Take inventory, stock the shelves, try to stay on top of the supply and demand chain. This is the daily grind for employees at the SIL Store in Ukarumpa, Eastern Highlands Province. The small grocery store is one of several departments on the SIL Center that supports expatriate and national workers who are involved in Bible translation, literacy and language development throughout the country. Like most jobs, the reasons for the work often get buried under the demands of each day. That’s why store and shipping managers Todd Lindley, Ken Tobiana, and Tai Yari, along with their team of employees, decided to transform a basic grocery item – bread – into something worth celebrating.
After eight store employees attended a conference in January to determine how SIL would proceed with a new Multi-language Initiative (MLI), the staff was motivated to implement a plan that had been forming in their minds for a while – the Bread of Life Special. In an effort to remind their customers and themselves why the store exists in the first place, the team decided that when the next shipment of newly translated Scriptures arrived on their loading dock, they would increase their stock of sliced bread and sell it a fifty percent discount to customers as a way to celebrate the completion of another New Testament. The store usually receives these shipments from the printers prior to their being delivered to the language group. “Too often these Bibles come and there’s nothing made of it,” said one employee.
The day after the MLI conference ended, boxes of the Arop-Lokep New Testament appeared on the loading dock, ready for distribution later this year. It was the perfect opportunity to commemorate the arrival of God’s Word, the Bread of Life, in a public way. Over the next two days, word spread about the special and more than five times the normal amount of bread flew off the shelves. The store hopes to have many more occasions to offer discounted bread in the future and to celebrate giving Bread to those who have been waiting to eat it.