Friday, June 24, 2011

Vanuatu: Critical Thinking Skills for National Translators

From Ross Webb
SIL Vanuatu Director

 "I didn't want to come," said Laurie. "But I did, and unlike at other workshops, I stayed awake right to the end! God really wanted me to come to this."

Recently, a two week workshop was held for 14 national translators in critical thinking skills  and rudimentary exegesis, as well as some Old Testament background. A lot of thinking went on, that's for sure. There were plenty of comments on the revolutionary nature of the content; being shown how to take into consideration all of the information presented to reach a conclusion, or how to consider all the implications of a life situation to make a decision, or how to read through all the 'facts' lined up in a Bible passage to determine the punch line of the author -- all of this was eye opening, perhaps even life changing in the long run to many.

We spent a lot of time showing that too many people don't read to the end of a passage of Scripture before jumping to a wrong conclusion or totally misusing the passage. 'Aha's' of recognition were ignited all over the room. You could pray that this will all lead to better understanding of the Word and not a new breed of sermon critics in Vanuatu!

More on Vanuatu

New Bible translation project in Vanuatu

From Ross Webb
SIL Vanuatu Director

How can a place that looks so close as crows fly take so long to get to?! It did - 24 hours after leaving home we arrived at our first destination. Saving money and taking a boat for the first 15 hours was a bit of a mistake!

We were off to the South coast of Malekula island, to follow up on a survey done there last year to check out as a suitable place to do a translation of the Bible. As we suspected, it seems that a translation done in one of the languages in the area may well be able to serve as a foundation for quicker adaptation into some other languages in the region. Surveys are hypothetical, future possibilities. This trip was the start of the real thing. Along with Serah (from our office), and a pastor that speaks the languages we were headed for (more on Ps Aman soon), we had Brad Fleming with us - a real, live, future translation advisor, newly arrived from the US and looking to us to give him guidance for where he might spend the next 10 or so years of his life working with a community to translate the Scriptures.
The trip was rough - watery rough, but the 'captains' of the 'speed boats' assured us they'd never lost anyone to the ocean. That was a comfort! And land felt all the firmer, the beaches whiter, the swaying palms taller and the hospitality shown in the villages we visited all the more welcome. Meetings were called in every village for Serah and I to explain the mission of Bible translation - starting with God speaking with a loving intent to draw all men to himself through Jesus. Our meetings were all in churches so it wasn't an evangelistic event (!) but it was an opportunity for long time church goers to think again why they even open the Bible in church, and how much they should be concerned about understanding it. An astute elder present at one of the meetings commented at question time, "A lot of times we preachers don't really understand the text we are preaching on, so we dish out to the people thoughts from our own imaginations." When it boils down to it, there is not much choice for many to do more than that. It's our fond hope that translating will at least remove the haze somewhat!

Pastor Aman talking to leaders in Mbonvor village

Serah & I did this 'awareness' in 4 picturesque villages. Questions were good, ranging from what would the alphabet look like to how can we trust that the new translation will be really the Word of God like the KJV. Now that's a good question! Brad, the future translation advisor guy, has more or less decided that he'll settle his family in one of the villages. Working out how to get his family there is a bit more of a challenge, but he has till the beginning of next year to work it out! The main factor that convinced him that this rugged area of the nation is where God wants him to help out is Pastor Aman. Aman has served the church in other places for 7 years and has seen the effects of Bible translation in the lives of people. For a long time he's told us he'd jump ship, so to speak, as soon as there was an advisor on the horizon to help him. Now's

So you could pray for the Flemings - they have some practical training to complete in PNG in the next few months, and for Ps Aman - if God is pleased he will need to uproot his family from Tanna island after he serves out his pastoring term, and take them to his homeland to start a new adventure. There's a fair bit to be worked out!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mission-critical personnel needs

I recently received an email stating these critical needs in the Pacific Area.  The roles include HR, management, school teacher and nurse. 

