Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sign Language Impact

Signing for Impact

Tens of thousands of deaf people are locked in a world of silence in PNG, having never been taught sign language and unable to communicate with others.

Foreting and Nathalie Juhonewe, who are both deaf themselves, have a burden for ministering to the deaf of PNG. They know that establishing an accurate dictionary is the first step. In fact, Nathalie calls it a fundamental leap. She asks, "How can anyone translate the Bible into PNG's sign language if there's no dictionary to rely on and just a few established signs for Christian concepts? And most of all, how can anyone reach the deaf if they haven't acquired any language since their parents never learned to sign with them as children?

There is an old dictionary from 1994 which a team of hearing people copied from Australian Sign Language with some created signs for PNG words, totaling about 2250 words/signs. However, it needs revision to be useful for the deaf community in PNG. The sign language used in this country has developed into an independent sign language with its own native grammar and syntax.

Now that the deaf children who have used the dictionary since 1994 are adults, they are reviewing the dictionary and updating it to include signs used in their language and deleting signs that they don't use. A team of deaf people from every corner of Papua New Guinea has gathered twice yearly since 2012 and developed almost 1300 new signs thus far. The goal is a sign language dictionary that will be an up-to-date foundation for everyone who needs or wants to know the national sign language used here in PNG.

There are an estimated 24,000-30,000 pre-lingual deaf people in PNG who were not taught sign language as children. Once every deaf child starts to learn it, the national sign language would become one of the largest indigenous languages of Papua New Guinea. That's not happening yet, but Foreting, Nathalie, and others are working toward that goal.

Nathalie explained, "We minister to the deaf in the hopes of seeing every deaf child start to sign, so that they have a language to connect with other people and to learn about our amazing and loving God."

Changing lives 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Write it on the Board

Write it down

Remember when you had to go to the front of the class and write on the board? Here is a class in Back Translation Principles that is held in Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea. As part of the translation process, translators take translated material and write it out in English to check it for accuracy. First it is translated word for word. Then it is rearranged to make sense in English because word order and sentence structure can be different from language to language. It's hard work and requires a good understanding of both languages. Pray for wisdom, as this training is very important to the accuracy of the translation. 

*This post was taken from the PNG Experience blog. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Big Exchange

A valley in Papua New Guinea

For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. -Mark 10:45

Bible translator Neil Anderson and six Folopa men were working hard translating the Gospel of Mark in the Folopa language. But when they came to Mark 10:45,where it says that the Son of Man came to "give His life as a ransom," they hit a roadblock. How could they translate 'ransom'?

Neil explained to the men that a ransom is a price that must be paid before a captive, whose life hung in the balance, can go free. As he explained, Neil could see they understood.

"We need to ransom people all the time," one of the Folopa men said. "When a man is felling a tree and it falls the wrong way and kills someone, the clansmen of the dead person demand payment. If the relatives of the offender's clansmen don't pay, the relatives of the dead person demand the life of the offender. To save his life, we make an exchange. Pigs, shell money, and other things of value are given to the relatives in exchange for the life of the offender."

Bursting with excitement, Neil used their phrase to help him translate Mark 10:45 into Folopa. When he was done, he read it aloud. Translated back into English, the finished verse read, Jesus came to affect an exchange whereby He took the punishment of the evil deeds of many people. He came so that many people could go free and He died. 

When they heard these words, the men were deeply moved.

"We give a lot to make an exchange for a wrong," one man said. "But we have never given a person for the exchange price. Jesus did a great work for us."

Isn't it staggering to know that Christ gave His life in exchange for yours?

*This post was taken from the Wycliffe Bible Translators USA blog. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Just Use the Same Language!

Choose One

When confronted with the task of starting almost 300 language projects in Papua New Guinea, it might cause you to think, "Why not just teach everyone the same language?" Language and culture tie together. The unique beauty of each culture is expressed best by the indigenous language. Perhaps the best way to think about it is to marvel at the creative beauty in nature. How would you choose just one butterfly? Translating languages are essential to preserving the beauty of the cultures they reside in. Scriptures that are translated in the heart language of the people become clear and understanding is enhanced when seen through their cultural lens. Pray that the untranslated Scriptures of Papua New Guinea would have a project started even this year!

I have some thoughts to add to the post from the PNG Experience blog. As I speak to people about the need for Bible translation, I receive this question a lot: "Why don't you teach the people English?" Well, there's several negative things this statement implies, such as that English is superior than the people's language that needs to be translated, and that God only speaks English.

The gospel itself is an act of translation! Christ translated himself into humanity: he took on our looks, our limitations, and our words. The essence of the gospel is that we can't act or be anything special to earn it-it's a free gift. So, people shouldn't have to be anything different or do anything different to receive the Scriptures in their own language. It's a free gift.

When we translate the Scriptures into a person's heart language, we are telling them, "You matter. God loves you just as you are. In fact, He speaks your language!"

Monday, March 16, 2015

Music to My Ears

Music to-go

Take a moment to think about how much music means to you. Music is an important part of any culture. In Papua New Guinea, songs carry the ancient traditions and stories to the next generation. It also introduces new traditions and cultural beliefs. Many language groups love taking their ancient songs and adding words of Scriptures to them. Now these songs, written in their heart language, come alive. Pray for the almost 300 languages that do not have a project started. Pray that it will become music to their ears!

