Hello friends! Thanks so much for your prayers over the last few weeks while I (Aaron) was in Sivauna village. It is really hard on our family to be apart like that, but we’re so grateful for the support and prayer cover you give us. We have a lot to report on, way too much to write in one post, but things are getting even busier from here, so I’ll try and balance thoroughness with brevity.
The first week of the village trip was dedicated to accomplishing some maintenance and updates to the translation house. For this, I was pleased and honored to be joined by three very dear American friends, each of which is a colleague with various areas of expertise. Though not without difficulties, by the Lord’s grace we were able to accomplish our big objectives: trimming and painting in the conference room, bunk room, and bathroom (all the spaces that get used regularly even when we’re not there), deploying satellite internet and communications equipment, and laying tile in the bathrooms and kitchen. We also managed to have a great deal of fun along the way.
All these projects are already bearing fruit in various forms, but the communications piece is particularly noteworthy. Many of you contributed to providing this equipment, and you’ll be pleased to know that our team is now outfitted with and trained to use highly capable and reliable equipment, and to utilize a robust Internet connection in a safe and responsible way. I can’t tell you the depth of impact this will have on our ability to cooperate as a team when we’re separated by distance, because it’s been only a distant dream until now. Praise the Lord for great tools to advance His kingdom in this remote corner of the world.
After the week of work on the house, our three friends left, and two other friends from our Literacy department here in PNG joined me in Sivauna. They ran what was definitely the most highly anticipated of the three training courses, one which we call Vernacular Creative Phonics. In this course, 20 early childhood educators from all over our area (all Mamusi speakers) gathered at Sivauna Primary School to learn methods for teaching literacy to young children. The unique feature about this course is that it actually walks participants through designing a custom curriculum for their specific vernacular language, walking through all the sounds that occur, and building words from the most common sounds first. These educators, the course participants, are among the most educated people in our area and have been Mamusi speakers from birth, but many remarked that this was the first time they had ever read or written in their mother tongue. Education here is generally based on English, a practice which has been shown to be detrimental in early childhood if that is not the language the children hear at home. Starting literacy in the vernacular first provides a much better pathway for children to transfer those literacy skills to other languages later in their education.
At the closing ceremony after the two-week courses, we were honored to host the District Education Coordinator as a special guest speaker at our closing ceremony. He was so encouraged to see this work being done and is already asking for more help in training teachers in other parts of the district! The whole community was blessed by one participant reading a traditional Mamusi folk story with incredible fluency and animation, and by two others who demonstrated brief literacy lessons they had designed themselves for early childhood education during the course. We are praying that the fruit of these efforts will be a generation of young Mamusi readers who are ready to engage with God’s Word as it becomes available in the language that speaks to their heart.
Simultaneous to this literacy course were two other courses, which I will tell you about next month!
Please pray over the following:
- For me as I am teaching a brief 2-week course to Papua New Guinean translators about using translation software called Paratext. Two of our Mamusi translators (Jack and David) are here in Ukarumpa for the first time to take this course. They were excited to take their very first flight when we all flew together to Ukarumpa last week. They are a bit chilly and miss their families and food back home, but are enjoying meeting new people and experiencing life in a new place. Thank you for lifting them up as you pray for us.
- For each family member as we wrap up our term here in PNG, pack up our house, and say many goodbyes. We have been deeply blessed by the friendship in this community. As excited as we are to return to the US for a school year, it will also be very sad to leave our home here. Each of us are processing this transition uniquely.
- For the logistics for one more family trip to the village before we leave for the US! Our village visit is planned for mid-June, and the seven of us who haven’t been to the village since last June are ECSTATIC to finally see everyone again. We are planning on holding some demonstrations on Bible Studies, as well as spending some quality time with these people and reminding them how loved they are.