Sunday, October 1, 2017

Newbreak Missions Team

We have been so very blessed over the past week to have a team of five join us from Newbreak Church in San Diego. After an overnight in the capital city of Port Moresby, the team hit the ground running. Due to a flight cancellation, the team flew into Mt Hagen (two hours away) instead of Wapenamanda (20 minutes away), and so the team crowded into our Toyota Hilux for the longer, but beautiful drive to our house.

The Newbreak Missions Team
Just an hour and a half after their arrival at our home in the village of Immi, we went off to a Seventh Day Adventist Church camp meeting, where we had the opportunity to share the good news with the people and sell a few Audibibles. The next morning was Sunday and so we went to a Catholic church at the invitation of one of the translation team members. After the service, we headed to the local Assemblies of God church for a traditional style mumu, which consists of pork meat, chicken, bananas, sweet potatoes, and vegetables cooked by stones that are heated in an earthen oven (similar to a Hawaiian luau).

Eating a traditional style Enga mumu
On Monday morning, the team went on a walk in the village of Immi, and one of the team members shared the gospel with three young men that he had met on the road. Later in the morning we visited the Enga Bible translation center in Wabag town and got just a small taste of what translation work is like. After seeing just a few minutes of the translation work, one of the team members, Pastor Steve Bombaci, said, "All I can say is, I have a whole new respect for Bible translators!" Around lunch time we headed to the village of Sakarip for a public event to share the good news and raise awareness of the Enga Bible translation work, selling a handful of memory cards and Audibibles.

Visiting the people of Sakarip village
On Tuesday, we traveled to the town of Wapenamanda to play the Enga Bible on a loud speaker and preach the gospel in the open market area. We ended up speaking to about fifty people who gathered around. We then traveled to a Foursquare school to train community health workers. There we shared stories with the students of how God has worked in our lives, and we encouraged them to be lights in the remote parts of Enga where people have no access to healthcare. We shared the Enga Bible and Enga Jesus Film with some of the Engan students; many of the students were from different parts of the country and expressed interest in receiving audio recordings of the Bible in their own language.

James Jaurez sharing the gospel with people in the open market of Wapenamanda
On Wednesday, we visited the headquarters of the Catholic Church to dedicate the book of Luke along with the other Scripture portions that we have completed in the Enga language. This was the highlight of the team's time in Enga, as the Catholic Church welcomed us and the Bible in Enga with singing and dancing and much celebration. Adam had an opportunity to share his testimony and the good news in the Enga language, which the people warmly received. The missions team members were blessed with what was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as they were welcomed with beautiful songs written particularly for the occasion. At the end of the four-hour long event, we sold many Audibibles and a few memory cards.

Listening to the Bible in Enga
On Thursday, we took the morning off after what had been a very busy few days and went swimming in the river by our house, and then into town to the cultural center. At night we showed the Enga Jesus film in the big field in front of our house. Despite the fact that it was pouring rain, there were about 150 people huddled under a tarp watching the film. The vast majority of the people were not believers. At the conclusion of the film, we had the opportunity to share the gospel with many. On Friday, we took a hike up the mountain across the river to a village called Napotesa to present the gospel and share some personal testimonies. On Saturday, the team prepared for their return to America, and they are traveling back to America now as this update is being posted.

Preaching the gospel in the village of Napotesa
We would like to express our deepest appreciation to Pastor Steve Bombaci, Karen Adams, James Jaurez, Derrick Watkins, and Dan Mudd for taking time out of their busy lives and flying halfway around the world to share God's love not only with the people of Enga but with us as well. We were truly blessed by the love that they showered upon our family and particularly upon our children. Their time with us went better than I could have imagined, and I told them not to underestimate the value of what they have done to encourage us as a family. Thank you, Newbreak Church, for sending this wonderful team to bless the people of Enga and to bless our family.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Translation Style

One of the biggest questions that Bible translators must ask themselves is, “What translation style should we use?” There are two main styles in use today: formal equivalence (also known as word-for-word) and dynamic equivalence (also known as thought-for-thought). We will look at the differences of these two approaches using Matthew 5:3.

