4 years ago today, I was in Walagu (the main Onobasulu village in PNG) fighting with the sun for power and trying to get curriculum work done with the Onobasulu despite many setbacks and crazy things happening in the village around us. My co-worker Beverly and I were joined by a student named Jenny who was completely surprised at the wide variety of tasks we needed to do on a daily basis that had little or nothing to do with the translation or literacy work. It makes sense that we would help the people we were serving and working with in a wide variety of areas but working as an electrician and a nurse were not on my resume. But sometimes you just have to make it work.
In this post from June 29th, I wrote about learning the difference between “bulk and float voltage” as well as connecting batteries with solar panels. Taking care of big batteries and connecting solar panels is not a normal task in my life now but it was just a part of village life in PNG. Who knows, maybe this will come in handy again some day:-)
In the post, I also wrote about all the medical issues we were dealing with (ear infections, terrible boils and sores as well as a broken arm). At this point we didn’t realize that Beverly would eventually set the broken with directions I was getting from an emergency phone call/radio session with a doctor in Ukarumpa. Despite all the health care issues in the US, nothing compares to the problems that arise when people lack basic things like soap and access to the most basic medical care. Seriously, how do you keep a little boy, who lives and plays in the dirt, clean when his bathtub is a river with muddy banks!?
Although I don’t miss the wet feet, odd infections and strange stresses of life in PNG. I do miss the people and the part of my job description that read “play with small children every chance you get”. The pictures in this post were taken from a July 30th post that happened once we got back to Ukarumpa. Since we were using HF radio to send emails in the village, posting to the blog with pictures was practically impossible. But I was thankful for the power we did have to send text only blog updates via email.
Even though I’m now back in the US, the Onobasulu people are still living and working in their communities in PNG. Please continue to pray for the Onobasulu people. Pray for health, community unity and successful, continued work on Bible Translation, literacy and education.
The Onobasulu Bible Translation program is once again going through some changes. Progress is being made with the Bible Translation and Literacy among other important steps for the greater Onobasulu community. But there are challenges to face and hurdles to overcome. These cover the gamut from logistics to finances and even emotions as these changes impact all parts of the greater Onobasulu community.
The main factor at the forefront right now is the decision for the main ex-pat Bible translator, Beverly, to change her assignment and work from Texas, this means selling her home and car in PNG. Anne also works on the translation away from PNG, so now the two main expat Bible Translators will be primarily living and working in their home countries, the USA and the Netherlands. There will still be a home in the village, the Walagu Lodge, but Beverly will (pending the sale) no longer have her Ukarumpa house. Please be in prayer for Beverly because selling her home is a huge emotional step and it means saying good-bye to a big part of her PNG life. Please pray that both the house and the car sell quickly and that she has the time and energy to clean out her house and take the things she needs to back to the US and store what needs to be stored in PNG.
This is Beverly in her car, in front of her house, filled with the Onobasulu co-workers. You can see Joseph’s pink jacket in the back. Beverly loves pink (did you notice the pink house!?) and the Onobasulu guys also have an affinity for pink. It definitely makes Joseph easy to spot in a crowd.
Because Beverly will no longer be in PNG full-time, the Onobasulu program will have to rely even more heavily on the Onobasulu people themselves. This is a very good thing but it also means the translators need more training in order to prepare themselves for the work. Beverly is currently in PNG helping Wabele, Joseph, Yobe and Jack get through another important training course. This course will give them key knowledge in order to do more of the translation work on their own. They of course know the Onobasulu language but Bible translation requires knowledge of Greek, exegesis, hermeneutics and many other difficult concepts. These four men have been attending these courses for years now, slowly learning and working along the way. However, this was an extra course that they had not planned on attending for awhile so they are currently underfunded and need another 90% of their costs. If you feel led to give please donate at Wycliffe.org, every little bit helps. This money will go directly to fund the national Onobasulu translators and help them become more prepared for the huge task of Bible translation.
