Archive for ‘collaboration’

May 26, 2013

Renovation Days 21 to 22

by bzephyr

On days 21 to 22 of the Aitape West Translation Project’s renovation, we saw door frames and window louvre frames installed…

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The kitchenette in the flat was moved to accommodate access to the old toilet and shower rooms, the plywood walls were put up, and a new door installed…

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And the old flat has access to the new bathroom…

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Split blackpalm “limbum” was collected for siding…

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Meanwhile, next door at the office, Onnele literacy teachers Rosalyn and Linda are enjoying the new things they’re learning about dictionary making…

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The overflow pipes for the two tanks were creatively fitted, even though we didn’t have the right connections. Wayambo improvised with some tightly wound sheets of plastic…

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The plywood walls and limbum siding starting going up…

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The view from the developing new bathroom with its new door and plywood walls…

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The siding needed to start above the first floor windows so that we could hang the downpipes in front of that space in the days ahead…

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It was the last day for the translators and literacy team to be together. Tomorrow, the literacy team would head home and the translators would continue revising their translations of 1 & 2 Timothy. Today, the literacy team returned the favor and helped the translation teams read through these letters and made valuable suggestions…

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May 10, 2013

Renovation Days 8 to 11

by bzephyr

In the Aitape West Translation Project, one of our main goals is the training of trainers so that Papua New Guineans are equipped to serve their own communities and also share their skills and experience in helping others from the various 831 languages in this country. So two years ago we realized that we had a need for additional staff to train our PNG colleagues from the 11 languages in this project. We are now seeing new teammates join the project.

Below, our new teammate Luke from the UK demonstrates some features of the computers that these literacy personnel are using as they work on their dictionaries.

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The quick influx of new staff has also created an urgent need for additional facilities in our remote village training center.

By day 8 of our renovation project, Wayambo had started making some significant changes in the existing downstairs flat. He had moved the kitchen counter over about a meter in order to make space for a new hallway to the old toilet and shower rooms from the new flat being built outside this kitchen window. This existing flat will receive the new bathroom.

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And the framing for that new hallway has started…

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Wayambo started fitting the new shower tray…

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And we saw a new ditch dug to direct the waste water from the new shower and hand basins…

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And one of the jobs that I’m spending a lot of time on in this project: the plumbing. On day 11, it was once again Sunday, so time to rest. But we did allow our water pumps to work all day as we pumped water from the remaining existing water tank to the repositioned water tank. And before we turned the generator off for the night, we were able to start getting water out of the newly plumbed water tank. Tomorrow, we’ll move the second water tank so we can start building the two new rooms.

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These days also marked the dictionary workshop being into full swing after the translators left to go home and check 1 & 2 Timothy with their communities. But they also marked the start of several days of cleaning viruses off our 22 project computers and our local network. Below, Beth (right) and Luke’s wife, Laura (left), help run the virus scans.

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Everywhere we look these days, we see people working together to support the growing work and ministry of this Bible translation project. We are blessed!

May 9, 2013

Renovation Days 5 to 7

by bzephyr

With translations, dictionaries and scripture use training going ahead in nine languages, we are so thankful for our growing number of staff. And work on the urgent renovation continued despite some big rains. We were thankful for the rain, because we had already emptied one of our two water tanks in order to start construction. The second tank was nearly half empty. So the kids had a good excuse to get outside and collect water by any other means, although baths were needed after this got muddier…

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I failed to get pictures of the renovation on days 5 and 6 because I was busy with the Dictionary Workshop…

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The translators stayed around for 3 days after their workshop to help work together with the literacy team as they met for the second time to work on their dictionaries…

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By the end of day 7, much more had been accomplished on the renovation. It was decided to widen the two rooms by another foot and a half based on the length of the 4×4 bearers that we had acquired. But this also meant that we would be short on flooring, so we would need to get our hands on a few more pieces before the project could be completed.

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You can also see above that Wayambo did figure out how to make enough cement for new circular tank stand pads. This was a really nice surprise since we’ve had two other tanks break after sinking into the soft ground. Although we were short on gravel, there were several hardened cement bags lying around, and once broken up, that was able to substitute for the needed gravel. Wayambo’s always good for creative solutions.