Word-for-Word
Although many state that they prefer a word-for-word translation of the Bible, there is virtually no Bible in any language that follows a strict word-for-word translation. To illustrate why that is the case, I have made a strict word-for-word translation of the Greek text of Matthew 5:3 below.

Blessed the poor the spirit, for theirs is the kingdom the heavens.

In the strict word-for-word translation above, the word ‘the’ appears four times. In Greek, the word ‘the’ has a different form in each of the four occurrences. But because English only has one form of the word ‘the’, the nuances of each form of the Greek are hidden. As is the case with strict word-for-word translations, the result is not grammatically acceptable, nor is it understandable to the average reader. Such translations appear only in specialized reference works called interlinears.

Formal Equivalence
Translations in the formal equivalence style seek to follow the actual words and structure of the source text as closely as possible while keeping in mind the rules of English grammar and style. In English, most of the formal equivalent translations flow out of the Tyndale-King James tradition. Three of the best known formal equivalent translations in English today are the English Standard Version (ESV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), and New King James Version (NKJV). Not surprisingly, all three produce the exact same translation of Matthew 5:3.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

When compared to the strict word-for-word translation, you can see that the changes are quite minor, basically making the translation conform to rules of English grammar and style and giving the nuance of each occurrence of the word ‘the’. The only other changes are the addition of the word ‘are’ and the adjustment of ‘heavens’ to ‘heaven’ because in English we don’t refer to ‘heaven’ in the plural.

Dynamic Equivalence
Translations in the dynamic equivalence style seek to recreate the meaning of the source text for modern readers by using moden ways of speaking. In other words, such translations look at the underlying meaning of the source text and then ask the question, "How would we say that today?" There are a wide variety of dynamic equivalent translations for Matthew 5:3.

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (NLT)

Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. (CEB)

God blesses those people who depend only on him. They belong to the kingdom of heaven! (CEV)

Great blessings belong to those who know they are spiritually in need. God’s kingdom belongs to them. (ERV)

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. (MESSAGE)

A quick survey of the dynamic equivalent translations above reveals the concerns of the translators. It is evident that the translators do not think that the phrase ‘poor in spirit’ is easily understandable to modern readers. In fact, of the five translations, only one makes reference to ‘spirit’ (ERV) and only one makes reference to ‘poor’ (NLT). Two of the translations make it clear that God is the one doing the blessing, and two of the translations change ‘kingdom of heaven’ in an attempt to make it more understandable. One translation considers the word ‘happy’ to be more understandable to the modern reader than the word ‘blessed’.



Advantages and Disadvantages
The advantage of formal equivalent translations is that the reader has a very good understanding of what the source text actually says. The disadvantage is that it usually takes more work to come to an understanding of what that text actually means. The advantage of dynamic equivalent translations, is that the text is more easily understandable. The disadvantage is that the reader often has little idea of what the source text actually says, and he or she is more limited by the interpretive decisions made by the translators. As a rule, formal equivalent translations vary little from one another, while dynamic equivalent translations vary greatly from one another. When a language already has a formal equivalent translation that gives access to what the source text actually says, dynamic equivalent translations can help the reader to consider possible interpretations or to hear the text in a fresh way. However, I would be concerned if there was only one English translation of the Bible and it was done in the dynamic equivalent style, because I would have no way of knowing what the source text actually said (apart from learning Greek and Hebrew).

How This Affects Enga
These issues of translation style are relevant for Enga as well. The current translation of Matthew 5:3 in Enga is written below (in an English back-translation).

God blesses the people who are poor in spirit and want him to help them. Those blessed ones will be in his kingdom.

As the Enga translation now stands, we have added the phrase ‘and want him to help them’ to clarify what is meant by the term ‘poor in spirit’. We have also changed ‘kingdom of heaven’ to ‘his kingdom’. In addition, instead of saying ‘the kingdom is theirs’, we say that they ‘will be in his kingdom’. Finally, we have made it clear that God is the one doing the blessing. (Adding ‘people’ and ‘those blessed ones’ is not so much an addition to the text as it is a requirement of Enga style.) Thus, the Enga translation as it now stands is clearly in the camp of dynamic equivalence.

