The noise started a few days ago.
It was the eerie sound of the “bullroar” which is a bamboo switch with a small noise-maker tied to the top which is twirled around at high speed to produce the eerie sound. The noise marked the beginning of a “yumbunja” which takes place a month or so after a death to drive away the ghost of the one who died. It’s not a noise that we like to hear because it’s ringing in the air is indicative of many people who are still blinded to the truth and under the powers of darkness. As the Simbari believers came and went around the village when they came upon the people with the bullroars there was a strong reaction. The people with the bullroars acted as if they were angry evil forces being confronted by the light. After listening to this noise for a couple days we hoped it wouldn’t get in the way of the baptism that had been put off for weeks because of deaths and bad weather. But we woke up to a beautiful Sunday morning and after a morning worship service with the believers we all hiked down to the nearest river for the baptism. Because of all the rain lately we had a tough time finding a safe spot in the river where the people getting baptized wouldn’t get swept down the cold river. We found a spot and 16 people began to give personal testimonies about their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ alone for their salvation. (One of them was our youngest son, Jason.) We had a hard time hearing the testimonies over the noise of the rapids even wondering if the testimonies were necessary with all the noise of the river working to drown them out. But there was a bunch of unbelievers watching the whole thing. And we were to find out later in the day that many were marveling at what they saw. The public, personal statements of faith in Christ alone for salvation were not drowned out by the noise of the river. After the baptism we all gathered on the shore of the river to sing a few songs of worship. Because many were shivering from the cold water we didn’t sing for too long but went back up to the village so the wet ones could get changed. After that we all gathered for some volleyball and just to hang out together. We recently put up a round thatched-roof hut in our front yard for these time of fellowship. As we sat in the house the believers were all full of joy, singing around the fire and talking about the wonderful things God was doing in their midst. It was then that they told us how the testimonies had impacted some of the unbelievers in spite of the river’s noise. They also told us about how in one of the “yumbunja” rituals the people offer a sacrificial offering of a possum to be completely burnt up on a fire. (The Simbari’s had kept that one secret from us during our initial culture study) They thought of how similar that was to the Old Testament Biblical sacrifices that point to Christ. But the enemy uses these rituals to keep people away from Christ and in the dark. All-in-all it went from 9:30am to 4:30pm but it was a very special day that left our thoughts dwelling on the power of God. And the realization the testimony of the believers, usually referred to as: “Jesus’ men and women” is not being drown out by the noise of bullroars or the waters roar. On the translation side of things Romans 1-8 is ready for the final translation check coming up in June and David has finished the preliminary drafting of chapters 9-16 and is working with translation helpers to finalize the draft. He’s also been getting lessons ready and meeting with the Bible teachers for planning the teaching schedule for both villages. Simon’s leg seems to have healed ok but the plate which is just under the skin seems to get irritated and sore when he uses it a lot. It will need taken out sometime in the next 6 months but we haven’t finalized when we’ll do that. David has a torn rotator -cuff that might need repaired then as well. We’re really looking forward to a visit this summer from our oldest daughter, Esther, who will be finishing her second year of college.
David, Shari and family