Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chauffer to Checker

Only two vehicles on the island--and one was this ambulance!
photo by Rebekah Drew
“You should read it,” a man nudged August.  “Yes,” others joined in, ‘Go on! Try it!”

The group of Tiaang speakers had gathered in the first few pews of the church to read aloud the newly translated story of Gideon to check for naturalness, clarity, and accuracy. August stood up and fingered the paper nervously. Read aloud in his language without any practice?! He cleared his throat and began to pick out the words, slowly picking up speed. Suddenly, a smile broke across his face; he was reading Scripture in his own language!

Fifty Tiaang and Tigak Sunday School teachers from Djaul Island, New Ireland Province had gathered for a two week Sunday School book translation and teacher training workshop. They worked hard on translating materials and learning topics including children’s learning styles, skits, songs, personal Bible study, lesson planning, and games. Despite not having attended church in a long time, August had been chosen to use the island’s ambulance to chauffeur the SIL advisers (Hanna, Rebekah, Susie, Inga, and me!) daily to the workshop location. As he drove back and forth, he began to grow curious. What exactly were they doing all day at the church?

August studies a Scripture passage
photo by Rebekah Drew
One day, August slipped into a back bench to see for himself and was fascinated! When volunteers were needed to help check the story of Gideon, he hurried to the church—and there he stayed for the rest of the workshop, throwing himself wholeheartedly into the translation task. He offered to check and read Tiaang stories whenever possible, and discussed them with an animation that no one had seen in years.

“I used to attend Sunday School when I was young,” he shared at the end of the course, “but then you sang that song [in the class],” he hummed a few bars of “Love is a Flag Flown High,” a children’s song about God’s love, “and I remembered!”

Now, August has a renewed vision and passion for reaching the children of his community; he’s excited to coordinate a local Sunday School and attend church again.

I wrote this article for publication for our Communications Department about my time running the Sunday School Book Translation and Teacher Training workshop on New Ireland in Sep/Oct 2014. August joined my adviser checking session and once he started reading, his enthusiasm was unstoppable!