Archive for ‘teamwork’

April 11, 2014

A week in the life of a translator’s family, and “living with the tension”

by mendibpng

vlg house
As I walked into our village, several of the ladies came out to shake my hand or hug me. We all felt tired and hot from traveling, but I had the familiar sense of contentment as our house came into view. It made me smile to see a new house completely built next to mine, since it was still in the ‘skeleton’ stage when I was last in Arop in July. (Some boys built it for their widowed mother, Rosa, a long time friend of ours.)

Ben and our teammate Missy spent their days and nights working on the project computers to get them ready for the workshop, running into problem after problem. It sounded very complicated to me, but they eventually figured it out. One thing that I admire about the two of them is the ability to tackle seemingly impossible tasks, when I would certainly have given up in much earlier stages! They finally finished reimaging the last computer in time for the start of the workshop, but the computer challenges didn’t end there…the next week, the team had to set up all the dictionary and linguistic software on the computers (WeSay and FLEx) which proved to be another gigantic hurdle. Our friend Ryan came out to help teach a course, which requires this special software.

Here are a couple of pictures to give an idea of what goes on during the day:
(above) Ben spent a great deal of his time in recent weeks trouble shooting computer and power problems (both generator and solar).  It turns out now we have no working generator but most of the days have been sunny enough to support the computers for the workshop.
ryan teaching
(above) Our friend Ryan came out to lead our first linguistics course: Discover Your language. Pictured in the middle is an intern named Inga, who came to help us this village stay, and also to learn about our multilanguage project.
Our teammate Matthew and others provided assistance to the participants as they struggled to learn the new software.
Missy helping the Onnele team. She has learned a lot of the computer support jobs that Ben normally does, since we will leave for furlough soon.
In addition to working on dictionaries, translators and literacy workers, like Dominic (above) recorded stories which will be transcribed and analyzed later. The linguistic data gathered will lead to better translations and literacy materials in the long run. On top of that, it helps the language communities to have their languages documented and recorded.
I couldn’t resist adding in this picture because it shows how much fun the participants had recording their stories! Jonathan and Dominic are from Goiniri Onnele language group. We have 10 language groups represented at this workshop.

Meanwhile, back in the Pehrson Village House, daily life is a lot different than the workshop participants experience. On the first day, the kids and I cleaned the house. After being empty so long, we disposed of a couple buckets full of cobwebs, ant dirt and dust. I remember when we only had tiny children to help with this task, and I found it challenging/impossible to keep them out of the way in order to get a little space clean. This time, Ellie and Josiah tackled the upstairs while Noah helped me wipe down the kitchen. Once we completed that task, our daily routine included waking up to prepare the day’s food, getting clothes washed and hung and settling Noah and Ellie into a homeschooling routine. The little ones played outside quite a bit and dabbled in preschool activities. As a family we enjoyed sharing meals with Paul, director of SIL-PNG, (who came for a long weekend) and with Matthew and Ryan, whose families were in Ukarumpa.
Jacob in particular, thrives in the village, because he loves digging in the dirt and running around with his Arop friends. The other day when I asked him what he was doing, he replied “I’m looking for some friends to play with…”
Jenny Beth and Ellie spent a lot of time making this chalk picture one afternoon. I often say how much I appreciate being away from the ‘trappings’ of TV, Wii and other electronic time fillers because it forces our kids to play creatively.

The thing that I’ve been pondering the past couple of days is the balance that those of us in cross cultural ministry need to survive. We need to have a good dose of self-care but there’s also the tension of making our days count, with spouses, kids, neighbors and teammates.  No matter what role we are in: mother, translator, Scripture Use worker, etc., there will always be more work to do than one can reasonably do in a ‘normal’ day. For me, there are times when the ‘pendulum’ swings more to me making sure I’m doing ok (I have a great fear of ‘cracking it’–and at times I wonder if this is the time that I’m really losing it) or I’ve swung all the way to the other side where taking care of others is all I think about and do to the point of personal exhaustion and subsequent meltdown. If I focus on ministry too much, then I neglect my husband and kids. If I focus on myself too much I neglect everything else. I don’t know if I’ve ever focused on my marriage to the point where it’s unhealthy–that is probably the area where I’ve hoped it would feed itself; in most cases, as much as I love my husband, it feels like other things press for my attention more loudly. I keep thinking “we’ll work on that later,” but it usually happens when a crisis comes up. It is also challenging to focus on a marriage when our five children need so much time and input each day.

