Archive for ‘culture’

January 11, 2016

Reflecting the glory of God

by bzephyr


Next week, we head to our remote village in Papua New Guinea in preparation for our next Bible translation workshop. This time, our teammate John will be joining us from the States, and we will conduct final consultant checking of Titus and Philemon for the 10 language teams we work with.


These are relatively small language groups, each between about 400 and 5000 speakers. Yet each one represents yet another community for whom God has done marvelous things to redeem a people for himself — people redeemed from unavoidable selfish and unkind actions, redeemed from false belief, redeemed from fear, from death, from terrifying spirits, people redeemed from the devil — those who will surround the throne of Jesus and give him great glory from every nation, tribe, people, and language.


These are pictures from the recent singsing at our project’s building dedication. Look at these faces, and see people who were made to reflect the glory of God in Christ.


From Titus 1:2…

I have been sent to proclaim faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives. (NLT)


















January 3, 2016

Singsing for a remote building dedication

by bzephyr

The new classroom (center) and dorm (right) in the morning sun


A few years ago, our ten-language Bible translation project in Papua New Guinea started to outgrow our current facilities. We needed more classroom space, more dorm rooms, more staff housing, and a new generator. Before we returned to the States for our home assignment last year, I had worked with teammates, architects, and funding partners to plan for the construction of four new buildings. Most of the build happened during the year that we were away.

AWTP managers

Missy and Emil managed the whole building project while we were home in the States


When we returned to PNG, our local colleagues had decided that we needed to do the culturally appropriate thing and host a building dedication. Traditionally, people in this part of the country cannot use a new house or building until they have hosted various groups to come sing and dance on the buildings and officially open them up. Sometimes the dancing is so energetic that it seems to serve the purpose of testing the strength of the new building.

For this opening, our village partners decided that the real purpose of this event was to dedicate these buildings to God and to his continued work through this language development project. So they invited one local singsing group to sing and dance, and various local church and community leaders were also invited to join in dedicating the new buildings to God. It was a day full of decorating the buildings, singing, dancing, speeches, prayers, cutting the tape, cooking, eating, and enjoying sweet fellowship together.

The pictures that follow are just a glimpse at all the beautiful art and joyful activities of the day…



Fastening bilas (decorations)



Adding color – the new and the old



Hold still



Women folk of the local translation advisor



Children getting all decked out



Almost ready to begin the festivities



Many speeches



Cutting the tape



Exploring the new buildings



All dressed up and ready to dance



Singsing Tumleo – a song learned by grandparents from a neighboring language



Watching the singsing from the decorated new verandah


Taking a breather before the next verse

Taking a breather before the next verse



The next generation with PNG flag colors



A headdress to match her afro



Learning from the grandparents



The littlest dancer



Too much excitement for this little super man



Someday, he’ll join the fun


Cooking kaukau

Keeping the fire going



Cooking fish



Waving the flies off


Distributing bread rolls

Distributing bread rolls



Waiting patiently to eat



Time to rest and story



Leading the singsing with a flare


February 2, 2014

Light shining in the darkness

by bzephyr

The Gospel of Luke was translated and published in the Malol and Sissano languages for the first time in June 2011.

For those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9.2b)

Since then Luke has been recorded on audio, distributed on solar and hand-crank Scripture audio players, and used to begin training local church leaders how to incorporate the translated Word of God into family and church life.

Now they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed. (Isaiah 6.10b)

Beth introducing Scripture audio players to Malol church leaders in September 2013

Beth introducing Scripture audio players to Malol church leaders in September 2013

This year, the Jesus Picture Story DVDs were created with Malol and Sissano audio tracks, and it’s ready to be projected almost every other night in all the Malol and Sissano communities for the next 37 days. Two days ago, our teammate Beth left the town of Wewak with seven newly arrived YWAM team members in the back of a pickup truck for the long trip over rivers and muddy roads in order to start this ministry in Malol country.

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them… I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. (Isaiah 42.10,16b)

These eight people along with the Malol and Sissano translators and literacy teachers will make up the teams who are taking the light of the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for the first time on screen and with the translated Words of God into these dark places.

