by Karen Weaver
“This is powerful! We need this in our language! Our people need to see this!”
What had evoked such a response from the Kamano-Kafe translation team? It was the DVD produced by a church in Papua New Guinea several years ago depicting the devastation of AIDS. The story focuses on one family in which the parents contract the disease through the husband’s unfaithfulness. The story goes on to show the tragic effects on the wife and children.
After obtaining permission to reproduce the 80-minute film in minority languages, the team faced technical challenges. In the USA, media specialist Lauren Runia utilized new technology to pull the video from a DVD and prepare it for recording. Then he and his wife Connie spent a month in PNG training five highly capable men to record the voices, dub the sound onto the film, and create the DVDs.
As part of their training, they recorded and produced the film in the Kamano-Kafe language.
The Kamano-Kafe version was completed by the end of the training. It will be sold on SD cards and on DVDs at their annual Christmas Camp in late December.
In the future, these trainees will work closely with the PNG churches to make this powerful tool available to local communities in their heart language. In fact, it is already having an impact on the people who helped produce it. One of the church elders who served as a voice on the recording was very excited as he told the team, “There are many places I want to show this video!” A woman who played the voice of the mother on the film was so touched by the plight of the children in the story that she was genuinely crying as she read her lines.
The first case of AIDS in PNG appeared in 1987 and since then has been spreading rapidly. The film is needed to teach the causes and effects of this devastating illness. Zach, one of the video trainees, declared, “Many men and women will change their lives by watching this video.” He explained, “Because it is in their own language it talks straight to the heart!”
Story and Photos by Karen Weaver
In recognition of the International Day of the Bible, translators and support workers gathered to celebrate language groups receiving God’s Word in this country. In the past twelve months, Papua New Guineans received completed New Testaments in five languages, printed Scripture portions in 14 languages, and audio and video Scriptures in 13 languages. The room was filled with rejoicing as men and women walked, skipped, and even danced to the front of the church carrying copies of these newly published Scriptures.
Even as they celebrated what has been done, the group prayed for those who are still laboring to bring God’s Word to others. They know that getting the Scriptures in the hands of the people doesn’t come easily or without cost. With the Scriptures dedicated this year, the teams faced challenges right to the end. When the Uram translator arrived for the dedication, there was tribal fighting and the helicopter could not land. When the Alotau teams planned to send the mini-bibles to language groups on the islands, the boat they had reserved was not available. Travel in other places was postponed by rain and mudslides. However, through it all God’s people persevered and saw God provide alternative means of transportation.
A highlight of the morning of Scripture celebration was hearing a testimony about one of the groups who received printed Scriptures this year, the Dedua people. They are so eager for God’s Word that in a recent Bible teaching course people walked for hours over mountain paths to study the Scriptures. When they arrived and the church was already filled to capacity, they listened through the open windows.
Like the Dedua people, many people in PNG receive the Scriptures with great joy. Sadly, in other places people have had the New Testament in their mother tongue for several years but show little interest in reading it. Please pray that the language groups who received the Scriptures this year would cherish God’s word and allow it to transform their lives and communities.
Story by Karen Weaver; Photo by Stephen Parker
Papua New Guinea has people groups that speak more than 800 distinct languages. Many of those are inaccessible to land travel, being located in high mountain ranges or on remote islands. Kodiak airplanes with their short take off and landing capabilities are essential in reaching these destinations. But sometimes no piece of land is available that is long enough to build an airstrip. In those cases, language and literacy workers arrive and depart by helicopter.
These aircraft are intricate machines which must be tuned to precision to make safe passage to distant places where there are no alternative landing strips are available. Pilots and their passengers must arrive at their destinations safely. Working quietly behind the scenes to make this happen are the mechanics of the aviation department.
The first Kodiak arrived in PNG in 2010 and since its engine recently reached its lifetime limit of 4000 hours of flying, it rolled into the hanger for servicing. Expert mechanics took it apart, removed the well-used engine, and installed a new overhauled one in its place.
Since they have operated this aircraft for six years in a fairly harsh environment, the aviation team continued their probe by looking deeper into the airframe than they normally would during a routine 100 hour inspection. This evaluation of the Kodiak involved removing the landing gear and all the flight controls for detailed inspections. Several significant issues were discovered and corrected during the process so it was time well spent.
Soon this Kodiak will rejoin the other five airplanes and two helicopters, flying the skies of Papua New Guinea, carrying translators and literacy workers to all parts of the country. As translations are completed, these planes transport the Scriptures in print and audio form, bringing God’s life-changing message of hope to every language, and people group, and hamlet.
Story and Photos by Karen Weaver
Throughout Papua New Guinea, men and women are translating the Scriptures for their own people. Seventeen of these translators met together for four weeks to study the grammar of their individual languages. They discovered that their languages are distinct, not only in their vocabulary, but often in their structure as well.
Most translating is done from English. When the participants compared this source language to their own, they were able to identify many differences in the structure. Being aware of these differences helps them write in such a way that the words flow smoothly in their heart language, rather than sounding like a rendition of English grammar. One of the instructors, Ray Stegeman, said, “It is our goal to see that these mother tongue translators are trained to be the best translators they can be. Understanding the grammar of their language is one step in creating a natural translation for their own people.”