Director's Assistant for Personnel in Papua New Guinea

Do you enjoy working with people and assisting them to be successful? Do you have experience in Human Resource management, or a desire to learn how to provide that sort of administrative care to a large group of volunteers focused on Bible translation in Papua New Guinea? Consider using your skills or aptitude in supporting Bible translation in this critical role.


-Communicates with the appropriate sending organizations and interested personnel such that the personnel needs are well represented and clear and recruitment information is readily available.

-Facilitates the invitation process between the sending and receiving organizations.

-Ensure that those who need to know have the information they need regarding personnel needs, structures, information, requirements.

-Coordinates recording and filing of information about members in area of responsibility regarding work programs, training, furlough and/or vacation plans, etc.

-Maintains statistical personnel records for reporting to entity and international offices.

-Builds and maintains a current understanding of government requirements for expatriate staff as well as policies and requirements of appropriate Embassy and Consular Offices.

-Listens to member, giving encouragement and understanding. *Collaborates as needed with member in answering questions from his constituency about his program and plans. *Supervises and coordinates activities and program of office and staff.

-Trains and develops Personnel Department staff.

-Relates to both member and administration as liaison.

 -Maintains statistical personnel records for reporting to entity and international offices.

Training Centre Manager 
This role, and the one below, requires a high level of interaction with Papua New Guineans and the need to assist them in a variety of practical ways in addition to enabling them to receive training in the various ways mentioned below. It requires individuals who are learners as well as teachers, who can work alongside of national colleagues and also give leadership to them.

-Be responsible to see that all necessary equipment for courses is in functioning properly (computers, projectors, photocopiers, etc.)

-Arrange for housing for Papua New Guinean course participants when needed.

Serve as Project Manager for courses which receive funding from SIL International Project funding sources.

-Coordinate with Kitchen Manager to make sure that there is adequate food and staff for preparation of food for all courses.

-Oversee the buildings and grounds staff to make sure the training facilities are in good repair for all courses.

Training Administrator

As a member of the coordinator team, to oversee infrastructure for multiple training courses for Papua New Guineans who are receiving training in a variety of skill sets necessary for language development and Bible translation.


-Assist with scheduling of courses and procuring necessary staff.

-Advertise courses within SIL-PNG, as well as with partnering translation and language develop organisation throughout PNG.

-Coordinate with instructors to determine needed textbooks and other materials for each course, and procure all necessary supplies.

-Be responsible to see that all necessary equipment for courses is in functioning properly (computers, projectors, photocopiers, etc.)

-Maintain a list of participants who will be attending each course, and assist with travel plans when needed.

-Arrange for housing for Papua New Guinean course participants when needed.

-Serve as Project Manager for courses which receive funding from SIL International Project funding sources.

-Coordinate Welcome and Graduation ceremonies, working together with students to invite special speakers and guests, preparation of certificates and ceremony details.

Pacific Orientation School Teacher
Click here to learn more about the Pacific Orientation Course

Responsible for assisting with the cultural orientation and education of children of the participants and staff at the Pacific Orientation Course


-Works under the direction of the Assistant to the POC Director. Helps with the evaluation of trainees.

-The main focus of the POC teacher is to provide cultural orientation, instruction in Melanesian pidgin and learning opportunities for the children of POC participants. As time is available, the teacher will provide instruction of staff children.

-Instruction and learning opportunities in math and reading will be provided during the school day, using curricula provided by Ukarumpa International School or homeschool materials provided by the parents.

-Will adapt method of instruction to maximize the local setting at Nobnob and Madang and to work with the student's learning style, as much as possible with limited staff and resources. Understands cross-cultural issues and makes appropriate life-style changes to fit the local setting. Assesses academic progress of students as well as progress in cultural orientation and language learning.

-The POC School is a large single classroom located at the POC site, in a rural setting of Madang Province. Generally, the teacher can expect:

**students may come from more than one home country.
**Some students may not have strong English language skills when they arrive at POC.
**There will be a range of grade levels that may range from early elementary through to high school.

Pacific Orientation Nurse
Click here to learn more about the Pacific Orientation Course
Responsible for providing basic medical care for the POC participants and staff as well as presenting medical lectures to the course participants.

Contact Wendy for more information.