Archive for ‘translation’

December 25, 2014

“May you know a coolness in your gut” this Christmas…

by mendibpng

Luke Dedication

(above) Community leaders pray over the Wolwale Onnele translators at their dedication of the gospel of Luke. The following is the Christmas Story in the Goiniri Onnele language, the words of Zechariah to his infant son John just before the birth of Jesus.

Yene ese yukule nu pinuma woneni sa nu ese namale, wu wolpalo nu.
Manawamo yire ese yuꞌpole nale fafaile empo nu fai nangkene
ka ese yuꞌpu nu kore.
Ka wu ese yawane ali wongke empo heven ese yolo mone,
sa ese ali yane uma empo naine mokoi ningki ka rili sa nu samo num,
ka ese yukule mone rokoi empo wolpuna raulo.

You will show his people and they will know, he down-livers them.
Bigman wants to remove the bad skin that they do
and will get them back again.
And he will send a light of heaven to come down on you and me,
to give light to people in a place of darkness and death, where they really fear,
and he will show you and I the path of liver-stomach coolness.

– Luke 1:77-79

Praise God with us that the Arop, Sissano, Malol, Wolwale, Goiniri, Rombar, Barupu, Ramo, Pou and Sumo people have the Christmas story in written and recorded form now! Pray that Jesus, the Light of the World will shine in the places of darkness, death and fear and that these communities will seek “the path of liver-stomach coolness”, as they say in the Onnele idiom.

fam pic small

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 29, 2013

Challenges of mother tongue translators

by mendibpng

Above: Translators Dominic (L) and Joe (R) discussing beginning linguistics at a Dictionary workshop earlier this year. (in the background: Gibson, Linda and Rosalyn, all literacy teachers)

Last week, seven men from our Aitape West team came to Ukarumpa to attend a Discover Your Language course. Ben is one of the mentors in this class in which trained linguists are teaching mother tongue translators and literacy workers how to discover linguistic features of their own languages. When they came over for popcorn and a movie, the men told me that they are finding the course stretching their abilities, but they are happy to be here and feel privileged to be chosen for the task. For many of them, this is the first time they have come to the cold highlands!

Meanwhile, the rest of our Papua New Guinean team is in the village holding a revision workshop for 1 and 2 Timothy in Arop. These men are persevering through a lot of challenges. We are praying for one year old Jessie, Emil’s daughter, who is sick, and for several other translators, who are caring for sick family members.

Translator Dominic wrote us today:

During this Woksap it is a challenging because some of us came late, because of family sick and some they have children in school so they have to help them find school fees for next year.

And some of us, we are [newly] married so we help our wives to help them in household needs, because it’s the time where we should begin the new life in the family.

And some of us are elected as ward member in the village, but we all are struggling to complete our notes before we leave Arop, and also Joel’s brother Russel is very sick and is at home, this is one of the issue we face during this woksap in delaying our group to speed up.

All this problem are trying to slow down the speed of our work, and also it is very challenging.

So we are trying our best to find some ideas to talk to each other and to come with some ideas, if it is going to be helpful to some of us. (used with permission)

It is not uncommon for Ben and me to feel like our hearts are in two (or more!) places at once. We pray that as they are checking 1 and 2 Timothy, the translators will persevere, as Paul says in 2 Tim 4:7:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Will you pray for Dominic and the others in Arop who are revising 1 and 2 Timothy? Pray for those who are unable to come, and for those present to be able to persevere through the challenges they face at the translation desk and at home. At the same time, please also remember the other seven men who are away from their families here in Ukarumpa, attending the Discover Your Language course.

April 30, 2013

On translating 1 and 2 Timothy….”this truth came straight to my stomach”

by mendibpng

During the past three translation workshops, the men have been drafting, checking and revising 1 and 2 Timothy. This is the first set of pastoral epistles that they have translated. What I heard over and over from the translators was how Paul’s words to Timothy grabbed their hearts when they began to translate it into their own languages. I wish I could convey the excitement that went around the room as the men told me how translating these epistles have encouraged them. Verses like:

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:15 NIV)


The advice that Paul gives Timothy is to stand strong and do this work. This letter he wrote to Timothy but it feels like he wrote it to me. If I want to be a leader, I need to be good in the eyes of others. I must be a good teacher, a good example. If I’m a teacher who doesn’t live right, then people won’t support me [in my translation work]. But my community will support me if I am a good example and a good leader.  This truth came straight to my stomach. When Paul advised Timothy, Paul advised me. (Jack, Barupu translator, pictured above)


Acts and Luke were the first books we translated. They are full of good stories. But now, there were some things we weren’t clear about and now we’re benefiting from the teaching of 1Timothy. There’s a lot of good advice in this book. It’s a good thing because I want to be a good leader. People have picked me to be a leader, and I want to keep the good challenge in this true talk. (Clement, Pou translator, pictured above)

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.