However, as time goes on, and I reflect more and more on decisions like this that we made early on in the translation process, I am inclined to move more towards the camp of formal equivalence. For example, I am going to recommend to the team that we drop the explanatory phrase that says ‘and want him to help them’. Additionally, because the Kingdom of God/Heaven is a present reality now and not just a future hope, I am going to recommend that we change ‘will be in his kingdom’ to ‘his kingdom is theirs’. In addition, I will explore whether it is feasible to say ‘the kingdom of heaven’ instead of ‘his kingdom’. It may be that it is acceptable to be more literal in this case, but it may be that this is an issue similar to the issue in English in which ‘heavens’ needs to be changed to ‘heaven’. In Enga it may not be possible to talk about ‘the kingdom of heaven’ without making it sound like the kingdom is physically located in heaven. (This is an important distinction since we know from the proclamation of Jesus that the kingdom is at hand and that it is in our midst.) So I hope that we can adjust the Enga to read as follows:

God blesses the people who are poor in spirit. The kingdom of heaven is theirs.

You will notice that I am not recommending removing the fact that God is the one doing the blessing. That is because the rules of Enga grammar usually require the one doing an action to be identified. You can’t just say that people are blessed. You have to say who is blessing them. Similarly, you will notice that I am not advocating for the addition of the word ‘For’ at the start of the second sentence. That is because such an addition would be extremely awkward in the Enga language. What is listed above is probably the closest that Enga can get to the source text while still following basic rules of Enga grammar and style.

Why Shift Toward Formal Equivalence?
There are three reasons why I am inclined to shift toward formal equivalence in Enga: (1) Many Enga pastors also speak English and they will compare our translation to formal equivalent translations like the ESV. If our translation is significantly different, they might consider it inaccurate and reject it; (2) Many Enga pastors have completed Bible school and have basic training in biblical interpretation. As a result, they are more equipped to wrestle with a more literal translation; and (3) Enga does not already have a formal equivalent translation that people can use to find out, more or less, what the source text actually says. While it is impossible for Enga to achieve the level of formal equivalence of translations like the NASB, ESV, and NKJV, it seems wise to move more in that direction.

While shifting our style will require us to revisit our translations of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the majority of verses are fairly straightforward and do not contain the difficulties of Matthew 5:3. However, this is the reality of the translation process. A translation is never really done, but it must constantly be revised and updated. Even a translation such as the ESV has been revised three times since its initial publication in 2001. And don’t forget that the ESV itself was a revision of the Revised Standard Version (1971), which was a revision of the American Standard Version (1901), which was a revision of the English Revised Version (1885), which was a revision of the King James Version (1611), which was a revision of the Bishop’s Bible (1568), which was a revision of the Great Bible (1539). And although the Great Bible was the first authorized translation of the Bible in English, it drew heavily from both the Matthew Bible (1537) and William Tyndale’s translation of the Bible, which was not yet completed when he was burned at the stake in 1536. (Incidentally, in that long line of revisions over 490 years, Matthew 5:3 has remained unchanged apart from minor modifications to spelling and punctuation!)

All that to say, Bible translation requires constant revision. Please keep us in your prayers so that we can be as faithful as possible to the original source text, while communicating clearly in the Enga language. It is not an easy task.

William Tyndale translating the Bible into English

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Thankful for the Potholes

If there is one thing that missions work in Papua New Guinea gives you, it is the opportunity to complain. I wish that I could say that I have not fallen prey to that temptation, but I have, and often.

Complaining is a disease. It is like a viral plague that is quickly transmitted from one person to the next. Before you know it, everybody is infected.

In the book of Numbers, we read about how the Israelites complained incessantly to Moses, accusing him of bringing them out into the wilderness to die, while longing to go back to the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic that they ate in Egypt. It seems that they forgot the whips of their slave masters and the ruthless efforts to kill all of their newborn sons.

