Saturday, December 1, 2012

I've Only Learned How To Fight

"I never went to school. I never learned how to read. I never learned how to speak English or Tok Pisin. The only thing I ever learned how to do was fight." As I heard these words, I was standing in front of the congregation of the Assembly of God Church in Immi, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea. I was immediately struck by just how desperately the Engan people need the Word of God in their own language. Sai Mata, the man who spoke these words, was one of the leaders of the Immi congregation. In fact, he was one of the few men left in the village because so many of the other men had been killed over the years in tribal fighting. The church itself had been burned to the ground multiple times, and the church that is there now had been rebuilt just a couple of years ago.

I had been asked by Pastor Darren Terros, one of the men who will be a part of the Enga Bible translation team, to come speak at the church in Immi. We were given a wonderful reception by the church. As we walked across the field to the church building, the entire congregation was outside singing worship songs, and as we reached the church grounds, they put a flower necklace around each one of our necks (including the children). As the singing finished, they stood in line waiting to greet us and shake our hands. It was the best welcome we have received during our time in Papua New Guinea!

I had prepared to share a message in Tok Pisin, the main trade language of Papua New Guinea, thinking that the congregation would be able to understand me. Pastor Darren, however, translated the entire sermon into Enga because many of the people did not know Tok Pisin. What we didn't know is that when Pastor Darren had started pastoring this church two years prior, he told the congregation that one day they would have a "white man" speak at their church. Since they were just a small, village church, it seemed unlikely that a "white man" would ever come, but we were humbled to know that God used us to fulfill Pastor Darren's prediction. Many non-believers came to the service that day to hear the "white man" speak, and so it seemed appropriate to give an altar call at the conclusion of the service and give people a chance to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It was difficult to gauge how many people responded because Engans are more reluctant to raise their hands than people in America are, but I did see some hands slightly raised, and I know God was working on people's hearts.

After praying for people to receive Jesus Christ, I then told people how important it was to read their Bibles. And as the words were coming out of my mouth, it struck me. Nobody in Immi has a Bible! And even if they did have a Bible, almost nobody in Immi knows how to read! I realized in that moment, just how important it was not only to have a good translation of the Bible in the Enga language, but to have an audio recording of the Bible so that people who will likely never learn how to read can hear the Word of God in the only language that they really understand! That is why one of our first and primary goals is to make a translation of the Enga New Testament available on something called an Audibible, which is a small, hand-held, solar-powered audio player that allows people to hear the Word of God in their own language. Please pray with us as we direct our translation efforts towards this goal. And please pray that the people of Immi will experience a long-lasting peace from tribal fighting.

If you would like to see a video of our welcome at the church of Immi, please click here. Please note that our oldest son, Jacob, was holding the camera as we approached the church, so it is a bit shaky, but you will nevertheless get a glimpse of how it felt to be welcomed the way we were in Immi. Sai Mata, the man mentioned in this update, is wearing a light green shirt, and in the video he is standing next to Pastor Darren Terros, the man who is wearing a white shirt and a tie.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Power of Language

During our initial six-week stay in Wabag, Enga Province, we learned just how powerful it is to speak to people in their own language.

I (Adam) had taken just a few steps down the street in Wabag town when I realized that I was unintentionally stealing the groceries I was carrying. I had left the store without paying for them! I quickly went back into the store where I had bought them and said, “Namba kame silyo!” which means, “I am forgetting.” (At that time I could not yet say “I forgot to pay” so I just said what I could to get my point across.) I had shopped in this small store a couple of times before, and I had always tried to speak in Enga. This time, the store workers were so excited to see a ‘kone’ (white man) trying to speak Enga that they forgot to ask me to pay! Luckily I was able to pay for my groceries without any problems, and they were impressed that I had come back after realizing I hadn’t paid.

I have encountered similar reactions all over town whenever I speak in Enga. When I stop to speak with someone in town, I soon have a crowd of people around me who are fascinated to hear a ‘kone’ speaking Enga! People have literally squealed with joy at hearing me speak Enga!

The reactions are not the same when we speak in Tok Pisin, which is the main trade language of Papua New Guinea. Many foreigners can speak Tok Pisin. But there are few foreigners that take the time to learn Enga!

Now, if people get that excited to hear a ‘kone’ speaking a few words of broken Enga, imagine how excited they will be to hear the very word of God in Enga! Learning someone’s language tells them that you value them, and I believe that when people hear the Word of God in their own language, they will experience the love of God in a unique and powerful way!

When were you in Wabag?
We were in Wabag, the capital of Enga Province, for six weeks from September 19 to October 30.

Where did you stay in Wabag?
We stayed in a guest house located on the grounds of the Wabag Assembly of God Church. The guest house was conveniently located close to town. While this was a wonderful place for us to stay, it will not be available for us long-term, so please pray for a long-term housing solution for us in Enga Province.

Why did you go to Wabag?
We went to Wabag to confirm our calling to do translation work in the Enga language, become familiar with life in Enga Province, and continue language study. After six weeks in Wabag, we are now ready to officially allocate to the Enga Bible translation project.

