Archive for ‘people’

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


September 30, 2012

3 is a magic number…

by mendibpng

Three years ago Jacob Steven Scott joined our family. His twin sister Jenny Elizabeth arrived six minutes later!  The twins have stretched us as a family and caused us to pull together to raise these little people. I look at my three older kids and wonder what they would be like if we hadn’t added the twins to our family. I think that Jacob and Jenny Beth have taught our other kids to consider others over their own needs. Granted, the little ones get into their stuff and sometimes throw temper tantrums…but Josiah, Noah and Ellie are glad that they have these two little siblings keeping them on their toes all the time!

One more thought about the twins. When they were born, other twin parents told us “just wait until they are three. It gets easier!” I looked at them through sleep deprived eyes and desperately hoped they were right! Three year olds need lots of attention and direction; however, I have noticed that they have a special relationship and do entertain each other from time to time. They are hardly ever separated even though they do have distinct personalities. Jenny Beth is ‘all girl’–she loves anything PINK and asserts that she’s the princess in the family. She follows Jacob around like a little puppy and  adores her big sister and brothers. All she has to do is speak and they would do nearly anything for her.  Jacob, on the other hand, is a typical boy, seeking thrills from jumping off of things, aggravating his sisters while constantly talking and using language creatively. His favorite thing in the world is being able to ‘help’ someone with a job. The phrase “never a dull moment” applies here all the time!

Ellie decorated Jenny Beth’s pink cake

Josiah and Noah Noah decorated Jacob’s–he wanted a triangle on his! I loved watching them have so much fun making the day special.

August 15, 2012

So that they may know…

by mendibpng

Pictured above: our Arop friends Silvia and Alice a few years ago worshiping in church. These girls now have the  opportunity to hear the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts in their own mother tongue.

The past couple of weeks have been challenging, to say the least, health wise. I had a tummy bug  two weeks ago…then my back went out…and then this week my kids and I got another tummy bug. (Not all the kids though!) Ben left for the Aitape Baibel conference last Friday while I stayed home and worked on packing for the village.  I think the times I miss Ben the most are when the kids are throwing up at night (one of mine did, all over the floor), when there is a relational conflict between the older kids and when the twins wake up and cry in the night.

Needless to say, when Ben called me last night, I said something like “I am really glad you are there but it’s hard for me to share you so much with our work!”

Lest you feel sorry for me (no need!), I want to say that I had a great sense of accomplishment today, getting our 4 wheel drive truck down to the autoshop to get fuel, arranging to get the tires filled up, organizing a new gas bottle to be delivered, having all of our cargo labeled and ready to go before a 3 pm pickup, and sorting out other details for the trip. I even had time for a cuppa with some new friends and enjoyed two unexpected visits from friends after that! Added to the other ‘stuff,’ I have purposefully worked on having good boundaries with the kids, especially cracking down on complaining and whining in all of them from ages 2-13. Ben is much stronger in the area of discipline so it has been good for me to be on my own and work on consistency while he’s away. The kids have been really helpful and I am thankful that the transition stress hasn’t decended yet. (yes….it’s coming I know…but maybe the anticipation of riding in a helicopter will help!)

I am going to let Ben write some specific reports  in a few days about what is happening at the conference, but in general, he has been telling me that the church leaders and our translators are enthusiastic to be talking together about Bible translation. Specifically, they want to know how they can support the Aitape West Translation project and possibly expand into the Aitape East side.  Many of our Papua New Guinean translators shared today and covered almost all of the topics that Ben wanted covered (without having had prior knowledge of his list!)

I want to say that I feel a lot of satisfaction in this work we are called to do, simply because I look at the faces of the people we work with and realize that having the Bible in their own language is going to give them the opportunity to know God personally. They will be able to read His Word and learn truths that they have never heard before.

Tonight, I do miss Ben, but I am full of thankfulness that he is pouring himself out for the people of the Aitape West. Just in case you want to pray specifically for them, the language map is here (The languages we work with are in bold)

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.

April 20, 2012

A pastor’s joy over the translated Word…

by mendibpng

Malol translators Philip Rokus and Petrus Brere faithfully come to workshops because they want their people to have God’s word in their own language. Picture by Dan Bauman.

