Monday, October 31, 2022

Quick Village Trip

Between COVID and violence surrounding the recent national election, it has been hard to make it out to the village lately. Although we had only an eight-day window between term 1 and term 2 at the kids' school, and despite the fact that repairs were still being made to our house after the recent earthquake, we decided that we needed to make the trip to strengthen our relationships in the village and also to visit and encourage the Enga translators. We also knew that this was likely the last trip Jacob would be able to make to the village before graduating in June. Our time in the village was unlike past trips as I (Adam) was not traveling into town each day for work. (Due to the political turmoil, the translators were not able to meet together as a team anyway.) Our agenda was simply to spend time with people and strengthen relationships after a long time away, and also to enjoy time together as a family away from our normal routine.

Jacob with his village brothers Lami and Sani
 Although we had no official work agenda, the Lord's timing was such that we were able to be a part of a meeting to discuss a new preschool that will teach young children how to read in the Enga language. Just this morning Martha and I had another follow-up meeting about how we can provide resources to assist this new school, such as producing basic children's books in the Enga language. I was also approached by Tiusa, a member of the church we attend in the village, who shared his dream of teaching adults how to read in the Enga language, and so I was able to encourage him and discuss ways that we could be of assistance. Later I also had the opportunity to spend time with the pastor of the church, Wilson Linu, and encourage him in his ministry, reminding him of the treasures that await us in God's kingdom.

Adam with Tiusa and Pastor Wilson at the church we attend
During our time in the village, we were able to experience God's wonderful provision. One of the things that we had to do during this trip was change out the batteries in our solar-powered electrical system. Because I am not a handyman and have very little knowledge about such things, I was a bit nervous about whether or not I could successfully change out the batteries and have the electrical system back up and running without any problems. On the way to the village, I decided to stop worrying about it and simply trust the Lord. As soon as we arrived, I found out that the son of a former missionary was on a short visit to Enga. He was there installing solar-powered electrical systems! Within minutes of us arriving at our house, he was there to assist me with installing the batteries. God is good! We were also greatly encouraged as we walked down the road after church to see a new health center that was being built. After walking around the new building, we greeted some of the people from the church located on the same piece of property where the health center was. One man at the church told us that he had heard our translation of the book of Matthew, and he just kept going on and on about how good the translation was and what a blessing it was. In fact, multiple people were asking us when the translation would be available. It was encouraging to see that the people were hungry to begin reading our translation of the Enga New Testament.

The church that oversees the health center we visited

Another highlight for us was being able to visit translator William Walewale and his family in their village. Due to problems from the recent election, William has not been able to travel to town and has basically been stuck in his village. As we arrived to visit him, we got a call from Maniosa Yakasa, our lead translator, who in many ways has been like a father to us during our time in Enga. Fighting in his area also made it not entirely safe for him to be traveling around, but he had decided to come visit us anyway. When he didn't find us at home, he called me and was then able to join us in William's village for a nice meal together. We were all encouraged by the opportunity to see each other again.
 

With Maniosa and William

This trip was a great reminder for me that our work is bigger than simply translating a book. Yes, our translation of the Enga New Testament will be a great blessing to many people, helping them to understand who Jesus is and how to follow him. However, our ministry is about more than translation. It is about relationships, sharing God's love with others, and encouraging others in their faith. This trip was also a reminder of how God is in control of things. So many things happened in just a short eight-day trip that I could not have anticipated or predicted. Serving the Lord is often just about making yourself available to him so that he can work through you in unexpected ways. We are thankful that we get to be small participants in God's great big plan for the world.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Earthquake

