Working among the language minorities in Papua New Guinea
January 2019 marks my thirtieth anniversary of my start in overseas missions, first in the Philippines and now in Papua New Guinea. Over these many years I have seen God's faithfulness again and again.
We began 2017 with travel back to New Ireland to find that I, Kevin, would need to manage the [tooltip text=”Summer Institute of Linguistics”]SIL[/tooltip] Kavieng Center as well as continue working with the Notsi to complete the New Testament. Gertrude did a follow-up literacy workshop with nine enthusiastic Notsi women and young artists in January to do a writers workshop producing many big books.
Bible translation plans for this year are to complete consultant checking of Acts and Matthew. We are planning to publish Luke and Acts by December. That means we will have 60% of the New Testament ready for publication. The next task to complete this year is village checking and consultant checking of 1 & 2 Corinthians.
Over the next three years we hope to complete advisor checks, village checks, and consultant checks of remaining books including Titus, James, Philemon, Hebrews, Revelation, Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, 1, & 2 Peter, and Jude. Once all is done, we anticipate doing a final read through of the entire New Testament before publication.
As you can see, much work remains to be done. Thank you for praying with us as we strive to provide the New Testament in the Notsi language. We praise the Lord for the journey so far and trust Him to complete what he has started in us, in the Notsi people and in you as you support this ministry.
2016 seems a blur with all the travel back and forth. We remember starting 2016 off with the struggle of trying to address some literacy and education issues during the [tooltip text=”Papua New Guinea”]PNG[/tooltip] Christmas period—December to February. It began to feel like we were up against a spiritual stronghold. I believe it was because of prayer partners and prayer warriors here in the Lossu community that we succeeded in facilitating changes in the Elementary Board of Management by April and eventually training new teacher candidates in July. It is slow and tedious work facing resistance from existing teaching staff and new reluctant Board members.
In August, I returned to Ukarumpa (our mission’s headquarters in the highlands) and presented a paper on early writing among the Tigak language community at the Linguistic Society of Papua New Guinea—now published in conference proceedings. In September, while Kevin was at [tooltip text=”New Ireland Translation Institute”]NITI [/tooltip] with Notsi translators, I ran the same phonics course with the Mandara language group in the Tabar Islands. Praise God for a pleasant two hour speed boat ride on calm seas. What a difference in community interest, enthusiasm and organization from the Notsi language community. It’s was a great story to go back and tell the Notsi what it could be like if people worked together.
In October, Kevin was off to Chang Mai, Thailand, by way of his beloved Philippines for a computer conference and I was off to Ukarumpa to coordinate a bridging workshop called the Vernacular Path to English (VPE). It was great to be back in the cool mountain climate and refreshing to have an international team of five to run this 3-week course with a small group of elementary teachers from four provinces, including two Tigak elementary teachers from New Ireland Province.
In the midst of preparations for the [tooltip text=”Vernacular Path to English”]VPE[/tooltip] course, another colleague and I were striving to submit a proposal for World Bank funding to run writers courses. We did not win the grant but hope to find another donor for helping Papua New Guinea language communities produce much needed children’s books.
We praise the Lord for our progress in Bible translation and literacy with the Notsi and we believe we are on course to finish the New Testament by 2020! Please see the table on the next page.
Thanks for your continued prayers. Kevin and I have journeyed back to Ukarumpa Headquarters after two months in New Ireland Province—mostly with the Notsi. It was an unusual stay as Kevin was filling in as Kavieng Center Manager part-time and traveling back and forth to Lossu Village weekly to advise the Notsi. He reports that the book of Acts is ready for consultant check. As he spoke with the consultant he was very pleased with the work as he has review the text. He is looking forward to working with us to improve the translation.
I spent most of the time in the village running a Notsi Writers’ Workshop and desk top publishing children’s books for three Notsi elementary schools. The elementary prep teacher will allow Notsi mothers that I trained to assist him in teaching students to read and write in Notsi. It was an exhausting time with all the travel and language work but worth it to help the Notsi people prepare for use of the translated Scriptures. We praise the Lord for all that was accomplished over the past two months with an added bonus of closer relationships between us and the Notsi language community.
We received good news that my sister, Flora, is doing well after a spot was found on her liver and treated.
Kevin’s mom is feeling well and getting timely treatment for early stages of multiple myeloma.
That the Notsi translators will complete village checking of the next set of Scripture portions and an adequate number of Notsi speakers will be present at the final consultant check in April.
That the Notsi can find a culturally acceptable, expedient way of replacing highly respected and dysfunctional teachers from the Notsi school clusters.
Health and strength for Kevin and I as well as the Notsi translators (Wesley Kurang, Shirley Taupis, Lynette Richard).
That the regimen of treatments for Kevin’s mom will be effective in dispelling early stages of bone cancer.
It has been so good to be back in PNG. As we were so busy traveling around the USA it was wonderful to see so many people that I had not seen for a long time. We were home for a year and it was easy to get used to life in America. I was beginning to wonder how ready I would be to return to life in PNG. Just a few days after returning I threw myself right into translation work. As I worked with the Notsi translators we were able to finish the first draft of the New Testament. That is a small milestone, but very encouraging to the translators. There is so much more work that needs to be done. It has been a great joy to be back.
We have a new member on the translation team, Lynnette. She has been so excited to be involved in Bible translation and has been a wonderful addition.
Our first Sunday of the New Year, Gertrude and I spent a Lossu. Emmanuel Church. I printed out copies of some of the hymns that were translated for the morning service. Everyone seemed so pleased to sing these hymns in their own language. Their favorite being, I am so Glad that Jesus Loves Me. Following the hymns they read from the Gospel of John in Notsi. We were so blessed to hear them reading their own language during the service. Most times only Tok Pisin (the national trade language) and English is used.
Pray with us that more people will coming along side to help in translation and in the distribution of the Scriptures. Also that people will be open to Word so the Holy Spirit can work change in their lives.
As 2015 came to a close, I realized that God had been answering some really specific prayers for Kevin, me and and our ministry with Wycliffe. While in the USA, I re-learned the art of diligent study in order to succeed academically. I was reminded of 2 Peter 3:14 (NASV) —”Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.” I found myself experiencing God while taking Research Methods and Statistics courses! I was reminded that just as I must study diligently to succeed in these, I must be diligent to to live in peace, spotless and blameless in my spiritual walk. I gained a renewed sense of dependence on God in the learning process.
When the courses were done Kevin and I changed gears and began travel through parts of the northeastern USA and southeastern Canada. It was late Spring and seing God’s handiwork in the beauty and power of Niagara Falls and resting in Him. We simply enjoyed the love and fellowship of family and friends. We met new friends as we went about telling of our mission experiences and experiencing the Love of God among supporting churches.
As we returned to Papua New Guinea I began a new role at the SIL PNG headquarters, so we were separated again only to experience God’s sustaining grace as we lived apart for the sake of the Gospel. I think the most painful experience was losing my pastor and friend of a lifetime in October. Dr. Eddie B. Lane showed so many how to live for Christ and now he has shown us how to finish well. We rejoice to have his wife continuing to serve the Lord with Bibleway Church in Dallas.
Reuniting with the Notsi in November was a definite highlight and especially so, after I suffered an infection in December. Even in that we experienced to love of the Notsi toward us and we witnessed the grace of God in medical care. I was especially blessed by exceptional TLC Kevin provided to speed my recovery! We closed 2015 with firm assurance that God is in control of all things. Of course, these few lines could not express the great love we experienced as we walked with the Lord through 2015 but we hope they give you a glimpse of God’s goodness.