Sepik Prayer Calendar December 2018 – January 2019

Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar December 2018 – January 2019.  Thank you for your continued prayers for the people of Papua New Guinea.  They truly make a difference.


Sepik Prayer Calendar October – November 2018

Here is the Sepik Prayer Calendar October 2018 – November 2018.  Thanks for continuing to pray with us for the people of Papua New Guinea.  Your prayers make a difference.

Translation efforts grow

OBT participants and staff

The third Oral Bible Translation workshop took place in Wewak for Bungain, Juwal, and Urimo language participants in August.  As it was the third workshop, the participants were keen to put into practice the things they had learned in the previous workshops.  Nearly all the stories for this workshop were taken from the Old Testament.  For those participants who had already completed Oral Bible Storytelling workshops, many of these passages had already been learned in story form.  As a result, they were able to finish more stories than in previous workshops because they had already learned the foundation of these passages.

Hilkka (right) consultant checks one of the Urimo stories.

The number of passages each group has translated has grown significantly over the course of the past year.  We are thankful for all of the completed recordings and look forward to how they will be distributed in the future.  The area of distribution is still in process.  What is the best way to share the recordings in each of these language groups?  Could it be different for some of the language groups?  Could it look different for different generations of listeners?  The SPES team looks forward to growing in knowledge in the coming months as they assess the various situations and seeks to find sustainable ways to help the communities more easily access the recorded scriptures.

Gilbert (left) works with the Juwal translators

The advisors also grew in their knowledge and abilities.  All of our advisors have been trainers for storytelling workshops before, but they only began using computers when the translation workshops started last November.  Through some extra training and time “trying out” the computers, they have grown in confidence that they can help others learn to use the computers.  They continue to learn new translation principles and are excited to put them into practice with future courses.

Bungain translators and community checkers work on creating a well translated passage.

Community checkers come and listen to the translated stories to see if they are clear and natural and convey the meaning of the passage.  The checkers who have been at all three courses have grown in their understanding of their job, as well as in their ability to give useful feedback.  Giving constructive feedback is not something that comes naturally, but they learned this skill so they could better the translation work.

Patrick works diligently to back translate one of the recorded passages.

Sometimes roles within a team change.  At this workshop, we had a couple of changes that needed to take place.  We had one new back translator, whose job it is to take the translated text and translate it back into a common language so that it can be consultant checked for accuracy.  Back translating can be difficult to learn, but Patrick came and understood well the task at hand.  He was able to learn how to work the computer and do the back translation and was a big asset to his team.

We are thankful for eager learners who come expecting to learn and who want to find ways to use what they have learned in the future.  May God’s Word continue to go out as these recordings are shared in communities.

Thankful for a Team

The Juwal translators discuss some of the new material being presented.

It was with great anticipation on Monday, November 20, that the SPES team waited for participants to arrive for the first Oral Bible Translation workshop in Wewak.  There were many moments in the last several months when the team didn’t think this time would come.  After many prayers, project proposals written, emails, project proposals rewritten, and a flurry of last minute activities, the workshop is moving forward for the Bungain, Juwal, and Urimo language communities.

Teams learn about computers and the new software.

With new people joining some of the participants from earlier Oral Bible Storytelling workshops, these teams will learn some new concepts and then begin to put those ideas into practice.  Using computer software specifically developed for oral translation, these groups will listen to scripture passages and begin to take the text, paragraph by paragraph, and translate it into a natural and understandable format that their communities can understand clearly.  After it is reviewed for accuracy by other community members, it is given to a consultant who will again go through the whole passage to make sure things have been translated correctly.

We are so thankful for the team who have worked hard to make this come together.  The SPES team has written and revised the project proposal multiple times so that it meets the necessary criteria.  They have visited language groups to invite the needed personnel to come to the course.  A myriad of logistics including arranging transportation, food, accommodation, and personnel, have all gone into the process.

We have three consultant checkers who have agreed to help with this project of three workshops – one who has worked in various countries recently, but has significant experience in the Sepik in the past, another who is a current translator in the Sepik, and the third is a Papua New Guinean from another province who wants to help.  As we have not had courses that have utilized computers before, someone has agreed to come just to help make sure the computers and related equipment run well and take care of bugs issues that come up along the way.

Facilitators confer as they prepare to help the teams.

Cooks preparing food for the afternoon meal.

Most of the facilitators who will be working with the individual language groups are from the Sepik and have been working with SPES in other training capacities.  Three ladies will be sharing the duties for making sure this group is well fed.  They are excited to try out some new menus this time.

If we look further, the team grows even more.  There are those who help make sure the project is written correctly and that all guidelines are followed.  These folks are not on location in PNG.  Then there are those who make sure the money is available and get it to where it is needed.  The team of computer programmers who have written the Render software that can now be used are a vital part of making this workshop a reality.

Last, but integral to the workshop, there is a large team of people who are praying that projects like this can move forward around the world.  We thank God for each part of the team that helps to get God’s Word to the people of the Sepik.

Second trip to Bungain

On Tuesday, I filled up my motorcycle tank and left for an all day trip. Arriving in Forok, I sat down with the leaders to discuss the opportunity of sending two people to the Oral Bible Storying workshop starting February 3. We talked about their language and what they need and what SIL can and can’t offer. They will decide if they will send someone and let me know.

Language map

This is a map of languages in part of East Sepik. Languages outlined in blue are the ones we invited to this next OBS. Roads are in red.

Forok is either a dialect of Bungain or it is sufficiently different to be it’s own languguage.

Leaving Forok, I traveled on to Bungain village in the Bungain language. I arrived rather wet from taking a spill in the middle of a river crossing because of some large rocks. That’s one of the hazards of motorcycle travel! Again I sat down with the leaders and talked about their needs, the upcoming OBS workshop, and ways SIL and Bungain can work together. They were excited about the opportunity and are planning to send people to the workshop.

I left Bungain and traveled up the logging road to the Angoram Highway and met with Pastor Albert from the Juwar language group. They are also sending four people to the workshop and I needed to drop some papers off and answer questions. I then came back in the rain and arrived back in Wewak around 5:30 after a 45 mile trip.

A lot of my time is now being spent on making sure everything is ready for the OBS workshop starting February 3. One of the language groups may not be able to come because they are accused of using sorcery to kill a government official and are afraid of retribution if they travel. Please pray that this problem will be resolved so that this language group can come.

Trip to Bungain


We found this beautiful orchid at Forok. PNG has thousands of orchid species.

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.

Bungain village

This is a house in Bungain.

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.


This was a shortcut we drove through. I don’t think cars normally come this way!

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.