Learning a tribal language has proven to have many difficulties and setbacks. Progress for me has been slow and sometimes not as steady as I would like. I knew it would be this way. Our training had prepared us for much of its hardships, but there were somethings that no amount of training could ever be sufficient for. A large part of being a tribal missionary (or at least a decent one) is simply living life with the people you are there to reach. Now this sounds nice and quaint, but life in a tribal setting is extremely hard, and dirty, and lonely, and a hundred other things that make “living life” a struggle. One of the toughest things about this is that death is a very common part of the tribal life. In just the first year and a half of living in our tribe we, unfortunately, had to see many of our Hewa friends die…many who died horrible deaths. Living life with our people helps to create strong bonds and deep friendships. These meaningful relationships make losing someone all that much more difficult.
In order to thoroughly learn the heart-language of our people we must be willing to even learn the things that tear at our hearts and make our emotions pour out. To watch a good friend die hurts…to have to record/transcribe/and translate the story of their death and then read and study it hundreds of times over can be crushing. But these are necessary hardships. How can we ever begin to comfort our friends if we skip over the things that cause them pain. How can we share of Father God’s compassion and understanding if not for enduring things such as this.
The following is a transcription and translation about the death of my sweet young friend Etike. He was only 16 years old when he died. I share this story only so that you may better understand the pain of learning a language in hopes of reaching a people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have chosen this particular one because I believe it illustrates my point, but without being overly morbid or gruesome, as many of my stories like this are. Please pray for us and other missionaries. Pray that as we relive these stories over and over again in order to learn the language that God would guard our hearts. Thank you.
Etike’s Death/Drowning in the Taiya River…
Tue nzfa Etike zte mema kukai mowa
Now we will talk about Etike going to the water (drowning)
Tina mema Etike na Kutuwaf lefe
It went like this…Etike and Kutuwaf, those two
Pasife olo mema
Before went over to Pasife (name of village)
Pasife olo ifa lefe awe Kot olz kwe Pasife olo
Went over to Pasife, they two went to the garden. God’s talk over to Pasife
Kutuwaf cle olo wamzfi eyeyau mowa mema
Kutuwaf went to teach the people God’s Word.
Le wai mctuwofa awe me mzma
They two wanted to build a house, garden trees cut.
Zfa olzfa cle Taiya uwe’i su lefe Etike lifiye
Cut and at that time the two of them went to wata Taiya (Lagaip river) shore/riverbed.
Gol antcteyai mema
Went to pan for gold.
Ifa lefe alama, zte alama fale
Go and the two of them at “Alama fale” (fale is where rivers join)
Olo Taiya uwe’i ifa gol antcte mema
There at Taiya river shore go and panned for gold.
Gol antcte Yanis lzfa gol antcte mema
They went with Yanis to pan for gold.
Gol antefa Yanis cle isc ufuliya Pasife mema
Panned for gold and later Yanis returned to Pasife
Kutuwaf Etike lefe cla lefe cla zte Taiya, Taiya cla uwe’i
Kutuwaf, Etike they two at the Taiya river, Taiya shore
Uwe’i su makaima pon (“makaima pon” bihainim sait-Laimond) (1:02)
The shore followed the riverbed.
Su kai makaima
Lefe kaifa Mosbi falomcn
They two followed and came up to “Mosbi Faolmcn.” (Mosbi Falomcn=Uf ki, name of place to camp near Fiyc’s house.)
Mosbi ki olo kaifcnzfa
Arrived at Mosbi’s flatground there …
Kaifa olo mcki pcme
Go over to but did not sleep.
Lefe Taiya zpi mcnaima naifa
They two crossed the Taiya river bridge, crossed and
Cla Wite mzfi Fiye (nem bilong em) cla nomzla mckima
Slept with a man from Wite named Fiye.
Kifa lefe ki nunai Kot olz kwe manoma
Slept and in the morning they two heard God’s talk (listened to the Bible being taught)
Kot olz kwe wanofa manoma
They wanted to hear God’s talk.
Manoma olz Etike olz ni upe cla
Listened and Etike’s body, it
Cle nzlipai me pcme mckima wa’i (bed) su mckilzma
It was not strong, so he slept in the bed, slept there.
Wa’i su mckima Kutuwaf Kot olz kwe wamzfi wa’tanz(harim) eyeyau mema
Slept in the house and Kutuwaf taught them (the people at Fiyc’s house) God’s talk.
Eyeyaufa eyeyau molzma alele mema alele me napicla
Taught them and they became hungry, hungry therefore
Cla Wita mzfi cla Fiye cle
The Wite people, Fiye he
Alele mcna tauma fayai mema
Were hungry so gathered sweet potatoes.
Mema tauma fayai mema isc olo lefe Kutuwaf Etike lefe molzma
Gathered sweet potatoes and later there they two, Kutuwaf and Etike, they two stayed.
Olzfa lefe cle Etike, Etike cle inicfa (kirap) tina mcnaluma
At that time they two, Etike got up and said this…
Tue tei zte Taiya tei fzni gol antcteyai meyo
Now you and I will go to the side in order to pan for gold.
“Let’s go,” He said.
Ana memcna Kutuwaf tina mcnaluma
“I’m not going,” Kutuwaf said.
Tue me puwa
Let’s not go now
Tei tizta kol ante
You and I can pan for gold here.
Mofi (mzfi) tizta lofz kol antcte molzyawa
The people will work here for gold.
Tei antcte mowa mcnaluma
You and I will work he said
Mcnaluma Etike cle mano pcme
He said, Etike didn’t listen
Tei tcfzn Taiya tclaifzni antctemowa wasi
You and I will go to this side and work, let’s go
Lefe a’na mcnaluma (2:40)
They two of them talked like that.