I recently heard a poem about thankfulness that caused me to give serious reconsideration to the things I am so apt to complain about in my life. I decided to write my own poem about thankfulness as it applies to life here in Papua New Guinea:

I am thankful for the rain, because it means that my water tank will not soon be empty.

I am thankful for the cold, because it means that the threat of malaria is far reduced.

I am thankful for the potholes, because it means that I have a car to drive.

I am thankful when the store is out of meat, because it means that I can afford such a luxury.

I am thankful for the bee hive in my wall, because it means that I have a home.

I am thankful for the ants’ nest in the power outlet, because it means that I have electricity.

I am thankful when I have to hang up the laundry on the line outside, because it means that I have clothes to wear.

I am thankful when the Internet is slow, because it means that I have near instant communication with the world around me.

I am thankful when I must walk on slippery paths and steep hills, because it means that I am healthy enough to do so. 

I am thankful for the potholes, because it means that I have a car to drive
Translation Progress
The translation team continues to make progress in drafting the New Testament. Over the past two months, the team has drafted 2 Timothy, Philemon, Colossians, and is currently working on the last chapter of 1 John. In June, Martin Harty, one of the Enga Bible Translation team members, came to Ukarumpa and recorded the book of Luke. Because Martin is such a skilled reader, we were able to complete the recording in just five and a half days. We now have three gospels recorded in the Enga language. Although we will be distributing Luke on a limited basis in the months to come, we are looking forward to the arrival of two teams from Newbreak Church to officially launch the book of Luke to the larger community in Enga in September and November. Please pray for the book to be well received. 

Martin Harty recording the book of Luke
An Unexpected Opportunity
During our most recent stay in Enga, we had the opportunity to explore the area surrounding our home in Immi village. One day we crossed the long, suspension bridge over the Lai River and headed along a path up the mountain. It was a beautiful walk and it was not too long before we could look back and see our house on the other side of the river. Just as we were about to turn around and go home, we came upon a small market area. Jacob, our oldest, was walking ahead, and as soon as the children saw him coming, they erupted in a frenzy of excitement. As the rest of us arrived, I (Adam) was quickly ushered into the center of the market area and told that I needed to speak to the people. Extemporaneous speaking in Enga is not my strength. Fortunately, however, I was able to recall some of the things I had said in the sermon I had recently delivered in the Enga language, and I did my best to share about the Kingdom of God with the people at the market, playing for them a small sample from the Gospel of Matthew on my phone. That unexpected occurrence made me realize that God has given me a tremendous opportunity. Because people are so excited to hear a foreigner speak Enga, I have the possibility of going almost anywhere in the province and drawing a crowd just by speaking. Please pray that God will give me the wisdom and ability to make use of this special opportunity to share the good news of the Kingdom in public places. Please pray as well that He will give me increased fluency in the Enga language.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Time of Rest

I (Martha) know I am entering Enga Province when I begin to see a small scattering of lupines lining the road. When I see the tall violet flowers standing at attention, I begin to relax and ease into the transition. After a whirlwind four weeks in Ukarumpa, with all of the end of the school year activities, including Jacob’s sixth grade graduation, we chose to spend the kids' school break in Enga. We have never done a four-week turnaround before, and needless to say, it was not easy. We were tired, but the opportunity to be in Enga without having to homeschool sounded too good to pass up. So far it has been worth it. We began our stay by hosting a new missionary couple from Romania in our home for a few days and showing the Enga Jesus Film at a church down the road. This involved Adam having to back our truck into a stream so several men could carry the generator across the water and up the hill to the church. It was a beautiful night and several people were able to watch the stories of Jesus come alive on screen in their own language. Unfortunately, it was cold, and by that time Adam’s body had worn out. He came down with a terrible stomach flu and has spent the week at home in bed.



