Having arrived back from Yabru late last week, the team is filled with excitement over the time spent at the most recent Oral Bible Storytelling course. Heading into the trip, we knew there were possibilities for the unexpected. Having been told in October that January and February were high water times, we didn’t know what to expect. We did know that we had been praying for God to send just the right amount of rain for our stay. School starts in February in Papua New Guinea, so there was also a possibility that people would not come to the course because they were busily arranging school fees for their kids who were going away to school.
With less than two days from our arrival to the start of the course, trainers researched and prepared lessons for the teaching sessions. The first five participants arrived the same day as the team that flew in from Wewak. This was a surprise, but a pleasant one. The next day, we eagerly awaited the arrival of the rest of the participants. By the end of the day, our hearts were heavy as only a very few more participants had arrived. Now what? The team was ready and waiting to teach, but where were the participants? As we looked at those that had come, we wondered where God was in the midst of this. A number of them present had really struggled in the past to learn even one story when there was a team of four to share the load. Now if teams consisted of one, two, or three, how would they get all five stories learned?
The course started as planned on Thursday with those who were present. Considerable time was spent reviewing the process of learning stories as well as thinking through how Papua New Guineans usually learn stories in their communities. For some, it seemed to be a breakthrough moment as they realized they could learn Bible stories the same way they learned stories in the village, through repetition and practice. So they began learning the first Abraham story using these methods rather than some of the ways they had tried in previous courses which really weren’t working. Quickly the first story was completed and they eagerly tried their new method on the second Abraham story. Again, they were making good progress. In addition to using drama and story boards, a couple more teaching tools were implemented along the way that bolstered the way the stories were learned. In the end, all five groups learned all five stories and were finished ahead of schedule. Praise the Lord!
We give thanks to God for answering prayers. For months we have fought to understand why the participants have struggled to learn the stories and we are grateful that God chose to start with the least likely participants to show ways that would work in our context. We also happily report that the training center grounds were never under water in our sixteen days in the village. We had just the right amount to keep the water tanks full and temperatures cooler at night. In the end, we were pleased with all the participants that made the effort to be there and only a couple of those not present were taking care of school fees. God was right there in the midst of our questions with His answers.