August 7, 2012

“Rejoice! I will say it again: rejoice!”

by mendibpng

Ben planned to leave yesterday in order to do face to face invites for the Aitape Baibel Conference that we wrote about in our last post. He learned from others that this is the best way to make sure that people hear about the event. We have been praying about this event and planning for it for over a year now.

Last week, we pushed hard to finish projects that needed to be done before he left–some relating to the translation project and some for our family. One of these projects involved moving Ben’s office into our bedroom and his cubicle a short walk away.

However, on Sunday, the day before his trip, I leaned over to plug in my computer and felt my back go out. I have had this happen before–my back spasms for about a day and then freezes up for an unknown length of time. All of a sudden I became emotional because I knew this was going to incapacitate me for at least a few days. If you know me, you know that I don’t like to sit around doing nothing, particularly when there’s a village trip to plan for: buying food six weeks (done, but all over the dining room!) dehydrating fruit and veggies, homeschooling materials to go over with teachers and sorting out everybody’s clothes.

Ben spent literally days trying to organizing the three legs of the journey that he planned to take on Monday.

Through the course of the day, we realized that he wouldn’t be able to leave as planned. One of our bosses called later that afternoon about another issue, and Ben poured out the story to her. She advised him to consider staying home but left the decision up to him. When I woke up from a nap a little while later, Ben was already making plans to stay for four more days. He told me that he would trust God to bring the people to the workshop.

The first day that I couldn’t move, I thought “this isn’t my choice of the way this is supposed to happen.” And yet I KNEW that there would be some good from it. Only two days later, here are a couple of things I’ve already noticed God doing:

  • In the last three months, Ben has been involved in two workshops while he worked on notes for Acts and did Project manager reports and paperwork for typesetting.  He also took days off to do a ‘staycation’ with our family. This means that he hasn’t had much rest in many weeks. Maybe God wanted Ben to rest before the conference!
  • We have arranged time to meet with some people who might be interested in joining our multilanguage project. As the team leader, Ben needed to be at these meetings.
  • We found out that three churches have already committed to coming to the conference. Last week all of our translators began calling us on their cell phones because a tower went up in our region….they are also helping us get the word out! Talk about GREAT timing for a cell phone tower to go up, yes?
  • The last couple of days friends have encouraged us. Often when we leave for a village trip, we are depleted and discouraged…and sometimes we wonder if we can do the task ahead of us. We have had friends bring meals, stop by to talk and numerous encouraging emails and messages. We praise God for fellowship, both near and far!

I could go on but these are the main things that come to mind. Here are the verses that I’m holding onto today:

Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

August 5, 2012

ABC: Aitape Baibel Conference

by mendibpng

Aitape Baibel Conference – Sios Bung Bilong Tokples ABC
(Aitape Bible Conference – Church Gathering for Vernacular ABC)
August 13-16

Please pray for this conference that starts next week for district church leaders from about ten denominations in Aitape. It’s all about asking God how they might partner together across denominational boundaries as part of the Bible translation movement in their part of Papua New Guinea. Luke was published last year in seven languages and Luke-Acts together will be published this year in ten. If district church leaders understand the importance of people hearing God’s Word in their own heart language, then their congregations at the local level may receive the training and opportunities they need to use and be transformed by the translated Scriptures. But there are also many other languages in the surrounding district that still have none of Bible in their own languages. So this conference is about the possibility of the Church being united in owning the mission to equip remote people living in darkness with the Word of God.

Pray for those leading the conference and the participants, that those whom God desires to be there will be able to come, and that the Spirit of God will grant unity of heart and purpose. And may it not be too long before those still walking in darkness see a great light.

July 29, 2012

“The WORD of GOD came and reached us!”

by mendibpng

The village consultants (the local language experts who came to help check Acts) absorbed Biblical truth during the consultant checking. Our teammate Jessie translated their comments from Tok Pisin into English.

I love that the theological concepts I have known my whole life have become evident to these men simply by reading the book of Acts in their own language!

Pou – Bauni Language

“Through the Apostles of Christ, the Word of God came and reached us.  We are the Gentiles, but God has a plan for everyone to know him.  Jesus came and died on earth, meaning that, he took us, the Gentiles, and put us together with the Jews as one family of God.”

Barupu – Bauni Language

“We feel the sweetness of our own language and are very happy and excited about the book of Acts.  It runs very well and cries good to our ears (sounds natural).  When we go back to the village we will tell the others of the good work that the translators are doing.  THANK YOU!!!”