What does Jesus mean when He says His yoke is easy and his burden is light? I am not really quite sure but I think He wants to carry it with me. So much of the time I try to carry it all myself and end up falling down with my knees all scraped up. This isn’t an ‘I’ve got all the answers’ kind of post. It’s more just highlighting the reality of the daily tension we missionaries deal with from day to day. I’ve been praying that Jesus would teach me what it means to “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden.”

October 30, 2013

It takes a team…

by mendibpng

Below is our team in the village during Thanksgiving last year. (L-R Jacob, Ellie, Beth, Luke, me, Jessie, Laura & Luke, Noah and Jenny Beth. Ben-not pictured), with  John and Bonnie working remotely. Luke and Jess have returned to the U.S., but others have joined us.
team TG

In the early days of the project, we were able to work with fewer staff; however, we began asking God (and our leaders) to send us more personnel because the workload became too much for a small number of people. Let me introduce you to the extraordinary people we get to work with….

Drumroll, please…..
John and Bonnie wrote a book about the tsunami that changed their translation project forever. Their one-language translation project became a multilanguage project for 11 languages in the Aitape West region of PNG.  They wrote a book called Sleeping Coconuts, which tells the story of their involvement in the project.  John now helps the team with translation consulting and computer support from his location in the U.S. They welcomed us to the team in 2002, and we learned a great deal from them about living and working in PNG. We are grateful for their [continued] contribution to the project as they also serve in other capacities with our organization.
beth 3
Beth (pictured above grading TEE papers) began working with our project as a translation advisor nine years ago for Group 1, four related languages. However, as the team began producing scriptures in these language groups, God made it clear that we needed someone full time in Scripture Use, so Beth took that role on. She has been instrumental in bringing audio players to the project and facilitating the recordings of Luke and Acts on them, as well as teaching TEE (Theological Education by Extension) for translators and Christian workers who want to go deeper into God’s word. She is currently working on DVDs which show pictures of the Jesus film and include audio from recorded scripture.
Luke and Laura came to us last year, in order to help us provide some needed linguistic research into the language of Sissano. Not only did they accomplish this, but they also helped us on the ground with various workshops in dictionary making, devotions and giving tech support to our translators when the rest of our team was unavailable. This week, they will return to the UK to have a baby, and although we are sad to ‘goodbye’ to them, we look forward to finding out how God will use them in the future. We are going to miss this lovely couple!!
Jerry (pictured above, recording with Leonce and Kenny) and Cindy (pictured below, with Missy and Beth) joined our team recently. Jerry spent the last few months recording Luke and Acts for the language groups that still hadn’t done their recordings, while Cindy went on a ‘walkabout’ with Beth and Missy to do Scripture Use and Literacy activities to promote the vernacular scriptures. Jerry and Cindy’s knowledge of PNG and past experience has been invaluable to us as a team, and that is why I call them the “Dream Team.”
cindy and missy
Missy (pictured after Cindy) joined us last year to help us with various tasks: administrative/finances, mentoring and most recently Scripture Use and Literacy. Ben and I served with Missy on an orientation course many years ago, and so incorporating her into our team and family again was comfortable and easy. She has made life a lot easier for Ben, in particular, who up until Missy came, had more work to do than he could do in a regular working week. She is now in Wewak helping us remotely and is also working on DVDs with Beth.

Matthew and Rachel (not pictured, as they are in their village living phase of orientation) are coming to be translation advisors for some of our language groups who are without one. We are excited to have them work with us soon!
Oh, and then there’s us. This picture is a bit old, but I love it because we’re standing with the various scriptures printed from our project in 2012. Ben is the team leader for the project. He does advisor and exegetical checks for the 11 language groups we serve, deals with project reporting and travel planning for the team and handles any crisis [with the help of the PNG leaders of the project] that comes up. I help Ben with the ‘hospitality’ and ‘mentoring’ side of being the team leader and things like staying on top of prayer requests. I also home school our children when we are in the village and provide meals for whoever is visiting. Jerry and Cindy call our kids “team junior” which I think is a fair title, as they are a part of what we are doing in the Bible translation movement.

I don’t know if you can read between the lines, but we love each of our team members and feel privileged to work alongside them! When we first arrived overseas, we were told that one of the hardest things about living here would be working with other expats–we can tell you that this is not the case for us on our team. The people you see pictured here are like family to us–our kids call them auntie and uncle. It has been wonderful getting to know them, and to share the ministry workload and to also work towards a shared purpose–seeing the people of the Aitape West having access to and using the Scriptures in their own language! Every person brings a special set of abilities and giftings to the team. I love seeing how God has utilized each one in our project. We are so thankful to God for providing the personnel we so desperately need, as we have been so stretched over the past three years to keep things going. Our biggest challenge as a team is to stay connected while we are essentially a globally diverse team a good deal of  the time. (ie we’re not always in the same place!)

p.s. On top of our team mentioned above, we have had various experts and technicians come out to help us at different times. For instance, a team came out to help us install a new solar system last May. Then, in July, a construction/repair technician came out to help us with a variety of building maintenance issues. Each of the people pictured above has a support team on the ground in Ukarumpa who helps them with various things as well. We can’t do our work in our remote location without this kind of support!

