Friends, thank you for your prayers during my recent trip to Sivauna village to teach the second level of Translators Training Course. We had a great time together! Of the 14 participants from last year’s course, 12 were back this year, and we had one new participant. We spent the first week working through the Bible Backgrounds curriculum in the mornings and Language Discovery in the afternoons. The rest of the course was dedicated to brushing up on Translation Principles and working through the text of Genesis 1-3. The Sivauna community hosted us very graciously; its such a blessing to be able to do our training locally without removing all our people from their support network.
As you may have read, there has been a significant rise of COVID in several parts of Papua New Guinea (PNG), including East New Britain province where the Translation House is located. The provincial government ended up imposing a lockdown beginning October 31, so everything in the last week, including the JESUS Film launch planned for November 7, had to be postponed. So I packed up and returned to my family in Ukarumpa on November 2, and we’re staying in touch with the Mamusi Translation Committee to see when we might be able to reschedule things. We are hoping for Christmas time, but of course everything depends on the unpredictable nature of the effects of Covid. Please continue to pray with us that the Lord will be honored in everything, irrespective of our plans.
We had been translating ‘spirit’ using the Mamusi word kannu for several years. People seemed to understand what it meant, but it seemed strange to me that people used the same word to refer to a movie or a photo. While translating Genesis 1 during the course, we were discussing the clause “the Spirit of God was moving across the waters.” Suddenly a new word came out: maelewa (meh-LAY-wah). The team told me it refers to the part of a person that exists in his body while he lives but lives on after the body dies. When I asked how that was different than kannu, they said that the latter word means something more like ‘image’ or ‘reflection’ or ‘shadow’. It has the shape of a person, but not his substance. A dead man doesn’t have one, because it is a derivative, in a sense, of his body. Clearly in maelewa we had uncovered a word that fit the sense of ‘spirit’ much better in most places.
So we gladly used the word maelewa in Genesis 1:2: “God’s maelewa was moving across the waters.” But it wasn’t long before we found that kannu was still a very useful word. When it says in Genesis 1:26-27 that humans are made as a ‘reflection’ or ‘image’ of God, using kannu here gives a clear and unambiguous meaning. Similarly in Hebrews 9:24 (a passage we were working on a little later), it is said that the holy place is just a ‘copy’ of the place that is the true presence of God, and the word kannu fits very nicely. The Temple was never the full presence of God where a true and lasting sacrifice could be made for our salvation; it was only a ‘shadow’ or ‘reflection’ of that place: its kannu. Jesus’s sacrifice, unlike that of the OT priests, was made directly in the true presence of the Father. This word, though we’ve been using it inappropriately for a while now, is still a powerful tool for the clear expression of the Gospel.
We had a great discussion the first morning of our translation studies about spiritual warfare. We spent a few minutes reflecting on the last year of translation work, making a list of physical and spiritual impediments we had observed. We then read through Ephesians 6 and made another list of the spiritual tools and weapons at our disposal. It occurred to me that these would make great prayer points for anyone looking for specific ways to pray for the translation team.
Attacks and distractions: laziness, ill will, making excuses, sickness, various disturbances, joking, dishonesty, family problems, gossip, stealing, greed, disrespect, disobedience, unfaithfulness, tardiness, pride
Spiritual tools and weapons: self control, God’s word, prayer, humility, truth/honesty, righteousness, peace, proclamation, faith, knowledge of salvation. This is a good reminder for all of us.
Thanks for continuing to pray with us that God would keep planting, cultivating, and harvesting the fruit from the seeds His Word is planting in this team and their communities.
Another plan that got canceled for our family was our attendance of the Fanamaket New Testament Dedication in New Ireland Province. One of our dear friends facilitated this team of translators and worked tirelessly to help make it happen, and she couldn’t be there either. But it still happened! Some of our islander coworkers were able to attend, with the local government’s blessing. Thank God with us that this milestone has been achieved and that He is already transforming hearts through His Word.
Our family is looking forward to returning to the village all together on December 15 and spending Christmas and New Years with our Sivauna family. This will only be possible if restrictions are lifted. Thanks for praying over those logistics with us.
It’s that time of year in which we carefully pray and think through our plans for next year, and we are filled with gratitude. We have so many ideas and hopes for this ministry, but only six months in 2022 to be in country. We’ve seen God do amazing things in the midst of this pandemic and our unexpected medical leave. He is so faithful. Please pray with us that God would give us effective time with our Mamusi translation family before we return to the States for the 2022-23 school year. We are hoping and praying that the work will continue to progress when we are absent, too. We are so grateful for your partnership in our Wycliffe ministry in Bible translation! Thank you for being on our team through your prayers and gifts. May God fill you with the fullness of joy only He can give.