(Photos and Story by Karen Weaver)
When Hilkka agreed to join the Urat translation team, she did so in response to God’s call, not knowing what lay ahead.
Initially, three Urat men were translating the New Testament into their mother tongue language. They faced the challenges of working on their own in the village setting, having the responsibility of providing for their families, and having limited English skills for understanding advanced study helps. During those seven years, one of the translators realized at this rate he would not live enough years to see the New Testament completed. He contacted SIL several times, asking them to send someone to help.
That person was Hilkka Arminen. In her late 30’s Hilkka had taken training at SIL, wanting to do something more with her life than continuing to work for European businesses whose primary goal was to make money. After seeking a language allocation for nearly four years, she learned about the Urat’s need for a co-translator, and accepted the challenge.
Though she was well trained and the people had invited her, the assignment still had its difficulties. There were challenges with relationships in the village caused by jealousy and unmet expectations. Getting to the village required travel on an SIL plane, then a five to ten hour ride in a truck, sometimes with unsafe drivers. Once she arrived, she had to keep herself protected from insects. She said, “At home in Finland we have even more mosquitoes than in the Sepik, but they don’t carry malaria!”
Through it all, Hilkka has known God’s presence and encouragement. She says, “If I had gone in my own strength I would have left long ago. God has kept me there.” One way the Lord encouraged her was by giving her glimpses of how He is working in people’s lives through the translated Scriptures. One significant time was when a co-translator was attacked but asked his family not to follow the traditional pay-back revenge system.
It was with deep joy that the team signed off on the completed Urat New Testament in December 2015. The entire community joined them in the celebration on July 30th, the day the printed Urat New Testament was presented to the people.