Thursday, October 1, 2020

Departing October 10!

Last month we informed you that we had purchased tickets with Air New Zealand to return to Papua New Guinea on November 15. A few days later, those tickets were canceled. So we rebooked for the next available flight, which wasn’t until January 19. A few days after we rebooked our flight, New Zealand completely closed its borders, so that even transit passengers like us could not switch planes in Auckland, New Zealand. So we began to resign ourselves to the thought that we would not be returning to Papua New Guinea anytime soon. But a week or two later, we received news that a United Nations World Food Program flight would be flying to Papua New Guinea from Malaysia on October 13. To ensure we had space on the flight, our organization went ahead and reserved us seats. The flight was then promptly unpublished, and we found out that our names had never made the reservation list. But a few days later, the flight was published again, and we now have confirmed reservations. Once the World Food Program flight was booked, we purchased tickets on Qatar Airways from Los Angeles to Doha, Qatar, and then on to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. So, Lord willing, we will be departing from Los Angeles on October 10. We are hopeful that this route will indeed bring us back to Papua New Guinea as four couples who serve alongside us have already successfully navigated this route, returning a few weeks ago. Please pray that we will all test negative for COVID-19 when we get our official tests on Oct. 6.

We have also received permission to complete our two-week quarantine at our own home in Ukarumpa. This is a much better option for us than having to quarantine at an expensive hotel in the capital city in Port Moresby. We are thankful for Josh and Becky Harber, friends of ours in Ukarumpa, who will prepare our house for us and make sure that we have all of the groceries and other essentials that we need during our two-week long quarantine at home. 
The four couples who have now made it back to Papua New Guinea

Translation Progress
During our extended furlough, we have continued to make great progress on the translation. We have now finished consultant checking the books of 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and Galatians. That means that 78% of the Enga New Testament has now been checked by a consultant. Not only that, but we have consultants lined up for nearly all of the remaining books. Lord willing, we should finish the checking process within the next twelve months. After that we just need to make an audio recording of the New Testament and then prepare it for printing.

Learning to Surf
Over the past month we have had the opportunity to do a bit of traveling, visiting churches and friends in various locations. On September 17, we drove down to San Diego, where I recorded a short message for Pacific Life Church. During our trip to San Diego we saw many of the people who had come to visit us on short-term missions trips back in 2017, including two men named James and Derrick who had become something like “instant uncles” for our kids. Back in 2017, they told the kids that they would teach them how to surf when we came home on furlough. COVID nearly squashed that dream, but James and Derrick held true to their word and did indeed teach the kids how to surf. Each of the kids was even able to stand up on the surf board. In a time when there have been so many disappointments, it was nice to experience a kept promise and a fulfilled dream. Even as I think about it, my eyes well up with tears knowing just how many disappointments our kids have had, not only over the past six months, but over the course of their entire lives. Being a missionary kid is not an easy life as there are constant goodbyes and disappointments. Back in 2017, as James and Derrick were heading home at the end of their missions trip, Bella wrote Derrick a letter in which she said she couldn’t wait to visit San Diego on furlough and learn how to surf. Little did we know that Derrick had saved that letter and scanned it to his phone. He then read it back to Bella when we saw him again. It was very meaningful to us that he had kept the letter and remembered what Bella had written to him. Thank you, Derrick and James, for keeping your promise! (By the way, if you want to see a 48 second video of surfing highlights, go to

Bella learning how to surf

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Do We Really Have Five Senses?

If you ask an English speaker how many senses we have, they will undoubtedly say that we have five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Most English speakers have probably never considered any alternate explanation to how many senses we have, and would consider it a “fact” that we have five senses.

But what if I told you that, according to the Enga language, we only have two senses: sight and what I would call non-visual sensing? You see in Enga there are only two sensory words: kandenge (“seeing”) and singi (“non-visual sensing”). The word kandenge is used for anything that is seen or perceived through sight, and the word singi is used for anything that is sensed non-visually. What a difference, to go from five senses to two! You might ask, “If the Enga language has only two sensory words, how do Enga speakers differentiate between actions such as hearing, smelling, and tasting?” The answer is that they do so through context. For example, Engans would say “He sensed the words that I said,” or, “He sensed a bad odor,” or, “He ate and sensed the food.” In each case, the context makes the specific mode of sensing clear.