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…


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…


And the old flat has access to the new bathroom…


Split blackpalm “limbum” was collected for siding…


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


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…


The plywood walls and limbum siding starting going up…




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


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…


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…


May 26, 2013

Renovation Days 19 to 20

by bzephyr

On days 19 and 20 of the Aitape West Translation Project’s urgent renovation, we saw the kwila hardwood floors being installed…


The translators also returned from their communities where they had been village checking 1 & 2 Timothy, and they consulted with the literacy teams about the progress they had been making on their dictionaries…


I continued to work on cleaning up the last computers still effected by viruses…


Jacob continued to get lessons in carpentry…


Hey, there weren’t doorways there before!


We often joke around with Wayambo and tell him that he is a man who wrecks buildings and puts holes in them where they didn’t exist. But we really wanted these holes. The new room will access the old toilet and shower rooms. And there will also be an optional doorway connecting these two flats…


The hardwood floors were also installed upstairs…


And from the opposite angle…


Window frames were installed…


Arop translation advisor, Emil Ninkure, helped teach some of the dictionary lessons…


With the translators and literacy team working together, we had more people than ever at this workshop…


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

December 28, 2012

The good, the bad, and sharpening worn-out tools

by bzephyr

I recently submitted a quarterly report entitled “Partnership, ownership and a leadership wake up call.” I was the leader. I needed to wake up.


At the end of the report, I mentioned that it might have been called “The good, the bad, and the ugly” and I thanked our international partners for supporting us and praying for us through our successes and stresses. As the team leader for our multi-language translation project in Papua New Guinea, I reflected in this report not only on the Triumphs made over the last year but also on how our team is learning to adjust after many unforeseen difficulties had nearly spelled Disaster for me personally, my family, and other key team members.

In this and the next several posts, I will summarize the good and the bad from this past year and what we’re doing to get out the ugly. It’s part of what I’m doing to look critically at our past and make adjustments for the future.

The good

This has been an amazing year of progress in terms of church partnerships and local ownership, Scripture use, holistic language development, and leadership development. While continuing to get more Scriptures translated and out into the hands and ears of the people, we have also been developing key relationships with district-level church leaders and fostering local ownership of this ministry and its fruit. At the same time, we have been widening our language development activities, which will contribute to language vitality and the use of God’s Word. We have also facilitated many opportunities for growing leaders among our PNG colleagues as they look to their futures in reaching beyond their own languages and helping other language groups in this widening Bible translation movement.

The bad

In hindsight, we realize that we attempted to do more this last year with fewer people, and it has nearly killed some of us. I have been functioning as the team leader and looking after various other jobs as they come up while still performing my normal role as a translation advisor/trainer. I have pulled other members of our team along with me in a vicious cycle of living under the tyranny of the urgent. Several unexpected difficulties took us from urgent to crisis mode on several occasions. Our whole team has hardly had a break from one activity to another, and so we are looking to learn from our mistakes and plan better for the future.

The ugly

Computers can be a beautiful thing… if they work right. Otherwise, it can get quite ugly. My computer is now four-and-a-half years old. But often it’s not the machine’s fault. There’s also “user error.” I have sometimes spent 80% of my computer time simply waiting for it to respond, to reboot, to finish a task. So much for multitasking. I’ve known some of the issues for quite a while, but I also knew that implementing the solutions would mean a significant delay in the next urgent tasks before me. Oh! How I wish I had taken the time a year ago.

EliWallachTuco-cropIn the classic Clint Eastwood film The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Tuco Ramirez (“The Ugly”) says, “There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting.” Perhaps it’s that rescue mission–the desperate act of cutting the rope before the world around me dies–that has pulled me along in the never relenting pursuit of completing tasks without pausing enough to sharpen my tools. But even more critical than working with good tools is relying on the true Redeemer of the world. I must look to Him more desperately rather than feed my own messiah complex as I pretend to cut the noose from the necks around me.

