Story and photo by Stephanie Ernandes
Mavis has served in many different roles supporting Bible translation throughout the years. She started serving in 1996, and she has recently started a new position as a coordinator and teacher for a course which focuses on helping Papua New Guinean adults who unfortunately missed out on education in their earlier years. This Tok Pisin Literacy course is designed to help those who cannot read or write learn to read and write in Tok Pisin, the local trade language.
(Mavis on the left, teaching literacy)
“By teaching people to read in Tok Pisin, we are trying to put a bridge down so that everyone can learn to read in their own heart language. I feel that at the end of the day, this is the right thing to do,” shared Mavis. “There are so many stories told by these people who have graduated from the Tok PIsin Literacy course. After we teach them and they understand the concepts of reading and writing in Tok Pisin, often they are able to progress to reading in English and most importantly their own mother tongue language. When they read the Bible in their own language, everything becomes so real, the Bible becomes part of them, it’s no longer second hand information. This opens up the whole world to them! They come back and tell us about it and when we see them in town they hug us saying, ‘There is my teacher!’ I feel in my heart that I helped changed their world for them.”
Another course is available for Papua New Guinean teachers who are already involved in teaching Tok Pisin Literacy. A teacher who attends this class for seven days, graduates with a certificate and goes home with more advanced teaching methods to better teach literacy to those needing it. Mavis has recently attended this course and is excited to go back to her own village to help people who would like to learn to read. She plans to do this after she retires from her current position in three years.
During the first Tok Pisin Literacy course Mavis helped with, she noticed some students reading the Bible in their own language. “I asked them, ‘Is this your first time? They answered, ‘First time. First time!’ They were crying and excited! This was an amazing thing that happened in my life. For the first time they read the Bible in their own language!”