Most importantly please pray for the Onobasulu program. Please pray for Beverly as she is transitioning to a home assignment. Please pray for the Onobasulu translators: Wabele, Jack, Yobe and Joseph. And the Onobasulu literacy guys: Hauwo and Jeffery. Please pray for their families. Pray also that God would raise up another generation to help them translate and continue the literacy program for the Onobasulu people. Please pray for a smooth transition and for God to provide people on the ground in PNG to help with communication and some logistical challenges with having no full-time expat co-workers in PNG. And finally please pray that God would continue to be glorified through the Onobasulu language and that people would come to know Him because of this life changing work.
One more New Testament is complete. One more language group has the word of God in their hands. One more Bible is definitely worth celebrating.
I once landed at the airstrip that serves this language group on my way back to Ukarumpa from the village. I don’t remember exactly what the couple Soren and Britten Arsjo had requested but it was a small package and it was important. They payed for the plane to go out of its way into Western Province and my co-worker and I were along for the ride. The hot, dense air from this lower area hit us as the doors of the small plane opened. We stepped outside for a few minutes while they opened the package and confirmed it’s contents. Then we flew away and left them to continue their work.
Over Easter weekend, the fruit of that work was finally seen in hand. The Konai dedicated their New Testament. This picture is thanks to Brian Frey who attended the dedication. You can read more about it as well as see more pictures and video on their blog: Following the Freys. Two things stuck out from reading about this dedication.
One: The Konai have a similar Christian story to the Onobasulu. Both were evangelized, not by westerners or other foreigners but instead by another PNG tribe. I love that when the gospel took hold of hearts in PNG, the people didn’t just keep it for themselves but spread the good news to other neighboring people groups.
Two: This is Soren and Britten’s SECOND New Testament translation. One is already a lifetime of work. If you’re interested in more of the story of how they came to translate a second New Testament check out the Frey’s blog.
There is still a lot of work Bible translation work to be done in PNG but let’s celebrate another huge milestone. The Konai have the word of God in their language!
I’m happy to report that Osa is doing well after her snake bite last week which you can read about here: An Urgent Prayer Request From PNG. She’s back in Walagu and there is no venom in her system. This is a huge praise! There are a lot of reasons they did not find venom even though there were bite marks on her leg, maybe it wasn’t a death adder that bit her, maybe the bandaging worked or the snake that bit her had already bit something else recently so the venom wasn’t strong. Whatever reason, the prayers worked and we are glad that she didn’t have to have the full anti-venom shots which can often be very hard on the body. Her husband Wabele (pictured below on the computer) was with her at the hospital which is also a praise.
Another praise is that we think the cost of the helicopter and treatment is going to be covered by the oil company’s community affairs fund. This is basically money that is set aside to help the communities that they impact. This is a huge praise because the cost of helicopters alone is astronomical.
While we’re praising God, let’s praise him that it seems like the Onobasulu airstrip is open again after two years of being closed. It has had major work done on it by the Onobasulu people and the first SIL plane will land there next week to check it out. Praise God that the Onobasulu may be able to use their airstrip instead of walking from another airstrip or paying the high cost of helicopters. Having the airstrip open greatly benefits the work of Bible Translation as well as the community in general.
Please continue to keep the Onobasulu people in your prayers. Work on the Onobasulu Bible translation and other scripture use materials is happening, people are hearing the gospel and learning more about the Bible. All of these things invite spiritual warfare. Another one of the workers named Hauwo (pictured below) has also been in the hospital with ongoing back pain, after a bad fall last year. He has been involved with the translation and literacy work from the beginning. Please pray for a full and quick recovery.
These three pictures in this post are of the 6 main Onobasulu workers- Joseph, Yobe, Jack, Wabele, Jeffery and Hauwo. Please pray for them by name and their families as the work pushes forward. Please pray for safety. Please pray for good health. Please pray for protection and care for these families as well as the entire Onobasulu community. You’re continued prayers support the work of Bible translation. Thank you!
