Friday, November 15, 2013

PNG: Ukarumpa Training Centre

Training for Life

by Tim Scott
1 Nov. 2013

"Does your language have a second person plural? English doesn’t; you is both plural and singular."

“You have seen that word before: anthropos.  What does that mean?”

“Repetition is the key; as the students master the sounds, they will begin to read.”

“Sometimes the cursor flies off the screen; try moving the mouse slower.”

What do these quotes have in common? They were all heard at the Ukarumpa Training Centre where almost 90 Papua New Guineans are involved in four different courses. The Ukarumpa Training Centre, located in the Eastern Highlands Province, is bustling with activity these days.

In one classroom, 21 students are learning about introductory language principles. These principles will help them serve their communities as they prepare to become translators.  Next door, 10 are studying Greek. Having already mastered the first Greek course, they are learning how Greek can help them understand the New Testament Scriptures.  In the lecture room, 28 teachers from around Papua New Guinea are participating in a “Creative Phonics” workshop in order to help other teachers learn how to teach children to read. Finally, 30 first-time computer users are eagerly getting hands-on computer training.

What makes this training centre so busy? According to Max Sahl, Ukarumpa Training Centre Manager,

"Basically there are three main advantages, location, size and locally available expertise. The Ukarumpa Training Centre is located just off the Highlands Highway near Kainantu, making it available by road, all the way from Mount Hagen to Lae and Madang.  It is a large centre capable of easily holding 100 participants and even more with some slight modifications.  And because Ukarumpa is the base of operations for the many language development and Bible translation personnel that work throughout PNG, it provides easy access to experts in many areas of linguistics and literacy, along with technical support for these activities."

The training centre also hosts conferences and retreats. It recently hosted the National Christian Nurses, Bible Translation Association of PNG and the Tertiary Student Christian Fellowship.

The Ukarumpa Training Centre is providing training that changes lives. For more information on the Ukarumpa Training Centre …

go to
watch a video

Click here for more information on the Ukarumpa Linguistic Centre.

Vanuatu: Pacific Bible on Facebook

If you're on Facebook, the Pacific Bible Facebook page has many short updates on Bible translation activities in Vanuatu and other countries in the South Pacific.  Join the group and marvel at what God is doing there!

Here's a few posts from the Pacific Bible page from Vanuatu to get you started:

Found!  The Bible Overview in use on Tanna Island. Praise God!
VANUATU: Now this is really something... this fellow learned the Bible Overview a couple of months ago at our "Trenem Tingting" workshop. This is the 2nd report now of it being passed on. I was planning to do some more on it at our next module in a couple of weeks. Maybe I don't need to! Warms the heart to see that Wako has even drawn the pictures!
Can't find a better word than 'fantastic!'.

VANUATU: It's a big job for sure - but not as big as translating it in the first place! But so valuable on many fronts. Here's a take from the John Weslee who has spent the last couple of weeks with translation advisor David Healey pushing their way through recording 4,000 NT verses (only another 4,000 to go!).*

"I think that recording can help the person who doesn't know how to read.  He can listen and understand.
And if he has God's book too he will be able to listen and follow along - and then one day he'll be able to read it!"

*Meanwhile in the background there is a volunteer spending endless hours editing the initial recording to make it sound nice and smooth. Then it will be loaded onto individual MegaVoice solar powered players to be released, God willing, with the Maskelynes print NT early in 2014. If you'd like to know more, or donate towards the audio version, click on this link:

VANUATU: Laughing at last! Kalite, reader and promoter of the

Uripiv language audio Bible on MegaVoice players was puzzled by Sitela's grandma-style laughter down by the beach. "I'm laughing at this talking thing," she said. "I'm holding this thing and listening to it talk so clearly and it makes me feel happy! It's even clearer for me than when people come an read the Bible to me." And then she let out another great holy chuckle. Makes you smile, right?

VANUATU: it's wonderful to see lights starting to go on as we get into our 2nd round of our Trenem Tingting course designed to help with the understanding of Scripture amongst other things! These guys love to learn. John from Tanna island, tasked with disciplining some of his fellow islanders coming out of a cargo cult, wrote at the end of the 4th day:

"I thank God because my understanding has become clearer as to how to interpret the meaning of God's talk, how to know the meaning and how to write a sermon. I hope it will come even clearer. 
I just keep thinking about my group and want them to know these things too."
You can find these and other posts in the Pacific Bible page on Facebook.  Don't forget to "Like" the page! 
Click here to read more about the Bible translation work in Vanuatu.





Sunday, August 11, 2013

PNG Literacy: Not your Typical ABCs

09 August, 2013 – Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea – Written by Robbie Petterson with Tim Scott

Uniskript is a writing system that uses picture
symbols that represent the parts of the mouth used to make the sounds of language. This makes it good for teaching phonics, and a useful stepping stone towards learning to read in normal letters. It can be applied to any language, including English. Because it is easy to learn, it is of interest to language development and literacy practitioners in countries with many small language groups, and where school children are struggling to acquire literacy through traditional methods.