Each person made significant discoveries about his language. One man learned how verbs in his language fit together in a series to give a new meaning. Others discovered how prefixes and suffixes change the meaning of verbs. All of them analyzed numbers, transition words, and word order. Understanding these things will give them more confidence in their work and give them a strong foundation for tackling the translation of any sentence.
As they analyzed their language, they compiled a grammar paper to take home with them. This initial description of their language will serve as a reference tool for them, as well as a way for them to show others in their language group the unique and beautiful way that their language is formed.
Student Oscar Timan expressed his appreciation for the instruction he received. He testified, “I have been doing translation for nine years. Before I took this course, translation checkers would ask me why I wrote a passage a certain way. I would say, ‘I just put it down like that. It’s right. I know my language.’ After taking this course and learning how my grammar works, now I can tell them why!”
Story by Karen Weaver
How can a person find healing from deep hurts he or she has carried for years?
Trauma Healing Workshops seek to address these hurts, help people understand their consequences, and to bring them to the cross. In one of these workshops, men and women from multiple villages in the West Sepik gathered to find healing from their painful past. In all, this course drew 71 participants from 10 language groups over three weeks.
As people listened, shared, and participated in skits, they learned how to process painful events in their lives and how to find healing from old emotional wounds. They worked through trauma that had resulted from tribal fighting, from devastation during the tsunami, and from family conflicts.
Participants identified their pain, talked about it in small groups, and wrote out their feelings in laments, following the example of the book of Lamentations in the Bible. After individuals expressed their pain, the leaders helped them move on from there and not remain trapped in grief. They were encouraged to bring their burdens to the cross, which they did symbolically by writing on paper and then burning that paper at the base of a wooden cross. As they laid aside their bitterness they found new freedom in forgiveness.
One participant summed up his feelings by saying, “I have great joy to be in this course and I feel that there is a way to be slowly healed from this burden that I have been carrying for a long time now. After it is healed I will be able to help my brothers and sisters. Now I feel I have lots of work to help others to carry their pain and burdens to the cross.”
In fact, many are already doing that. Several people who attended the Trauma Healing Workshop went home and started teaching the lessons to others. For example, one man told his village that he would teach one topic each Monday. On the first day, 80 people from his village came to learn!
Pray that God would continue to work in people’s hearts and minds as they seek to live out forgiveness and to find healing in Christ.
Story by Karen Weaver
“That’s exactly right!” The enthusiastic reaction to a verse of Scripture had once again taken Des by surprise.
New Zealander Des Oatridge and his Binumarien co-translator, Sisia, were pushing to complete Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. It was the late 1970’s and the two men had been working together for many years, “turning the talk” of the New Testament into clear Binumarien. They came to I Corinthians 14:8 and read, “If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?”
Suddenly Sisia exclaimed energetically, “That’s exactly right! In the old days, a fight leader would give a battle call and every one of his followers would immediately drop what he was doing, grab his bow and arrows, and race off with him to battle. If he didn’t give a clear call, people would say, ‘What does he want?’ and not go. But if his call was unmistakable they would go.”
He paused. Des could tell by Sissia’s expression that he had something else to add. “That’s exactly what this work we are doing is all about. The Book in another language, Kate or Pidgin, is like an unclear call to us. We just don’t understand it. But in our own language it is clear. We know exactly what it is saying to us.”
They translated several more verses and came to the words, “I’d rather speak five words with my understanding than ten thousand with an unknown tongue.” Sisia reacted as if he had received an electric shock. He began to bounce up and down on his stool. He rocked his body from side to side and threw his hands about.
Sisia almost shouted, “That’s absolutely right! Five words in your own tongue is better than words and words and words in someone else’s. Paul’s right. He’s always right!”
(Condensed from the book “Hidden People” by Lynette Oats, p. 277-278)
Story by Karen Weaver Art by Naomi Raube
Sometimes words and phrases needed for the New Testament come through quite unexpected sources. This happened when Mack and the Kandawo team had translated the book of James. They had used the Kandawo word for “fear” in James 2:19 to describe the response of the demons to the one true God. As they discussed the meaning, this seemed to be the best translation of that verse.
However, about this same time, Mack’s neighbor, Nathan, came to visit and shared a concern: His house was being overrun by mice! He asked if he could borrow a mouse trap and was grateful when Mack loaned him one.
The next morning, Mack asked, “Did you catch any mice?” Nathan replied, “Yes, eleven of them!” Mack exclaimed, “Eleven! Wow! You surely caught them all.” But Nathan was sure there were more.
It turned out that Nathan was right because the next morning he reported to Mack that he had caught seven more mice during the night. The next night he caught five, and finally after the fourth night he reported that he had caught no more.
Mack was happy for his friend, “You got them all!” But again Nathan disagreed, “No, inik tonj.” This was the first time Mack had heard that phrase, so he asked about it. Nathan explained, “There are certainly more mice, but they’ve all seen their comrades march to their death on that trap so now they inik tonj.”
A smile crossed Mack’s face because he knew that if the translation committee approved of this phrase it would speak loudly in their language. The next day when the Kandawo co-translators came, Mack asked them about using this phrase in James 2:19. The two translators loved the idea! They edited the verse and it now reads, “The demons believe there is one God, and they inik tonj ~ They fear for their lives!”