And let’s take a closer look at how the new bathroom is coming along…

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And looking from the inside out…IMG_2222cropsmall

It was time to rest after another hard day’s work. And look at that wall ready to go up…

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March 4, 2013

Challenges and Advantages of a Geographically Diverse Team

by mendibpng

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Challenges and Advantages:
We now have a more diverse team culturally. I see this as a huge advantage because we have opportunity to learn and benefit from the richness of different cultural viewpoints. We’ve already seen this in discussions. On the other hand, having different cultural perspectives is a challenge because we don’t want anyone to feel marginalized or ‘put out’ if someone is unwittingly being culturally insensitive. I have grown from interactions I’ve had with Wycliffe’s cross cultural expert Sheryl Silzer, (whose book is available on Amazon) “Biblical Multicultural Teams.” She teaches that each culture has image of God behaviors but also has tendencies towards sinful ones. I am grossly simplifying here but what I have personally taken away from the two courses I’ve participated in is that I must  make it my first goal to understand where my teammates are coming from as well as process my cultural biases so that we can work together well. What that is going to look like in reality, I don’t know…but I’m excited to learn.

Answered prayer:
When we began crying out to God for much needed help last year, very few new people were coming to Papua New Guinea, much less language workers. We as a team worked hard to draft proposals for 10 new job positions and our leaders approved them. Not only did they approve the new positions, but they began steering people in our direction. We prayed and kept plugging away at our work. And then two by two and one by one, people began approaching us about joining our team.

We’ve talked about how grateful we are to have the help but we are also feeling badly, as other people are short staffed and in the same position as us, desperately needing personnel!  On top of it all, the people who have joined us are well trained and skilled, or as we Americans say, the ‘cream of the crop.’  They have expertise that we don’t have and the ability to do work that we don’t have time to do.

All this to say, we see that there is light at the end of the tunnel for us all: the addition of new team members will relieve the physical work but also provide some margin for us as a family [we hope: no pressure teammates if you are reading this!!]  We’re up to the task of navigating cultural differences and learning about each other’s personalities so that we can all live and work together well…thriving hopefully.

I’ll end with a prayer for my new team that I’ve stolen from the Apostle Paul: [bold and italics mine]

1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (The Message)

May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father, and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours.

Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There’s no end to what has happened in you—it’s beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.

March 2, 2013

A Geographically Diverse Team: Collaborating Remotely

by mendibpng

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Right now we have teammates in the U.S., Australia, Ukarumpa: PNG and Arop: PNG. The majority of our team travels between Ukarumpa and Arop for translation and other workshops (eg: scripture use/dictionaries/literacy) So far our team is comprised of American, British, Australian and Papua New Guinean members.

In the past two years, Ben has taken over the ‘team leader’ position in our translation project. We’ve added new expat members: some newer ones already making a contribution need supervision. We also have other more ‘seasoned’ missionaries who are (or will be) providing some much needed technical and ministry related support, who will not need mentoring as much. Looking at our team going from six members (three of whom were in the U.S. last year) to twelve at first was exciting but also a bit nerve wracking for Ben and me. Some of us are never in the same geographic location as the others…

Here’s the thing: we’re new at this. We have never worked with so many teammates before. Ben and I try to live realistically, which means ‘the ugly bits’ will eventually show to anyone working with us. But, we know that God is bigger than our limitations. So this is my attempt to ‘story’ as we say here in PNG about how it’s going.

Common Purpose:
I love it that we as a team are passionate about seeing the people of the Aitape West area translate and use the Scriptures. We long to see the gospel being lived out daily. We want to be living examples of people who are being rescued from sin and have a living relationship with Jesus. In other words, we do not want to appear perfect or self righteous, we would like to be the kind of people who freely admit that we can’t do it all ourselves, that God is the One who enables us. [this is my personal interpretation of our common purpose, but maybe we need to sit down as a team and actually work on writing one!]

