They landed on a gravel airstrip on New Britain Island’s southeastern coast, caught a ride in a truck, and then traveled in an off-duty ambulance. Finally, they hiked the last several miles through the Central Mountain Range to Aona Village, sometimes trudging through mud up to their knees, but surrounded by breath-taking scenery. Aaron and Rebekah Wade had come to the Mamusi language group to see if this might be the place where God was calling and them and their five young children to live and begin Bible translation.
Upon arriving in the village, they were greeted by crowds of people, especially very young ones with eager faces and friendly smiles. Since the Wades were the first outsiders to visit the area in several years, many of the youngest children had never before seen people with such light colored skin. Even though this group is a bit isolated, living in the center of their island at 3,700 feet above sea level, they nevertheless proved to be kind, generous and hospitable.
On two occasions Aaron and Rebekah spoke at community meetings, presenting the possibility of starting Bible translation in their language. The response at both meetings was extremely positive. Despite the fact that they are one of the last languages in Papua New Guinea with no official alphabet, many of the Mamusi are hungry for the Word of God to be written in their language. They solemnly listened as the Wades presented an overview of what translation would involve. When Aaron and Rebekah offered to serve as a resource to train and equip them, with the community taking primary ownership of the translation work, the local leaders gladly accepted the challenge.
Enthusiasm for the project mounted when a young lady began to read aloud from a precious book she held fondly in her hands. She was a Mamusi speaker, but had been educated in the neighboring language of Lote. As villagers watched, she read with passion from the Lote New Testament. She showed the book to her friends and talked about how sweet it would be when, one day, they too could read God’s message to them in their own heart language.