The PNG Church is excited about working together and taking ownership of the remaining work that needs to be done in the Sepik region. The January 10th meeting is fast approaching where they will form an interdenominational group to oversee this work. So what are the next steps for us?
While we have a plan on how best to do language development and engage the remaining language communities, we need to do two things. One is to train Papua New Guineans with the goal of building capacity and sustainability. The second is to find ways to increase the frequency of that training.
Some of the training we would like to do such as the writer’s workshop, literacy, and Oral Bible Storytelling have training courses already developed. The need is to find enough people to teach those courses and finding places to hold this training. Other courses such as Holistic Oral Language Documentation (HOLD) need to be developed. Our focus is to train people who can train others. Papua New Guineans often learn best through hands on experience so this training needs to include classroom teaching, demonstrations, practice, and time for them to try what they have learned in real life. But there are so many languages and people needing language work done in their communities. We just cannot train people as fast as we would like. This brings us to the second thing we need to do – find ways to do more training.
Our main limitation for increasing the frequency of training lies in the shortage of trainers and being able to support and answer questions of those who have just gone through training and are starting to put that training into practice. The shortage of trainers should ease as we are able to use more and more qualified Papua New Guineans who have gone through training and are able to train others. We are also finding ways to use short term people to help with training. We have also found that there is much learning that happens as people work together in a group. A collective memory is much better than one memory and solutions to problems can often be found through group discussion. This is also very cultural. One idea to help facilitate this is to send both short term missionaries and PNG people together to places to do specified projects. We see this as having great potential.
Much of the work we have been doing lately is focused on developing the missing training modules that are needed as well as developing requirements and training to enable the use of short term missionaries. We have already received offers from missions such as YWAM to send many young people as short term missionaries. There are exciting possibilities ahead!
Next post will contain more on HOLD and why it could be a wonderful first step for language communities and valuable not only for the world-wide linguistic community, but also for the local churches.