Communicating:
We’re still trying to figure this out, but Ben emails the whole team as our main mode of communication. People reply to him directly or ‘reply all’ to the team. Ben added a ‘response desired’ at the beginning of some of the more urgent emails and that helps when need to decide something as a group. One of our new teammates helped us set up Google Calendars so that any of us can access the team’s calendar at anytime. Before, we waded through hundreds of emails to find information that we needed.

Additionally, we are able to contact most team members via skype or cell phone if needed. Having a VSAT [satellite connection] in the village makes this possible.

Community:
We host everybody who is here in Ukarumpa with us for lunch every week. In the past we’ve only had team meetings here on an ‘as needed basis’ but we’re finding that now with the larger team, we need regular fellowship and interaction to stay connected. In the village, we meet on Wednesdays as well. However, we see each other constantly throughout the week there…so it’s easier to stay in touch with what is happening simply because we live closer to each other and there are less community distractions.

Each week we ask our Papua New Guinean teammates for prayer requests and we also share our own. I send an email with them all typed up so that we can pray during the week and so that those who are remotely working with us can stay connected.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my next post about the challenges and advantages of having a cross cultural team working remotely.

January 6, 2013

The bad #1: Stuck in the mud

by bzephyr

With PNG teammates who are motivated and capable of making great progress in Bible translation, the last thing we want is for us expat members of the team to be the obstacles that impede their way forward. But that is exactly what is in danger of happening. This is felt most keenly in my dual role as team leader and translation advisor, especially as we incorporated new opportunities and met several unforeseen obstacles this last year. But these stresses have not only affected me, they have had a significant effect on my wife and five children, and on the other members of our team as they have all been burdened with the relentless urgency to fulfill our plans.

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Due to roads in disrepair and great difficulties in arranging transportation, on one five-week trip to the village in January/February, I spent fifteen days on the road trying to get to and from the translation workshop. Then in March, I left my family for 22 days to go to another translation workshop but only managed to get to the village for 8 days due to similar transportation problems. My work was slowed, and this also slowed down others who were waiting for my contributions. So we are now dialoguing with our leaders and with partners in the region and at JAARS about a land transportation solution.

The road has not been the only transportation obstacle. When the Aitape West Translation Project started twelve years ago, there were four airstrips in the area that were relatively close to our training center in the bush that we might have used. These days, only one is ever open, and for most of 2012, there were none. This meant a lot of phone calls and face-to-face meetings to see about the possibility of the grass getting cut and the airstrip opening up. The Kodiak airplane doesn’t need a long landing strip, but it does need the grass on the strip to be cut so the pilot can see dogs, pigs, and small children close to the landing area and still land safely.

When the airstrip didn’t open, we have been very grateful for the possibility of flying by helicopter. That helicopter pilot has been our best friend on several occasions this year. But this solution has also meant more work for me in an already full schedule to arrange the logistics of it all. It is also a much more expensive option that tugs at a tight budget.

January 4, 2013

The good #3: Developing local leaders for language development

by bzephyr

This last year our team desired to make progress in equipping local literacy teachers and also in using linguistic research to contribute to the quality of translations and to meeting the language development needs of the communities. But we also wanted to facilitate our PNG colleagues’ development in these areas rather than simply allow outsiders to do this for the local team. So dictionaries were begun this year in order to accomplish these multiple purposes.

This is the next in a series of posts on the good, the bad, and what I’m doing now to sharpen ugly worn-out tools from 2012. See also here, here, and here.

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In the past, mother tongue translators have met separately from local literacy teachers at different workshops. This year, however, we sent a handful of translators and literacy teachers to a regional dictionary workshop with the express purpose that they would return to the Aitape West project later in the year and lead a similar workshop for all the others. So in April, four translators and three literacy teachers from four different languages attended the regional workshop in Wewak. In September, these seven led the workshop for local literacy teachers from nine languages.

