After months of preparation and anticipation, the Oral Bible Storytelling workshop for the Lumi cluster of languages began last week in Wewak. Due to the remoteness of the villages, only one trip was made to each of the villages to invite them to the workshop. Most of those visits were done in November and December 2014. So, it was with great excitement that we waited to see how many people would come to the course. We are thrilled to have thirty-eight participants from eleven language groups at this course.
How far would you travel to attend an Oral Bible Storytelling course? Some of these participants walked for two days to the closest town of Lumi. Don’t picture this as a stroll in the park, but envision mountains, small foot paths, and rugged terrain. Then they waited for the public motor vehicle (PMV) to transport them to Wewak. This part of the journey took over twelve hours, riding through the night on the back of an open truck. They were tired, cold, and ready to see smiling faces when they arrived. Many of those who came are pastors of struggling churches throughout the Lumi district. Unlike other workshops, most of those attending are from one denomination. We were privileged to have the head of the denomination come and encourage the pastors one afternoon this week.
As we begin with a new cluster of languages, we are reminded that we are all learners. No one, including the SPES team and trainers, has all the information. With that in mind, we have tried a slightly different approach with how we teach the stories. Repetition is extremely important as stories are learned orally. The participants seem to be getting the idea of how to learn the stories and we are excited to see their progress. As we hear how the stories bring to light struggles for the participants, we pray that they will have this same impact when they are shared in the language communities.
We are so grateful for the team that God has brought together to make this workshop possible. God is raising up capable and gifted Papua New Guinean trainers to do nearly all the classroom teaching as well as most of the mentoring of individual language groups. What an encouragement and blessing they have been to the SPES team as we watch them develop. We also have three consultants who are checking the stories for accuracy and naturalness. Then there are the five ladies who do all the cooking for forty-eight people each day of the course. No one is going hungry and we are very thankful that, in spite of the dry conditions we have had in the Sepik, we have had ample garden food. SPES team members are filling a variety of other roles to make the workshop happen. Please be praying for wisdom and stamina as there is still a full week of the course yet.