It was 9:47 a.m. on September 11th of all days. Martha was at a women’s retreat, and the kids and I were outside on the basketball court of the primary school campus for the Sunday morning Tok Pisin worship service. After starting the service forty-five minutes late due to some technical difficulties in the sound set up, we finally began worshiping. Midway through the first song, the ground began to shake. We are used to earthquakes in Papua New Guinea, and so nobody was all that concerned when the quake started. However, it did not subside, but kept getting stronger. Eventually I ran to one of the speakers that was propped up on a wood box to hold it in place. Another man ran up and helped me. As the quake really started hitting hard, everyone else ran out from under the roof, fearing it might collapse on them. I was standing right next to a huge I-beam that was holding up the roof. It was wobbling back and forth as though it were nothing but a straw. The quake, which lasted for seventy seconds, seemed to go on forever. Eventually it subsided and we began worshiping again (although now without any electricity). As the reality of what had happened began to sink in, the congregation dwindled in size as representatives from each family went home to survey the damage. Since I was scheduled to preach that day, I sent Jacob home to check on our house. He quickly came back saying that our hot water tank and solar panels were about to slide off the edge of our roof. So I called Martha and asked her to leave the women’s retreat and go home to turn off the water. I asked Jacob to go help her. They also discovered a gas leak, and so they turned off the gas as well. When they went inside the kitchen floor was covered with shattered dishes, and food from the pantry was scattered everywhere. A neighbor surveyed the house with them and found that the main plumbing pipe to the septic system had snapped in two and that many of the wooden posts supporting the house had shifted. Our neighbor wondered if our house would be condemned as unsafe to live in.

Our hot water tank and solar panels hanging off the roof

Meanwhile, I still had to preach. Knowing that everyone’s minds were on the earthquake, I knew I couldn’t preach the message I had prepared. I asked the Lord what I should say, and he laid on my heart Hebrews 12:25-27. I shared that God would one day shake the heavens and the earth, and the only thing that would remain would be his kingdom, and so we should put our focus on that. I kept the message short because I knew people wanted to get home. After preaching, I went home and surveyed the damage. We were blessed to have some teens come and help us clean up the kitchen, and before long some men and teenage boys volunteered to help us to move our hot water tank and solar panels back into place and secure them, which they did successfully.

We thought we would have to sleep at a neighbor’s house that night due to the posts shifting and the more practical problem of not being able to use our toilets. But I was able to jerry-rig the plumbing pipe back together with tie wire and duct tape, and we decided to sleep in our house (although the kids slept downstairs to be safe). Thankfully, there were no aftershocks that night. They next day repairs began, and some volunteers and employees were able to add bracing to the weakest areas under the house. That same day the plumbing pipe was also replaced. For the next nine days we had to shower at a friend’s house, but eventually the leaks in our hot water tank were fixed. During the midst of this, we were also enduring a severe drought. So everyone’s water tanks were extremely low, and even the backup river water system was extremely low and constantly being drained due to leaks everywhere. Not only that, but the fiber internet cable that gives high speed internet to the country was broken in three places in the ocean, so our internet has been extremely limited. Estimates are that it will take at least two months to repair the cable.

The main plumbing pipe leading to our septic system

But God is good, and we immediately receive more than enough donations to help us make repairs. God also sent a large rainstorm that gave us some relief from the severe water shortage we were facing. Thank you for your prayers! By the way, the high school shop teacher shared this security video of the wood shop that captured the earthquake.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

From Enga to Spanish

Last month I (Adam) reported that we had to postpone the recording of the Enga New Testament because of problems related to the national election. Not long after that, we found out that our high school's Spanish teacher would be out for a number of weeks due to a severe infection she contracted while completing the village-living portion of her Papua New Guinea Orientation Course. Because the recording was delayed and my schedule was more open than normal, Martha encouraged me to volunteer to fill in as a substitute teacher until the regular Spanish teacher could return. This is now the third week that I have been teaching. Although it has been a long time since I have used Spanish regularly, I have been able to remember enough of it to teach Spanish 1 and Spanish 2. In total, I am teaching three class periods: two periods of Spanish 2 (with Bella in one of those classes), and one period of Spanish 1. It was exhausting the first week as I dove into lesson planning, but it became easier last week and this week as I got a better handle on what I am doing. Thankfully, the regular Spanish teacher is recovering well and is planning on returning next week. And Martha is thankful that I now have a greater appreciation for all that she does as a teacher!

Teaching Bella's Spanish 2 class

Although I have been focused on teaching Spanish for the past three weeks, the Enga translation team has continued working on their final review of the Enga New Testament. While they are making many good suggestions for minor changes to improve the flow and naturalness of the translation, they are not finding any major changes that need to be made.

We are hoping to make a very quick trip to Enga during the short school break coming up at the end of September and beginning of October. Please pray that all of our travel plans would come together and that the tensions surrounding the recent election would ease.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Does God Make Realizations?

In prior newsletters I have mentioned the fact that Enga uses suffixes to indicate the source of information for a statement. For example, if I were to say, “It is raining,” I would use one suffix if I saw that it was raining, but I would use another suffix if I only heard the rain hitting the roof (but didn’t actually see it). These suffixes are called evidentials, and they are also used to classify realizations that people make or conclusions that people draw. For example, just this week I told the Enga translation team that there are not many notes for them to check in the book of Revelation. I also told them that the chapters in Revelation were short, and so they should be able to finish checking the book of Revelation quickly. They responded by saying, “Dopa-tamo doko, yapa pyoo etalamane-lumu,” which means, “If that is the case, we will seemingly finish quickly. The word seemingly is about the closest I can come to translating the suffix -lumu. By using the suffix -lumu, the team was indicating that their conclusion was based on the information that they heard from me. A similar suffix is -lamo, which indicates a conclusion drawn from visual evidence. For example, if the team had glanced through Revelation and seen that there are not many notes and that the chapters are short, they could have reached the same conclusion based on visual evidence.

Until recently, we were using the suffixes -lumu and -lamo with some statements in the New Testament made by God and Jesus. The more we thought about it, however, the more we realized that neither God nor Jesus would     use such evidentials. Because God is omniscient (all-knowing), it is not generally proper to portray God as making a realization or coming to a conclusion at a particular point in time. Doing so would seem to suggest that God did not know that particular fact before that point in time. But because God is all-knowing, he knows everything from before the foundation of the world.

God already knows everything!

Translation Progress
It is with great joy that I announce that I have completed my final read through of the Enga New Testament. Not only that, but the Enga translators are now working through my final notes in the book of Revelation, a task they will probably finish this week or early next week. At that point, my work of checking and editing the Enga New Testament will basically be complete. On August 1, the team will begin making the audio recording the Enga New Testament. Our goal is to record five chapters a day, and so we anticipate this process lasting about ten weeks, finishing in mid-October. From there, we will move on to typesetting, which means preparing the files for print. Typesetting generally takes two to three months, so we are hoping to be able to send the Enga New Testament off to the printers in early 2023. Printing is usually done overseas, so we will probably not have copies of the printed New Testament in hand until the summer or fall of 2023.  

Jacob visiting a remote village by motorbike

Life in PNG
June is always a sad month in Ukarumpa as some families leave to go on furlough, while other families finish their time in Papua New Guinea and return to their home countries permanently. This year we had to say goodbye to our next-door neighbors and another family we had grown close to as they left Papua New Guinea permanently. Not only that, but many of the kids' close friends have gone on furlough. Such is life on the mission field. We are now in the midst of a seven-week-long school break. After a very busy end of the school year and an emotional week of saying goodbyes, the kids are enjoying some downtime.

Jacob has been able to do a couple of motorcycle rides out into the surrounding villages. These are tough rides along muddy dirt paths filled with deep ruts. Not only that, but there are some very narrow bridges made out of tree trunks that the riders have to push their bikes across since the streams are ten to fifteen feet below the bridges. But the farther they ride out into the countryside, the more excited the people are to see them (as you can see in the picture above with Jacob in the way back wearing jeans and a black and white helmet). On the ride pictured above, Jacob was out for five hours with a friend his age and three men from the community. I am thankful he has these unique opportunities to explore the countryside, and I am also thankful that there are other men in the community willing to take him on these rides (since it is not my cup of tea).

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Peter and John Went to Pray ... Where Exactly?

Many of us, when we hear the words "Peter and John Went to Pray," are reminded of the beloved Sunday School hymn:

Peter and John went to pray.
They met a lame man on the way,
He asked for alms and held out his palms,
And this is what Peter did say:

Silver and gold have I none,
But such as I have give I thee,
In the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, rise up and walk.