Mcnalu Etike cle kwe a’na mcnalu Kutuwaf wanofa
They talked and Etike he said this and wanted Kutuwaf to listen
Lefe Kutuwaf wanofa wasi mcnaluma anefa zwa
The two of them Kutuwaf heard and said get your string bag
Kisau maimbz mema
Carry some things
Ifa yao Kutuwaf yao zwa maima
They went and Kutuwaf carried his dog in his string bag
Zwa aifa Cle uwe zpi olo miuma
Carried his string bag and came to the bridge there.
zpi yofa miuma
Came to the bridge
Zpi paiyai mema Etike topa yao zwamai olzfa zwa mofzfa miuma
Went to the middle of the bridge and Etike carried his dog in the string bag
Miuma Kutuwaf cle tcfon mema
Came and Kutuwaf came to this side
Tcfzni mema Etike zpi paiyai
Went to this side and Etike went to the middle of the bridge
Cla zte Kaf paiyai fau
He didn’t come to the middle of water
Zte kaf cla zpcli (3:20)
Went close to
Mema zpi cla wali, wali me
Came to the bridge and put his leg down
Wali meka zpi su mowinama minznuma
Put his leg down and the wood broke
Anulawefa inaputzfa zte mema
The wood broke and he fell through into the river
Zte mema memcla
He went inside the river.
Faimpat cle, ah Kutuwaf miyctima
Kutuwaf saw this happen
Kutuwaf cle miyctima Etike miuma pewa mema miyctima
Kutuwaf saw this happen. Etike ???
A’na me olzfa zte kaf cla
At this time it went like this in the middle of the river
Olo mzwofoma Etike olo mzwofoma miyctima
There he fell in the river, Etike fell into the river…he saw this happen
Miycti zte Kaf lzku su motu’zma
He watched him fall inside the river
Motuana cle iyctifa wowa mema
Saw him fall in and was so scared he was shaking
Wowa mcna cle
Cle antipcna folu mema
Olsem na i go hariap
Ifa zte Kaf olopa liyane me molz Etike topa
He went close to the side
Kaf lzku motuzma minifonzma
He went underneath the water then came on top
Minifonzfa cle yati moma
Came up to the top and waved his hands
Moma olzfa cle Kaf lzku su motuzma cla pewa mema
At this time he waved his hand but went back underneath
Aimpz me katai mema
He was carried away
A’na Kutuwaf miyctima, ah!
Kutuwaf saw it happen and was scared “Ah!”
Etike cfu? Miniyzma!
“Where’s Etike? He’s dead!
Etike cla yati mo, mo fclefa miyctima miyoma
I saw him waving his hands, fighting, fighting, fighting and waited…
Ah! Minifcnz pcme.
Ah! He didn’t come back up
Minifcnz pcme. Mcna cle
He did not come back on top. He died
Minifcnz pcme nampicla cla zte aimbz memclia cle insauwe mema (4:35)
He did not come back to the top therefore, the water carried him away. He (Kutuwaf) cried.
Etike cla mema moke nomzla fau molzma
Etike went down the river. There weren’t many men with them.
Ana mema olzfa cle Yano insu
At that time he went down to Yano (name of village down river)
Cle folu mema zte Kaf cla Etike zte aimbz mimcla
He went quickly down the river where the river was carrying Etike
Anyai ni mema folu me me me me miycti pcme Yano minifcnzma
It carried away his body quickly. He didn’t see him anymore. He (Kutuwaf) came up to Yano.
Yano inifonzfa yano mzfi mokzpoma antipa(4:58)
Arrived at Yano and the Yano people met with him
Lzfa olo nomzla kifa alofofa
There they slept until daybreak.
Cla wcta nzfa wcta Mas naluyai miuma
We were here and Mas came to tell us what happened.
Cla naluyai miuma
He came to tell us
Mas naluyai miu
Mas came to tell us
Cla Thrinde, Tunde tolz zte mema
It was Wednesday. On Tuesday Etike drowned in the river.
Thrinde nzfa wcta Naliyz Mas itz mokz cla
On Wednesday Mas came to tell us on this side
Nau Thrinde nanai Kot olz kwe manoma
Now it’s Wednesday and we were listened to God’s talk
Kot olz kwe puk Mak sapta 2 lain 1 manoma
God’s talk, the book of Mark chapter 2 verse one we were listening to
Nzfa wanofa mano pwema
We wanted to hear, hear everything
Olzfa Mas kwem polo mema
At this time Mas was crying
Kwe polo Etike zte meyo kwe miu nzfa manoma cla
Cried and wailed, Etike drowned in the river, we heard him say
Ana nz wanofa nzfa
We wanted to hear
Mzfi yayume mepuma
Ever man went
Mzfi yayume cla lzfa Etike ni yzyai mepuma
All the men left to find Etike’s body
Ela Matu nomo Fato, ana nzfa me pcme
Matthew, and Fato and myself did not go
Tizta wai motoma Nafas nzfa wai motoma cla(6:08)
We stayed at the house here. Nafas and us stayed
Cla a’na memcla cla lzfa niyzyai mema cla papola miyana cla
Ifa zte uwe miniyz miniyz miniyz miycti pcme miyana ni mane pcme katai
They went to the river shore and looked, looked, and looked, but never saw his body. They didn’t get the boy’s body
Aimpzfa mema miycti pe nafa
Carried and didn’t see
Lzfa olo tofa moto cla miycti pe katai miyana
They stayed there but did not see they boy
Anefa ni upe cla miycti pcme cla(6:29)
They did not see his body to get it.
Cla kcli kukai anz koyo cla.
That’s it. That’s all my story.