Emotions ran strong as the choir sang “Masina, Masina…” at the Mussau hymnal dedication. Masina means “Thank you,” “that’s great” and is even used as a greeting in the Mussau language. But as the choir sang, it meant only one thing “It is well, it is well, it is well with my soul.”
On this day, these precious words had special meaning to the Mussau people. In February, John and Marjo Brownie were travelling from Mussau to Emirau Island with Leslie their co-translator and three others when the boat hit an unusually rough wave, immediately capsizing their small craft. The boat sank in seconds, setting all six adrift. John and Leslie became separated from Marjo, the boat captain and the other two men. They all drifted with the current but miraculously came ashore on Emirau’s western shore, John and Leslie arriving just before dark. If they had missed the island, the next land would have been Nauru, over 600 miles away. When the boat capsized, John’s computer and all the recent translation work went overboard.
The day before the hymnbook dedication, John and Marjo visited Emirau Island for the first time since the boating accident. They were tearfully greeted by the Emirau people who presented the Brownies with some of their belongings that had washed ashore, several days after the accident. When John opened a case that contained the computer with all the recent translation work, everyone cheered! Many people around the world had been praying that this work would be recovered.
Hundreds of people came the next day to the hymnbook dedication, including Ben Micah, Member of Parliament (MP) representing northern New Ireland Province. As they listened to the choir sing Masina, it was hard not be filled with grateful emotions. Many amazing things had happened that not only preserved everyone’s lives but also saved the Words of Life that had been lost at sea. Now these wonderful words were being sung in the heart language of the people.
The importance of having more than 150 songs in the Mussau language was not lost on those who had gathered. As MP, Ben Micah stated “There was nothing more important on my schedule than this day. I could think of nothing that would have prevented me from coming.”