After an exhausting several months (honestly two years), we all spent the week doing virtually nothing. I have to say this has been one of my favorite weeks ever. Not the times where Adam thought he was on the verge of death of course, but the times when I watched my kids make spinning tops out of Legos, and then name the tops, and create games and competitions with them. The times when we read aloud a biography of Amy Carmichael, and I heard my kids debate about who had the hardest experiences: Gladys Aylward, Corrie Ten Boom, or Amy Carmichael. Over a year ago they debated about who the greatest superheroes were: Batman, Superman, or Iron Man. Those conversations made Adam’s and my heart ache a bit as we began to realize how meaningless such heroes were, and so we have started to introduce them to real heroes—heroes of the faith. We have had some beautiful discussions about what it means to be obedient followers of Christ. We had decided ahead of time that for this trip to Enga, we would not watch any TV shows or movies or have any time on the tablet, so instead the kids have lost themselves in books, played outside with the local children, and stayed up late beating their mother at a card game called Nerts with screeching laughter.



All the while, Adam has been resting and recovering. I think sometimes when we don’t take time to rest, God smacks us on the head and says, "If you are not going to do it yourself, I am going to make you." Unfortunately for Adam this meant fever, chills, and lots of other unpleasant things. With Adam unable to drive to town, our food has been running out, particularly garden food. We have really wanted some bananas. So a few nights ago I decided to pray for someone to give us bananas. I usually don’t pray for small things like that. I guess I think God doesn’t have time for those things, but lo and behold, someone brought us bananas the next morning. Our God is in the small things too. He knows our every need and hears our every prayer. Adam is doing better now and is able to drive to town to restock our food supply, so please don't worry about us.



We have a couple more weeks before we return to Ukarumpa for the first term of the school year. At that point, I will begin to homeschool Jacob. This will not be easy for my extraverted son, but he will take band and an elective course at the high school, and he is in full agreement with this decision. Please pray for this transition to homeschooling Jacob. Please also pray that I would be able to get out into the community during the next couple of weeks, meet some more people in the community, and learn a few more Enga words and phrases.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Preaching in Enga

In April, I (Adam) shared with you that I was feeling led by the Holy Spirit to begin preaching, both in Enga as well as among the missionary community in Ukarumpa. Well, I am happy to report that I have preached twice now in the Enga language. It took me a long time to prepare my first sermon. Each sentence was a struggle as I would painstakingly have to figure out how to communicate in Enga what came so naturally and easily in English. Sometimes I just didn’t have the level of fluency in Enga to say what I wanted to say, so I would have to find creative ways to make the same point. Nevertheless, I was able to compose the sermon in such a way as to communicate the message that God had laid upon my heart. Surprisingly, as I was in the worship service waiting for my time to deliver my message, I was not the least bit nervous. And while I was forced to read most of the sermon as I delivered it, I was still able to get good eye contact with the congregation and preach rather than just read aloud. I was encouraged to know that the congregation was following along because they applauded at the right moments. A few weeks later I delivered the same sermon again at another church, this time feeling a little more comfortable and even straying from the script at a couple of points, speaking off the cuff in Enga. Please pray for me as I attempt to write more sermons in the future. Pray specifically that my skills in the Enga language will increase and that I will not be bound to reading the majority of the sermon from a printed script.

Preaching my first sermon in Enga
Later this month I will be preaching my first sermon among the missionary community in Ukarumpa. And while I was not at all nervous about preaching in Enga, I am a bit more nervous about preaching to this community in English. It is intimidating to preach to your peers, especially when so many of them are Bible translators with an in-depth knowledge of the text. It is also difficult to preach to a group that comes from a wide variety of church backgrounds and cultures. So please pray that the Lord will guide me I deliver my first sermon to the Ukarumpa community on June 18.

Literacy
Last month we began literacy training with a small group in the village of Immi where we live. Included in the group were three teenage boys, not much older than our son Jacob. I had selected Matthew 4:18-22 as a short text for us to read together, and each person took a turn reading one sentence at a time. Because everyone there had some experience reading in Tok Pisin and/or English, they were quickly able to pick up on how to read in Enga, even though some of them had never tried reading in Enga before. Benjamin’s son Lami was particularly skilled at reading, and Martha and I were encouraged to see the group doing so well. Please pray for the group to gain fluency in reading in Enga, and pray that more in the village will develop an interest in learning how to read.