I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42.6-7)

Left to right: Caleb, Ben K., Effy (leader), Ben H., Natalie, Courtney, Stephen (leader)

Left to right: Caleb, Ben K., Effy (leader), Ben H., Natalie, Courtney, Stephen (leader)

The plan was to start driving at the crack of dawn and arrive by truck at the first Malol village in the early or mid afternoon. They would meet Malol literacy teachers John and Benedict if the road was impassable, and a team of local volunteers would then help them trek through the mud to the first overnight. Little did they know that the Malol translators, Philip and Petrus, had decided to leave the translation workshop for the weekend and surprise them for their first of 10 two-day programs in the Malol language area.

Left to right: Benedict, John, Philip, Petrus

Left to right: Benedict, John, Philip, Petrus

Teammate Missy, also decided to make the trek with Philip and Petrus and help the team through their first experience of bathing in the sago swamps, locating pit toilets, setting up mosquito nets, and possibly doing this all in the dark. Why are they going through all this trouble? To provide hope to those who rely more on the light of their torches than on the light of the Lord. Consider…

Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50.10b-11)

Left to right: John and Philip listening to Luke on audio while Benedict and Missy demonstrate how to read along

Left to right: John and Philip listening to Luke on audio while Benedict and Missy read along

Here’s how that first day panned out…

  • 6:00 a.m. – Beth and the YWAM team depart Wewak by truck to Malol country
  • 12:01 p.m. – Beth texts “We are at Yakamul 3. A car is stuck in the road. We wait til they get it out. Lots of flooded rivers. Will text when we get to Aitape.”
  • 12:35 p.m. – Missy, Philip and Petrus depart translation workshop in Arop village by foot to Malol country
  • 1:37 p.m. – Beth texts, “We are in Aitape. We are heading straight to Malol. We will text as soon as we get there and find the network there.”
  • 2:30 p.m. – Beth texts, “We are at the Yalingi River now. It is flooded. We will wait to cross and then will find John. We may have to walk to Malol because of the river.”
  • 5:37 p.m. – Missy texts, “Made it to Malol. Will try to send message later.”
  • 9:28 p.m. – Missy texts, “Hi Ben, wow it’s a long way. Minus the 30 min canoe we walked almost constantly for 4.5 hours. My legs are tired but I’m doing fine. Everyone is here, beds set up, almost all washed, ready to eat and sleep. Hope the rest of ya day went well. Missy.”
  • Next day – Petrus texts that Beth and the YWAM team had arrived in Malol really late in the evening, and they were welcomed at that time. Now they will rest and start the program on Monday.

Next day – Ben texts Missy: “Was Beth totally surprised to show up after dark and see you?”

Missy: “No, she wasn’t because Philip couldn’t help himself and he had to tell John, who told her. But she was soooooooo happy!”

Isn’t that the way it is with good news? It’s so good, you can’t wait to tell someone. Even at the risk of spoiling the surprise, you just can’t hold it in. You’ve just got to tell somebody.

Will you pray with us that as this team shows the story of Jesus’  life, death and resurrection and as the people hear it in their own language that they will be sooooooo happy to hear and see the light? And that they too will feel compelled to go out and tell others?

Also, Philip and Petrus will accompany Missy back to the translation workshop within the next few days so that they can continue to be a part of the ongoing translation work with 9 other language teams as they draft Titus and Philemon together into their own languages.

Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. (Isaiah 60.20)

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.

March 4, 2013

Challenges and Advantages of a Geographically Diverse Team

by mendibpng

flying over Arop sm

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.

February 7, 2013

Thoughts on Being a Third Culture Kid: Why would you do this to your kids?

by mendibpng


A while ago, when we were discussing transition and loss that we as a family have experienced, a newcomer to PNG asked me why anyone would chose to raise their kids overseas if we knew our kids would experience so much hardship. I replied that although it’s painful to see my kids suffer (oh how I wish I could shield them from it!), I can see how God can use it in their lives to make them stronger, more compassionate people. One of my kids told me a while ago that a new kid had come to the school and was having trouble relating to the other kids. He said “I think he’s just in transition stress right now, Mom. He’ll be okay in a few weeks.” This is the kind of thing my TCK/missionary mom heart really enjoys hearing…because it means that they are internalizing some of the things that we value as a family: being real and also having compassion for those who are struggling.

Sometimes we are the cause of our kids’ struggles. We fight. We sin. We struggle with boundaries.  I don’t think this is too different from any other family. But the unique challenge is to be a healthy family while living cross culturally and dealing with transition all the time. I am certain my kids are going to need counseling because of how we have raised them and because of the life we have been called to. I’m just going to put that out there so that what I’m about to say can be balanced with the reality of our sinful natures!

I see my kids gaining a wide perspective of culture as they search for the Truth . Understanding truth within the context of culture is something that takes a great deal of maturity, I think. One time our boys were riding down our hill on a skateboard in the rain making a mess of our grass. At first, Ben went out and told them to stop. They were getting muddy from head to toe and in particular were creating a huge mud pit under the laundry line. His concern was mainly for me and what I was going to deal with later. However, when he came inside to talk to me, he realized I didn’t care about the grass, and he went back and told the boys they could play out there again. Later, one of my cheeky boys said something like, “Mom,  it’s not important in your culture to have a clean and neat lawn but it is to Daddy’s .”  We all had a good chuckle because Ben has often joked about the biggest sin in his hometown being  ‘lawn envy’ whereas here, it is not as much of an issue at all.

Dealing with adversity from time to time has given Ben and I the opportunity to point our kids to Jesus. The two kids I’m homeschooling this year during village stays would rather go to school in Ukarumpa with their friends. They find it hard, to be honest, which is in direct contrast to their older brother who would be done with school by 10 am most mornings (and who didn’t require a lesson plan!)  Sometimes when Ben comes home at his 10:00 am break, he sees one or more of us crying in frustration. He and I try to take the opportunity to encourage the kids to pray because Jesus can help us when we have to do things we don’t like or enjoy. He walks through it with us. We’ve seen them grow significantly in this area this year. We’re all grateful, like right now

A final observation I’d like to make is that being a TCK gives my kids the daily opportunity to interact with people from different cultures. Not only do we have Papua New Guinean friends and family who we love and respect in Ukarumpa and in Arop village, but we have many nationalities represented here in our mission community. Countries like the United States, Korea, Canada, Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, Japan, Finland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Papua New Guinea (and others!)  are represented at my kids’ school in both teachers and students. It sometimes leaves the kids confused…for instance, when one of my kids had a lesson on Culture, he was supposed to bring in a couple of things that represented the culture he is from. He showed a dollar bill, saying “I’m bringing an American dollar because I’m from America.” Next he held up a Thai cookbook, saying “I’m also Asian because my mom grew up in Asia and cooks a lot of Asian food!” The other day he told me how much he enjoys using Commonwealth terms for things because he is more Commonwealth now than American. Heh heh, I didn’t even know the term “Commonwealth” until I was in high school!

When asked if they would choose to be an MK here in Papua New Guinea or to live elsewhere, all of my kids would choose here. That is a relief but also a challenge.

May 19, 2012

Are you worthy to suffer?

by bzephyr

A year ago at the Ukarumpa International School book parade, Josiah (right) with two of his best friends demonstrating our natural human desire to not be on the receiving end of suffering

We just finished consultant-checking the first 6 ½ chapters of Acts this morning in the Onnele languages of Goiniri, Wolwale and Romei-Barera, and in the Bauni languages of Pou and Barupu. With 28 chapters in Acts and two weeks left in our time together, we are well ahead of schedule.

It was a bit bumpy on the first day to get comfortable with the process of checking five languages simultaneously. By the second day, the vernacular language consultants from each language had a much better idea of the process and what was expected of them. And PNG consultant Aluis Simatab has been doing a fantastic job of doing what he normally does with one language among a group of five languages.

Because these languages have worked closely together in producing their translations, and because we have utilized consultant input early and often throughout the translation process, these factors make these final checking sessions doable in multiple languages. We have done this before in as many as three or four dialects from one language family, but this is the first time we have tried doing this final checking process with as many as five languages from two completely unrelated language families. To be honest, I was approaching this week with a fair bit of fear and trepidation. After the first few minutes of the second day of checking, however, my fears were set at ease. I has really been working well.

Because Aluis came down with a consistent cough a few days before we arrived in the village, he asked me to take the lead for the the last two half days. This experience will contribute to me becoming a full translation consultant myself. This will really be useful not only for the 10 languages currently involved in the Aitape West project, but also for other teams working among the 820+ languages of Papua New Guinea. It is difficult for many teams to find available consultants. We need more workers.

Aluis and I are both very impressed with the state of these translations. There are not a lot of changes needed. The hard work that has gone into drafting and revising the lengthy book of Acts over the last 3 ½ years is really shining through in these consultant checking sessions. It is so satisfying to see that the vernacular language consultants from each community are able to hear and read the translations and repeat back to us in the Tok Pisin trade language every detail that is supposed to be communicated in the verses.