And another said:  “I am very happy about the work of translating the Bible into my own language.  I am somewhat knowledgeable about the Bible, but in some sections I did not understand the true meaning very well.  However, now during the checking of Acts, my eyes have been opened to understand certain parables or sections… Also, now I understand how God’s Word works, and when the checking is done and I go back to my village, I will go to bed and get up with God’s Word.  Now my eyes are open, and I no longer want to practice anything that is wrong.  I encourage our translators to do the same in their lives in order that we may show everyone else the power God’s Word has to change lives.”

Arop Language

“When we read through Acts chapters 20-28 it really challenged our lives, because of the work and life of Paul which he gave entirely to doing God’s work.  This confronted us and made us realize that we needed to change our lives to do God’s work.  Also the work that the translators are doing is very good and the translation is coming up clear in our own language and making it easy and quick to understand the meaning of God’s Word.”

Goiniri Language

“When we checked Acts chapter 20-28, we found Paul’s story and mission work very interesting and challenging. The Gospel had come to the non-Jews and this is what saved them.  This really challenged me to change my own life.”

June 26, 2012

Grandparents Visit

by mendibpng

Right to left: my dad (Pap Pap), mom (Oma), Jenny Beth, me, Ellie, Ben, Noah, Jacob and Josiah

Our kids loved connecting with their grandparents after not seeing them for two years! We Skype  regularly so the twins knew my parents instantly and went right to them when they arrived.

Jenny Beth drank in all the extra attention from my parents. It didn’t take long for her to ask for my dad to get her out of her bed in the morning (and not mommy!)

Playing scrabble with Oma

My parents braved a cold Ukarumpa morning to see the market!

On Noah’s birthday we had pizza, hot wings and cake that Oma made. Here is Noah taking a turn at PNG fireworks (steel wool set on fire).

All of our kids LOVED the presents my parents brought. Joe got his birthday present a month early (a remote control helicopter).

Mama Hana has been with us for 10 years, and what a blessing it was to introduce her to my parents! She gave them each a bilum she made for them.  (string bag)

Five of our translators came to Ukarumpa to help teach a computer course.  One day we hosted them for a meal so that they could meet my parents.  Pictured from left to right: Jessie, translation advisor, Dominic (Onnele), Ben, Petrus (Malol), Joe (Barupu), Clement (Pou), my mom, my dad, and Kenny (Sissano). My parents told me later that this was a highlight for them, to meet some of the people we work with.

One of the great things about having parents visit is that there are more hands to do all the ‘normal’ things…like helping occupy the twins and making a fire for us every day so that we had hot water.

We had a wonderful visit, and I was so thankful that my parents bravely traveled around the world to come visit us!!

April 25, 2012

denial, concern and trust…

by mendibpng

Here’s how I really feel about having skin cancer…

When it started to dawn on me that this ‘little spot’ I have was not a little something, that I would have to leave my family here in Papua New Guinea and get it taken care of in Australia, I was a bit shocked. I suppose that I had been living in denial for too long, thinking this wasn’t serious and I’d get it taken care of eventually.

My next concern came in the form of our translation project. It’s time to do consultant checking on the book of Acts! We sacrificed and longed for this time to come—because we want our friends and their people to have this important piece of Scripture in their language. Our Papua New Guinean colleagues labored diligently to translate, revise and pour over their work. I felt dismayed, thinking that this medical problem of mine was going to delay this process. (Please note that when I voiced this, Ben quickly pointed out that taking care of my health was the most important thing to him.) Of course, this was going to be a huge expense, to leave the country and then deal with the hospital and doctor’s bills.

I’ve had a couple of months to process this with friends and here’s where I am now. Not once in this missionary life of ours has God ever left us in the middle of a problem. He has always provided the timing and means to deal with things. Sometimes that has come in the form of us making good choices (like saying ‘no’ or ‘later’ to things that were too much for us) but other times it has been plain miraculous how things have worked out. No other explanation besides “God did it.” I’ve already had confirmation that He’s at work: appointments, place to stay, people to help me when I need to be picked up after my surgery, and a bonus visit from my sister Jenny for the weekend before all the appointments start. Why shouldn’t I trust Him now for all of the other things?? Some moments I can trust him easily and other moments I have to tell Him that it’s hard. I want to put my trust in Him more than the doctors I am going to see in Australia as well.

I am thankful for opportunities like this that remind me of God’s faithfulness in my life, even when it means leaving my family in PNG to go to another country to get something done medically. In the whole scheme of things, those 10 days might just cause me to love God more and to be grateful for the mundane things I will be doing when I get back. (I will be heading to the village, so that means cooking with no refrigeration, homeschooling, etc.) Additionally, if everything goes as planned, (and they can get all of the cancer out in one go) I will make it back to PNG to meet my family in Wewak in time for the translation workshop after all. If not, well, we will cross that bridge when it comes. No gat samting (no worries).

%d bloggers like this: