Naming A Baby

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This is my friend Elise. We have been friends now for a little over a year and it is customary in PNG for a good friend to name your baby…so she asked me. At first I had no idea what to name a baby…but then it came to me, Lydia (after my good friend) Grace. It was such an honor. She loved the name, and said it was very unique for PNG.

Elise wanted us to take her to the hospital when she was ready to have the baby, so she began walking to our house at 6am after having contractions all night long. 3 miles walking up and down steep hills to get to our house, and she had to stop to go pee in the grass. Then, the baby came…in the middle of a field! She laughed, “Luckily I took my friend with me so that the baby didn’t land on the ground. She caught it midair!” What a miracle this baby is! Many babies are born this way in PNG…pray for these babies and their mothers.

Waskia Bible Dedication

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The air was filled with excitment as the Waskia people gathered to celebrate the arrival of the revised Scriptures in their own language. The event included singing, dancing, and gift-giving. One of the speakers, Andrew Kwimberi, reminded the people that this was not just another book, but a book that could change their lives and their nation. He encouraged them to drink in its sweetness, to read it every day, and to apply in a practical context.

As the dedication ceremony drew to a close, rain began to fall and people filled the tent to buy copies of the Scriptures in their own language. The boxes quickly emptied so twenty more were brought and sales continued.

The celebration was the culmination of a journey of translation that had started in 1976, when Fay Barker and Janet Lee joined the Waskia people on Karkar Island. With the help of many the first Waskia New Testament was completed, plus Old Testament books, and these were dedicated in 1985. Both returned to the island in Madang Province six or seven years ago and a team has been steadily working to revise these and also add six further Old Testament books as well.

One key translator has been Pastor Lavong, who arrived at the celebration adorned with seashells and a traditional headdress. As drumbeats rolled and people danced, he related the story of his frustration in his early years of preaching. When he saw the blank faces of his congregation he had realized, “God’s book must be translated into the language of the people for them to really understand what the Lord wants them to do.” He has spent many years now as part of the Waskia translation team, and hopes to complete the remaining 30 Old Testament books within the next few years. Pastor Lavong held the Bible close to his heart as he said, “When I sat down to help with translation, I thought it would only change the life of others…but it changed my life too.” He exclaimed with a big grin, “Now this translation will bring meaning and change the lives of the people of Karkar Island.”

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Pastor Lavong reading the scriptures.

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A Strong Foundation

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Carrying a passage of Scripture written in her own heart language, Abu Daniels approached the rectangular foundation of the building being constructed at the Ukarumpa Training Center. She joined other teachers, students and community members in dedicating the new structure to God.

Principal Max Sahl explained that the building would have a classroom at one end, administrative offices at the other, and a conference room with book storage and a library in the middle. Although Mr. Sahl is happy that the center hosted 43 workshops and courses last year, and is on target for the same this year, he encouraged people, “Remember: this is the Lord’s doing and not our own. We don’t ever what to think we are the ones doing this work.”

Dr. Neil Coulter, Director for Language Services, shared from I Corinthians 3:10 about building a foundation. He emphasized that in erecting this physical building, the important thing is that it be used of God to build a spiritual foundation in people’s lives. He explained, “It is our hope that when students leave here they will be stronger in their faith and understand more clearly their relationship with God.”

As the sun rose over the mountains, men and women stepped forward one by one to lay their heart-language scripture in the foundation. Later the construction team would pour cement over the verses, making them a permanent part of the building. In doing this, they demonstrated that they were building on the firm foundation of the Word of God, for the purpose of training people to translate that Word into the mother tongue languages of Papua New Guinea.

Mrs. Daniels, an elementary school teacher, speaks the Yom Kawac dialect of the Bukawa language. Remembering her children at home, she said, “My language area is in the heart of Lae City, but they go to schools that teach in the vernacular. I want my children to grow up knowing their language.” Reflecting the feelings of most people present that morning, she concluded, “This was a very meaningful event. I am glad my language is written in the foundation of this building.”

-Story by Karen Weaver

Ukarumpa Training Centre, Classroom, Founfation

See this story on The PNG Experience

[The Gwahatike Project]

Bible, Papua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNGThe Gwahatike Project was a project that Evan and I had the opportunity to go document in May. It was located in the Saidor area which is near the coastal city of Madang. We road a 30 minute plane ride to Saidor, and then an hour bus ride up into the mountains. We went along with our friend Jon Jagt and his family. Jon is a software developer on our center that works as a facilitator helping the project along. The team is made up of 4 Papua New Guinean translators who have received the word in their language, and are now working to give the word to others in neighboring language groups. Some of these guys have to walk as much as a day to get to the language group that they are translating for, and have committed to learn their language and translate it into the Word of God for them. This is exactly why we exist, to disciple Papua New Guineans to go out into other neighboring language groups that need the word of God and translate the Bible for them. It was so inspiring getting to see the translators at work, and how the Gwahatike translation affected the community. Here are pictures from my time there.