Is Enga hard to learn?
If you ask an Engan, they will tell you that Enga is very easy and that you will learn it in a few months. In reality, it is a very difficult language for an English speaker to learn. The sentence structure is very different from English, and the verb forms are extremely complex. It is nothing like learning Spanish or Tok Pisin, which are both relatively similar to English.

Have you started translating yet?
We had our first meeting of the Enga Bible translation team in September! Each team member was given a portion of Jonah to translate, which will help us evaluate each person’s translation abilities. However, the primary work of translating the New Testament is slated to begin in 2013!

How are Martha and the kids?
Martha and the kids are doing well. Martha homeschooled the kids while we were in Wabag, and she did a great job. The kids quickly made new friends, and they had lots of fun playing on the church grounds.

What's next?
We are now in Ukarumpa, where we are continuing independent study of the Enga language. We are hoping to go back to Enga Province in January, so please pray that we will be able to find suitable housing that will be available to us long-term.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Reuben's Story

"I'm not a Christian," Reuben told me (Adam) just one week after becoming our Enga language guide. "I don't go to church, and I like to get drunk," he continued. I was very surprised by his admission, because I had been lead to believe that he was already a believer. After all, his cousin was one of the key Engan leaders driving the Enga Bible translation project. Not only that, but Reuben had come to teach me Enga so that I could help translate the Bible into the Enga language. I was struck with the sudden realization that I now had my first opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with an Engan person. Reuben and I were taking our mid-morning break from language study, and so I took the opportunity to tell Reuben my testimony. "There was a time when I also used to get drunk and when I didn't go to church either," I told Reuben in the trade language of Tok Pisin. "But I felt like I had no meaning or purpose in my life. I didn't like who I was, and I wanted to become a better person. I quickly realized, however, that I didn't have the power to change on my own. But then Jesus Christ came into my life, forgave me of my sins, and helped me to become the person that God wants me to be. Now, I don't have any desire to get drunk, and I like going to church and worshipping God." I continued sharing more of my story with Reuben, and I invited him to the Ukarumpa Tok Pisin church service that Sunday. I also began praying for him and asked our friends, Humberto and Maria, to pray for him too. That Sunday, as soon as I entered the church building, I began looking all over for Reuben. I still hadn't spotted him by the time the service began, but I was pleasantly surprised during the "meet-and-greet" time when I noticed him sitting up front. I walked up to him, greeted him, and asked him to come sit with us. That night he joined me at a Tok Pisin Bible study. I started to begin our daily language learning sessions with a devotional in Tok Pisin and a time of prayer, and Reuben continued coming to church and to the Sunday night Bible study. Reuben shared with me how God was working in his life, and I felt God laying on my heart to ask Reuben if he wanted to ask Jesus Christ to come into his life. One morning in particular, I felt that the time was right. "Reuben," I said. "Would you like to pray and ask Jesus Christ to come into your life and forgive you of your sins so that you can have eternal life?" He quietly, but resolutely replied, "Yes," and together we prayed as he received Jesus Christ into his heart. Reuben is different now from when I first met him, and it is evident that Jesus Christ dwells in his heart. He has also become a good friend of the family, and the kids love him (especially Asher, who calls him "Mr. Reuben"). Praise God for what He has done in Reuben's life!

Please Note
We are currently living in Wabag, Enga Province, where we have limited internet access. We are scheduled to complete our six-week visit on October 30, and we hope to give you a full report in November of our time here in Wabag. We may not be able to respond to email or Facebook messages right away, but we will reply as soon as we can. Please pray that God would help us to continue to learn the Enga language, to adapt to life in Wabag, and to begin forming meaningful relationships with the Engan people.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Ends of the Earth

The alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. It was time to get up and travel to 'the ends of the earth'. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, "you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (NLT). For me, both literally and symbolically, the 'ends of the earth' is Enga Province in Papua New Guinea. I (Adam) turned off the alarm, got ready, and went with my language guide, Reuben, to wait for a PMV (public motor vehicle). After waiting for nearly an hour and a half, we got on the first PMV of the morning and headed off to Goroka, about two hours away. From Goroka we boarded another PMV for the four and a half hour trip to Mt. Hagen (not including the hour and a half we spent driving around Goroka trying to fill up the PMV with passengers). In Mt. Hagen, my co-translator, Maniosa Yakasa, picked us up and drove us the remaining three hours to the village of Sakarip, just outside the town of Wabag. It took a total of twelve hours traveling over bumpy, pothole-filled roads, but I finally made it to 'the ends of the earth'.

During my one-week stay, I (along with my co-translator Maniosa) visited leaders from various churches to tell them about the Enga Bible translation project and ask them to support the work by providing capable people to help. All of the church leaders enthusiastically supported the translation project and pledged to provide whatever support they could. The importance of this church-support cannot be understated, because if local church leaders do not support a translation project, it is not likely to succeed. I was especially pleased to visit the Wabag Assembly of God church and attend their Sunday service, where I was asked to get up and share a little bit about why I had come. While I had only been studying Enga for about five weeks, I was able to get up and tell everyone my name, where I was from, and how many children I had in the Enga language. The people were overjoyed to see a 'kone' (white man) speaking their language. I then switched to Tok Pisin (the trade language) and explained more about our ministry and the need for a translation in the Enga language.