While the translators discussed how they would print and distribute their new copies of Luke,  Philip mentioned that Father Zachary Miroi was a respected church leader and a Malol speaker. He would be very happy to hear that the Gospel of Luke was now completed. Father Zachary had previously told Philip to make sure and let him know when Luke would be dedicated and he would do everything he could to clear his schedule and be there. Another Malol translator, Petrus Brere, was beaming with excitement as he heartily agreed: “Oh yes, Father Zachary will be… [Petrus failed to hide a huge smile as he struggled to find the words]… oh, he will be so happy.” Others joined in and shared how they had also met Father Zachary on the road and been encouraged to hear how much he was looking forward to having the translated Word of God in his own Malol language.

When Ben passed through Aitape town in June, he distributed copies of the newly published Gospel of Luke in five different languages to district church leaders from six different denominations. He presented them with the bright yellow booklets and said, “We want you to celebrate with us that this portion of the Bible is now available in these languages where you have local churches. This is not SIL’s book, but it is the Word of God for the Church. It is a tool for you to use in the work that God has given you.” Every church leader responded with enthusiasm and expressed how the Bible was needed for ministry in the local languages. Father Zachary, however, was traveling out of town, so Ben left the copies of Luke with a different church leader.

When passing through Aitape again in October, Ben finally met up with Father Zachary and presented him with his very own copy of Luke in the Malol language. He was thrilled. He related how he was very disappointed to have missed getting it earlier and participating in the dedication. He had been reading someone else’s copy, and he could tell that the translators had done a very careful job of translating it accurately. It was a joy to read the Word of God in his own mother tongue.

And then Father Zachary asked a surprising question: “Could I get a copy of this electronically? I would love to be able to cut-and-paste verses into my sermon notes, or include passages when I print out Bible study materials that I have prepared.” It had only been a few months since the first Malol Scriptures were available on paper. Audio recordings of the Christmas and Easter stories had only just been made weeks before. And already there was a need for an electronic format! They hadn’t been produced yet, but they arranged to meet again the next day with a flash drive in hand. Some things are changing fast in Papua New Guinea. At Father Zachary’s prompting, the Aitape West team realized that they couldn’t wait to convert the newly translated Scriptures for use on computers, the Internet, and on mobile phones.

April 18, 2012

The Word speaks more clearly to the Arop people…

by mendibpng

Pastor Peter, an Arop translator and Baptist pastor. Photo by Dan Bauman.

The following is another story as related by Pastor Peter. Transcribed by Ben and translated by Jessie Wright.

Pastor Peter talks about how in 2011 when they first took the portions of Luke and Acts back to the community and listened to it for the first time, some significant discussions came up about a few passages. When they only had the pidgin trade language Bible and they would read Acts 4:12, people still thought there were many ways to God. The message in the Tok Pisin Bible was not clear to them.

After they translated Acts into the Arop language, however, the message of that verse now became completely clear to them in their own language. They now read that and understand that Jesus is this man that God sent to save us, and no one else.

Another passage that became very clear was Luke 19:10. Now they understand that Jesus is this man that God sent to save those who are lost. So the reading of these two Bible verses was a really big thing that happened when they went through the chapters to check the translations.

It’s in their own language so they do not misunderstand it.

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 8, 2012

Big men, magic, and seduction at Munomu

by bzephyr

Part 3 in the continuing short history of the Goiniri Onnele people of Papua New Guinea as reported to me by Goiniri Bible translator Dominic Pusai last week…

The Goiniri Onnele people grew in numbers and needed more space for their clans’ houses and gardens. So they moved down from the mountain to an area with more space that they call Munomu. That is the name of a limbum palm, the kind they use to make basins for preparing boiled sago. This migration occured during the German administration of the northern half of the island in the early 1900s. It was here at this second location that an aid post was established as a central location among the mountain Onnele dialects. People would travel to this aid post at Munomu to receive basic health care. They stayed at Munomu for quite a long time.

During these years, the Goiniri Onnele people were fierce fighters with their spears, and they would make raids as far as Pes in the direction of Aitape. It was also common for them to use traditional magic to fight their enemies. They attest that there were two things that enabled them to continue occupying this land: the strength of their big men as well as the seduction of a woman. This particular area is referred to as “Arop woman held a man,” which recalls the time when their enemies turned back before battle because one of the warriors was seduced (and thus weakened) by a woman on the night before a raid.

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