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front seat of the airplane!Papua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNGPapua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNGPapua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNGPapua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNGPapua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNGPapua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNGChildren, Bible, Papua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNG

The effect of the Bible in the Gwahatike language group at a local school. Now the kids can read the Bible in their own language!
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The translators meeting with Jon to discuss their work.Papua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNGPapua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNG

Roman, one of the Gwahatike team, working with his translatorPapua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNG

Jon teaching some computer tricks to the teamPapua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNGPapua New Guinea, Gwahatike, Translation, Mountains, Highlands, PNGThe Gwahatike Bible.

Check out more stories from the Gwahatike Project at http://thepngexperience.wordpress.com/

Lenny

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” -Nelson Mandela

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As we have been working with the youth for the last couple of months we have come to know an awesome kid named Lenny. Lenny is a senior at Ukarumpa International Highschool and is looking to graduate soon. Lenny is striving to go to a community college in America. In this country very few kids get to finish 8th grade, let alone graduate and go to college! Let alone college overseas. Lenny is a smart kid who has been able to learn how to work at our aviation department here at Ukarumpa. He has a dream for the future of his country, unlike many of the youth here in PNG. Lenny’s desire is to attend the Indian Hills Community College in Iowa in Aviation Maintenance and return to Papua New Guinea to serve his country as an Aircraft Engineer. He has also said that he wants to come back and work for SIL as a missionary. How crazy is that! Well as soon as we heard Lenny’s story we had to pass it on. Lenny can’t do this alone…he needs help! With the help of our friends the Folkers and the Eddys he is getting the chance to go to America for school, but he doesn’t have all of the funds that he needs! Help Lenny get a quality education so that he can come back and serve his country. Thanks guys!

Here is a letter from our good friends on Lenny’s behalf:

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Showing the Jesus Film

Jesus Film, Papua New Guinea, UkarumpaLast weekend Evan went out to a village to show the Jesus Film with a team of guys from Ukarumpa. Two teams went out to two separate villages. Even though there were several technical difficulties with the projector and technology, they were still able to show it…even if it was on a 10 inch screen inside one of the houses. Over 100 people showed up to watch it! Then they were able to sell all sorts of different Bibles to the people, Bibles in their language, English Bibles and Audio Bibles. It was a unique experience that Evan was so thankful to be apart of.

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Bibles in their own language waiting to be distributed.Jesus Film, Papua New Guinea, UkarumpaIMG_7803Jesus Film, Papua New Guinea, UkarumpaJesus Film, Papua New Guinea, Ukarumpa, BiblesJesus Film, Papua New Guinea, Ukarumpa, BiblesJesus Film, Papua New Guinea, Ukarumpa, Bibles, VillageJesus Film, Papua New Guinea, Ukarumpa, Bibles, VillageJesus Film, Papua New Guinea, Ukarumpa, Bibles, Village

Gathered around listening to an Audi-Bible (Audio Bible)

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Raising Up Young Leaders in PNG

AiyuraHighschoolConcert_SarahHalferty_5God is moving in Papua New Guinea. It was clear a few weeks ago when I had the opportunity to attend a gathering at Airyura Highschool where the teens from Ukarumpa International Highschool led a leadership worship concert for the kids there. The theme was “Make God famous and let your light shine”.  The class had to do everything themselves and plan the entire event. It went off perfectly and God really showed up as several of the students shared from their hearts to their peers. Another great moment was when Andrew Quinberry (a former student from Airyura Highschool) and now currently a Papua New Guinean lawyer for SIL got up to speak and told the students that he had been in their shoes, in those same seats and had taken a stand for Christ. When he said those words the Aiyuran students began to stand up and come down to the front to pray. Culturally, this kind of public statement does not happen very often. So to see it from these future Papua New Guinean leaders was incredible.

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Our students leading the Aiyura Highschool kids in worship.AiyuraHighschoolConcert_SarahHalferty_4AiyuraHighschoolConcert_SarahHalferty_6

Our SIL group praying for the students.

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Another highlight was seeing the kids from Ukarumpa perform a dance with colorful flags and singing. The Papua New Guinean students loved it.

 

3 Day PMV Hike

We just got back from our 3 day PMV hike. A PMV is a public motor vehicle, usually a 15 passenger van, bus, truck, or even a dump truck! that takes people from one place to another. The trick is, there isn’t a schedule to show when they stop, and you never know where they stop. Everyone in PNG uses them to ride from place to place so it was a great learning experience. 

Evan and I went with a guide, Papa Ganig, who is a bit of a “big man” in the community. Everyone knows him.

