Archive for ‘Papua New Guinea’

January 11, 2016

Reflecting the glory of God

by bzephyr

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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September 17, 2015

Happy Birthday Papua New Guinea!

by mendibpng

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Papua New Guinea (PNG) is home to our family.  We first arrived in 2002 as a family of four, and eventually grew to be a family of seven. Yesterday was PNG’s 40th birthday. I thought I’d dedicate this blog post to our home of 13 years.

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  • Many of our happiest family memories come from PNG: going to the beach in Wewak, making fireworks out of steel wool, swimming in the river, etc.

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  • Since our kids have grown up here, our friends have become family, both PNG and expats. I love that I can get to a close friend’s house in a 5-10 minutes’ walk.
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  • I love the relational aspects of Melanesian culture. Working together, sharing, reciprocating, and being with people are important here.
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  • We have a purposeful ministry in the work of Bible translation. It is mind boggling that where we live people do not have access to God’s Word in their own language. Every Scripture portion that comes from The Aitape West Project is one more piece of God’s Talk for our neighbors to read and hear for the first time in their language. There is nothing like seeing the look on someone’s face when they hear it for the first time, as evidenced in the picture above, when Pastor Peter played the audio of the Gospel of Luke at the market one day.
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  • I love the beautiful foliage, landscape and animals. (I admit I’m not too crazy about pesky insects though!) Every morning I wake up to a bunch of birds in the eucalyptus tree next to my house singing crazy songs.
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  • We have freedom here to serve the PNG people in whatever way they need it.
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  • PNG is the land of the unexpected. I am constantly learning from this that I am not in control of everything. It is a good thing because I tend to hold too tightly to my plans and my ideas. When we first arrived in PNG, other missionaries modeled being learners and respecting the culture and environment we are in; it has helped us walk into situations with open hands.
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  • Our kids are growing up with lots of people from different cultures. They are learning to navigate cultural misunderstandings as well as value different perspectives. Ben and I have benefited from this too.
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  • We live with minimal commercialism here. Being in a place where it’s difficult to get something (and it’s costly!) means that you really consider whether you want to buy it or not. None of us has it perfect, but I feel like our kids have a lot of opportunities to be in nature, to create, and to be free to play.
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  • To sum it all up, the people here are the biggest reason I love PNG. God put them on our hearts years ago, and whispered to us that He wanted us to stay, even though we thought we’d only come for a short while.

We belong here.

January 1, 2015

How beautiful are feet that bring good news…

by bzephyr

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Please see the link at the bottom of this post in order to fit these feet with the good news of peace and send them back to Papua New Guinea.

Walking with Jesus in the New Year

You may remember that we finished our last 4-year term in Papua New Guinea very burned out. We had been trying to do too many jobs in our own strength. Yes, we were doing the Lord’s work, but we allowed the overwhelming needs that surrounded us to overwhelm us. We need to keep our focus on what is truly important: to walk daily with Jesus and follow him in his strength and wisdom for each endeavor.

This year of furlough has been extremely valuable in terms of refocusing our eyes on Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith. At the counsel of our sending church’s missions pastor, we are learning to use the words ‘focused’ and ‘intentional’ more consistently. For me, this has meant that I have been learning a lot about myself so that I can be very intentional about focusing my ministry efforts on those things that I am called to do, specifically in the areas of training local Bible translators and checking their translations. For all the other needs that we face in PNG, we are looking for others to come alongside us and partner with us in doing those things. In so doing, I desire to walk daily with Jesus and not lose sight of the God I am serving each day.

Another way that we have shifted our perspective is that we are no longer saying that we don’t know if and when we will go back to Papua New Guinea. Instead, we are hoping that with the Lord’s help, the body of Christ will send us back in June in time for our children to start the new school year over there in July.

In order for us to go back, we need to be well supported in prayer. We also need to receive 100% of our required ministry budget.

Prayer

We will be communicating prayer requests and praise reports in these four ways in the future…

  1. Facebook – for most urgent or up-to-the-minute requests and reports. These are very short and irregular and sent simply as needed or when there are fun or interesting things to share.
  2. Email updates – for brief and regular communication, our ideal is to send these out about once a week, and to communicate more visually through a single picture and short explanation.
  3. This blog – for digging a little deeper into a variety of topics that effect our family and ministry life as often as time and inspiration allow.
  4. Printed newsletters – for reviewing larger spans of time in our family and ministry, sent less frequently in this digital age.

Monthly Ministry Budget

We are currently at 66% of our approved monthly ministry budget. Our support has been low like this for about a year now. Some of our partners have gone to be with the Lord. Some have faced financial hardship and needed to stop or reduce their regular giving. The cost of living has also increased significantly in Papua New Guinea. During our last 4-year term, it was estimated that inflation increased our costs by 25%. Wycliffe requires us to be receiving 100% of this budget before we are approved to go back to Papua New Guinea. It’s easy to give online here at our personal Wycliffe ministry page.

On that page, you will also find an option to sign up for regular updates and commit to prayer. Please consider these ways of partnering with us for the Gospel in the new year.

In a future post, we’ll tell you about specific one-time needs that we also need to meet in order to return to Papua New Guinea.

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)

January 14, 2014

2013 in review

by mendibpng

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Our intern Luke Elliott  (pictured above, with Noah, Joe and Ellie) spent nine months living with us last year.

January: We had planned to go to the village and do a ‘walkabout;’ however, Ben and I became too sick to travel. Once the virus had finished, it took weeks before the fatigue left us. We had to cancel the trip and Ben worked from home. Our teammates Luke and Laura still went to the village to do language learning.

February-March: Ben worked from home in Ukarumpa. This entailed managing the project (reporting, etc), doing advisor checks on 1&2 Timothy as well as dealing with personnel issues long distance over the phone or via skype. I supported him as the team leader by checking in with teammates regularly and hosting team meals and meetings.
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Dictionary Workshop participants identify nouns and verbs in their own languages.

April-May: We attended our bi-annual branch conference. During this month, we went to the village for a follow-up Dictionary Workshop and a translation revision for 1 &2 Timothy. We also began renovation on a staff housing building. Wayambo supervised the construction of most of our other buildings in our project previously, and came out to do this one. The house he renovated into a three bedroom house plus the downstairs apartment was split into two separate living spaces with their own bathrooms!
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Jacob “helps” Wayambo.

June-July: Ben and our teammate John consultant checked 1 and 2 Timothy in seven languages (three first, then four the next week) which was the first time they have attempted to do so many languages at once. The translators and language consultants told us over and over how Paul’s words impacted their lives—it was the first time they had translated preaching, rather than narratives in Luke and Acts. A video team from Wycliffe U.S. come during this time to get footage of the project.
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August-September: We all appreciated the stability time for the whole family while Ben worked from his cubicle in Ukarumpa. Meanwhile, we supported our team long distance as Luke and Laura did linguistic analysis, Jerry recorded Acts in Arop and Beth, Missy and Cindy went to all of the people groups in our project to do Scripture Use and Literacy activities. In September, Ben and I took the twins to Cairns to see a pediatric dentist, since both of them had some deep cavities that required the skills of a pediatric dentist.

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Josiah helped lead worship at church numerous times throughout the year. He also plays in a Soul Purpose (youth) band and accompanies the Sunday school kids each week.
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Jacob and Jenny Beth still talk about seeing kangaroos in Australia!

October-November: Seven of our translators/literacy workers came to Ukarumpa for a Discover Your Language course. Ben mentored the Rombar Onnele group which allowed him time to do some more in depth study of the language, which essentially will help them make the translation more accurate.
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(photo credit: Phil King) Ben coaching the Onnele men during the Discover Your Language course.

November-December: Ben went Arop for a translation workshop, while the kids and I stayed in Ukarumpa. He took new computers for the translators and spent most of the time trouble shooting how to connect them to the online and local servers (which store data for our translations) It turned out to be a difficult task but he came home having left them all up and running, praise God! This was probably one of the most challenging times of the year, since many of the appliances in our house died (while Ben was gone) Praise God that the shipping office and the Wycliffe buyer in Cairns helped us replace most of them before Christmas!
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At Christmas we had our hilarious moments…
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but also our more serious ones, when we shared our Jesse Tree (advent) readings together.

December: Ben arrived home safely and hiked out to a friend’s village the next week. He ended up getting very ill on Christmas day but since we had a low-key holiday planned, he was able to stay in bed for well over a week.

In summary: I am sure you are able to read between the lines and see that it has been a very busy, very fruitful year work-wise. Now, we look to the next five months here in Papua New Guinea and pray that we will be able to balance work and family life as we also pack and prepare for furlough starting in June.

August 14, 2013

Beautiful PNG: my garden

by mendibpng

I cannot claim any credit for the elegant flowers in my yard: the former owners of our home worked with a local man to plant and nurture it. We have orchids, roses and dozens of different kinds of other flowers in addition to the guava, banana, grapefruit and moon fruit trees. I often jokingly say that I have a black thumb, because everything I planted in the past never came up or ended up dying quickly. Two young men come every other week to work in the yard and since this is their only employment, I am happy to leave the work to them. Some day maybe I will have some time to learn but even though I don’t know much about gardening, it doesn’t stop me from enjoying it and being thankful.

