A huge thank you to those of you that were praying with us for my trip out to Sivauna village a couple weeks ago. Even though it was short (only 7 days), I’m convinced that the Lord orchestrated events for His glory and for our good. I’d like to share a few photos and highlights from my trip.
As you may have read in our last post, one of the primary purposes of making this trip was to formalize a plan to begin training the new translation team and set some goals for the next year. This goal was met and vastly exceeded my expectations. On Monday afternoon, 9 people from 4 villages gathered at the Translation Center to discuss strategy, goals, training, funding, asset management, and several other critical components of the translation program. The fact that they were able to carve out the time to gather on such short notice is a miracle! I was thrilled at the level of enthusiasm, the way their ownership and responsibility for the work has grown, and the creative and ambitious goals they set for themselves. Rather than me sitting in Ukarumpa and trying to guess what we should budget and plan over the next year to help the Mamusi people engage with God’s Word, the Lord brought me there to mention a few possibilities and see how these communities think they should proceed. They took those basic ideas and came up with a plan, not just for some guys to sit in a room and crank out translation drafts, but to actively engage our wider community in capacity-building programs. In addition to holding an intensive translation training course (for which they expect at least 12 local participants), they’d also like to engage local worship leaders and other musicians in a guitar and songwriting workshop, and to engage local educators in a primary vernacular literacy workshop. Knowing that successful literacy and scripture engagement strategies are necessary to the eventual success of a Bible translation, these are really exciting prospects! Our big God has put a big vision in the Mamusi people, and He will have to move in a big way to pull these things off. My job, now back in Ukarumpa, is to explore possibilities of how to equip and resource the team to reach their goals.
I found the new translation team hard at work when I got to Sivauna. In my absence, they had drafted the first two chapters of 1 John, and I got to sit in with them while they drafted chapter 3 the week I was there. These are kind, respectable leaders in our community that work well together, each one bringing his own strengths, experience and background to the table. Even though there is so much to learn, they work with humor and humility, and their passion for the Lord and His Word is abundant. It’s a joyful privilege any time I get to be in the same room with them. One of their aims is to finish up John’s 3 epistles before the next fiscal year starts (October), then set out on John’s gospel next. Many days they are joined by Mama Rosa and/or our village sister Martina, who bring valuable insight and perspective to the translation work, and Jack (former translator and still engaged in an advisory role) takes Wednesdays off his other job to come help as well. They are ready for the long road of training they need to turn their drafts into accurate pieces of Scripture. Please pray with us for these folks as they meet to work on Sunday afternoons and Wednesdays all day. Their working, church, and social relationships are paramount to their progress.
Having left our village brother Willy in charge of looking after the house and the car, I had no doubt things would be in excellent shape when I got there. I was not disappointed. The car many of you purchased for this ministry was in excellent condition, despite needing some replacement parts (they’re on their way now), and he had even been making occasional runs to other villages to help raise funds for the translation program. This has turned out to be a blessing for the community as well, helping to meet the occasional transportation need such as women going down to market to sell their produce at Rano. In fact, the morning I left to return to Ukarumpa, we drove a couple of Sivauna students about halfway back to our closest high school, which is nearly 4 hours away by car, so that they could resume their school term.
One great and unexpected opportunity came in the form of a community Open Forum meeting, hosted all day Thursday by our local government representative. This gentleman had been involved in our translation committee meeting earlier in the week, and he was eager to share about the translation work and the plans for the future. He gave me the floor for a few minutes to share my heart, and I took several questions that provided further opportunity to clarify points people were concerned about. To my surprise, Mr. David (a new translation team member) urged the community to nominate official committee representatives, and three very well-respected men were appointed on the spot: our government representative himself, our local magistrate, and Uncle Nick, who has been involved in the program since the beginning. In addition, this meeting provided me a chance to hear about and speak into other relevant local issues of pressing concern to our friends and neighbors, including healthcare, land and border issues, and public drunkenness. Praise God for this surprise platform and for giving me words to say in the moment.
Of course, one of the most joyful parts of being back in the village is the chance to reconnect with dear friends and family living there. I spent a great deal of time with Willy, who serves as driver, mechanic, builder, guardian, watchman, and true trusted friend. His eldest daughter (Evie’s friend) was back in town after being away at school for a long time. Hopefully the rest of my family will be able to reconnect with her someday, too. Mama Rosa was a delight to reconnect with, as always, wanting to know everything about how the kids are doing in Ukarumpa, and sharing food from her garden nearly every day.
For those of you who were praying for this crucial village visit, THANK YOU. Your prayers were felt every moment. In the beginning of our time with our Mamusi friends, we felt at times like we were pushing an impossible weight up a steep mountain, and your prayers were used by God to provide inexplicable strength. Now your prayers are crucial in bringing the community from watching us push, wondering what in the world we were doing, to a place of rallying around the Word, being instrumental in figuring out how to move the weight further up the mountain. Someday they could be making great strides and progress without us. It’s humbling that God has chosen us to be blessed by this ministry among the Mamusi people. We are so privileged to be their partners and to be yours. God has given us family all over the place, especially here. We miss you all, but we are assuredly where we’re supposed to be.
“For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”1 John 3:11