Posts tagged ‘Ukarumpa’

May 2, 2013

The Village Programme: a unique way of doing school

by mendibpng

What would you do for your kids’ schooling  if your work mainly took place in a jungle?

Even in this day and age, few options exist for those of us ‘village teams’. Our best option for our family besides homeschooling (exclusively) included enrolling our kids in the Ukarumpa International Primary School. (UISPC) This school is run by our organization, staffed with missionary teachers and administrators. Whenever we are in Ukarumpa, our kids attend UISPC and receive the benefits of the school there. On the other hand, when we go to the village, we home school our kids so that they can maintain the same work as their classmates and fit back in when upon returning to Ukarumpa, sometimes even on the same day as arrival!

Let me introduce you to the people who make it possible for us to keep our school aged kids with us while doing translation work:

Mr. Raube team teaches 5th and 6th grade along with two women. Noah (5th grade) tells me that Mr. Raube is a good teacher because he is fun–he keeps the student’s attention.

Mrs. Owens (pictured above with her family) teaches Noah’s language arts. She explains her perspective, “While village programs ARE a lot of work, I do them because I see the value in keeping families with young children together while parents are out in the village doing the important work of Bible translation.”

Noah’s 5th grade Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Swanson, similarly added, “As a teacher, I am so glad that I can contribute to the needs of translator families by helping to educate their children in a program that allows them to live with their parents.”

Miss Simon, newly arrived in Papua New Guinea, teaches third grade. She has already won over the hearts of her students “She makes learning exciting and fun,” is how my daughter Ellie explains it.

When we go to the Sepik for translation workshops, we travel with green canvas bags full of the materials and lesson plans we need to home school.


Teachers put together lesson plans like the one above, and they also include teacher’s guides and rubrics where needed, so that our kids can stay on top of the work, along with their classmates. If we have a question, I have the option of coming up on the HF radio or emailing the teachers directly.

So why is UISPC such a great option for us as a family?

Our kids are getting a great education. When I say “education” I’m not just referring to academic training. They are learning life skills which involve how to love God and love their neighbors. For example, when I went to a parent teacher conference a few weeks ago, we covered the academic areas: where my daughter’s strengths were, and where we needed to work together to help her. The teachers then told me that they noticed she had been handling herself in emotionally healthy ways. In times of conflict, she has often been one to help others figure their way through it. I do care that my kids are learning to read, write and do their arithmetic but in all honesty, my greater desire is to see them living in a healthy way with those around them and to have good emotional boundaries. Not only this, but my kids are grappling with theology (yes, even at a young age!) and learning about faith in tangible ways. I’m seeing these teachers influencing my kids for good often.

Additionally, these teachers, like me, have left family behind in their home countries to teach my TCK children, in order to support the efforts of Bible translation all over Papua New Guinea. They are as much a part of Bible translation in my mind, as Ben and I are out here in the village. We all have a shared purpose in this task!

If you ask my kids, why they like going to UISPC, they would answer that they love recess, sports, art classes, their friends and their teachers. Basically they enjoy the social aspect of being in school and particularly the ‘specials’ offered by the school, like band and choir.

When we arrive in our village, the first thing we do is clean the house. Then, we set up school as soon as possible so Noah and Ellie don’t get behind in their work.
Ellie prefers to do her school work right at the kitchen table where she can easily ask me questions while I’m cooking or Twin Wrangling. (Our 3 1/2 twins make homeschooling interesting at times!)
Noah, on the other hand, chooses to work in our elevated office, away from the distractions of the little ones.

The village programme enables us to do Bible translation amongst the people of the Aitape West region. Our family is free to participate in translation workshops because of the option of homeschooling. Ben trains and advises Papua New Guinean translators and is also the team leader for our project. Right now the team is revising 1 and 2 Timothy in preparation for consultant checking in a few months. The translations produced by our project are the first scriptures that the 11 language groups have ever seen in their own language.

