Sunday, August 31, 2014

No Longer an Outsider!

In June, I had the privilege of flying to Madang province, where the Ogea people live, as a guest at their dedication celebration for the translation of the New Testament into Ogea. I was serving as a photographer and journalist, recording this momentous occasion for them and their children. What a joy it was to celebrate with them this long journey and the fruit of their perseverance! May God bless the Ogea people, and may they continue to know Him more through His Word!

“Today, Jesus is not coming as an outsider….Today, Jesus is coming as one of us!”

The crowd of nearly 500 people shouted and laughed in agreement. Today was a special day—today they were dedicating the translation of the New Testament into the Ogea language!

The journey of translation had started almost 40 years earlier when Michael Colburn and his wife joined the Ogea people of Madang Province as translation advisors in 1977, a role that continued until publication of the New Testament. Kelebai was the primary translator, but died shortly after he had drafted the entire New Testament. Don and Marib then took over the translation program and brought the translation through the checking stages and to completion for dedication in June 2014.

Although many trials faced the translators, God continued to reach Ogea people with the Scriptures. After hearing the Gospel of Mark, Mrs. Sigou Ura committed to following Christ. Soon afterward, when she and her husband planted their garden, their primary source of food, they took a bold stand. They chose to rely on the God of the Bible rather than perform the traditional rites that would appeal to the local spirits for blessing. When harvest came, their garden produced more than enough food for their family! As Sigou shared the abundance with other families, she told them it was the God of the Bible who had blessed her garden, not the spirits.

At the dedication, church leaders encouraged the people not only to use their newly translated Bibles but also to share God’s truth with the surrounding languages. Choirs, dance groups, and drama teams performed, sharing their excitement for the translation and demonstrating the hope that it would spread throughout the language community. 56 Bibles were sold, and Scripture was read aloud publicly for the first time by Marib: John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word…and the Word became flesh and dwelled among us”—and now His Word was among the Ogea too!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Songs for the Soul

Guitars and music are an important part of life in PNG (this is not Digisarimo)
Digisarimo gently strummed his green guitar, cradling it as if it were a child. “When I sing my songs,” he shared, “I get this feeling of the presence of God coming and touching me. It’s a powerful feeling.”

The ability for music to communicate Biblical truth has been a part of the Christian life long before David picked up his harp. Now, in the Gwahatike language group in the Madang province of Papua New Guinea, Digisarimo works hard to translate hymns and write songs that communicate deeply with his people. “I am not one of the translators, but God translated,” he explained.

Digisarimo’s involvement with hymn writing started when Jee-Young An, a Korean linguist advising the Gwahatike Bible translation, began a Bible study and invited Digisarimo to join. “When I joined that study, that’s when I came to Christ. I then started working on songs in my language, because when I looked at my own language that God had given me, I saw that it was better [than the trade language]. It is beautiful. And so, I started translating songs, which I am still doing—there are plenty more to go!”

As one of the primary songwriters in Gwahatike, Digisarimo is aware of the responsibility that he holds, not only for Gwahatike, but in assisting the other local languages as well. “I’ve also been translating songs into the other nearby languages. When [those people] hear songs in their own languages, they are happy and come to God.”

Digisarimo bent his head, his hat barely shading the excitement in his eyes. “I believe that this work that I’m doing is God’s work.”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I never wanted to be a teacher!

I'm always blown away by the amazing people I get to work with--like this fantastic lady! Rudy is a lovely friend here in Papua New Guinea whose infectious smile makes everyone she meets feel welcome. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of listening to and writing down her her testimony of how she became involved with teaching in several of the workshops held at the Ukarumpa Training Centre.
photo from
Rudy never wanted to be a teacher.

“I always hated people telling me that I have the gift to be a teacher,” Rudy laughed. “I felt like everyone was trying to make the decision for me…and I’d always respond “No! That’s not what I want to do!”