Benjamin and his son Lami reading Scripture in Enga
Translation Progress
During our six-week stay in the village, we were able to make great progress on the translation. We finished our final checks of the book of Luke, which we are in the process of recording as you read this. We also finished reviewing all of my advisor notes for the book of John, and so I am now ready to back-translate John into English for a consultant check. We then drafted 1 Timothy and Titus, and the team is continuing to draft 2 Timothy. The epistles are more difficult to translate than the gospels, so please pray for wisdom for us as we translate. For example, we spent about an hour and a half on 1 Timothy 1:11, which says, "in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted." The problem was that the translators kept wanting to make 'I have been entrusted' the main point of the text, when actually that clause functions like an adjective to modify 'the glorious gospel of the blessed God'. It is subtleties like these that non-native English speakers can really struggle with, and the epistles are full of constructions like that. In Enga, the main verb always comes at the end of the sentence, and so when they see a verb at the end of the sentence in English, they assume that it is the main verb.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Home Sweet Home!

Greetings from Immi village in Enga Province! We’ve been in our new house here in Immi for three weeks now. What a thrill it was to see the kids excitedly run through their new home and finally be in the place we’ve been talking about for years.

The trip here was long and difficult, as the rainy season has wreaked havoc on the roads. We are extremely grateful for our friends, Matt Taylor and David Smith, who braved the difficult roads and caravanned with us, driving an additional truck filled with our furniture. They helped put our futons and bunkbeds together and didn’t complain about the fact that we did not have a real meal for forty-eight hours. The refrigerator we had purchased didn’t work, so we had to drive it back to Mt. Hagen (two hours away) to get it repaired. When we came back, it still didn’t work, so the store delivered a new fridge the next day. We’ve never been so happy to have cold food!

Because of things like that, it took awhile for us to settle in, and we still have lots of little projects to do to fully turn this house into a home, but we are thoroughly enjoying all the amazing comforts of having a washing machine, constant electricity, and plenty of water that never gets shut off unexpectedly. The kids continue to marvel that we have an oven that we can turn on without a match and that also has a light, fan, and timer. We still don’t have a bathroom mirror, but I (Martha) am rather enjoying having no idea what I look like for days on end.

Jacob is enjoying teaching the local kids how to play baseball, while Bella and Asher make new friends and play under the house in the mud. While Adam is away at work during the day, I have been busy homeschooling, cooking, and trying to keep the mud off the walls and floor. Nevertheless, I have still found time to make and share lots of banana bread with our neighbors from their generous donations of bananas. It is good to be in a place that we can truly call home.

Jacob and his friend Lami playing Wiffle Ball behind our house
Translation Progress
Since arriving in Enga last month, we have completely finished checking the book of Luke so that it is now ready for recording, which will begin at the end of this month. We have also completed our read-through of the book of John, which I (Adam) am now translating back into English to be checked by a consultant. We are also drafting 1 Timothy, which we expect to complete in the next week or two. It is encouraging to see continued progress in our work and to see the Word come alive in the Enga language. I know many Enga people are eagerly awaiting each new book as we translate. Just last week, a man came to the place where we translate to see if the book of Luke was ready for release yet. The translation team informed me that many others are also asking when the next book will be released.

The kids are excited about the new house
Enga Literacy
Last month I was delightfully surprised when Nete Talian, one of the Enga translators, told me that his church was now doing literacy training in the Enga language using our translation of the Bible. One of the largest barriers to people actually reading the Scriptures in their own language (and not just listening to recordings of them) is the low literacy level most Papua New Guineans have in their vernacular language. If they go to school, they are taught to read English, but they are often not taught how to read their own language. And because people are not trained to read their own language, they are often intimidated to try. I then found out that Benjamin and his wife Martha, the couple who donated land for us to build a house, wanted to attend that literacy course, but they didn’t have the funds to do so. As a result, we have decided to start our own Enga literacy course for the people of Immi village. Please pray for guidance as we have never taught adult literacy before, and pray that the people in Immi village will develop a hunger to read the Word of God in their own language.