The five senses from the perspective of an English speaker

I always find it fascinating to discover how different languages categorize things in different ways. English speakers categorize senses based on the part of the body that is involved with the sense: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and hands. But Engans categorize senses based on whether or not sight is involved; apart from the eyes, it doesn’t matter what part of the body is involved in the act of sensing. While that seems incredibly odd to us, we find that in English we do not have words for senses that do not involve specific body parts. For example, think of the story of the woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years (Mark 5:25-35). This woman went up to Jesus in a crowd and touched his garment, and immediately her flow of blood dried up. And in verse 29 it says, “and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” So which of the five senses did she use to come to the conclusion that she had been healed? Well, none of them! She didn’t see anything, or hear anything, or smell anything, or taste anything, or touch anything that led her to the conclusion that she had been healed. She just felt it. Now in English, because there is no specific body part associated with the sense of feeling, we don’t consider feeling to be a sense, but it undoubtedly is one.

The same could be said of the feeling of being sick or the feeling of being sad. When a person says, “I feel sick,” or, “I feel sad,” he or she is not coming to that conclusion based on sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch. Rather it is an inner feeling that is not associated with any of those senses. And even if you took all of those senses, the person would still know that he or she felt sick or felt sad.

We could describe yet another sense that is sometimes referred to as the “sixth sense.” The “sixth sense” (actually seventh, if we consider “feeling” to be a sense) is defined as “a keen intuitive power.” The “sixth sense” is a way that we perceive the world around us that cannot be associated specifically with any body part and cannot even be associated with an inner feeling we have such as the feeling of being sick or being sad, which are easy to recognize. The “sixth sense” is an intangible sense that is hard to define, yet the experience of many is that the “sixth sense” is real. Again English speakers do not consider this to be a sense because there is no specific body part associated with it. But Engans would include both the “feeling” sense and the “sixth sense” under the category of “non-visual sensing.” So the Enga system is more inclusive of all the various senses, while the English system excludes those that are not associated with a specific body part.

It is amazing how our language shapes the way we think and see the world. That is why it is so important for us to translate Scripture into the language that people understand best, so that they can interact with God’s Word in a way that “makes sense” to them.

Return to Papua New Guinea
We have purchased tickets to return to Papua New Guinea on November 15. Based on the advice of a trusted friend, we have booked with Air New Zealand, traveling from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand, and then on to Brisbane, Australia. We will then have a 24-hour layover in Brisbane before traveling on to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea with Air Niugini. From Port Moresby we hope to fly directly to our home in Ukarumpa, but we need permission from the government to quarantine at our home instead of at a government-approved hotel. Please pray that (1) our flight will not be canceled, and (2) that we will receive permission to quarantine at home. Thank you!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Travel Plans

Over the past few weeks it has become clear that our return to Papua New Guinea (PNG) will be delayed due to the Coronavirus. Some of our fellow missionaries have attempted to return to Papua New Guinea, only to have their flights canceled. One couple even began the journey, only to have a connecting flight canceled midway through the trip. After scouring the Internet for potential flights, we discovered that it is nearly impossible to fly to PNG right now due to travel restrictions in the various countries that we could fly through. Not only that, but even if we could book a travel itinerary to PNG, there is a high risk of us getting stranded in a foreign country if a connecting flight were to be canceled. And even if we could make it all the way to PNG, as things currently stand, we would have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for two weeks at the cost of approximately $5,000. To make matters worse, due to the Coronavirus we have been delayed in receiving our travel visas. Although we now have approval to send our passports to the embassy in Washington, DC, we don't know how long it will take to get our passports back with the visa stamps. To complicate matters further, the policies of the high school Jacob attends in PNG state that he must be enrolled either for the entire semester or not at all. Since school begins August 12, we have come to the conclusion that we just will not be able to make it back to PNG in time for him to enroll. As a result, despite our best efforts to return to PNG in August, we have come to the conclusion that our return will be delayed. We have consequently enrolled the children for the fall semester at NorthStar Academy, an accredited online Christian school, and we hope to return to PNG in early January. Both Wycliffe USA and our supervisors in PNG agree that, due to current travel restrictions and school enrollment policies, it is best for us to remain in America for the fall school semester.

