Papua New Guinea has been receiving a lot of publicity this month due to it being the focus country of this year’s Women’s World Day of Prayer. My Church was the host for our area and I was asked to be the speaker. I attended two planning meetings and was impressed at the commitment of women for this yearly event. As well as speaking, I took along a PNG display and wore a meri blouse and laplap for which the congregation was very appreciative.
There have been a number of natural disasters this month; due to the heavy rains that have fallen in most parts of the country. In the Eastern Highlands at a place called Watabung a large landslide occurred covering two 25 seater buses and pedestrians along the Highland Highway. As well as mourning for the dead, the blockage to the Highway will cause economic problems for the people especially those on the far side of the land slip. A report said the whole mountain came down.
There is major flooding in Aitape in the Sundaun Province as two major rivers have burst their banks and other rivers have taken out bridges. The hospital is under 1.5 metres of water, and water tanks have been lifted, and wells have been polluted, and houses and gardens washed away. 50,000 people have been affected including the villages that were previously wiped out in 2002 tsunami. Since that disaster the remaining people relocated further inland and instead of a one language translation programme, it is now for several languages.
A Workshop was scheduled to start next week, Emil reported that it has been sunny for a week and the water is going down. Even the rough seas have calmed down. He doesn't see any reason why the workshop that John Nystrom and Nathan Miles are flying from the States for would need to be cancelled. So the workshop is on. "We are still weighing the various travel routes for John and Nathan. With flooded and over-grown airstrips, washed out bridges, landslips, broken culverts, and steep river banks where cars used to drive, we are looking at some-thing like Plan J now." Please pray for this to happen. * see note.
Larry & Connie Lovell have yet to learn the full extent of the famine which grips much of the Milne Bay Province and Fergusson Island in particular. The famine may necessitate postponing the Minaveha New Testament dedication celebration currently scheduled for 14th August 2009. The Lovells and the people in the village need wisdom in their decision-making and planning over the next few weeks and months.
Answers to our prayers: Don & Sharon Hutchisson have completed the typesetting of the Susurunga. No news of Sivini, so we assume the peace continues. The Konofi bridge is still unable to handle heavy vehicles, so Tai Yari recently had to go to the port of Lae to unload a large container shipment and load it on to smaller vehicles for transportation to Ukarumpa.
The Waris New Testament, Bob Brown writes: - "I’m looking forward very much to spending three weeks at Wasengla in April and May. My last attempt to stay failed because of a lack of accommodation at the Catholic church I was depending on. Pray that my trip there in April and accommodation will be guided by God. Pray for safety and health for the men of the Waris translation team, whom I will depend on, and for me. Pray for God’s guidance on our time working together, and that there will be opportunities for me to give reading practice from the Waris New Testament. Also Waris Exodus needs corrections added to it, and our Waris - English dictionary needs lots of editing of the definitions."
Coming up at the end of March is the PNG Branch biennial conference, where members have a chance of spiritual refreshment, elect a Director & Executive Committee, discuss plans for the future of the work in PNG, and have some fun (concerts, sports etc.) It will be a busy time for everyone.
In April another Translators Training Course will be taking place; new students will attend the first course and returning students the second or third courses. Please be praying about all the logistics of accommodation and travel for staff and students.
*Note: this workshop has gone ahead with ten of the eleven languages involved.