In addition to the song leaders, this photo shows a few simple things that North Fly Bible provides to help raise the standard for rural workshops:
1. Plenty of chalk (normally very precious).
2. Handmade posters showing the „books“ of the Bible and how they are organized.
3. A rope timeline showing the chronology from Genesis to Revelation – with no dates for start and finish (!), and approximate dates for historically verified events.
4. Wood to construct a long desk with a seat (there was a second one on the other side of the room).
5. A world map (many more maps, also of places and times relevant to understanding the Bible, were placed around the room).
This small investment of materials, and the cost of flying them in with the facilitators and observers, was still much less than the cost of running the workshop at a larger center near a town – with much greater community impact.
The partnership also provided one English and one Tok Pisin Bible for each officially registered couple or single, a few school supplies, and preprinted handouts.
The Pa-language participants, and observers from the Aekyom and Ninggirum language communities, improved their literate study skills and learned a storytelling method for transferring Bible passages into their local oral languages.
Centre right: Paul – elementary teacher, Pa-language Bible translator. In this photo interpreting from English and Tok Pisin into Pa.
Centre left: Steven – North Fly Bible coordinator, rubber grower. In this photo telling the „story between the stories“ in English and Tok Pisin.
Far left: Rony – intending Bible school student, workshop scribe. In this photo waiting for the next „story“; he will listen in Pa, take notes in English, and sometimes discuss with other facilitators – in English, Tok Pisin, and/or Samo.
* Story = one Bible passage in a set of Bible passages that were selected to help give an overview of the Old Testament. Each one was retold in Pa by a church-recognised pastor or Bible teacher, who then also moderated a discussion of the passage by all of the participants.
* Story between the stories = a narrative summary of the portion of the Bible that lies between the previous „story“ and the next „story“ in the selected set.
This oral process was at the heart of the recent Old Testament workshop for the Pa language community in remote Debepari. The workshop was also observed by future Aekyom and Ninggirum language mentors.
“Land of the Marsupials“ would be an accurate, if somewhat nerdy, description of the Papua New Guinea province of the Animal Kingdom. In the natural order of the world, humans find almost all of the fauna here good to eat – and marsupials are relatively easy to hunt! This specimen added to the variety of the protein portion of the Old Testament workshop menu, which was actually already pretty rich in fish and pig.
The workshop also provided a boost to the orality and literacy skills of the Pa-language participants and the Aekyom and Ninggirum observers.
No snide comments from the Hebrew scholars please! The workshop participants received a handout on the original languages of the Bible. It included a display of an ancient form of the Hebrew pre-alphabet – no vowel points yet. The participants then did their best to write their names using Hebrew letters. The photo shows the handiwork of one of the Aekyom observers. The workshop took place in Debepari for the Pa language community.
As is appropriate in an oral society, guided discussion easily took up more workshop time than any other form of communication, learning, or identity building.
Each of the twenty select Old Testament texts was discussed at length – first to make sure everyone could retell the text accurately, second to allow everyone to express what they see in the text, and third to allow everyone to express what they want to „take away“ from the text.
In the second week, afternoon discussions were devoted to analyzing their communities by generations – in terms of their fears, dreams, what they can contribute to the community, how they function in their multilingual context, and their comfort with books and technology.
The goal: church leaders who understand how best to reach their communities in holistic ministry, centred around a common understanding of God’s Word.
The workshop participants played sports in the second week out on the Debepari sports field, to have some physical fun after days of intense mental work. The men and women took turns between the soccer/rugby pitch and the basketball court.
Each local church made a map of the places where speakers of the Pa language live. Churches of all denominations and dialects were also shown. The clarity of the map pictured below stood out among the others.
The North Fly Bible workshops always include research, planning, and evaluation – using participatory methods. This process strengthens the partnership among the churches and organizations represented, and helps us all to keep community impact as our aim.
These cauldrons were often used to boil sweet milktea for breakfast and food for the other meals. In this case, however, the traditional streaming method has been adapted. Hot rocks were added to the food, then enough water was poured over the rocks to provide plenty of steam, and finally the whole thing was quickly covered with leaves and weighted down with firewood.
For two weeks – Monday through Friday – the workshop mess crew fed about 70 participants, about 10 facilitators, and presumably themselves. We were served 3 meals a day on schedule. The church district charged a K15 fee from each participant to cover local costs – from food to photocopying to use of solar power. The official cooks received K10 each as a very small token of appreciation, which they undoubtedly shared with others who helped them!
(About US$5 and US$3 respectively.)
This week the North Fly Bible team all returned to our respective homes after a very encouraging Old Testament workshop in partnership with the Pa-speaking Debepari district of the Evangelical Church of PNG. We’re still sorting through memories and photos, but I’ll try to start posting the best photos with their corresponding memories tomorrow.
Likely they will come out one a day in no particular order over the course of the next month :).