It became clear to me over the course of my stay just how desperately the Enga people need the good news of Jesus Christ to become alive in their lives. While Engans are very welcoming to foreigners, they are often short-tempered and quick to fight with each other on both the individual and the tribal level. These fights are very destructive and cause deep wounds that I believe only forgiveness and the love of God can overcome. Another problem that I witnessed firsthand in Enga was drunkenness. In traveling around with my co-translator, I was amazed at how many people in the streets were completely drunk, even in the morning. Without the love of God in their hearts, people in Enga are turning to alcohol to provide temporary pleasure and relief from the problems of life.

I was sad and troubled by the problems I encountered in Enga Province, yet overcome by the appreciation the people had that I had come to be with them. I was torn, questioning why I would want to live in a place that had such problems, but then remembering that God has called me to be a light in dark places. I am not called to choose the road that is most comfortable for myself, but rather the road that leads out of my comfort zone, away from all I know, and even to the 'ends of the earth'.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Lord's Purpose Will Prevail

As we made preparations to come to Papua New Guinea, we had many plans about the kind of language we would work with, but it is the Lord's purpose that will prevail!

Proverbs 19:21 says, "You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail" (NLT). As we were preparing to come to Papua New Guinea, my (Adam's) plan was to work somewhere where no prior linguistics or translation work had been done. I was going to be a pioneer—the very first outsider to learn how to speak the language and translate the Bible! Certainly God would bless such a plan!

As our departure date drew closer, however, I felt a check in my spirit about my plan. God wasn't impressed by my lofty goals and ideals, and He began to show me the foundation of pride that they were built upon. God didn't care whether or not I was a pioneer—He just wanted me to trust Him and submit myself to follow wherever He might lead.

So just over one year ago I prayed, "Lord, I give up all of my own desires and plans for how this should work, and I commit to allow you to simply use me as you best see fit." God then began to lay the Enga people on my heart, and Martha and I have been praying about working with the Enga people ever since that time. Others have worked in the Enga language before, but they are still without an adequate translation of the Word of God. As the largest vernacular language in Papua New Guinea with over 300,000 speakers, Enga has one of the greatest Bible translation needs in all of Papua New Guinea!

This month I am making an initial, exploratory trip to Enga Province, and we hope to make a decision about accepting a long-term assignment to work with the Enga people soon thereafter. Please pray with us about this incredible opportunity to give the Word of God to so many people in their own language.

Where is Enga Province?
Enga is the highest and second-most rugged province of Papua New Guinea. The provincial capital of Wabag is located at 6,004 feet and has a population of 4,072 (the least populous provincial capital in the country). Europeans first visited the area that is now Wabag in 1938, and prior to the 1930s, the people in Enga Province had no knowledge of other people groups outside of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Wabag is connected to the rest of the Highlands by the Highlands Highway, and one can drive from Ukarumpa, where we live now, to Wabag (although it takes about nine hours to do so). Wabag is about two hours away by car from Mt. Hagen, which is the fourth largest city in Papua New Guinea and home to the country’s best hospital. It is also possible to take a short flight from Ukarumpa to a town near Wabag if travel conditions are less than favorable.

Can you speak Enga?
Although we have learned to speak Tok Pisin (one of the official languages of Papua New Guinea) fairly well, we have very little knowledge about the Enga language. However, during the month of July we began learning Enga from a man named Reuben who came to Ukarumpa from Wabag to teach us. We are using a method of language learning called the Growing Participator Approach. The first phase of this approach involves a lot of listening and very little speaking (much like how infants learn language). What we end up doing is a lot of pointing and physical response to commands our language guide gives us. It is a highly effective technique to engage in language quickly without memorization. You can see a sample from the third day of our sessions at

What are the translation needs?
Although prior translation work has been done in the Enga language, the Enga people are still without a translation of the New Testament that speaks to their hearts. The priority for Enga is to publish a translation of the New Testament in the Central Dialect using a style that sounds natural and lets the Word of God speak powerfully to the Enga people. An audio recording of this translation would also be done to make the Word of God accessible to the many people in Enga who are not able to read well.

If you would like to hear more about our opportunity to work with the Enga people, including a quick 'hello' from everyone in the family, please watch our video update that was shown at Covina Assembly of God on July 15.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ukarumpa Village

Ukarumpa is the Wycliffe center of Bible translation operations in Papua New Guinea, and it is where we are based when we are not in a village. Ukarumpa gets its name from the village that is situated just across the Ba'e River over an old, dilapidated bridge. Historically, missionaries have not always had the best relationships with people from Ukarumpa Village because many of the younger men have been known to cause disturbances of many kinds. In the past year, however, the leaders of Ukarumpa Village made a formal apology for all of the disturbances and vowed that the village would change their ways. This opened the doorway for a small group of missionaries to begin a Bible study in Ukarumpa Village which many of the young men who have caused problems have been attending. I (Adam) have been privileged over the last two Sundays to be a part of the group going to Ukarumpa Village and building relationships. Although my primary ministry will be in the work of Bible translation, I am excited about this opportunity to mentor our neighbors in Ukarumpa Village and encourage the younger men as they seek to follow Christ. Please pray for us as we reach out to our neighbors across the Ba'e River. Please also continue to pray for us as we consider a long-term allocation among the Enga people. (See our June update for more information about the Enga people.) Thank you, as always, for your prayers and support!