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August 5, 2013

Beautiful PNG: views from the sky

by mendibpng

We translator families have many opportunities to see the vast mountains and coastlines from the sky because we travel so often. I love the cloud formations!

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This final picture illustrates just how skillfully our pilot Christopher flew over the Aiyura Valley last week in order to land safely at our airstrip. Notice the thick layer of clouds over the mountains, which he wove through expertly, past Yonki Dam and home again for us. We are always grateful to have a safe way to get to and from our village!

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August 2, 2013

Beautiful PNG: Wewak town

by mendibpng

On occasion, we’ve been able to spend time in one of our favorite places: Wewak.

Wewak Town from the sky

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…and the town itself:
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…my favorite store, pictured below (we have Papindos all over PNG) because I can get things like sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce, wonton wrappers, spices, noodles and other Southeast Asian food supplies that make my cooking here fun.  Down the block a bit is a fairly large department/grocery store where we can buy apples and icecream, two things we highly prize here!

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Next, here’s a scenic drive back to the guesthouse our mission runs. One of the thing that strikes me often is how many hues of green there are to feast my eyes on…

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and the Kodiak plane lands at the Wewak airport to whisk us back to our home in Ukarumpa!

I had so many beach pictures I decided to make a separate post, so stay tuned for the next one.

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August 1, 2013

Beautiful PNG: Arop Village

by mendibpng

In recent months, I’ve stopped to drink in the beautiful people, landscapes, foliage, flowers, and animals. It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve lived here: I always find healing in the creation around me. I haven’t always had the camera with me but for those occasions where I did, I will attempt to share them. It’s not exactly the same as seeing it in person but hopefully it’ll give you a feel for this wild and beautiful land we call “home.” Of course the possibilities for pictures are endless but these happen to be my favorites.

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July 21, 2013

A village consultant’s walkabout…

by mendibpng

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Last week Ben and teammate John finished checking 1 and 2 Timothy in nine languages. They found the translations to be really good and also found areas to make them better, with the help of local language consultants and mother tongue translators.

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After the last day of translation, Ben asked if anyone wanted to ‘story’ with me about their experiences from the workshop. It turns out nearly all of the local language consultants wanted to debrief. One man came over to me to talk, and introduced himself as Salvator (pictured above with me). I said to him, “Brother, I’ve seen your face before… oh! You came to our Writing Songs Workshop!” He nodded and replied, “Yes, that was the first time I came. Now I’ve come to work with the translators.” When we first met years ago, he impressed me as a gifted songwriter and as someone who loved worship. Everybody sang well into the night after our final feast when we finished making song books in each language. Even those who didn’t speak his language joined in with the songs Salvator had just written. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without a smile on his face.

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Salvator (above, in the pink striped shirt) led the group in worship during a graduation ceremony for the TEE (Theological Education by Extension) students last week in Arop.

When asked about his role in the consultant workshop, Salvator explained, “This work makes us really glad. I have been doing mission work a long time. The faith and belief of all of my people must grow. This work of working together, it’s the work of a true Christian family. These books of 1 and 2 Timothy make me want to help all the younger men to do this work.”
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“I know that writing down the Tok Ples is something I find hard but these translators of ours are doing this big work. I need to support them and help them make the words come up clear. I myself can see that God’s talk in Tok Pisin, it doesn’t sit down well. Our belief hasn’t grown yet. My people will understand and grow when they hear [God’s talk] in their own language because they will understand the meaning. There’s a lot of talk in Timothy that we read in the morning. The part where Paul tells Timothy about the strength God gives you and I, where we need to receive the Holy Spirit. We need to do God’s work. The Good News must go. You and I, all the old people shouldn’t hide the Holy Spirit. Now we need to let the Spirit grow and come out and do work. We have been here a short time, we’re on new ground (the Kingdom of Heaven) we need to encourage the younger men and women and help them make their walkabout.”
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“It’s like this: if I try to cross the water myself, a crocodile might come and eat me. But if all of us cross together, the crocodile won’t get me. It’s just the same with our work: if we work together, the work won’t be too much. It’ll be altogether good, and we won’t fall down. We will receive strength from each other and then go on.”

After we talked, I thanked him for helping the translators with this big work and we both smiled as he shook my hand.

I don’t know about you, but hearing Salvator talk made me want to love God more… in my world of mundane tasks and brief encounters with people who come to my door, I want to live the gospel. Even though Ben and I came to help give these people God’s Word, sometimes my heart and mind are wrapped around other things. I love being reminded how valuable it is to work together, and to “encourage the younger men and women and help them make their walkabout,” as he pointed out. So, tonight I pray for Salvator, and others, who are invested in their people getting God’s Word in their own language.

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