I have the chance to personally see how they are progressing academically.  This past week I’ve seen growth in Noah and Ellie’s ability in working independently. For instance, Noah read a detailed section of Social Studies on his own: when I asked him the questions, he knew the answers, even to some rather difficult concepts and details. His ability to think critically has grown, too, as I’ve perused his writings in response to the “Precepts” questions he answers in Language Arts. Homeschooling in the village helps me to gain perspective on my kids’ progress.

I don’t want to imply that this program is perfect. I know my kids dearly miss their classmates and teachers when we are in the village, and transitioning back and forth probably causes some gaps in their academic training. Similarly, I know that no school can be 100% perfect. If it has any imperfections, however, in my opinion, it’s that they need more staff. The administrators and teachers we have are often stretched and working hard to cover the areas that are understaffed. This is a huge prayer request because every year, some of them leave for various reasons or go on furlough and the administration has to fill the slots. Will you pray that they can fill them?

Do you or someone you know have a love for missionary kids, and currently have teaching credentials? Maybe you can use your skills to support Bible Translation too!

September 7, 2011

On living in community…Part 2

by mendibpng

Why I love it…

A lot of people may wonder why there is such a large community of expatriate people living in PNG…this is a very good question! Papua New Guinea is one of the most linguistically diverse areas of the world. This means that we have a higher concentration of languages for the size of the land (about the size of California, for you Americans). Our goal here is to make the scriptures accessible to everyone in the language that serves them best.  So in order to reach this many language groups, we need all kinds of people to get the job done—bible translators, literacy workers, pilots, mechanics, teachers, accountants, security personnel.

I love this place because the people I work with have a common goal with me. That is, we all want to see Papua New Guineans accessing and using God’s Word. I don’t have to explain my life or my goals to everyone I bump into. We share this passion, otherwise we wouldn’t have left our home countries, friends, relatives and conveniences to come here.

In my last post I mentioned how sometimes we get into each other’s business. I have a love/hate relationship with this aspect of living in community. The thing I love about it is, when someone is in trouble or sick, people step in willingly to help. If you have followed some of my former blog posts, you might remember that when Jenny Beth needed a medivac to Australia, all kinds of people stepped in: aviation, finance, doctors, nurses, member care, etc. While Australian medical staff took care of Jenny Beth in Cairns, my friends delivered meals to Ben and helped him watch Jacob. Our friend Beth bought a ticket to come to help me, even though she had to organize a road trip to get out of here.

Another example of people helping one another happens when one of us needs something. Even if it’s a food item (like, say I didn’t make it to the 6-7 am market) or something to keep a household going, we can post a ‘wanted’ and we often receive multiple offers of help. This may sound funny to others who don’t live here, but we have no super Walmart or 24 hour grocery store to visit if we run out of something.

I also love the school. The teachers I have met consider my children to be their ministry for God. I am grateful more than I can say for this.  Added to this are the people who work with youth (which is a great deal of people!) and those who run the hostels. (On Tuesday, our son Josiah will stay with a hostel family for one week and join us in the village for the school holidays.)

I could go on and on about the various things I love but the real underlying reason I am glad to be here is that I love living and working with my friends. I like it that I run into people I love and admire at the store, post office, school and wherever I go on center. I know I can call up any one of my friends for a spontaneous playdate or stroller walk on any given day. These little encounters provide sanity relief for me and my little ones, and ultimately DO serve to further the task of bible translation here, because it helps me stay healthy emotionally (thus allowing Ben to keep serving in the roles he has as Aitape West team leader, Greek/exegesis trainer and translation advisor.)

When conflict arises, I pray that God will help me remember these things…I want to practice the ‘discipline of gratitude’ (as Henri Nouwen so aptly puts it) for the place he has put me, and for the chance to work with a diverse and gifted group of people.

June 30, 2011

Things MKs like: the school musical…

by mendibpng

This past year, our son Josiah participated in a number of fun things in his last year in Elementary/Primary School…one of the highlights this year was the school play he was in.

Before we went to the village, Josiah was “Noah” in the school musical.

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