It was Friday, August 29, 2014, that we received word that Gertrude’s mother was not doing well. The doctor said that she might last only a few weeks. We dropped everything and began to make plans to return to the U.S. as quickly as we could. I spent most of Saturday trying to rebook our tickets at the best price that I could. I was thankful that I was able to do so without too great a cost.
We then began to pack and close up our village house. As our friends in the village learned of Gertrude’s mother many came by to comfort and encourage Gertrude. Pictured above are our friends who were there to say good-bye as we were leaving. They were such a blessing to us. We really felt that they shared our grief with us. If they were able to they would have come with us to provide comfort.
After we finished all of our packing and was driving to Kaveing, we made a number of stops along the way. The first stop was to see Wesley, one of the Notsi translators. He was unaware of our sudden change in plans to return to the U.S. As he and his wife learned this they insisted that we stay and have lunch with them. She with some help from Gertrude she spent the next hour or so preparing a meal for us. It was a good time of fellowship as we shared the meal with them. I was able to collect the work that Wesley had completed. Here he is making some last minute edits before he gave them to me. They hated to see us go.
We arrived in Kaveing about 6:00 PM. Little did we realize a meal was prepared for us. We were most thankful for all the help and the encouragement we received along the way.
Today was our last Sunday in Papua New Guinea. We are so thankful we could be in the village of Lossu with the Notsi. We were able to encourage the use of the published Scriptures in church. Today they read John 3:1-16. Luther, pictured above, was close to tears as he heard the passage read in his own language. He gave thanks to God for it. After a while he was able to share his message from that passage.
Here in Papua New Guinea the first Sunday in September is Fathers Day. Gertrude was asked to make a cake for the fathers. Since we are not going to be here for Fathers Day Gertrude made a cake for them today and we went to visit different fathers to give then a piece of cake. Each one had a smile of thanks as they received their piece. A good way to say good-bye was we are getting ready to leave.
As in many other places there are times of joy and celebration as well as times of great sorrow when large numbers of people come to share the joy or provide comfort. This week was we saw both take place. We were not back to the village long before we heard about a car accident that took two young lives. One was an 18 year-old from our village. There were hundreds of people who came from all over New Ireland to support the family at their time of loss. It was a time for us to see the community coming to the aid of the family. People brought pigs and other food to cook for the funeral feast. As people came from other villages they brought food and money to contribute. It was moving to see the way everyone came to support the family at this time of grief.
Just a few days later there was a big celebration. A man, one of the leaders in the church, has been married for many years, but never paid the bride-price. It was as if the marriage was recognized by the church but not by their families. A big feast was planned and money was collected by the man’s family to pay the bride-price. After the money was collected the man with his clan with him went to see the clan of his wife’s family. With a lot of ceremony he paid the bride-price. The picture here is one of the clan leaders telling a story as part of the bride-price is being paid. This was another example of how the community had come together to help support this marriage bring the two clans together.
Not much new to report this week, but more of the same. Gertrude is enjoying her literacy class. She is really in her element. She does get somewhat frustrated as she is teaching her students how to do some basic things on the computer. They tell her they understand what to do, and then they go and do something completely different. On day she left the class as they were typing their stories when she came back one person who was typing most of the day lost all their work and came up with something on the screen that Gertrude has no idea how they did it.
I thought it would be good to share some pictures of some of our co-workers. This couple is Bob & Carolyn Lee. They arrived in New Ireland 10 years before Gertrude arrived in 1976. They completed the New Testament for the Madak people group here. As they have been a part of NITI they are helping two languages groups that are close to Madak. One is the Notsi-Madak which is a transition language between Notsi the group Gertrude and I are working in and their language group. They are also working with the Nalik people group. Besides that they are continuing their work with the Madak on Old Testament portions which they plan to publish next year.
Ed Condra I guess he could be called the founder and director of NITI, but he does not even think about a title for himself. He came to Sohun back in 1983 finished the New Testament for the Papatar people group here. It was back in 2003 that the Lord opened doors for him to start NITI to train Papua New Guineans to do the remaining translations in New Ireland. Today he is helping to oversea two Papatar dialects that are being translated as well as Barok. He is also leading a team that is doing Old Testament translation for the Papatar.