*This post was taken from the PNG Experience blog. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Review: Firefight

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Sequel to Steelheart 

**Spoiler Alerts** 
(You might not want to read the following if you haven't read Steelheart yet or ever plan to). 

"Newcago is free. They told David it was impossible-that even the Reckoners had never killed a high epic. Yet Steelheart-invincible, immortal, unconquerable-is dead. And he died by David's hand. 

"Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life simpler. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And no one in Newcago can give him answers. 

"Babylon Restored, the city formerly known as the borough of Manhatten, has possibilities, though.  Ruled by the mysterious High Epic Regalia, Babylon Restored is flooded and miserable, but David is sure it's the path that will lead him to what he needs to find. Entering a city oppressed by a High Epic despot is risky, but David's willing to take the gamble. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David's heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic-Firefight. And he's willing to go on a quest darker and even more dangerous than the fight against Steelheart to find her and get his answers." 

I enjoyed this book just as much, if not more so, than Steelheart. There were plenty more heart-thumping, teeth-clenching scenes, and surprises waiting around the corner, all of a more dangerous nature, if that's possible, than in the first novel. 

David and his metaphors continued to crack me up, although I did miss Abraham and Cody in this book. The other characters the reader meets-Mizzy, Val, and the other guy-didn't seem as developed as the other minor characters. And, the reason for Val's irritation at David wasn't quite explained. 

But this novel is more tense than the previous, and the nature of the Epics takes on a whole new perspective as David gets closer and closer to understanding them. 

Sometimes, I hate series. Because right when you get into one, you realize there will be another one, and it won't be out for a whole year! And by that time, you'll forget the plot and characters and will have to re-read them all over again. And who has time for that? So be forewarned before beginning this book-the last, third book, Calamity, will come out in 2016. 

I give this novel a 3.5 and recommend it for 13 year olds and up due to violence. 

What I learned: Our fears can control and weaken us. 

Again, here's Brandon Sanderson's website if you want to learn more about this series or his other novels: http://brandonsanderson.com/

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Much Work to Do


There always seems to be something extra to do. Multitasking hasn't seemed to diminish anyone's work load. Living in remote areas of Papua New Guinea takes time and energy. Many translation teams are delayed in completing their linguistic efforts simply by the normal requirements of life. Many translators need to continue doing what they always do and try to squeeze translation work in when they can. Pray that communities can churches would rally around the teams and assist them with the basic life requirements so they can focus on the language work.

*This post was taken from the PNG Experience blog. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Review: Steelheart

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Genre: YA Fantasy

"There are no heroes. Every single person who manifested powers-we call them Epics-turned out to be evil.

Here, in the city once known as Chicago, an extraordinarily powerful Epic declared himself Emperor. Steelheart has the strength of ten men and can control the elements. It is said no bullet can harm him, no sword can split his skin, no explosion can burn him. He is invincible.

It has been ten years. We live our lives as best we can. Nobody fights back...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans who spend their lives studying powerful Epics, finding their weaknesses, then assassinating them.

My name is David Charleston. I'm not one of the Reckoners, but I intend to join them. I have something they need. Something precious, something incredible. Not an object, but an experience. I know his secret.

I've seen Steelheart bleed."

I haven't read many, actually any, superhero novels, so I can't say what this one is like compared to them. But it is far more unique than the Marvel or other superhero-based movies I've watched. For one thing, in this novel, the humans are fighting the superheros. Also, the whole idea that there are no 'good' epics is interesting and somewhat baffling. I'm sure Sanderson explains this more in the second novel (yes, there's a sequel, and where there's a sequel, there's bound to be a  trequel, or whatever you call a third novel...). I found it slightly hard to believe that a group of so few humans could stand against the epics, but they have some supernatural help that makes it slightly more possible.

I often laughed out loud in this novel, mainly due to David's character. His horrible use of metaphors is hilarious, and he acts just like a determined, reckless teenager would. Although there is plenty of action in this novel, the characters are very lifelike and I feel like they became my good friends at the end.

Several times the plot takes sharp turns, causing the reader to start in surprise and re-read to make sure that just happened. This story will grab you with both hands right away and not let go!

This novel is a lot of fun due to the plot, David, and the world Sanderson has created, but it also explores deep issues as well, such as: what does it mean to truly be a hero? What are the moral boundaries in overthrowing tyranny, if there are any? I'm still contemplating some of the themes Sanderson unearthed in his book.

For the above reasons, I give this novel a 3.5 out of 5 and recommend it for 13 year olds and above.

What I learned: Pride is dangerous and often deadly. Vengeance is not as powerful as love.

*If you would like more information on Brandon Sanderson or his other books, visit his site here: http://brandonsanderson.com/

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bright Moon Rising

By the light of the moon

There are many places in the world where the moon is the main source of light at night. No street lights or LED flashlights, just the moon and the starry sky. When a full moon comes up in areas like that, its brilliance is startling. In urban and suburban areas, we rarely see the brilliant light of the moon because so many other lights distract us. The Bible can become like that.

In areas where we have so may things that compete with the Bible, it can seem to lose its luster. Is it the Bible or are we distracted by competing things? In Papua New Guinea, when a New Testament is completed, celebrations are huge and people get excited. Pray for the Kandawo people who will be celebrating their New Testament dedication in April. Pray for lasting results as the Scriptures change lives and impact communities.

*This post was taken from the PNG Experience blog.