How do you go somewhere and convince people that you aren’t coming? Last week we went to the Tau villages which are part of the Kwanga language. All three Tau villages and both Kubiwat villages came to our meeting convinced we were announcing where we would be building a house and settling among them despite our constant denials on both this trip and the last one. For over twenty years they have been asking for someone to come and live with them to do literacy and translation work in their language.
For over twenty years we have told them to wait.
It’s not because their language is weak, we don’t like them, we don’t like their place, or we have some secret agenda. None of these things are true. It’s only because we have no one to send and we are unlikely to have anyone to send in the future. Kwanga is one of 300 languages in Papua New Guinea which have been told in the past to wait. Most of 300 languages will never have someone come live with them to translate or do literacy simply because there is no one to send.
And we are tired of telling them to wait. No one should have to see generations die without knowing God speaks their language. No one should wait a lifetime despairing that their children will not have a chance to read or write their language. Language is an integral part of who we are.
So for two days we laid out a different option than waiting. If the communities and denominations would be willing to work together to support and send their own people to get training, we would train them and support them with technical knowledge to empower them to meet their own needs in language work.
Now we are waiting. Will they be able to grasp that we aren’t coming? Will they be able to put aside differences to work together? Will they be willing to put in the time and effort to support language work in their community? Do they see this as important or were they wanting us to come for other reasons?
We will find out soon.