Gadsup women crossing the bridge that connects Ukarumpa to Ukarumpa Village

Friday, June 1, 2012

God's Word in Enga

Greetings from Ukarumpa in the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. For the last month we have been settling into life in Ukarumpa after fourteen weeks of orientation in Madang Province. Ukarumpa is about five thousand feet above sea level, and we have been enjoying the cooler weather as well as the relative absence of mosquitoes.

Since our arrival, Adam has been working with Maniosa Yakasa and Danley Noah from the Enga language group for the annual Translators' Training Course (TTC). The five-week course is designed to introduce native speakers of Papua New Guinean languages to the Bible translation process by helping them develop study skills, explore their own language, learn helpful Biblical background material, and practice basic translation principles. As the course progresses, each language group applies what they learn in producing a thoroughly checked and approved translation of Genesis 22:1-19 (God Tests Abraham). The Enga language now has its first-ever written translation of this key story from the Old Testament! What a joy to be a part of the team that has made a portion of the Word of God available in the Enga language for the very first time! If you would like to see the story for yourself in Enga, please click here.

Getting to know the Enga translators
Enga Province is the highest province in Papua New Guinea, with the provincial capital of Wabag being situated at just over six thousand feet. The Enga people were one of the last people groups of the world to make contact with the West. Up until the 1930s, the Enga had no knowledge of the existence of other people groups outside of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. With nearly 300,000 speakers, the Enga language is spoken by more people in Papua New Guinea than any other vernacular language. Yet they have no Old Testament in their language, and the New Testament needs major revisions in order to sound natural, and be used and accepted. This means that the largest people group in Papua New Guinea is still, in essence, without the Word of God in their own language. What a tremendous need and opportunity!

We have felt the Lord leading us to pray about working with the Enga on a long-term basis, and we invite you to pray with us about this decision. As you pray, if you sense the Lord speaking to your heart about this opportunity, please share your thoughts with us. We believe that if the Lord is calling us to this work, He will confirm that call in the hearts of our partners as well. If we were to work with the Enga, we would spend many months of the year in Enga province learning the Enga language and facilitating the translation work. Adam would be thoroughly involved in the translation process, especially in consulting the original Greek and Hebrew of the Bible and checking the translation to ensure that it is faithful and accurate to the original texts. He would also provide the technical support needed to use Bible translation software and publish the work (probably including audio recordings as well).

Thank you for your prayers! We are excited to see what the Lord is going to do.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life in the Village of Segar

A detailed write-up of our time in the village is below, but we have included two videos for you to watch. The first is called Segar Village Tour. It gives you a look at our day-to-day life in the village. The second is called POC Highlights and gives you a glimpse of our entire 14-week training, including our time in the village.

First Day
We arrived at the village of Segar just after lunchtime on Friday, March 23. After we finished putting all of our boxes upstairs into the house, school let out. Before we knew it, we had more than 50 school children swarming our front yard to come look at the 'white people'. It was a bit overwhelming. Before we knew it, Jacob was up on the balcony of our house looking down on all the kids and putting on a little show and making them all laugh. Later when the father of our host family came home, he asked us if we wanted to go down to the creek to bathe. We told him we did, figuring that it would be a good chance to see where the bathing area was. We walked across the road and started heading down the mountain toward the creek. As soon as we started walking, it started pouring down rain. Now we had just recently finished a three-day hike where we had walked up and down steep muddy slopes for eight hours a day. We felt ready to handle a short hike to the creek. Adam was carrying Asher as we went. But within his first ten steps, Adam slipped so hard on the wet ground that he fell on his back and dropped Asher at the same time. So we gave Asher to a boy about ten years old to carry for us. He carried Asher with no problems whatsoever and we walked the 15 minutes to the creek in the pouring rain. We bathed quickly and came back up the mountain. Upon returning to the village, we resisted the temptation to stay inside the house unpacking all of our things and instead we stayed downstairs and talked with our new friends in the village. Martha then made dinner and we went upstairs right after dark and had a good night's sleep.

