***This update was sent out by email back in September, but we are just posting it on our blog now that we are out in town. The benefit is that we can now add pictures!***
We have to play a little catch-up here!! Hopefully none of you have been holding your breath while waiting to hear more about the battery saga we mentioned in our last post. We have lots to share about what’s been happening here and what is coming up, but we’ll try to keep this update from getting too long.
For any of you who might not know, our house here in the tribe is run totally off of solar power. We have an array of panels on our roof and a bank of batteries under our house to collect and store all the energy. We then use that energy to power our lights, computers, water pump, washer, fridge, freezer, etc. We knew before we left for furlough last year that our aging batteries were in need of being replaced so while we were home, we ordered new ones. But they didn’t arrive in PNG until after we were back in Amdu so we had to go for about a month without being able to use much power in the morning or after dusk. The batteries for our team ‘office’ also needed replaced so the situation over there was about the same.
When the batteries finally did arrive, Bart and our teammate Benjamin had to take some time out of translation and writing Bible lessons to figure out how to get these new batteries (a different type than the old batteries) hooked up correctly. Things went pretty smoothly with the installation at our house, and we were very thankful to once again be able to turn on lights after dark! The office, however, was a different story. Picture sparks flying and system readouts not showing accurate numbers!! After many emails back and forth to our tech experts out in town and back in Missouri, they were able to get things functioning in an adequate manner. But we knew we needed someone with more expertise to come in and troubleshoot some remaining problems.
Thankfully our tech guy Josh was able to make the trip from town into Amdu. He confirmed that things at our house were hooked up properly and working like they should. He also found and fixed a bunch of problems at the office and our coworkers’ house that none of us knew even existed. Some of them were actually pretty serious so we were thankful not only for his expertise in fixing these issues but also for the Lord’s protection!
We truly are a part of a larger team here! We are out in a tribe, focusing on Bible translation and preparing to teach God’s Word to our Amdu friends, but we couldn’t stay here without the work of all the support missionaries out in town. For those of you who also support missionaries who serve in ‘support’ roles – thank you! They are a vital yet often less recognized part of the work of tribal church planting!!!
On the heels of having our tech issues resolved came the next big event – another translation check! Our consultant Jason, who has years of experience and a wealth of knowledge pertaining to Bible translation, came to check the next section of Bible portions (more than 300 verses) that Bart and our teammate Missy had translated. The whole translation process is long with many steps that help to ensure accuracy, comprehension and readability.
So, what does a translation check look like? Picture Bart and our consultant Jason with their computers open on the table, sitting with 3 or 4 Amdu guys for several hours. Jason asks Bart to read a section of verses in Amdu. The Amdu guys listen as Bart reads, then Jason asks them to tell him, in the trade language Melanesian Pidgin, what they heard. If they leave out parts of the passage or if they misunderstand something, Jason might ask a few clarifying questions. This process is repeated until the whole passage is done. By the end, Jason can tell where there might be some problems that need to be looked at again and what parts are accurately and clearly communicating. Once the check is over and we make final changes that are approved by Jason, the verses are ready to be used in our Bible teaching and eventually printed to give to our Amdu friends.
This translation check went very well. Of course, there is a huge amount of translation work still ahead, but as we keep moving along, it was great to hear Jason’s encouragement that the Amdu translation is going well.
With the translation check behind us, we sat down as a team to talk about how to continue making progress toward our goal of teaching God’s Word to our Amdu community. Since translation is in a good place, it was decided that Bart would shift gears a little and begin to help Benjamin in the Bible lesson writing process. That is another huge task – writing clear, understandable lessons that not only explain God’s Word but also at the same time dispel the wrong thinking that the Amdu people have always believed. There are so many things they believe that are in direct contradiction to the Truth. They need a new foundation – one based on Truth that is only found in God the Creator. Just like with translation, the Bible lessons need to be accurate and understandable to our Amdu friends. The illustrations have to be ones to which they can relate. All the little nuances of grammar need to be correct or the teaching will communicate something we don’t intend to communicate!!! Also like translation, the lesson writing process is done working closely with our Amdu friends giving input and correction to make it all clear and accurate. The work is intense and the hours are long.
That catches you up to the present! In just a couple days, two more consultants will be flying to Amdu to spend a few days (September 10-12) with us for a Bible lesson check. Bart and Benjamin will practice teaching a couple of the early Bible lessons to a group of our Amdu friends. These consultants, who have both gone through this whole process in the respective tribes in which they worked, will give us feedback about the Bible lessons and about our timeline for beginning the chronological Bible teaching. We look forward to their advice and the wisdom they will share with us from their years of experience. And we’ll let you know more about the timeline of beginning the Bible teaching as we get a clearer picture after this consultant visit.
So, how can you be praying for us? Here are a few current requests:
- For Bart and Benjamin as they prepare to ‘practice teach’ 4 Bible lessons – 2 each
- Safe flights for our consultants coming in (Sept. 10-12)
- For the lesson evaluations – that we would get helpful feedback and good advice from these guys who have already experienced doing what we are heading into
- For endurance to keep going with the hard work/long hours of getting translation and Bible lessons ready to begin the actual teaching
- For another year of homeschooling – the boys are in 11th, 9th, 3rd and 1st grades
- For constant dependence on the Lord for living and working in this remote place and for wisdom in interacting with our Amdu community
It never seems enough to just say ‘thank you’ to those of you who faithfully pray for us, support us financially and encourage us by keeping in touch with us via email. We are grateful for you and how you are a part of the Amdu ministry even though you are halfway around the world. We praise the Lord for the support team He has put together. He daily encourages us to keep pressing on so that the Amdu people can hear His message – and He often uses you to be that encouragement. Thank you!
Because He alone is worthy,
Bart, Emily and boys
***See our next post for the latest news on the Bible lesson check.***