t done their recordings, while Cindy went on a ‘walkabout’ with Beth and Missy to do Scripture Use and Literacy activities to promote the vernacular scriptures. Jerry and Cindy’s knowledge of PNG and past experience has been invaluable to us as a team, and that is why I call them the “Dream Team.”
Missy (pictured after Cindy) joined us last year to help us with various tasks: administrative/finances, mentoring and most recently Scripture Use and Literacy. Ben and I served with Missy on an orientation course many years ago, and so incorporating her into our team and family again was comfortable and easy. She has made life a lot easier for Ben, in particular, who up until Missy came, had more work to do than he could do in a regular working week. She is now in Wewak helping us remotely and is also working on DVDs with Beth.
Matthew and Rachel (not pictured, as they are in their village living phase of orientation) are coming to be translation advisors for some of our language groups who are without one. We are excited to have them work with us soon!
Oh, and then there’s us. This picture is a bit old, but I love it because we’re standing with the various scriptures printed from our project in 2012. Ben is the team leader for the project. He does advisor and exegetical checks for the 11 language groups we serve, deals with project reporting and travel planning for the team and handles any crisis [with the help of the PNG leaders of the project] that comes up. I help Ben with the ‘hospitality’ and ‘mentoring’ side of being the team leader and things like staying on top of prayer requests. I also home school our children when we are in the village and provide meals for whoever is visiting. Jerry and Cindy call our kids “team junior” which I think is a fair title, as they are a part of what we are doing in the Bible translation movement.
I don’t know if you can read between the lines, but we love each of our team members and feel privileged to work alongside them! When we first arrived overseas, we were told that one of the hardest things about living here would be working with other expats–we can tell you that this is not the case for us on our team. The people you see pictured here are like family to us–our kids call them auntie and uncle. It has been wonderful getting to know them, and to share the ministry workload and to also work towards a shared purpose–seeing the people of the Aitape West having access to and using the Scriptures in their own language! Every person brings a special set of abilities and giftings to the team. I love seeing how God has utilized each one in our project. We are so thankful to God for providing the personnel we so desperately need, as we have been so stretched over the past three years to keep things going. Our biggest challenge as a team is to stay connected while we are essentially a globally diverse team a good deal of the time. (ie we’re not always in the same place!)
p.s. On top of our team mentioned above, we have had various experts and technicians come out to help us at different times. For instance, a team came out to help us install a new solar system last May. Then, in July, a construction/repair technician came out to help us with a variety of building maintenance issues. Each of the people pictured above has a support team on the ground in Ukarumpa who helps them with various things as well. We can’t do our work in our remote location without this kind of support!