Daily Routine
Each morning when we woke up we would gather everything we needed to make breakfast and put it in a large red bin and carry it all downstairs. Typical breakfasts were oatmeal, cereal, and eggs and spam. We usually heated water the night before and put it in a thermos so we could make coffee for Martha and Milo (sort of like hot chocolate) for Adam right when we woke up. After breakfast, we tried to do a short devotional together. Then Martha and Jacob would do school while Adam would talk with all of the visitors that usually came to see us. It was rare to have a morning without visitors around most of the time. They really enjoyed looking at our pictures from America and hearing stories about life there. Many asked me to tell them about what happened on 9/11, and we were surprised to find out that most of the people had never heard of Los Angeles. We were also surprised when people kept asking asking whether Jacob and Asher were male or female (a common question in Papua New Guinea because males and females both have short, black, curly hair). Other things we did in the morning was take the ashes from the previous day down to the liklik haus (outhouse) and dump them in the hole in the ground to help ensure the aroma didn't become too unpleasant. We also would turn our eggs every morning to help preserve them. Martha would also typically go down to the creek to wash the clothes and bathe (the two activities are done one after the other to avoid two trips down to the creek). Adam and the kids typically bathed up at the house in a tub of water because Adam would itch terribly if he bathed in the creek water, and the kids never wanted to go down to the creek to bathe. Needless to say the the difficulty of obtaining water and bathing in a small tub made bathing a rare commodity in our household. Around lunchtime we would start preparing lunch, often with an audience. We tried to keep lunch fairly simple like Ramen noodles or peanut butter and crackers. But we would also make homemade bread once a week and homemade tortillas once a week. Any meals that needed to be cooked were cooked over an open fire. A couple of times a week Adam would chop firewood and go down to the spring, fill up a 20 liter container of water, put it in a backpack, and haul it back up the hill. Of course, when it rained we could just fill up buckets with rain water, which saved Adam from having to go down to the spring. We began to really appreciate and welcome rain! After lunch, we would try to get Asher to nap, which was difficult to do with all of the people that were always hanging around under our house and all the kids from the village making noise. In the afternoon we would work on the assignments that we had been given to complete or we would just talk with everyone who had come to see us. Around five o'clock we started getting dinner ready. Our main staples were pasta, rice, and canned pork (like Spam). But we also had the occasional treat like tacos with ground beef, tomato, and avocado or fried cook bananas (a less sweet banana used for cooking). For dessert, we made instant custard once a week, and Adam even made fudge over an open fire on four different occasions. After dinner, we would clean all of our dishes, haul everything back upstairs, and sit down and talk with the people that were hanging around. After talking for a while, people would usually say something like, "Do you want to go upstairs and rest?" which was their way of excusing themselves from the conversation. We would gladly say that we were indeed tired and then we would go upstairs. Before bed time we would read together as a family. This was our favorite time of the day. We started with a book called "When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit", which is about a family that fled Germany during World War II and had to adjust to a new life in France. It was a great story for the kids to learn about and think about the transition that we were going through. After we finished that book we read "Little House on the Prairie," which we all thoroughly enjoyed. After reading, we all brushed our teeth and went to bed. Right before bed Martha would journal and Adam would read (Huckleberry Finn and then Gulliver's Travels) and then we would go to sleep. We were typically in bed and often asleep before nine o'clock, exhausted from the day's activities.

Local Produce
We were able to get some produce from the local market that happened every Saturday, but mostly people brought us produce from their gardens as gifts. We would typically reciprocate such gifts with gifts of salt, sugar, tea, jam, peanut butter, and matches, which the people received very happily. We were brought a wide variety of produce including oranges, bananas, cook bananas, tomatoes, avocados, peanuts (sweeter and softer than American peanuts), pumpkin, corn, green onions, kaukau (similar to sweet potato), taro, and mon (a small, hard tree fruit with little flavor), dry coconuts (which are scraped and used to add grease and flavor to meals), green coconuts (which are used to drink and eat the meat inside), and delicious pineapple.

Because of the young ages of our children we were not able to be very adventurous during our time in the village. For the most part, our entire 35 days were spent within a 1 mile radius of our house. One of our early highlights was showing the Jesus Film in Tok Pisin. We had about 50 people show up to watch the film, which required the use of a generator to power the projector, DVD player, and sound equipment. Soon after beginning the film, it began to rain and we had to move everyone underneath our house. It was cramped but everyone was able to see. People were quite responsive to the film and the next day one of the teenagers in our village asked me if the things in the film really happened. I was glad to tell her that they did. Adam was able to take a day trip to a waterfall that was about a 3 hour hike away, and on the last day Adam had the opportunity to kill a chicken with his bare hands by chopping it karate style on the back. The father of our host family cooked the chicken with curry and served it to us for dinner. Adam also enjoyed the opportunity to learn just a little of the Gavak language to practice his language learning skills. He discovered the two words used for 'white man'. When he heard others talking in Gavak about the "white man", Adam was able to respond, "What are you talking about, black man?" which was a perfectly acceptable response and always elicited laughter. Martha enjoyed cooking with the women of the village, especially teaching them how to make bread. Martha and Adam both had a chance to play some volleyball, and the locals were impressed with their abilities. Jacob excelled in learning Tok Pisin and made a wonderful friend named Condy in the village. Bella overcame her shyness and started venturing out to other homes in our village on her own. Asher amazed us all with his understanding of Tok Pisin and with saying an occasional word or phrase in Tok Pisin or Gavak that we hadn't taught him. It was wonderful to see all of our kids interacting with and playing with Papua New Guinean kids in the village. Other than that, we simply enjoyed getting to know people in the village and finding out more about their lives.