Still enjoying our time in America even with the restrictions
(Jacob, cover your nose!)

Thankfully, I (Adam) am able to continue translation work remotely. Because we are far along in the translation process for the New Testament, we qualify for remote consultant checking. So over the past month or two, the Enga translators and I have been working remotely with a consultant to check Romans and 1 Corinthians, and we have other books lined up to check in the coming weeks and months. I am in touch with the Enga translators on a daily basis as we send and receive project notes. And so even though the Coronavirus has delayed our return to PNG, the translation work continues on.

We are so thankful for your continued partnership as we wait to return to PNG. We were quite disappointed once we finally came to terms with the fact that our return would be delayed. The kids miss their friends, and we miss our home. But we are encouraged by your faithful prayers and partnership. Please be assured that even though our return to PNG has been delayed, the work continues to move forward.

The Enga Translation Team
(left to right: Martin, Frank, Nete, Maniosa, William, Rueben)

Prayer Requests
Please pray for our family to not just endure the next few months, but to thrive. Pray that the kids will do well in school, and that we will have quality family time together. Pray as well for the people of Papua New Guinea. Up until a couple of weeks ago, it seemed that the Coronavirus was not spreading in PNG. But now there is an outbreak in the capital city of Port Moresby, and at least one report of a case in another major town. The capital city is now in a two-week lockdown. Finally, pray for the translation team. Pray that their computers will work well and that the virus will not spread to where they are. Pray against every and any attack of the enemy that seeks to disrupt the completion of the Enga New Testament. May the Lord bless you and keep you!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

More Baptisms!

Although we are on furlough in California, the translation work that we have completed thus far continues to bear fruit in Papua New Guinea. A few weeks ago I (Adam) received news from my co-worker Nete Talian that he had been conducting more evangelistic outreaches in various places. During the week-long evangelistic outreaches, Nete preaches a different message each night from the Enga translation and also plays various films and recordings such as the Enga Jesus Film, the sorcery public service announcement that we recorded a couple of years ago, and films raising awareness about the problems of AIDS and tribal fighting.

Reporting on a recent outreach, Nete sent me the following message through Telegram: “I was running a week-long Evangelistic meeting at Yaramanda every morning and every night. 23 people accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and went down into the water of baptism. They were baptized by Pastor Thomas Waion, pastor of my church in Rakamanda. At the same time I started the Enga Bible Literacy school. At the moment they are meeting two times per week. Every Tuesday and Thursday they have their Enga Bible Literacy School class.”

As you can see from the picture below, when Nete says that they “went down into the water of baptism,” he is not only talking about going under the water, but also about going down into the valley where there is a natural pool of water where people can be baptized.

Baptisms in the village of Yaramanda
When Nete conducts these outreaches, he preaches from our Enga translation, and it speaks directly to the hearts of the people. Join with us in praising the Lord for the fruit we are seeing from our translation work. And please pray for Nete as he tirelessly works on the translation, while also conducting outreaches and starting literacy programs in various churches throughout the province. Pray that many more will be baptized and learn how to read in the coming years.

A new convert being baptized
Translation Progress
Even though we are on furlough, I (Adam) continue to work daily on the Enga New Testament. Because we are far along in the translation, we qualify for remote consultant checking, which means that a consultant can review our translation from afar and make suggestions and recommendations. I am still responsible for doing a face-to-face check when we return to Papua New Guinea, but this process opens up many more options for us to complete the checking process. It also allows for me to work with a consultant even while we are in America, which is a great benefit. We have just completed the remote check of Romans, and we will continue with more of the Pauline epistles in the coming weeks and months. As I read the consultant’s notes, I write notes to the translation team in Papua New Guinea. They in turn respond to my notes, and I respond to the consultant again. Praise the Lord for technology that connects us, even overseas!