Here is the most significant opportunity for improvement that we have found so far…

The three verses in Acts 5:40-42 make for a really surprising and inspiring conclusion to the story of Peter and the other apostles facing opposition for teaching about the resurrection of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who believe.

v. 40 – The ruling Council has the apostles flogged (READ: with whips that have metal shards that rip the skin right off their backs). And they are commanded never again to speak in the name of Jesus.

v. 41 – The apostles leave the Council rejoicing that God counted them worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus.

v. 42 – The apostles continue to teach that Jesus is the Messiah every day in the Temple and from house to house.

This is not normal behavior. Just reading those three verses makes me smile. Makes me laugh. It reminds me of Psalm 2 that the believers quoted in their prayer of Acts 4 the first time that Peter and John were released from jail and told not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name:

“The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the Lord  and against his Messiah.” (Psalm 2:2 in Acts 4:26)

God’s response to this in Psalm 2 (not quoted in Acts 4) is this:

“But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them., terrifying them with his fierce fury.” (Psalm 2:4-5)

In the same way, when the apostles are ordered not to speak of Jesus any more, they go away rejoicing that God considered them fit to suffer for the name of Jesus. I’m sure the Lord in heaven must have been laughing along with his fit apostles as he guided them and strengthened them in this episode.

In our translations, the reason for the apostles’ joy was not understood clearly. It was difficult to convey the reason for their joy, and all of the vernacular language consultants thought the apostles were happy because they had been freed and allowed to go on their way. That would be too normal. But this verse is talking about joy that only the Holy Spirit can give. This verse is talking about the joy of suffering. The joy of being a living picture of Jesus, sharing in his purposeful pain. The joy of laughing in the face of persecution because you know that you serve the one who was raised from the dead and rules in heaven (Acts 5:30-31). The joy of saying,

“We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29; cf. 4:19)

When the translators and language consultants heard a clear explanation of this verse, they were also wide-eyed and laughing. They agreed that they needed to fix their translations so that the true meaning of this inspiring verse would come out clear.

How about you? Are you a picture of Jesus in the midst of suffering? Is God’s Spirit alive inside of you? Is your life directed by the authority of God rather than men? Are you worthy to experience shame and suffering for the honor and purposes of our risen King?

Lord, let your Spirit live and laugh in me.

March 6, 2012

Wailing, beards, and lost for words at a funeral

by mendibpng

This post is yet more “confessions of a missionary wife.” It’s going to be difficult to write.

You may have seen the post I wrote about David Emil’s passing here:

When we were in the village we walked to the Emil family’s house to cry and grieve with them. A death in the family means that several cultural things take place: close friends and family come stay to mourn together. It is the responsibility of the grieving family to provide food for anyone who comes to mourn. This can be a financial hardship. The visitors can stay for weeks, even months. The men grow out their beards, a physical example of their grief and pain. When their initial grieving is over, they shave their facial hair.

Ben has the ability to mourn the way a Papua New Guinean does. When we entered the courtyard, he began wailing loudly. I had quietly explained to our children that this was going to happen, so they were not scared. I stayed back and held our two year old twins, and cried softly. As soon as Ben started crying, the mother and grandmother of the boy began wailing as well. The father stood quietly until I gave him a plastic covered picture of his boy. He started crying loudly then too. Ben came over and they held each other for a while.

Even though we’ve been in PNG since 2002, I still feel like a foreigner in situations like these. In my culture grief is a private matter. I am always concerned that I won’t know what to say to someone who has lost a loved one. However, in PNG, crying loudly with the family and being there says that you are walking with them through their pain.

As we walked the 45 minutes home, I felt anguish for Emil’s family and the loss of a beloved son. I told my kids that it was okay to feel sad for our friends because we love them. Ben went later on with the translators for a memorial service where a big feast was held after the grave had been decorated according to their custom.

Today I wrote an e-mail to Emil with these verses:

1Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.

So often I get caught up in the mundane of the here and now and forget that one day the Lord will return! That last verse “encourage each other with these words” made me think how little time I spend encouraging others with the hope of Christ’s return. There will be no more pain, suffering and grief.