One of the biggest challenges was our housing situation. In order to get inside the house, you had to climb up onto a small landing about 3 feet off the ground and then climb a steep ladder to get to the porch outside the front door. From there you had to step over a short wall about 2 feet high to get into the house. Asher was not able to climb over this short wall by the door so he had to be lifted in and out, which usually required one of us to climb up the steep ladder to get him. We also had to carry all of our cooking supplies up and down the ladder to the cooking area below each day because it was not safe to leave them out at night for fear that they might get stolen. We didn't have anything stolen, and people were wonderful to us, but you have to be careful with your items in Papua New Guinea. People won't generally set out to steal anything, but sometimes if they see something laying around with nobody watching it, they can't resist the temptation to take it. Our house was also old, dirty, and falling apart. We broke two doors and many other smaller pieces of the house. The father of our host family is getting ready to build a new house, so we didn't feel too embarrassed about things breaking. We attributed it mostly to the age of the house. Not having any light inside the house was also a challenge, but it did force us to spend most of our time outside and interacting with people, which was good for building relationships and practicing Tok Pisin. Adam's allergic reaction to the creek water made bathing quite difficult, and when we ran out of rain water it was quite difficult to haul water up the incredibly steep trail from the spring. It was difficult for Martha to haul all of our dirty clothes down to the creek, wash them by hand, and haul them all bak. We actually found it much more difficult to not have running water than to not have electricity. It was also difficult to be surrounded by people all of the time and have very little time to ourselves as a family. It would not be uncommon to have as many as twenty people below our house at once during the day. Sometimes they would talk with us, which was nice, but often they just stared at us, which was uncomfortable. They would also often talk to each other in Gavak even though they knew Tok Pisin, which was discouraging because one of our primary reasons for being in the village was to practice Tok Pisin. Finally, Asher was a constant challenge because he has now reached the terrible twos and was almost always whining or crying about something. Each challenge, however, prepared us for future village living stints as we now have a better idea of what village living is like, and what it will take for us to create a more sustainable village living environment for ourselves in the future.

Coming Back to POC
On Thursday, April 26 about 10:30 a.m. our Pacific Orientation Course (POC) staff came to pick us up. Despite all of the challenges of village life and our desire to return to a cleaner environment with electricity and running water, we were sad to leave to leave the people in the village. We had formed some very good relationships with people, and it was hard to say goodbye. Coming back to life at POC was somewhat disorienting. When we saw our room that we had left 35 days earlier it looked very strange and foreign. And it actually took us about 24 hours before we remembered that we could turn the lights on. We had become so used to life without lights that we had forgotten that they were there. Overall, our time in the village was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will never forget. It was one of the most challenging things we have done in our lives, and there were many moments of deep frustration. At the same time, it was a wonderful experience that enriched our lives through the relationships we developed and the sense of accomplishment we gained from learning to do things that we had never done before. We thank God for the opportunity to live in Segar for five weeks, and we look forward to what God has in store for the future.

A Pastor With No Bible

During our five weeks of living in the village of Segar, we were surprised to find out that the father of our host family, who is a pastor in the local church, does not have a Bible in his first or second languages.

On our first Sunday in the village of Segar in the province of Madang, we attended the local Christian Mission Fellowship church, which is loosely affiliated with the Papua New Guinea Assemblies of God. Our host father, Boney Mukip, is one of the pastors of the church, and he was preaching that morning. Pastor Boney’s first language is Gavak, but he is bilingual and preaches mostly in his second language of Tok Pisin because some of the people who attend the church do not speak Gavak.

I was surprised, however, to discover that anytime he quoted the Bible, he did so in English. Now there is a certain prestige and richness to the English language that attracts many, especially Papua New Guinean pastors, to read the Bible, at times, in English. However, I noticed that Pastor Boney never read the Bible in Tok Pisin, even though that was the language he was using to preach. Now I knew that there was no translation of the Bible in his mother tongue of Gavak, but I assumed that Pastor Boney would have a copy of the Scriptures in Tok Pisin because they are widely available (although expensive). But after a couple of weeks, I discovered that Pastor Boney did not have a copy of the Tok Pisin Bible, and that the English Bible he was using was given to him by a Bible school teacher years ago. It was so old and beat up that it was in pieces. He had to glue it back together himself and set it out in the sun to dry!

For us in America, it is hard to imagine that something as basic as a Bible would be a luxury for a pastor. But in Papua New Guinea, the need for Bibles is great just like the need for translating the Bible into a language people really understand.

How Was The Village?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a movie is worth ten thousand. There is so much to share about our five weeks in the village of Segar that we cannot do it in a one page newsletter. Instead we have posted two videos online for you to watch The first is called Segar Village Tour, which gives an interesting look at our daily life in the village. The second video is called POC Highlights and shares some of the best moments from our time at the Pacific Orientation Course (POC), including our five weeks in the village. Finally, we are posting a detailed write-up on our blog entitled Life in the Village of Segar. We invite you to watch the videos and read the blog to really get an idea for what our five weeks in a remote village without electricity or running water was like.

