On Tuesday, Gary and I (Sam) traveled to Forok to see if the Bungain language is being used or if it is dying and to see if they want to become the last group for the Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS) workshop starting in February. We arrived unannounced at the home of Nevil, a pastor in Forok. We traveled on together to see the community leader, but he had gone to town and was not available. We will try to set up a meeting with the Forok community early next week. We were told that the children no longer use the language and even the parents’ generation has trouble with extended conversation in their language.
The Bungain language has over 3000 speakers and at least a dozen villages. Since Forok was the closest to town and on the edge of the language area, we decided to drive through the area and see what the language use was like in the rest of the language group.
We stopped at the villages of Waibab, Kandai, and Duguwat and again the community leader was gone and the children did not speak the Bungain language. We traveled on to the village of Balik and Bungain. We were able to speak to several people there including some leaders. They again told us that the children do not speak Bungain, but they do understand it. We did observe some people using Bungain on occasion. We will meet with them again on Tuesday to see if they would like to come to OBS as well and to learn more information. We were told that Forok had their own language and was not part of Bungain (we do not know if it is a dialect or sufficiently different to be a different language).
The people at Bungain were excited about the possibilities of learning more about the Bible. They explained that they talk to the gods when they cut trees or plant gardens to assure the gods that they are acting properly and so the gods will bless them. They would like to know more about God and what the Bible says about God and the spirits so they know how they should behave and live in harmony with them.