March 2, 2012

Journey to the Lagoon…

by mendibpng

As the translators wrapped up the Acts revising and Luke recording workshop, we asked our Arop friends what the road situation was like. Everybody we talked to told us that four-wheel-drive trucks couldn’t get in and out of the village. The dirt roads had become soupy. A huge truck blocked the road as well.

We began to brainstorm about our next options. We could walk to the lagoon and take a boat out to the Bismarck Sea to get to the town of Aitape, where we could get another car to take us to Wewak. Ben and I realized that although this had been a possible exit plan, it only lived in the idea stage. Our old life jackets had disintegrated, so it wouldn’t be safe for our children. Taking them out onto the open sea through a narrow inlet called The Otto (named after Otto von Bismarck, from the colonial days), where boats are known to capsize didn’t seem like a wise thing to do.

At one point, I asked, “Can we ask the Samaritan Aviation guy to come get us in the float plane?” A few years ago our director came to visit our project via this plane equipped with pontoons. Our managers in Wewak contacted the pilot and he was willing to pick us up, despite the fact that he usually only delivers medicines and flies patients in life threatening medevacs! He was concerned about the wind, so we began to pray for good weather.

(all photos by Dan Bauman, who came out with us to record Luke with Andy Weaver. I am grateful because I was too busy to take any pictures myself!)

Back to the wee hours of that Saturday morning…

We woke at 4:00 am set out around 5:30…I hadn’t slept all night just for the sheer excitement of the day ahead of us. “What if it rains while we are hiking,” and other questions kept rolling around in my head. That’s me carrying Jenny Beth on the left and Kenny (Sissano translator) on the right. Thankfully most of us had flashlights or headlamps to get us through that first part of the journey.

This swamp was my least favorite portion of the hike…we were up to our knees in the mangrove mud and had to take our shoes off in order to get through it. I had a couple of ladies holding up my arms to help me. I felt humbled, but grateful for their help!

Surprise of all surprises, in the middle of the jungle there was this large escavator submerged in the mud! It was brand new and working its first ever job when it got stuck.

We all breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when we came upon this path…this meant that the muddy swamp walking moments were over.

Here is Andy Weaver and Ben walking across a log bridge… notice the hand rail…sometimes we don’t have the luxury of something to hold onto!

Upon arriving in Wauroiyn, the village nearest the lagoon, we were able to rinse off our muddy feet and shoes.

Ben shaking hands with our friend Rosa, one of the ladies who helped us carry our cargo on the hike.

From Wauroiyn we took a boat down the long narrow stream to get out to the lagoon…

The lagoon appeared before us, calm and peaceful… perfect for the plane to land!

And the float plane, in all its glory landed smoothly!

Mark Palm, the pilot, greeted us. Jessie, the kids and I flew with Mark to Wewak, while Ben, Dan and Andy went on this small boat to then find a car from Aitape to Wewak. Their journey took over 14 hours!

The rest of our journey that day was a little more normal for us. We landed in Wewak and met up with the managers there who gave us cold drinks and snacks. A few other friends who live there came by to chat while our older kids played with friends. Then our pilot friend Chris came and picked us up and expertly flew us home to Ukarumpa! As I think back on that day, I can only be thankful for Jessie traveling with the kids and me, good weather, airplanes that worked well, gifted pilots, and willing friends who fed us. God is good, all the time!

February 13, 2012

New songs about a new road at Koi Nili, “the place where they sing.”

by bzephyr

The concluding part 8 in the continuing short history of the Goiniri Onnele people of Papua New Guinea as reported to me last week by Dominic Pusai…

Now that the road is going in up there to Koi Nili, the Goiniri could move back to their roots within the next few years. At the same time the Goiniri, Wolwale, and Romei-Barera Bible translators are starting to think about taking the Bible translation movement into the mountains. There are many other Onnele language groups that still live in remote areas and have no access to the Word of God in their own languages.

These translators became a part of the Aitape West Translation Project in 2001 after a tsunami forced the Arop people to relocate further inland and the Arop translation team found themselves centrally located between 10 other language groups in the region. They were asking for Bible translation, and they couldn’t be denied. If the Goiniri people move back to Old Goiniri, or Koi Nili – “the place where they sing” — this could be another central area where the Bible translation movement could clearly mark out a new road for many other groups in the Onnele family of languages.

And once again they’ll hear others singing at Koi Nili. But these will be new songs about a new road from the Word of God, and in their own languages.

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