How Are The Kids?
The kids are doing well. We were amazed with how well they picked up Tok Pisin, especially Jacob. At first the kids were understandably a little shy, especially when everyone wanted to hold Asher and touch Bella’s hair. But as the kids began to know some of the people in the village, especially some of the other kids, they began to play with them, talk with them, and visit them at their houses. The kids stayed healthy for the most part, with just some minor illnesses here or there. We cooked most of our own meals, but that didn’t stop the kids from happily accepting and eating food from other people in the village. Although they were glad to come back to POC and see some of their friends, the kids were also sad to leave some of the new friends they made in Segar.

What Are You Doing Now?
On May 1 we moved to Ukarumpa, which is near Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. Ukarumpa is the main translation center where we will probably be working when we are not in a village. Adam is currently helping to mentor translators from the Enga language for a Translators Training Course. Please pray for God’s wisdom and guidance during this time as there is good potential for Adam to continue working with the Enga on a long-term basis. Thank you for your prayers and support!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Village Living

Greetings from the village of Segar, which is located 1,233 feet above sea level on the North Coast of Papua New Guinea in the province of Madang. (For those of you who are interested, you can see our exact location by going to the following GPS coordinates: -4.8907, 145.623783.) We are just beginning the the second week of our five-week village living experience. Our host family has made it possible for us to stay in a traditional village house that has three bedrooms and a sitting room (see the picture of our house below). Traditional homes in Papua New Guinea do not have much in the way of furniture, so we sleep on camping mats that we brought from the United States and eat either sitting on the floor or below our house where there are some benches.

Because we are in a remote village setting, we do not have access to running water or electricity. The spring for drinking water and the stream for washing dishes and bathing are both about a ten-minute walk away down a fairly steep slope. However, we are attempting to catch rain water to minimize the number of times we have to hike to get our water (or recruit local kids to help us). Any water that we don't collect from the rain we are filtering with a Sawyer water filter that Pastor Darrel Larson has generously provided for us through his affiliation with the nonprofit organization Give Clean Water. For light, we have a Coleman kerosene lantern as well as a battery powered lantern and flashlights. For meals, we either prepare our own food over an open fire or eat with our host family (or both).

Our host family is a young family of four. The father's name is Boney, and he is the pastor of the local Christian Mission Fellowship church. The mother's name is Kristen, and they have a young boy named Jedida and a young girl named Salome. They speak the Dimir language as their mother tongue, but they are also fluent in the national language of Tok Pisin. As our host family, they are expected to help us develop our Tok Pisin speaking abilities as well as teach us skills that will help us live in a remote village setting.

We have a local produce market about one kilometer away and a trade store nearby. (A trade store stocks the very basics of dry and canned food such as rice and canned fish and pork). The local health Aid Post is four kilometers away. And even though we don't have electricity, we do have a good signal for using our cell phone (we just have to figure out a way to charge it). We are located just off a dirt road that has the occasional PMV (Public Motor Vehicle) passing by. The PMV goes out to the main road (about five miles away), where there are other PMV's that go into the town of Madang.

Please pray for our health during the village living portion of the Pacific Orientation Course as it is harder to make sure that the food, water, and kids are clean. Please also pray for us to develop close relationships with our host family and the other families in our village. And ask God to help us be content and have joy no matter what our circumstances, especially through the more challenging times that we will face.

We will not have internet access again until the very end of April, so we will not be able to respond to any emails for the next four weeks. But please go ahead and send us messages. We love to hear from you, and we will respond as soon as we can when our village living phase is over.

Thank you for your continued prayers, they make a big difference! And thank you for your continued support. We could not do this without you!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pacific Orientation

We are just beginning our sixth week of our fourteen-week Pacific Orientation Course in Nobnob, which is located twelve-miles away from Madang on the north coast of Papua New Guinea. We are learning a variety of topics including Tok Pisin (the national langauge of Papua New Guinea), medical information for our own health, cultural anthropology to help us adjust to new cultures, spiritual vitality to help us maintain our own spiritual health, and other skill-oriented classes helping us thrive in the local environment including hiking, swimming, and outdoor cooking. Jacob is in school during the day where he is learning Tok Pisin, Papua New Guinea culture, and how to adjust to life in a new country, while also doing his regular first grade studies. Bella and Asher are in childcare and are also learning Tok Pisin as they interact with their childcare providers, who are all experienced Papua New Guinean women. We are living in the dorms at POC, which are basic but adequate. It is very hot and humid. Please also be advised that we have very little access to the internet during our training and little down time for communication back home until our training is over on May 1. We look forward to giving you a more in-depth update at the conclusion of our training!

Prayer Requests
In just a couple of weeks, we begin the village living portion of our training. We will spend five weeks as a family in a local village without any other foreigners. We will have a host family that will help us as we learn how to live life in a remote village with no electricity or running water. This will be a very stretching experience, so please pray for health, patience, and joy as we learn to live in circumstances that are sure to challenge us. But we know that God's grace is sufficient. Thank you for your prayers!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Greetings from Papua New Guinea!

After ten years of deciding, two years of planning, one year of itinerating, and three calendar days of traveling, we have finally arrived in Papua New Guinea!