Although the hymn never tells us where exactly Peter and John went to pray, in Acts 3:1 the King James Version says, "Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer." The Greek word that is translated as temple is hieron, which refers to the whole temple precinct with its buildings, courts, etc. If we were to think of it the way we think about a church today, it would include the church building itself, parking lot, outdoor playground, lawn, and any other buildings and outdoor spaces on the property owned by the church. In biblical times the hieron basically included anything within the outer gates of the temple property. So when Peter and John went "into the temple" it means they entered the gates of the temple property. They did not go into the sanctuary itself; only the priests could enter the actual sanctuary or temple proper. In the picture below, you can see that the hieron includes everything on the raised platform, while the sanctuary itself or temple proper (translated by a different Greek word naos) is the tall building in the center.

Model of the Second Temple at the Holy Land Hotel in Jerusalem

The distinction between the Greek word (hieron) that indicates the temple grounds as whole and the Greek word (naos) that indicates the sanctuary itself or temple proper is not clear in many English translations, which use the word "temple" to translate them both. When translating into Enga, however, we found it to be very confusing to use the same word for both the temple grounds and the sanctuary itself. Initially we were translating both Greek words as "God's big worship house." But one afternoon I began to realize that this translation was potentially misleading. So I asked the translators what sort of activities might happen in "God's big worship house," and the translators suggested that activities such as singing worship songs, praying, and listening to sermons were the types of activities that would happen there and that regular people would gather there along with the priests. Of course, the sanctuary itself is restricted to the priests alone, and the activities that happen in the sanctuary itself are limited to priestly duties such as offering the blood of sacrifices and setting out the Bread of the Presence.

After some discussion we changed our translation for the sanctuary itself from "God's big worship house" to "the restricted access worship house." The concept of a spiritual house with restricted access is very well known throughout Papua New Guinea. People are very familiar with the idea that certain spiritual houses or buildings are off limits to regular folks, who put themselves at great risk if they enter without permission. The use of the term "restricted access" very clearly communicates the concept of "holiness" to Enga speakers, and by referring to the sanctuary itself (or naos) as "the restricted access worship house," we could immediately convey the appropriate sense for Enga speakers. Based on that translation for the sanctuary itself, we could then refer to the temple grounds as "the outside area of the restricted access worship house." So when Peter and John went to pray, in Enga at least they went to "the outside area of the restricted access worship house" to do so. Doesn't quite roll off the tongue in English, but in Enga it sounds pretty good! Incidentally, when Jesus is described as teaching "in the temple," it means that he is teaching the temple courts and not in the sanctuary itself.

Translation Update
I have finished my final read through of Matthew through Acts. Lord willing, in the next two months I will finish my final read through of Romans through Revelation. We are scheduled to begin recording the Enga New Testament on August 2. Please pray for endurance for me and for the Enga translation team as we finish these final edits in preparation for recording. Please also continue to pray for Martin Harty's vision to be restored so that he can participate as a reader when we record the Enga New Testament. Thank you so much for your prayers!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Who's Telling the Story?

When translating the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles into Enga, we must answer the question of who is telling the story. For example, who is really telling the story in the Gospel of Matthew? Is the story being told by us, the translators? Is the story being told by Matthew himself? Or is the story being told by an omniscient narrator? While these are interesting questions for speakers of any language to ponder, the answers to these questions actually change the translation in Enga. This is because the Enga language requires the use of evidential suffixes by which the speakers indicates the source of his or her information. In other words, when a person tells a story in Enga, the listeners know, based on the suffixes that person uses, whether that person directly witnessed the events or not.

Consequently, if we the translators are the ones telling the story in the Gospel of Matthew, then we need to use suffixes to indicate that we did not directly witness the events. Stylistically, however, this does not sound good in Enga, particularly over the course of a long narrative. Furthermore, it is a stretch to think that we the translators are the ones telling the story. We are not telling the story; we are simply translating it into the Enga language. On the other hand, if Matthew is the one telling the story in the Gospel of Matthew, then we the translators have to try to determine what events Matthew directly witnessed himself and what he only learned about from others. Sometimes this would be an easy determination to make, but at other times the best we could hope to achieve is an educated guess as to whether or not Matthew was present at a particular event. However, if the story is being told by an omniscient narrator, then the story can be told from the perspective of a direct eyewitness, and there is no need to try to figure out whether or not Matthew was present at each event.