Both he and the Lees only come for the NITI course for a month or more and then return to the U.S.A. There is much they try to complete in the short time that they are here.
September 22, 2009 was our eighth anniversary. At the time we were attending the National Education Conference in Goroka, not far from the SIL headquarters in Ukarumpa. We were there with five others from SIL so it was not a quiet, romantic get-away for us. That night we went out for pizza at a local hotel, which we all enjoyed. While at the conference we were able see a number of different groups perform traditional dance with their colorful costumes. As we arrived Gertrude was saying that she may not know anyone there. It turns out that the lady who is the head of the Education Department of Goroka University was a friend from Kavieng who I met in 2003.
After the conference we flew down to Port Moresby. We planned a couple of days there before continuing on to Milne Bay. This gave us time to visit with a friend of Gertrude’s named Rachel. She is the personal assistant to the Prime Minister Michael Somare. We were able to visit Rachel in her office and she took us into the Office of the Prime Minister to show us around. The P. M. was away at international meetings in NYC so we did not get to meet him.
I was a little disappointed with the traveling that we were doing this week that I was not able to do much in line of celebrating our anniversary. Friday, just after lunch we went to the airport to continue on to Milne Bay. We were there plenty of time before the flight was to depart. After we cleared security to enter the terminal there was a large crowd of people waiting to check in to get their boarding passes. After waiting they finally had the people line up at particular counters for different flights instead of just waiting in the one line. At last we got into the line that we were suppose to be in. After waiting another hour we were up to the counter to check in. What we did not know was that the flight was over booked and there was no room for us. We waited another two hours for them to make sure we were booked on the next flight. Then an hour more in another line where they would issue vouchers for us to stay at a hotel. Then we had another wait for the hotel van to come to pick us up. After a half hour drive we arrived at the Crown Plaza Hotel. It was beautiful. Neither Gertrude or I could believe the wonderful accommodations that were given to us. After we got settled into our room we went downstairs for dinner. The Cafe was full so we waited as I played the piano. After a while I took note of a nicer restaurant. I thought if they would accept the vouchers I would pay the difference for the meal. We had wonderful service to go with a wonderful meal, that was finished with Crape Suzzette.
We thank the Lord for the way we could celebrate Eight Years Together. It was totally beyond my means, but that did not hinder what God had planed for us. After all that waiting at the airport, it made for a very special time for us to spend time together, just the two of us.
While Gertrude was at NITI most of the time she spent helping in the kitchen and taking advantage of the time with a personal Bible study on the Book of Jeremiah. The focus of her study was “The Mission Heart of God in the Book of Jeremiah.” If you are interested I am sure she would be happy to share some of her thoughts with you. During the last week of NITI Gertrude was given an opportunity to develop a plan to do a literacy workshop during the next NITI course in February. Everyone was very excited the way things were coming together for it. Please pray that the Lord will raise up the right people to be a part of this.
Above is a map of New Ireland Province in Papua New Guinea. We are living in central New Ireland on the east coast with the Notsi people. (I have Notsi circled on the map.) Going to the south is the Papatar people where the NITI courses are held. (That is also circled).
What an unexpected pleasure. Our regional director was coming from another island where he has done translation work. Just as they need the coast there was a large number of dolphins splashing in the water around the boat. They reached shore and invited us to join them on the boat to watch the dolphins. We rode around in the boat for about 30 minutes.
We are making slow progress in language learning. This has been more a time of getting to know the people here in the village and getting settled in our home in the village. It is very comfortable, but it is in need of a few minor repairs here an there. It will take time for us to clear out all the dust and dirt that has accumulating for years.
Gertrude is enjoying her time with the ladies of the village. As part of her language learning she gave the ladies a cooking class on how to make Ratatouille (A dish made with eggplant and tomatoes). As Gertrude gave them the receipt the ladies helped her translate it into Notsi.
Tuesday (July 21, 2009), we will be leaving for NITI (New Ireland Translation Institute). I will begin to work more closely with the translation team for Notsi, checking their translation. We will be there for four weeks. Afterwards we will travel up to Ukarumpa, where the mission headquarters are located. This will be a time for us to relate to leadership there. Receive our shipment from the US, and connect with some friends. By mid September we will be back to Lossi.