What a joy it is to greet you from Papua New Guinea! We have just begun our initial training program at the Pacific Orientation Course (POC) in Nobnob, which is twelve miles from the city of Madang on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea. The POC campus is located 1,200 feet above sea level and has a beautiful view of the ocean and surrounding area. The average temperature here is eighty-five degrees with high humidity.

The POC campus is located 1,200 feet above sea
level in Nobnob in the province of Madang.
The main purpose of POC is to help us and other new arrivals adjust to Papua New Guinea culture and learn how to thrive in our new environment. The course is divided into three phases. The first phase is held at the campus in Nobnob. It includes instruction in Tok Pisin (the national language of Papua New Guinea), personal medical care, anthropolgoy to help adjust to different cultures, spiritual vitality, hiking, swimming, and outdoor cooking (including building your own haus kuk or ‘cook house’).

After eight weeks in Nobnob, we enter the second phase of the course, which is village living. During this time, our family will live in a village for five weeks without any other foreigners. This will allow us to practice Tok Pisin and apply what we have learned during the first eight weeks of the course so that we can understand what village living is really like.

After the village living phase, we will return to Nobnob for one week to reflect on our experiences with the other trainees. Then we will move to Ukarumpa, which is about seven miles from Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands Province. This is the translation center where we will be located until we are assigned to work on a language project. Please keep us in your prayers!

Are The Kids In School?
Yes! The elementary program at POC consists of devotional times, Tok Pisin language learning, journaling, Papua New Guinea culture, math, spelling, and reading. The program is designed to help kids adjust, feel comfortable, and make friends with the national children as well as to make them feel like they are a real part of our family’s ministry. Younger kids are placed in childcare, which is staffed by several experienced Papua New Guinea women, who help the younger kids adjust to the new language and culture.

What Is Tok Pisin?
The national language of Papua New Guinea is Tok Pisin (Talk Pidgin). A pidgin is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a common language. Because Papua New Guinea has over eight hundred spoken languages, people use Tok Pisin to talk with people from other language groups. The majority of people in Papua New Guinea speak Tok Pisin as a second language. Because pidgin languages have limited vocabulary, they often have long-winded ways of saying things. For example, if you wanted to say ‘piano’, you would say, “bigpela bokis sapos yu paitim long maus i kraiaut,” which basically means “a big box that if you hit it on the mouth it makes noise.” Or you would say ‘messiah’ like this, “dispela man God i salim bilong kisim bek ol manmeri bilong en,” which basically means, “this man that God sent to take back all people that belong to him.” The good news is that most of the vocabulary of Tok Pisin is borrowed from English, which will make it easier for us to learn.

What Are Your Living Conditions?
During the Nobnob phase of POC, we are staying in dorms that have electricity and running water (although we are taking bucket showers). All of the trainees eat together in a dining hall. During the village living phase of POC, we will not have electricity or running water. During that time, we will live with a wasfamili (host family), who will help us learn how to prepare our own food by cooking over an open fire. Common foods include sago, taro, sweet potatoes, pineapples, mangos, passion fruit, bananas, pig, and fish.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

You Are Coming With Us

When we began telling people that we were itinerating to raise money to go to the mission field, they would sometimes look at us with sympathy. It was almost as if they were saying, "I'm sorry that you have to go through something like that during such tough economic times." They were surprised when we told them that things were going well and that the experience had been really positive. And for the past year as we have been visiting churches, we have been able to say the same thing. From the beginning of our itineration, God laid on our hearts to share our story in a way that would minister to and challenge others. We have done our best to be obedient to what we felt God wanted us to do, and we have seen God touch people's lives as well as pour out his blessings upon us. The hardest part of this whole process is anticipating saying all of the goodbyes. But the greatest thing we have come to realize is that we will not being going alone. You are all coming with us. We couldn't do this without your support. Whatever God allows us to accomplish in Papua New Guinea will not be done by just us but by all of you who have prayed for us, encouraged us, and supported us financially. You are also the missionaries. You are the senders, and we could not go without you. We have been overwhelmed by your generosity, kindness, and support, and we thank you for partnering with us to do not just what God has called the Boyds to do, but what God has called all of us to do.

Open House to Say Goodbye
We wish we could visit everyone one more time to say goodbye. But with just a couple of weeks to go before we leave on January 20, we know that is impossible. So we would like to invite you to stop by our house to say goodbye. We will have an open house on Monday, January 16 and Tuesday, January 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. If you are able to come by, we would welcome the chance to see you one more time and say goodbye. You don't need to RSVP, and please do not bring any gifts or food (we will not be able to bring anything else with us). Our house is located at 218 E Puente St in Covina. We hope to see you then!

Prayer Requests
Please pray for our travel to Papua New Guinea. Pray that we and our baggage will make all of our connections without delay, that we will not have any excess baggage fees, that the cargo we are shipping via boat will arrive without any problems or excessive customs fees, and that God will pour out an extra measure of grace and patience upon the whole family during our extremely long trip. Please also pray for health and stamina during our 14-week orientation that begins three days after we arrive in Papua New Guinea. God answers your prayers, so thank you for praying.

2011 Boyd Family Video
Each year, we create a video to commemorate some of the highlights from our past year as a family. You can watch the 2011 Boyd Family Video below.