Please pray for Osa, the wife of one of our Onobasulu translators. She was bitten by a death adder and thanks to a number of extraordinary circumstances (praise God!) is at a hospital that has anti-venom and is being treated. It’s surprisingly hard to find a hospital with the right stuff and death adder bites are deadly and need to be treated as soon as possible. These snakes are not erroneously named. Please pray that the venom doesn’t enter her torso and that no lasting damage will be done.
Please also pray for the Onobasulu Bible translation. Many unfortunate circumstances are slowing down the translation progress. Osa being bit by a snake, another literacy co-worker in the hospital with chronic headaches (possibly the result of a serious fall last year) and the American translator getting sick enough that she couldn’t fly back to PNG as planned, are just some examples of the series of events that leave us feeling spiritually attacked and oppressed. Even though I am in the US, my heart breaks for the Onobasulu, especially for the main workers and their families who seem to bear the brunt of these attacks. Even Osa is not just a translator’s wife but also someone who has helped us record scripture (it’s not a given that Onobasulu women can read and even if they can read, many women aren’t fluent enough to record scripture). She supports the translation work in so many ways.
The translators have recently finished working on Thessalonians. And 2 Thessalonians 2 is very clear about some of the lies and ways Satan will seek to thwart God’s work. Please pray for the Onobasulu. Pray that the translation work would move forward and God’s word would have a powerful impact on the community. Please pray for Osa, that she would heal fully and praise God for all the extraordinary events that allowed her to get to the hospital as quickly as she did. Thank you for participating in caring for the Onobasulu through your prayers!
So yesterday I was running an errand and stopped at a railroad crossing. To keep myself amused I was checking out a couple vanity plates on the cars in front of me. I saw one and thought “Awww, they love their mom.” and then after a few seconds I realized that either that person speaks some Onobasulu or their license plate means something different. I grabbed my phone and snapped a quick picture before the light turned green.
Let me explain my confusion. Even after 3+ years away from Papua New Guinea, away from Onobasulu speakers, away from Tok Pisin and all the cultural differences, some things are still stuck in my mind. Nae is the Onobasulu word for mother and it is also used in referring and speaking to people. Women are called by their firstborn child’s name plus mother. For example, my mother would be Benjaminnae. I spent time with, talked to and referred to women this way. Sarahnae, Elinae, Waganae, Famelanae, Ludinae and the list goes on. I heard kids call their mothers often, echoing across the house or the village depending on how loud they were calling. The cry of “nae-oooo” is still seared in my mind from the time we helped set a boys broken arm. Yes, the teenager was in so much pain that he was crying for his mother. Nae is just one of those unforgettable words.
I’m pretty certain that I don’t know the people in that car. The Onobasulu community is small enough that I would know personally or know of any Western people connected to the Onobasulu people community in some way. And by that same logic, i’m pretty certain that nae is being used here as a term of endearment for a grandma or someone else. But I’m glad that we had to stop at the railroad crossing yesterday. I look forward to the time when I get to head back out to Walagu and see the Onobasulu people again but for now I will cherish all the sweet memories and hold on to every reminder that comes my way, even from a random license plate.
In 2010, I was living in Papua New Guinea. And at the end of June, I was out in the village hosting some Discovery students along with my friend Sara. We did scripture recordings and at least one teacher’s course. The memories of the work details are now a bit fuzzy but the kid’s faces are still fresh in my mind. Nevermind that these little ones are now 4 years older and probably growing up too fast. On this particular day we didn’t work because the whole village had gathered to hear their area president speak.
It was a hot day and people used the umbrellas to shade themselves and you can see the stage and cover in the background. It was built with wood from the area and decorated with grass, leaves and flowers for the guest of honor. I don’t remember what the occasion was and i’m not sure I ever really knew then either. This was just an opportunity to be out with the community.
Enterprising women brought out food and other things to sell while everyone was just sitting around. A whole bundle of cooked, slimy, greens cost just 20 toea (or about 10 cents). Little Liz sat on my lap and happily munched away, devouring the entire thing except for a few random strands that she shoved in my mouth. The whole bundle was wet and my skirt was slimy from the mess but it was worth it. I’d love to have another day in Walagu. This was just 4 years ago but it’s now a world away.