The first day we caught a PMV down the mountain on a 5 ton truck, where everyone but us and the driver sat in the back. Most of the rides we were asked to sit in the front because we are “whiteskins” and they want to make sure we are safe. We definitely appreciated that on these bumpy roads! After we got into town Papa Gagnig told us it would only be 30 minutes before the next PMV came. 6 hours later, it finally came! So we did a lot of sitting and talking with the people. We made lots of friends. One of the highlights of the trip was what happened next. Once we got to our first village we were greeted by all of the children in the village throwing flowers and singing songs. They led us singing through the whole village until we got to our house. Our house was so nice! It was new and had pretty decorations all around. It has 4 bedrooms and even a dining room with a table and chairs (Most village houses don’t have any furniture). The outhouse was brand new and they even built a covered picnic table to eat at. After we arrived in the village we went washing in the river and then went to eat. They made a ton of food for us. Things like cooking bananas, rice, sweet potatoes, and chicken soaked in coconut milk. It was delicious! Once it got dark they asked us to preach to them in Tok Pisin by the light of the fire. Ha! So I selected a passage in Matthew about the children coming to Jesus. Then all of the children sang some worship songs in Tok Pisin. It was such a great moment, even when it started to rain.

The next day we woke up and they fixed us a big breakfast before we took off for the next village. After breakfast we walked about 30 minutes to the main road where the PMV would pick us up. We waited about 1 1/2 hour and then we rode to the next village. At the next village we were greeted with a shower of flowers that the family threw at the PMV. Then we had the whole day to talk and get to know them. Around noon Evan began getting a migraine just from the heat and the mental power of talking so much in Tok Pisin. So they graciously allowed us to go take a nap in the house on the hill that we were staying with. After we got up we hiked to the place where they washed. It was far! I can’t believe that they walk that far every day to wash. Once we got there the water was very stagnant, but I jumped in anyway. It was nice and cool. The men and women washed in separate places, and I kept my clothes on because as always I had an audience of children watching me :). After we got back from washing we spent the evening talking, eating, playing darts, playing guitar and singing with them. We had a lot of fun.

We woke up the next day to lots of rain. We left the village about 8am and walked about 45 minutes to the main road. We caught a PMV ride in the rain with a rickety old PMV that Evan had to hold the door closed as we drove. Ha! It also had so many cracks in the windshield we could hardly see out of it. Luckily we made it into town with our host Papa, and two other girls from the family leading the way. We stood in the rain waiting for the final PMV for about 2 hours before we heard that it broke down and wasn’t running for the day. So Papa Gagnig led us to a PMV that was a lot like a bus that took us down the highway to our last ride. As we got out of the bus, we saw one of our trucks pull up! Hallelujah! Matt (the maintenance director) picked us up at the bottom of the mountain and we jumped in the back of the truck and road the rest of the way in the rain standing up in the back of the truck because it was already quite full of people.

Wow! We had such a great experience. We feel like we learned so much about getting around in this country and made lots of friends. Here are some pictures from our experience. I also have some video, but I will post that later.

-Sarah

 Our PMV down the mountain

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 Sitting at the park in town for 6 hours waiting for our PMV.

Papua New Guinea, people, hike, POCPMVHike_06Evan with our guide, Papa Gagnig and our host PapaPapua New Guinea, people, hike, POCThis woman was selling chickens at the market.
Papua New Guinea, people, hike, POCPapua New Guinea, people, hike, POCPapua New Guinea, people, hike, POCPMVHike_14PMVHike_15Papua New Guinea, people, hike, POCA market outside of town. Logging is a very big industry here.Papua New Guinea, people, hike, POCThe first village we went to, we had so much fun! We stayed in a huge house and the whole village sang to us as we walked in. They made us feel so welcome.Papua New Guinea, people, hike, POCPMVHike_26Papa Gagnig on the steps to our very nice village house. Cement steps are very rare here!
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 Packages of betel nut, a nut the Papua New Guineans chew here that is like caffeine that turns their mouths red.

db799c5a6bd0e1c7944c9015f7193e05304215a1e8723d436c8799050ea0314cOur PMV ride to our 2nd village.
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The house we stayed in our 2nd village.

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Hanging out with the family in the “haus wind” or the dining room.

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Our 2nd village host family, and their dog.

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All of the windows in this PMV were out, so what did they do? Just put some duct tape on it!1f78b195df741c07d6bfa265257e14dd534d8a41c9bf8ed1a490754d394511d7

One of the last PMV rides, where Evan had to hold the door closed as it was raining. It also had zipties tied to the windshield wipers for “decoration”

Kamba {POC}

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Yesterday Evan got to go on a hike to the village, Kamba. It was a 16km (roughly 10 mile) hike with a stop in the village Kamba for lunch. Because my ankle is still bothering me I got to ride up the mountain to meet them for lunch at the village. What a drive! The road was almost non-existent in some spots which made for a very bumpy ride. The hike was also very difficult, with lots of straight ups and straight downs. They even crossed a river at one point that was about ankle deep. We had a good time in the village of Kamba, relaxing and eating lunch. Evan and I have made it a point to go talk with the locals and learn more language. So I went to talk with the women and Evan went to talk with the men. It was a great experience and I feel much more accomplished just from that little interaction that I was able to have a full conversation with them. Here are some pictures from the day.

Kamba_07The group before they took off for the hike

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Once I met Evan in Kamba, he was enjoying a refreshing drink from a coconut

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The village of Kamba

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Evan with our guide Robert

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All of the ladies hanging out in an old PMV truck bed.

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My favorite shot from the day.