Return to PNG
With all of the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus, our plans to return to Papua New Guinea are up in the air. Our desire is to return the first week of August once Wycliffe’s international travel restrictions expire. But there are other obstacles standing in our way. Please pray that our visas will be approved quickly, so that our return date is not hindered. Pray also that we will be able to find flights that will not be canceled. Some of our friends have had multiple flights canceled in their efforts to return from PNG to America. Pray also that we can navigate all of the restrictions on international travel in PNG and Australia (which we will probably fly through), as requirements change rapidly. Pray also that members of our organization will be granted permission to quarantine at our home in Ukarumpa rather than at a government-approved hotel in Port Moresby. We do not want to be locked in a hotel room in Port Moresby for two weeks as it would be very expensive. Not only that, but it would be hard for the five of us to basically be locked in a hotel room for two weeks. With all of the uncertainty, we struggle a bit to be at peace in our daily lives. The missionary life is already one that is full of transition and uncertainty, and it is difficult to add to that the further uncertainty brought about by the Coronavirus. Pray that God’s peace would reign in our hearts, and that we would be content no matter what the circumstances.

Monday, June 1, 2020

You Already Speak Pidgin

One of the languages that I (Adam) don’t talk about much, but use quite often in Papua New Guinea, is a language called Tok Pisin (Talk Pidgin). A pidgin language is one that is used for communication between people from different language groups, and it is generally not anyone’s mother tongue. It is almost always a simplified form of an already existing language, with limited vocabulary.

It can be quite entertaining for English speakers to learn Tok Pisin as it is a simplified form of English. It is fascinating to see how English words have been appropriated for other uses with a change in their meaning. To give you a small taste of what Tok Pisin is like, I am copying the Lord’s Prayer below in Tok Pisin. First, I will write it with the standard spelling, and you will probably have difficulty understanding it—but give it a try. (You will understand more if you read it out loud.) Then, I will write the prayer again spelling all of the words that come from English with their normal English spelling. You will be amazed at how much Tok Pisin you already know, simply because you speak English.

Papa bilong mipela,
yu stap long heven,
Nem bilong yu i mas i stap holi. 
Kingdom bilong yu i mas i kam.
Mipela i mas bihainim laik bilong yu long graun
Olsem ol i save bihainim long heven.
Nau yu ken givim mipela kaikai inap long dispela de.
Na yu ken lusim ol rong bilong mipela,
Olsem mipela i save lusim ol rong ol arapela i mekim long mipela.
Na yu no ken larim ol traim i kamap long mipela,
Tasol yu ken kisim bek mipela long ol samting nogut.
Kingdom na strong na biknem
Em i bilong yu tasol oltaim oltaim. I tru.

How did you do? I imagine it was pretty difficult for you to make much sense out of the prayer. But now I want you to read the prayer again with standard English spelling. Believe it or not, there are only four or five words in the entire prayer that are not derived from English. (Those words are defined below.)

kaikai = food
na = and
save = regularly (pronounced sah-vay)
i = untranslatable (ignore this word)
-im = perhaps from the English word him (ignore this word)

Papa belong me-fellow,
You stop along heaven,
Name belong you i must i stop holy.
Kingdom belong you i must i come.
Me-fellow i must behind-im like belong you along ground
All-same all i save behind-im along heaven.
Now you can give-im me-fellow kaikai enough along this-fellow day.
Na you can loose-im all wrong belong me-fellow,
All-same me-fellow i save loose-im all wrong all another-fellow i make-im along me-fellow.
Na you no can let-im all try-im i come up along me-fellow,
Thats-all you can catch-im back me-fellow along all something no good.
Kingdom na strong na big name,
Him i belong you that’s-all all-time all-time. I true.

