There are 53 language groups in Papua New Guinea listed in the SIL ethnologue starting with the letter “N”. Many of these have not had any language development work or Bible translation work even started. But one of these language groups, Nobnob, has had a translation completed and is currently holding a S.A.L.T. workshop. (SALT stands for Scripture Application & Leadership Training). Pray that the word of God is not only translated but used!
Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea – Catherine Rivard with Tim Scott
“I was standing in my garden when God called me.”
Carson leaned forward on his bench, spreading his hands in excitement. “I was just a subsistence farmer, but when God called me, I immediately dropped my yam seeds in the garden and left my digging stick there. I decided I was going to follow Him.”
Carson couldn’t hide his passion as he described his 10-year ministry in book production and HIV/AIDS and gender violence awareness among the languages in Oro province. The challenges and sacrifices were immense, but he remained undaunted: “I believe literacy is the tool that we need to use in this country. Literacy is the key to opening doors. If I help my people learn to read and write in our own language, then they can make a good transition into English and Tok Pisin and become leaders.”
Taylor and Lydia nodded in agreement; they had just finished leading a literacy workshop attended by people from 14 language groups. “If we want to bring things into the community, literacy is the only way to bring change. That’s why the LLEAD course is important. It provides tools that are all about life, and life begins in the community.”
LLEAD (Leadership, Literacy, Education and Development) is a two-year program created to equip men and women as effective community leaders for literacy-based transformational development and for the establishment of community learning and development centers. This past June, the participants had gathered for the third month-long module of instruction.
“LLEAD provides holistic training. It meets our needs,” Carson explained. “It addresses all aspects of development from the inside out. Development begins in the village and then goes up to the district, province, and nation.”
“Through LLEAD, God has opened a door for me—I haven’t been to other schools. I just use what has been invested in me. But, I keep praying that God will send someone to help me with literacy and development in my community and in my language program.”
Did you ever think about the idea that translation and language development is important for cultures so that they can sing their songs in a meaningful way? Several translation efforts in the Highlands area of Papua New Guinea saw increased interest when that group’s songs were translated and written down into their heart language. These songs were then printed and recorded digitally and put on CDs, MP3 players and even phones. Several groups even put out their own music videos. Now that’s something to sing about!
L is for “Lots of things” when it is related to The PNG Experience. Linguistics, Literacy, Languages, Logistics or perhaps, Learning, Lessons and maybe even Love and Life. The point of today’s blog is that LOTS of things are going on in the world of language development and Bible translation in Papua New Guinea. Pray for resources, wisdom and strength to do what needs to be done.
There is a word for every kind of fear. “K” is for kainotophobia. It means the fear of change. Almost everyone is plagued by kainotophobia once in a while. Change is happening so fast that we hardly have a chance to adjust to one change before another one overtakes it. Change is occurring in the language development and Bible translation effort as well. It wasn’t too long ago that a translation effort was led by an expatriate missionary who spent 20-30 years working in one language group. Now there are many different ways to conduct a successful translation. In PNG, new programs are starting with representatives from multiple language groups working together with seasoned national and expatriate translators mentoring the participants. This change encourages local participation and broader involvement in communities, which leads to greater acceptance of the finished translation. Kainotophobia…. who needs it!
The class stared in rapt attention as Norbert Wamsi, their teacher, motioned to the whiteboard. “Tell me again the different mathematical functions we learned this morning.” The students quickly called out the answers. “Good! Now, let’s review inserting a picture into a document.” Norbert bent over his computer and gestured emphatically as he talked through the steps. Watching the projected computer screen, some students scribbled notes while others followed along on their own computers, mimicking each click until they too had successfully inserted a photo. Naomi grinned at her accomplishment—she had learned a lot in this course!
Norbert was teaching the first Basic Computer Skills course held at the Ukarumpa Training Centre. The one-week course was the first response to the increasing request for computer training for Papua New Guineans Bible translators—and the results were overwhelming.
“The computer course is a very important thing,” explained Balai, a Kunimaipa speaker from Morobe. “The computer is an important tool to use in the work of Bible translation and literacy. I’m very happy I was able to receive some training. It’s been a need of mine.”
Similarly, Thomas, a Nali speaker and translator from Manus, described how he first learned to use a typewriter, but hadn’t had much experience with a computer. “I’m happy this course happened, because it has given me some good ideas for working with a computer. It’s a good tool for my translation work, and now I can teach my wife how to type too.”
The practical, hands-on teaching style of the course worked well for the participants—but all of them wanted more. Temah, an Angataaha speaker from Morobe, commented, “There’s so much to learn and not enough time! We need more courses like this.”
Computers and technology are vital to the process of Bible translation—and new training courses like this one equip people with tools to help make God’s Word accessible to every language in Papua New Guinea.
OK so “J” is not an easy letter to find a word that is used by the language development and Bible translation effort. But judicious works! Judicious means “marked by the exercise of good judgment or common sense in practical matters.” With limited resources, changing parameters and situations, overabundance of needs and plenty of challenges, it is important that those involved in the leadership of this effort in Papua New Guinea are judicious. Pray that the Spirit of God would provide the wisdom needed to make the right decisions relating to the work that needs to get done here… even the work that needs to get done today.