On another occasion, Blondie (“The Good”) says, “You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” I don’t think the pressure I feel is like that of someone holding a gun to my head. But it may be more on the level of another of Blondie’s quotes: “Two hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money. We’re gonna have to earn it.” But all those desperate acts of cutting, digging, and earning our keep — it too easily crowds out a bigger perspective, a greater Will. And without that, there really would be nothing left to say ‘Hold on!’ to the heart and nerve and sinew that are nearly gone.

If my life was broken this year, I simply watched the things I gave it to for too long, ever stooping to build ’em up with worn-out tools. It was ugly. It was time to sharpen the saw.

Sharpening the ugly saw

Required reading for me as a young missionary candidate (along with many other more theologically-focused works) was Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Here are the seven habits…

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the end in mind
  3. Put first things first
  4. Think win/win
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the saw

As I think about the successes and failures of the past year, I can see that our Triumphs were partially due to following such habits as #1, #2, #4, and #5 above. Likewise in relation to these seven habits, I can see that we nearly met with Disaster because we failed to put first things first (#3), synergize with others (#6), and sharpen the saw (#7).rudyard-kipling-crop

Those are seven great principles. And I also found the Results-Based Management planning that we did this last year in our project to also be a valuable tool. If only those dreams and thoughts, however, are the things that become our aim, become our master, I’m afraid I’ll fail to treat Kipling’s two imposters just the same. Both Triumph and Disaster merely pose in the place of a greater Master.

There’s the King of kings to walk with, and there’s a greater common Touch that counts with all men. In the midst of all our critical evaluations, our organizational planning and strategizing, we must not fail to live life abundantly now on this earth as our spirits walk in step with the Spirit of the King of all things, allowing him to write his Story on us and through us to all those around.

You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  –2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

In the next several posts, I will give more details about the good, the bad, and what I am doing now to put first things first and sharpen the worn-out tools.

November 29, 2012

Training Trainers: Part 1 ‘Church Engagement’

by mendibpng

In addition to final checking of Acts, we’ve done some new things this year: Church Engagement and Dictionary making.  Our year has been full of village stays and so writing about these events has fallen by the wayside….this is an attempt to show how our team has collaborated with and learned from the experience of others and brought it back to the Aitape West region.

Ben has taken the opportunity to visit district church leaders whenever we have passed through Aitape town on our way in and out of the village. Every time, they enthusiastically received him, particularly when he handed out complimentary copies of the newly printed Gospel of Luke in seven languages. We wanted to see the leaders involved in the promotion and use of the scriptures, so Ben began talking to them about hosting a vernacular Bible conference for them in Aitape, something that we had never attempted before.

Last November, Ben attended a similar conference at our regional center in Wewak along with four of our Papua New Guinean coworkers.  Our friends who work with the SPES project organized the conference and had invited church leaders and pastors from all over Wewak. For one of the sessions, they invited Ben to speak about new mission approaches in the Sepik. In between sessions, and at meals, he enjoyed having time to talk to the church leaders. Some of our translators also had opportunities to share their testimonies. The participants came away with the desire to partner together to further their shared goals as a group. Those of us working in Bible translation saw that dialoguing together fostered ownership and the desire to use the local scriptures.

Fast forward to August of this year….those four PNG translators who attended the workshop in Wewak helped lead a similar workshop in Aitape town, which we called “The Aitape Baibel Conference.”

At the conference, the participants started to grasp the importance of Bible translation. Ken Tobiana, who came as a guest speaker from Ukarumpa, (pictured above on the far right) used a People Chain to explain the importance of supporting Bible translation.

Here are some of the things mentioned by the pastors who attended the workshop:

“A lot of the pastors use big English words [from the English Bible] but they are only pretending. They don’t know the real meaning of the words and how it can help all people.”

“The Word of God has come and united us. So it is a big thing. Today we have gathered, and in this work, I believe we will join together, and it is probably a blessing and a question posed to us. I believe that. Let’s clap our hands to the triune God. This is like the plan of God Himself.”

“I feel like something is rattling in my spirit…”

“This conference is a big challenge. Now we come to a time of teaching [God’s talk]. Hosea 4:6 People perish for a lack of knowledge.”

“God’s Talk will change your life.”

The participants left with a desire to see God’s Talk translated into their mother tongue languages, some very emotional and determined to see Bible translation started in their own language groups. As for the Aitape West team, our Papua New Guinean translators were encouraged that the district-level church leaders recognized the value of the important work that they are doing.  It was also affirming that the leaders are now supportive of using the local language scriptures in the churches. All of the participants (particularly the church leaders) became enthusiastic about the possibility of beginning translation work in other languages in the region that have no scriptures yet.

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