Tomorrow the first workshop staff and observers start arriving in Debepari for the Pa (Pare) Old Testament workshop. Bibles and other materials are packed and ready to go on Tuesday. The final lot of staff and observers should travel then on Thursday.
It is not often that we get treated with a sunrise like the one above. But then, it is not often that we happen to live with and look after two teenage boys. And, to live with one who likes to get up early and enjoy the morning! The parents of Micah and Tim had entrusted us with their sons for a week while they were on medical leave. Micah took the picture last month in Ukarumpa.
For a full month we lived and worked on our mission base in the highlands. With us were Pastor Steven Angkaki (on the picture) and Willie Yofu, Clyde’s younger Samo brother. Twice we could present aspects of our work in the North Fly to the bigger world of SIL PNG. The first topic was on partnership, the second on oral Bible translation. It was great to be able to discuss our work with colleagues who are usually spread out all over the country. Encouraged and with even more ideas of how to do the work better we made our way back to Western Province, back into our intensive life in the North Fly.
From February to March we enjoyed the visit of Noah and his wife Carmin. They had flown from the USA directly to Kiunga, from where we went to the village together. The two were treated like royalty! There was a feast and some ceremonies, they even received more wedding presents. Together we then travelled up to the highlands, where they visited with Carmin’s parents for a couple of weeks while we were busy with many meetings.
It looks like I have covered February and March now. The month of April should have its own space…!
WRITTEN THREE WEEKS AGO
Ukarumpa Center is home base for many people from many different backgrounds. My friend René (picture) is Dutch, and he gave us a short send-off recital on his organ. He is also interested in leading a research project to find out why so many Bible translation programs have not had the impact desired, and what could be done differently to reach rural Papua New Guineans more effectively.
Tomorrow we head off for the village, where we are trialing a program to reach pastors – who will reach their communities with God’s Word.
[Just returned to Rumginae, where we have enough bandwidth to send this!]
…master of none! Growing up as a „pastor’s kid“ in rural America, I remember Dad using this expression when he was called on to do everything from fix the neighbor widow’s water pump to help put on a new roof on the church building. Although I inherited only a small portion of these practical skills, I have had to leverage it all to the maximum in rural Papua New Guinea!
Today David Tute went through a supply of plumbing materials he inherited from another missionary to see what we might be able to use for urgent plumbing repairs in our village house. The plan is that we will take these materials on the mission plane when we go back to the North Fly on Wednesday. Then in December David and Alison plan to make their first visit to our village, and David will help me finish all of the repairs that I haven’t been able to do.
We are still actively recruiting a maintenance trainer to be based in Rumginae with us, which will save me a lot of time – and Johanna a lot of frustration :). It will also help the rest of the Rumginae team immensely.
For many years Johanna and I have had the dream of a team in the North Fly that would include foreign missionaries and Papua New Guinean home missionaries working together as brothers and sisters with the growing but still struggling churches in the North Fly. During our current trip to Ukarumpa, we have seen clear steps closer to realizing this dream. Today we spent time with two Papua New Guinean colleagues (picture) who are following the North Fly story. Left to right are David Tute, Mara Iyama, Steven Ttopoqogo, Clyde Smith, Johanna Smith, Emily Waldo.
I managed to get Johanna to smile while she was working on finances (picture), but this is a job I would very much like to pass on to someone else. The encouraging thing is that since we have been in Ukarumpa two people with skills in this area have expressed an interest in joining the North Fly team. Although there are significant hurdles to overcome for either of these people to move into a North Fly role, we finally see some movement in that direction. One of these two people is even a Papua New Guinean with many years of experience in SIL (Wycliffe’s field partner). We need patience as we look to God to help us jump over the hurdles one by one!
Recently I heard that people are going to vendors in Kiunga and buying movies that they receive via bluetooth! Unfortunately many of these are bringing pretty bad influences into the North Fly. But this news gave us a new sense of urgency to offer media that brings good influences into the area! Today we made a trip from Ukarumpa to Goroka, where we made some progress towards this goal. First we visited Christian Radio Missionary Fellowship, who loaned us two different models of solar-powered audio players, with recorded English and Pidgin Bible translations and stories preloaded on them. One of them also has Pidgin songs on it. We will take them to the village, when we go next week, and test them. Then at the end of each workshop for the pastors, we hope to record some of the pastors telling Bible stories in the local languages. Later we hope to record locally produced music and actual translations in the local languages.
We also bought a small boombox that includes radio, as well as slots for SD cards and USB flash drives. This will finally enable us to fit in with the society here, which has mostly leap-froged the personal computer era and gone straight to the MP3 and cellphone era.
The prepaid phone credit vendor (picture) with his wireless top-up machine, on a rickety wooden stand under an umbrella was the perfect image to end the day’s experiences. Orality in PNG!
Emily has come at a time when we have been having intense discussions with high-level people here in Ukarumpa. We have welcomed her to take part in anything we are involved in. She has kept up with the pace, followed the sometimes complicated arguments, and even made a significant contribution to the planning for the North Fly.
Today is a writing day for me, so Johanna and Emily are doing a variety of things without me – from going to the local produce market at 6:30am to checking out the academic library for books she can use to learn more about PNG languages and culture.
The goal of my writing day is to document the North Fly Bible Partnership, so that we are better positioned to recruit more team members and develop adequate funding. An urgent need is for a maintenance trainer for the crew that work out of the workshop (picture) at the Rumginae Station, where SIL North Fly is based as a guest of the Evangelical Church of Papua New Guinea.
Some months ago the pastor of a sponsoring church in the U.S. passed our email address to pastor friend of his. This led to a series of events resulting in the anticipated arrival of a young woman from his church, to spend almost two months with us to see if this type of work is what the Lord is leading her to do long term. Her name is Emily Waldo. We are going out to the airport soon to pick her up. Around the same time, we are expecting the return of one of our son Ben’s best friends from his school days here in Ukarumpa. His name is Timothy Kukumbu. He has been trying to qualify for university, which is pretty hard to do in PNG, and is coming home for a break with his family.
These two young people searching for their life’s work remind me of my friend Sewoknai Twai in Rumginae (pictured here). He is a relatively new believer who has been fighting hard to understand what it means to be a Christian in his context. I promised him that when I return, I will engage him to teach me his language, Aekyom, which is the main local language spoken in the Rumginae and Kiunga area.
Please pray for these and other young people like them.