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!
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:1-8
Let us celebrate the truth of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. He is risen, indeed!
*Thanks to Phil King for this great picture of the flower covered cross from Ukarumpa’s morning service this year.
Maybe my Facebook newsfeed reads a little different than yours but yesterday I had lots of postings regarding the recent 7.7 earthquake in PNG. (The earthquake as well as lots of people posting pictures from the Garth Brooks concert in Sacramento but that’s another story all together:-) But anyways back to the PNG earthquake taking over my newsfeed, it started with a trickle of friends and family asking people in PNG if they were ok, what damage was done, etc. But awhile later there were posts from people in PNG and other people home on furlough, etc who were asking for prayer, posting news stories and the like.
Earthquakes of all sizes happen often in PNG. I felt one about every month or so while I was there. Sometimes they were bigger, sometimes smaller but generally (where I was) the damage was usually minimal. I spent most of my time in the highlands and I remember many the large earthquakes that I heard about in the area occurred underwater. So while we might possibly feel them (or not), it’s the coastal areas that are often more subject to damage. To give you some perspective, PNG is roughly the size of California. So just like an earthquake in LA is often not a threat to people living in Sacramento, an earthquake near Rabaul (like this most recent one) does not even register in the minds of people living in Ukarumpa (roughly between Lae and Mt Hagen if you’re looking at the map above).
However, earthquakes can still cause damage, especially in the coastal regions. But not usually because of the earthquakes themselves but because of tsunamis triggered by the earthquakes. Tsunamis have the ability to wipe out villages or even devastate an entire language group. This has happened in PNG. I’ve heard no news of large tsunamis yet and my friends in the Solomon Islands are not reporting any warnings but please pray for no ill-effects from this large earthquake. Thanks for keeping this region in your prayers once again!
After spending three years in Papua New Guinea, I still have a soft part in my heart for the country and people. I also keep in touch with friends who have worked or still work in PNG. In a country about the size of California, there are still about 300 languages that need a Bible Translation and many more languages that only have a portion or small part of the scriptures finished. The need is great but the need isn’t only for Bible Translators or language workers. There are also many people who work behind the scenes and this includes teachers.
When I was in PNG, I had the privilege of living with teachers from both the primary and secondary campuses. I got to see how hard they work to teach and care for the students. I know that living and teaching in PNG has it’s challenges but it also has many rewards. Pray about this opportunity because Ukarumpa needs more teachers.
September 16th is Papua New Guinea’s Independence Day. PNG was administered by Australia until 1975 and now they’ve been independent for 39 years. It was fun to see all the pictures from friends in PNG celebrating this special day with crafts, parties and dressed up in yellow, black and red. Happy Independence Day PNG!
*Thanks Phil King for this great picture taken outside the training center in Ukarumpa. I love the multiple flags blowing in the wind!