They taught about basic computing and typing, making dictionaries, parts of speech, the WeSay dictionary software, and what to do with such complicated things as bound verb roots. As the more experienced users of their written languages, all the translators also attended and served as mentors even while growing in their own knowledge and skills. With our recent acquisition of more bunk beds and mattresses, we were able to accommodate more people at a single workshop than ever before as the translators and literacy teachers worked together as part of a single team in this translation project.

We view the equipping of this larger team not only as a means to more holistic language development, but also as a key ingredient to local ownership of the translation task and to facilitating Scripture use among the communities. Plans are underway for this next year to continue this dictionary development and to involve the larger team in the translation task and in Scripture use.

The dictionary workshops were not the only way that we have been developing local leaders within the Aitape West Translation Project. We have communicated to the Aitape West translators that we want to continue facilitating opportunities for them every year to grow in their leadership skills as they are willing and able to serve people from other language communities in the region and the nation.

Last November, four local translators accompanied me to attend a church partnership conference in the larger regional town of Wewak as we prepared for our own conference in Aitape later the following year. Most of our translators attended the Aitape conference in August and contributed by interacting with the district church leaders, leading worship, and speaking out about various issues in the conference.

In June, five local translators traveled with me to our national training center in Ukarumpa and served as training mentors in the Paratext translation software course. The November ’11 and July/August ’12 translation editing workshops for Luke-Acts happened without any expat presence. These workshops involved significant interaction with translation advisors as we communicated remotely over email and Skype. We continue to be grateful for these local partners who take increasing responsibility for various tasks.

This year one of our Arop advisors, Linus, died, and the other two Arop advisors, Emil and Pastor Peter, experienced the death of close family members. This took them away from some of our workshops, but the other translators stepped up and took responsibility for various tasks that always need to be done. Likewise, when out teammate, Beth, returned from furlough, some of the translators took it upon themselves to organize where they were all at with their TEE training (Theological Education by Extension), and before Beth could bring the topic up with them, they presented her with their plan for finishing book 2 and continuing with book 3.

This last year has seen many good things happening in the Aitape West Translation Project.

January 3, 2013

The good #2: Partnership, ownership and good fruit

by bzephyr

Another significant development this year comes on the heels of a trial edition of Luke being published last year and distributed to communities and church leaders. With the availability of this sizeable portion of God’s Word, we have been providing various opportunities for the people to interact with it.

This is the next in the series of posts on the good, the bad, and what I’m doing to sharpen worn-out tools from 2012. The good, #1 appeared here.

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  • Copies of Luke continue to be available for sale in the communities and also at the Christian bookstore in Aitape.
  • Audio recordings of the Christmas and Easter story were also distributed.
  • Luke in its entirety was recorded, and our team is working with partners to edit it and prepare it for distribution on Sabers and AudiBibles.
  • Just before Easter, the Easter story from Luke 22-24 was published in a side-by-side vernacular and pidgin diglot format, and this has received very positive feedback from church leaders.
  • Just before Christmas, the Christmas story from Luke 1-2 was also distributed in a side-by-side vernacular and pidgin diglot.
  • Trial copies of 1 Timothy were drafted, and these are being revised before taking copies to the language communities for testing.

With the availability of these resources, we have been intentionally connecting not only with local church leaders when those portions were dedicated in 2011, but also with district church leaders. We have been visiting them regularly in town throughout the last year, especially as we prepared for the Aitape Baibel Conference in August. District church leaders from seven denominations were represented at that conference, and it is evident that they are enthusiastic to encourage the work that is already happening in the languages west of Aitape.

Since these district church leaders are themselves mostly from languages east and south of Aitape, they are even more excited about the possibility of extending this ministry in the years to come to the many other languages in the district which still have no Scriptures.

The most defining aspect of the Aitape West Translation Project is that we are not just producing a product but equipping people to carry on every aspect of this work in the future, not only in their own languages but also as they come alongside other language communities in the region and in the nation. Partnering with district churches will be key to facilitating the use of translated Scriptures in the local churches and also to the expanding Bible translation movement in the region.

December 31, 2012

The good #1: Rebooting our collaborative approach

by bzephyr

A reboot of our Bible translation project in August means that some language groups will now WAIT to receive God’s Word. Waiting is good? My Papua New Guinean teammates think this reboot is one of the best things that happened this year in the project based on our team’s evaluation of how things were going over the last few years.