So when Rudy was challenged to attend an adult education course held at the Ukarumpa Training Centre, she balked. “I don’t want to go,” she protested. Phil, the coordinator, disagreed. “I think I’ve got something for you to do, so I want you to go.”

Despite Rudy’s hesitation, the course kept her attention. “Information is the best thing!” Rudy grinned, spreading her hands wide. “I just love learning something new!”

Afterwards, Phil asked Rudy to teach a few lessons at the Translators Training Course (TTC), which equips national translators in translation, exegesis, and linguistics. At first, Rudy was horrified. “I felt really stupid and wondered how I was going to teach these things. Was I really going to ask them to sing the alphabet song? I thought, it’s like going back to grade 1! No way! This is embarrassing!”

Assuring herself that if it went badly, she wouldn’t ever teach again, Rudy bravely walked to the front of the class and began leading the discussion. To her surprise, the silly alphabet song actually helped her students engage with the material!

Now, Rudy is an integral member of the instructor team for TTC. “That song helped me to see that there are a lot of people who aren’t as fortunate as me, who may not have gone to the schools that I’ve been in or…[had] the resources that I’ve had or the teachers that I’ve had… Knowing that has given me the joy to know I can help these people. My people.” She smiled. “It’s what helps me to keep coming back. Of course there are challenges….but at the end of the day, it’s worth it.”

Her eyes sparkled… And yes, I love teaching people!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

First, you grind the flour...

One of the hallmarks of cooking here in Papua New Guinea is that we make everything from scratch—including some of the ingredients. For the most part, this has made gluten-free living rather easy (compared to in the US), because here, I know everything that goes into a recipe. However, it does take the “pioneer woman” aspect one step further...because here, I also grind my own rice and corn flour!

First you start with rice. Lots and lots of rice.

Then comes the WhisperMill. Don't forget to tighten that lid--or flour will fly everywhere! I'm grateful that I was able to find a mill here, and that our tech repair guys were able to get it working for me!

Lots of rice flour! But, it's important to mix the rice flour with tapioca starch, potato starch, and cornstarch to make a usable flour for baking.

I've baked lots of things here--from bread loaves to pizza dough to 'Nilla wafers like these!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Until I die!

The other day, I received an email from one of my friends, who also happens to coordinate many of the courses at our Training Centre. "Come out and visit with some of the participants at teatime today," he urged. "They have some fascinating stories!" Not needing to be asked twice, I grabbed my recorder and notebook and charged down the shortcut that leads from my house through the gardens, up to the Training Centre. (I had forgotten that it had rained that morning and the shortcut was entirely full of mud...but that's why we have water taps outside buildings...for washing feet!) I had a marvelous time visiting with the many students who were in a variety of courses, including back translation, alphabet design, and computer software--so much, that I had to come back and visit over lunch too! Here's a glimpse of some of the fascinating people that I get to talk to every day!


“I will be a part of this Bible translation work until I die.” Gariai has been working on translation and literacy in the Kunimaipa language since the early 1980s. Still, he is eager to keep learning, and this year is participating in a two-week Back Translation workshop held at the Ukarumpa Training Centre.

Thirteen participants from five languages around Papua New Guinea are learning how to create high-quality back translations so their drafts of newly translated Scriptures can be easily checked by outside consultants for accuracy, naturalness, and clarity. This is an important step before the translated Scriptures can be typeset and published.

Sylvester, a translator who has been working in his language of Korafe since 1989, found the workshop to be very interesting. “The back translation workshop is helpful because it helps me understand how my own language works. For example, is the order subject, verb, object or different? If I learn about my own grammar, then I can create a better back translation for the consultant to check.”

“God called me to this ministry…this work, translation, is very important in my life. It’s important in my family’s life.” Sylvester leaned forward, his gray hat tipping to one side. “[It’s my hope] that all men will be able to read God’s Word well…and let it come inside their thinking and affect their lives.”

Gariai agreed. “This work has changed my life…” he said. “Now many people in my community are hearing the Word of God and getting training to preach from our translated Scriptures. Only God could do such a thing.”