That sneaky little kufu-kufu!
Within 24 hours of landing in the remote area where we used to live, I was wondering if it was really going to be profitable to stay for my scheduled two weeks – or whether it would be best to call the pilot and ask him to come back and take me out to civilization again. I had come interior to do some very important comprehension checking on my translation of the book of Acts, but so far it looked like no native speakers were going to be available to help me for a few days yet, and worse, I was starting to feel sick again, just as I had the previous year in the same location. That last visit I was sick with a bad head cold and cough for most of my stay, and by the time I got back home to the U.S. it was turning into bronchitis, which kept me down for about two weeks. I certainly didn’t want a repeat of that experience!
Then the next day I was talking with a fellow believer who lives in that village, and he mentioned that he sometimes has the same problem in some of their houses. At that point we started looking around inside the house I was staying in, and we noticed something clinging to the surface of the walls and ceiling, a growth called ‘kufu-kufu’ in the local language. To make a long story a little shorter, kufu-kufu is basically old cobwebs that have attracted a variety of mold, mildew, fungi, pollens and/or dust. They blend in well on the bare plywood surfaces, so they are not that noticeable to the naked eye. But they were certainly noticeable to my nose and lungs, as I was starting to feel congestion in my chest already. So, using my shirt as a mask over my nose and mouth, I swept down the screens, walls, and ceiling, and within a couple of hours I was breathing easier again.
As I reflected on that experience over the next few days, I realized how easy it is for the deceiver to use little things like the sneaky little kufu-kufu, often in combination with other challenges,to try to discourage us and prevent us from doing the work to which the Lord has called us. Thankfully, the same day that I did a thorough cleaning of the house, many of the people who typically help me with comprehension checking came back to the village, and from that day on I was able to work full-time with my fellow believers to finish checking all 1,007 verses of the book of Acts!
No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Cor. 10:13, NET
During the two weeks I spent checking my translation of Acts with the Tugutil believers, I had the opportunity to live the ‘unplugged’ life, just as Debbie and I had when we lived there over two decades ago. There is still no cell phone service in the village, no running water, and no electricity except what is produced by the few privately-owned generators. A neighbor was kind enough to let me splice into his cable so that I had electricity for about two and a half hours each evening – enough to keep my laptop charged, in order to enter the revisions to the translation of Acts. Each afternoon around five, I would change into my swimsuit, throw my dirty clothes into a bucket with a little detergent powder, along with soap and shampoo, and head down to the river to bathe and do laundry. Occasionally the river would be flooding as a result of rain in the mountains, making it too swift and muddy to use. Those evenings I had to resort to my backup plan for bathing, which meant opening the pack of antibacterial wet wipes. Not nearly as refreshing as taking a plunge in the river, but with the high temperatures around 92 degrees each day, I had to clean up somehow!
After finishing the work required on my translation, I traveled to another province and went overland for about eight hours to conduct a consultant check for another language group, the Sekadau people. The trip took me over the same route as two years ago, which prompted me to write about my “Unexpected Motocross Adventure.” Thankfully, some of the motorcycle trail has been improved significantly since my last visit, so I didn’t experience as much of a “white knuckle” ride this time around.
The people there live in a rain forest which has many rubber trees, and collecting the latex used to make various rubber products provides them with some needed income.
Four native speakers of the Sekadau language, who were also fellow believers, worked with me and the missionary team for about two weeks to check their translation of the Gospel of John, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Thessalonians. Now that those three books have been approved for printing, they have nearly 50% of the Sekadau New Testament complete and ready for use by the small local church that meets in the jungle there.
- Pray that we would be able to complete the final consultant check for the Tugutil New Testament later this year, and then have wisdom as we start the final editing before printing the entire NT, hopefully next year!
- Pray that the recently translated scripture portions in Sekadau and other locations would be a great encouragement and source of growth for the local believers.