Did you understand more this time? Are you surprised at how much Tok Pisin you already know? Even though it was probably not entirely clear, in just a few short minutes you are already well on your way to understanding the Lord’s prayer in another language. But just in case it is still a bit foggy, let me write out the prayer one more time in a literal word-for-word English translation.

Father of us
You are in heaven,
Name of you must be holy.
Kingdom of you must come.
We must follow desire of you on earth
As they regularly follow [it] in heaven.
Now you can give us food enough for this day.
And you can release wrongs of us,
As we regularly release wrongs others make against us.
And you can not let trials come up upon us,
But you can take us back from things [that are] no good
Kingdom and strength and big name,
They belong [to] you alone, [for] all time, [for] all time. [It’s] true.

Did you notice that in just this short prayer I had to translate the word long (along) with six different English words (in, on, for, from, against, upon)? That is the nature of Pidgin languages: they are simplified. And that is one of the greatest shortcomings of Pidgin languages: they don’t have the precision that other languages do. Hearing the Bible in a Pidgin language rarely sounds as sweet and clear as it does in one’s own language. And even if the general point comes across, the depths and riches of God’s word are often lost, just as they were when you struggled through reading through the Lord’s Prayer in Pidgin, even though it was spelled out in English. That is why I am so thankful for your partnership with us to translate the Bible into Enga, so the people of Enga can hear the Word of God clearly and know what they need to do to behind-im it (I mean, ‘follow it’).

Friday, May 1, 2020

Back-Translation Complete

As we shelter-in-place here in Alhambra, California, waiting to see when things might open back up, I (Adam) have continued working with the Enga translation team remotely to complete the back-translation of the remaining books of the Enga New Testament. Just two days ago, we made the final edits as we prepared the back-translation for consultant check. To refresh your memory about what back-translation is and why we need to do it, let me remind you about the checking process for Bible translation. As we complete portions of the translation, we must have them checked by an outside consultant. The consultant is an experienced translator who goes through the translation line-by-line with a couple of Enga speakers to make sure that they are understanding the meaning of the text. But because the consultant does not speak Enga, he or she must have access to a very literal English back-translation of the Enga translation. The consultant then works from the English back-translation as he or she asks questions of the Enga speakers about the Enga translation. We have now completed back-translating the remaining books of the Enga New Testament so that they are now ready for consultant check. We praise the Lord for helping us to complete this work, which can be very tedious (but also very beneficial). We now wait for the time when we can have the remaining books of the Enga New Testament checked by a consultant. This is, of course, all up in the air right now as we wait to see how Coronavirus pans out both here in America and in Papua New Guinea (where there are eight confirmed cases).

Biblical Terms Checking
As we wait to see how things will pan out, there is another check that we will be working on, which is the Biblical Terms checking process. This is a process in which we use translation software to make sure that every word in the Greek New Testament is accounted for in the Enga translation. This process is slow-going at first as I work through Matthew verse-by-verse. But the more Enga terms I match up with Greek terms, the easier the work gets as I go along. So far this process has shown that our translation is quite accurate with only minor words here and there that we failed to account for. Of course, as we identify any words that we accidentally overlooked, we make notes to add them into the translation.

Future Plans
Before Coronavirus hit, we had been planning on returning to Papua New Guinea in early July. Now, we are in a holding pattern, waiting to see what will happen. Our heart's desire is to return to Papua New Guinea sooner, rather than later, so please pray with us that we will be able to return before the beginning of the next school year. Pray as well that the Enga translators will remain safe and healthy and that the number of Coronavirus cases in Papua New Guinea will not increase. We appreciate your continued prayer and support of our work. Please know that we continue to move toward our goal of completing the Enga translation, even as we shelter-in-place here in California.

May the peace of Christ be with you!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Dealing with Fear and Anxiety in the midst of Coronavirus

This morning I had an opportunity to preach via phone to a small group of believers. The title of the message was Dealing with Fear and Anxiety in the midst of Coronavirus. You can listed to it at the link below.