Is Matthew the one telling the story?
After giving consideration to these three different possibilities, the Enga translation team ultimately decided to tell the story from the perspective of an omniscient narrator. This allows us to communicate the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles as compilations of eyewitness accounts, which is ultimately what they are, while also employing a beautiful translation style that comes across as authoritative.

Once we reached this decision, however, it required us to go back through the New Testament to make sure that the suffixes we are using align with the idea that the story is being told by an omniscient narrator. That is just one of a long checklist of items that the team and I are reviewing as we make our final adjustments to the New Testament. Thankfully, we should finish all of our major adjustments this week. We will then spend the next three months reading through each of the books one last time, making any final adjustments before we begin recording the Enga New Testament on August 2. Please pray for us as we finish up the translation in the next three months to prepare for recording. And, as always, thank you for partnering with us in this ministry. We could not do it without you!

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Pray for Martin

It is not uncommon for unexpected challenges to arise as a translation draws near to completion. We are currently scheduled to begin recording the Enga New Testament in July of this year. In the past, our primary reader has been Martin Harty. While Martin is a fluent reader, he also has a rich voice that is enjoyable to listen to. In fact, why don’t you take a moment to listen to him reading the Lord’s Prayer.

Last November, Martin contacted me to let me know that he was dealing with sudden loss of vision. After visiting an eye doctor, he discovered that his loss of vision was due to high blood pressure, and he began taking medication to correct the problem. After making some initial improvements, his vision took a turn for the worse and he is currently unable to see, requiring someone to lead him by the hand whenever he wants to go anywhere. Although Martin is going through a tremendous trial with his loss of vision, his spirits are remarkably good, and he has a sense of peace which could only come from God. He is currently on a leave of absence from translation work so that he can stay home and hopefully recover in time to take part in the recording of the Enga New Testament in July.

Martin Harty recording the Gospel of Luke in 2017

Would you please join with us in praying for Martin’s full recovery? His condition is not one of permanent and complete blindness, but the road to recovery has been long and difficult. Please pray that he would be able to get the rest that he needs and that the medication he is taking would be effective in relieving the pressure in his eye that is causing vision loss. Pray that Martin would continue to experience peace and be in good spirits despite the difficult trial that he is going through. Please also pray for protection for the other translators William, Frank, and Rueben, and their families. Ask the Lord to protect them (and us) from anything the enemy may throw at us to prevent us from finishing and recording the Enga New Testament.

Translation Progress
With each new book that a team translates, they learn new things about the translation process that they must go back and apply to the books they previously translated. Although we finished all of the consult-checking for the Enga New Testament back in October, the last few months have been focused on going back and applying what we have learned to the books we had already translated. In particular, we have been focused on John, Acts, Romans, and Revelation. I am thankful to report that I have finished making my notes for all of those books, and the translation team has finished responding to my notes in John and Acts. They are currently halfway through Romans. While most of the changes that we are making are quite minor, there were a couple of places in Romans 4 where I wanted to pull my hair out. I realized that, in our prior translation attempts, we had decided to just move on from a couple of verses that were extremely difficult. But given that this was the last chance to get it right, I painstakingly sought to find the best translation. I am pleased with the result, but I certainly have fewer hairs on my head now after (figuratively) pulling many of them out as I labored over the translation. The next three months will be focused on very minor changes as we do our final read-throughs to prepare for recording in July.

Back to Normal?
Last month I reported that “Omicron is Here.” As expected, Omicron spread rapidly through the community where we live. At this point, however, it seems that everyone who is going to get Omicron has gotten it, and we are experiencing a great sense of relief. Thankfully, we did not have any severe cases in our community, and there is a great sense of hope that things are starting to return to “normal.” 

Jacob working at the Teen Center for hamburger night

Because things are beginning to return to “normal,” we are now able to enjoy activities in the community that we have not been able to enjoy for some time, including hamburger night at the Teen Center. Jacob and Bella are both on staff for hamburger night. Each week they are assigned to different tasks including food prep, assembling orders, delivering orders to customers, etc. It is great work experience for them as there are not many opportunities for teens to get practical working experience where we live. While there will always be chaos in this world of sin, we are thankful for this season of life when things feel a bit normal again.