Bart working with one of our Amdu language helpers during our recent translation workshop in town.
Years ago as we were contemplating where the Lord wanted us to serve Him overseas, Papua New Guinea stood out to us for several reasons. In addition to the country being completely open for missionaries to serve as missionaries and the incredible need (over 850 distinct language groups – the majority without access to the clear Gospel of God’s Grace), we loved the solid consultant program and support structure that was in place. Now many years later, we are living in PNG and experiencing first-hand the benefits of having amazing consultants.
What are consultants? In short, they are veteran missionaries who have already gone through what we are in the midst of right now and are willing to invest time and energy into helping the next generation of missionaries.
You’ve heard us mention our language (CLA) consultants. These fellow missionaries have already learned a tribal language and they have been trained to help others move through the process in a new language group. In addition to evaluating our language ability, they give us ideas for how to progress to the next level. They help us think through problems we’re having. They bring a fresh perspective and encouragement. They know what we’re going through because they have been in our shoes and remember the struggles and difficulties of learning an unwritten tribal language.
We have literacy consultants who help us through the whole process of preparing, printing and using literacy materials based on the alphabet our team has developed for the Amdu language. In the coming months as we get closer to finishing formal language and culture study, we’ll be in contact with these consultants quite a lot!
Our church planting consultants, you guessed it, advise us on matters related to church planting in a tribal setting! These consultants have gone all the way through the process of learning a tribal language and seeing a church planted and are willing to share their experience and wisdom with us. They help us keep the big picture of church planting in mind even while we are still learning language and culture. They will help us along the way as we move out of the language learning phase and into preparation for chronological Bible teaching.
Since moving into Amdu, we have had the enormous benefit of at least a dozen different consultants coming in for visits. We are so thankful for the commitment of our consultants and their desire to be a part of another people group hearing and having the Good News in their own language.
And now another group of consultants is being thrown into the mix – our translation consultants!! For the past two weeks, we have been in town attending a team translation workshop (TTW). Even though we don’t necessarily feel ready, we are getting closer to the point where we will be able to begin translating!! Because we will not teach portions of the Bible until we have translated it into the Amdu language, translation has to stay out ahead of the Bible teaching. We have been learning translation principles and putting them into practice by beginning to translate the Joseph story in Genesis 37. In a way, we have been translating already as we have been learning this language and as we work to make simple stories understandable for our Amdu friends. But now, we have learned specific procedures that we will follow to help us clearly translate God’s Word into the Amdu language!!
Translating God’s Word into another language is a huge job!! We think we’re busy now during the language and culture learning phase, but our workload is going to get much greater in the months to come!! Please continue praying for us as we work to keep making progress in learning the Amdu language and culture and as we prepare to step into the realm of literacy as well as formal Bible translation!
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In case you’re interested in reading a little more, our teammates Benjamin and Missy Hatton wrote an article on their blog about coming to town with two of our Amdu friends for the translation workshop.