Election Season
We are now in the midst of election season in Papua New Guinea. Here, instead of non-stop television advertisements, there are non-stop caravans of vehicles campaigning for the various candidates, which involve incessant megaphone announcements and parades through town. All the noise makes it hard to concentrate on translation work, so please pray for added focus as well as for a peaceful election process.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

It Is Well

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
And it is well with me


Those words from the Kristene DiMarco song, "It Is Well", captured the theme of our biennial conference last month. Translators and support workers from all over Papua New Guinea gathered together to remember that when we keep our eyes on God, it is truly well with our souls.

I (Adam) was asked to share a testimony on the first morning of the conference relating to the theme of "It Is Well". So I shared about the accident that occurred on January 30th when we were transporting our building materials to Enga. I shared about this accident in our last newsletter, so I won't go into the details again. But there was one part of the story I didn't share with you, and it was this part of the story that the Lord prompted me to share at the conference. This is [in part] what I shared:

As the initial chaos [revolving around the accident] settled down, I looked up and saw the driver of the truck sitting on top of the truck with his face in his hands. He looked devastated. And I felt the Lord prompting me to go encourage him. So I climbed up on the truck, put my arm around him and said, "What happened is not your fault. You are new to this country, but we have been here for a few years now, and let me tell you that these things happen. Trucks turn over all the time on the Highlands Highway. This is not the end of the world. What is in the back of the truck is just stuff, but we can praise God that nobody was seriously injured. We'll get this figured out and we'll get the truck fixed. It will be okay." Then I prayed for him.

And you know what, despite everything that had happened, I had a peace from the Lord that it truly was going to be ok. Even if we had to scrap the project for the time being, I knew that it was going to be ok. In the midst of chaos, I had a peace from God that I couldn't quite explain. And, even though I wasn't looking forward to what it would take to get things back on track, I knew that things were going to be ok, and it was truly well with my soul.

I praise God for giving me peace in the midst of very difficult circumstances, and I thank Him that, despite our trials on that day, we now have a home to call our own in Enga.

Gathered together for conference
The guest speaker for the conference was Dr. Clive Burnard, a spirit-filled Baptist preacher from Plymouth, England. Dr. Burnard was a scientific atheist until the age of 32, when God proved to him that He was real in a way that he could not logically refute. God used Dr. Burnard to bring about great spiritual renewal among the people in attendance at Conference, and we were blessed beyond measure by his ministry. At one point, after I had shared my testimony and an additional brief message about faith, Dr. Burnard pulled me aside because he felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray for me. He encouraged me, saying that God was going to use me in pastoral ministry and to preach His Word. There was no way he could have known that I had been struggling with the very call to start preaching (in addition to my translation work), both in the Enga language to the people in Enga, but also in English to the people in Ukarumpa. But his encouragement gave me the boost I needed to commit to following the Lord's leading. So pray for me as I prepare messages in Enga and in English (and perhaps Tok Pisin too). Please pray that the messages I prepare will be fully grounded in the love of God.

Martha also played an important role at conference, leading the spiritual emphasis team. Each morning for seven days, we were challenged by inspiring testimonies, dramas, and stories that reminded us that God is in control and we are called to trust in Him. At one point, we all wrote on triangular pieces of construction paper the mountains that are facing us, and we taped them on a mountain panorama on stage. On the last day of the conference, we each wrote a truth about God that would help us to overcome our mountains. We then placed them on the same panorama, covering over our mountains to remind us that with faith as small as a mustard seed, we can move mountains. It was powerful to see hundreds of people streaming to the front of the meeting house, many in tears, clinging to their faith that no mountain is too big for God.

Dr. Clive Burnard
Prayer Request
On April 5 and 6, we will be traveling to Enga to 'move in' to our new house. We will be accompanied by two fellow missionaries, who will be driving a medium-sized truck carrying the furniture for our house. Please pray for safe travel over hazardous roads. (The truck is much smaller than the one that had the accident in January, so it should be a much easier drive.) Please also pray for us as we transition to life in our new home and for building relationships in the village.