Last week two SPES team members, along with two OBS trainers, returned from a two week trek through eighteen different villages in the Sandaun province. The team’s purpose was to invite people from these villages to an upcoming course in April and also to spend time with the people in their villages. Most of these villages were visited two or more years ago as the Oral Bible Storytelling phase of the work was starting. The people always appreciate us reconnecting in their world. Those participants who came to the SAAT (Survey, Awareness, and Assessment Training) in November had done a good job of raising awareness in their communities about their heart language and how strong (or not strong) that language is. The team was able to share some of the possibilities for what future work might look like as well as dispel options that might not be possible.
These villages represent five different language groups, but they are very unique in their situations. In the especially remote area of Ineisine, where government services are nearly nonexistent, many of the language speakers converse in seven different languages. What will translation look like in their area? In the Amto and Anu villages, a good portion of the speakers are monolingual in their heart language (tok ples). They have not learned the trade language. How will that impact future work? Another language group has four villages. The village with the most resources and knowledge also has the least amount of heart language spoken. The children do not understand the tok ples at all. In another two villages, the kids can hear the tok ples well, but usually respond in the trade language. In the last village, the kids speak tok ples fluently. Again, it will be a complex situation as we help them figure out a workable plan that can be used by the most people.
Pray for these groups as they discuss amongst themselves the best ways to move forward. What types of materials would be most beneficial for each group? Will it be written or audio or both? Will it be geared toward adults or kids? As they come to consensus on these issues, we will begin planning further with them in April when they come to Yabru for the next course.
At the last course in November, there was significant concern that there would not be water to meet all the needs of those at the course. At the same location last week, everything was covered with three feet of water. We are so thankful we didn’t have that much water at the course. It reminds me of the passage in Isaiah 55:10-11 that says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (NIV) We look forward to seeing how God’s Word will achieve its purpose for these language groups in the months ahead.