As promised here, I’m summarizing some of the good and the bad from this last year, and what I’m doing now to put first things first and sharpen the ugly worn-out tools.

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James, Jonathan, and Otto above are assembling the Christmas Story from Luke 1-2. These were printed with their local Onnele language and pidgin trade language in a parallel-column diglot format. This is the format that many pastors in the area believe is needed to enable them to effectively use their local language more in worship. This is because churches almost always include people who have married into the language group or traveled from neighboring language areas.

One of the key defining aspects of our multi-language translation project is that we highly value the collaboration that occurs with one another as we work on the same chapters at the same time. Nine languages worked together recently to produce those Christmas diglots. We have learned over the years, however, that this model is difficult to maintain when different language teams are able to proceed at different rates. This was especially true while we were completing the very lengthy books of Luke and Acts. One solution has been to allow the quicker teams to work on other things while their teammates catch up.

We can no longer allow the slowest teams to dictate the progress of all the others, especially if all teams do not show up to all workshops. It’s one thing to allow the quicker teams to work on something else while the teams with more difficult translation challenges catch up. It’s quite another thing, however, if some teams fall behind because they repeatedly miss out on some workshops. We have been looking to the completion of Luke-Acts this year as the appropriate time when we would need to “reboot” the project and initiate new patterns for working together.

With the start of 1 Timothy in August, therefore, we now expect language teams to have a third translator ready to stand in for another if one of the regular two translators have a good reason for not attending. Also, frequent absences may require that translation committees need to designate a new translator.

So we are now starting to follow a tighter schedule of translating shorter books and taking them all the way through to consultant checking and publishing each year. The new understanding is that if a language team misses a workshop, they will not be able to receive that short book this year. This may mean that some languages in the project will need to wait to receive that portion of God’s Word. But what we are already seeing is that teams are more motivated to attend or make arrangements for another to stand in their place if their absence absolutely cannot be avoided.

November 30, 2012

Training Trainers part 2: Dictionary Making in the Aitape West

by mendibpng

Once again, the SPES team in Wewak invited our team to come and take part in a dictionary workshop. We sent translators and literacy workers from the project, along with advisor Jessie Wright, and they all learned to use the WeSay dictionary software that our colleague had developed.  Those who attended the first workshop in April earlier this year ended up training the rest of the team during the month of September on how to create dictionaries!

(above) Participants became excited as they learned things like “what is a verb in my language?” They also learned how things fit together grammatically in their language. Photo by Luke Warrington.

The following is Ben’s writeup for our team:

This last year our team desired to make progress in equipping local literacy teachers and also in using linguistic research to contribute to the quality of translations and to the language development needs of the communities. But we also wanted to facilitate our PNG colleagues to develop in this area rather than simply allow outsiders to do this for the local team. So dictionaries were begun this year in order to accomplish these multiple purposes. In the past, mother tongue translators have met separately from local literacy teachers at different workshops. This year, however, we sent a handful of translators and literacy teachers to a regional dictionary workshop with the expressed purpose that they would return to the Aitape West project later in the year and hold a similar workshop for all the others. So in April, four translators and three literacy teachers from four different languages attended the regional workshop in Wewak.

photo by Luke Warrington

In September, these seven led the workshop for local literacy teachers from nine languages. They taught about basic computing and typing, making dictionaries, parts of speech, the WeSay dictionary software, and what to do with such complicated things as bound verb roots. As the more experienced users of their written languages, all the translators also attended and served as mentors even while growing in their own knowledge and skills. With our recent acquisition of more bunk beds and mattresses, we were able to accommodate more people at a single workshop than ever before as the translators and literacy teachers worked together as part of a single team in this translation project. We view the equipping of this larger team not only as a means to more holistic language development, but also as a key ingredient to local ownership of the translation task and to facilitating Scripture use among the communities. Plans are underway for this next year to continue this dictionary development and to involve the larger team in the translation task and in Scripture use.

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