A research team from Youth With A Mission (YWAM) developed the Uniskript method and this year they invited a team from Papua New Guinea to try Uniskript for themselves. Teachers Roy Harai, Nelson Moio, Anna Larupa and Esther Ukia, (teachers from the Urama and Koriki language communities) attended a workshop at the University of the Nations in Hawai'i, along with SIL literacy experts Robbie and Debbie Petterson.

The PNG team learned how to use Uniskript symbols to represent language sounds, and then developed symbols for Koriki and Urama. After testing the symbols by writing words and sentences, they looked at cultural icons, designs and artifacts, and used these to adapt the basic symbols to ones that had a real "Urama" or "Koriki" home-­grown feel to them. The Koriki teachers called their Uniskript alphabet "Koriki Ere", which means "(growth-giving) water for the Koriki," while the Urama pair called theirs "Urama Hura," meaning "the seeds (of learning) for the Urama." They also worked on basic Uniskripts for Tok Pisin and Hiri Motu.

The team later developed teaching materials and games

and stories for reading practice, using computer fonts created especially for them. An important final step was planning teaching materials for bridging to the Roman alphabet and to help children learning to read English.

The four teachers returned to PNG eager to try out these materials with small classes of children, now that they understand the potential benefits of using Uniskript for teaching literacy skills. If these trials are successful, other language communities may be interested in developing Uniskript systems for teaching phonics-based literacy in their languages, and also for teaching English.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Vanuatu: Translation Need: How much longer will they have to wait?

The following is a recent prayer letter from Ross Webb, SIL Vanuatu Director

Pastor Aman is a youngish Presbyterian pastor who saw the impact of Bible translation at his first parish out of Bible college on Tanna island. He saw the impact of that translation on the life of people and determined to do the same for his own people – the Nahaqai of South Malejula. He asked us for help. It had great potential with a strongly motivated keen Christian who was computer literate to boot! We trained him in basic translation principles and then another young pastor form the same language jumped into the action – wow! Potential plus!

 Backdoor: Pastor Aman wanted an SIL advisor team to help him. We decided together that that was a good idea, at least for the initial years of the project. With all that enthusiasm and so much going for it, not to mention the beautiful coastal location, we didn’t think it would be hard to entice the next trained advisor team that God gave us to take up the challenge of embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. Wrong. Over the last two years we’ve failed twice – two translator hopefuls felt they had to pull out of the Vanuatu challenge, and Bible translation entirely. “Olala”, as they say around here! That’s disheartening, not only because losing potential Bible translators is pretty disappointing in itself, but all the more so because we hate the thought of losing the opportunity with pastors Aman and John and their community. White-man promises aren’t looking so promising!

 Backup: So Pastors Aman and John have been cutting their teeth on translating Bible stories… Easy, you think? Not so much. A Bible story has still got to be accurate in detail. And it’s still got to be expressed in a way that sounds natural – mysteriously difficult at times, even for a native speaker, and since the language is so new to written form, spelling and alphabet issues keep tripping over themselves. Lyndal and I decided that a multi-purposed trip to visit the men and their villages would be in order. Some technology needed to be sorted out – my job; and Lyndal took on teaching some simple bridging literacy methods to local readers, and to Ps Aman and John to perpetuate. Why teach readers to read? Well, that’s a whole story in itself, but suffice to say people can get paralysed when they see the new shapes and squiggles over letters of a different language to the one they are used to reading – even if that new language is their very own. Weird but true.

Benefit: You would be amazed at how just an hour of word Bingo can improve fluency. Lyndal showed people how easy it is to read their own language. There were some whizzes, and some not so whizzy but Ps Aman absorbed the methodology to use in other villages, and in their Sunday after church translation-improvement checking sessions. The sole printed document in Nahaqai – 20 Bible stories – showed up deficiencies that convinced Ps Aman and John that they needed to revise their checking strategies. It’s too easy for people to say “great” at first glance and complain of the results later!

The sad story is that John and Aman have at least another year to wait before an advisor is available to help them – unless God does some sort of extreme miracle (there are none in the pipeline that we can see). We pray for people, but God delivers slowly. If I was Him I’d be making my urges to engage in vital tasks a lot more urgent, but I’m not Him and He obviously thinks my strategies imperfect! We will keep praying. Meanwhile, those two keen men will attend the Trenem Tingting / Critical Thinking workshop we are about to embark on with a new group of men this time round. Our desire is that the 12 men chosen to attend from different translation projects around the country will be open to having their minds expanded, and they will embrace all that God’s revelation of Himself has in store for those that apply themselves to it.
For more information about the work in Vanuatu, click here.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Needed: Marine Operations Manager

Have you ever thought of using your maritime skills to further Bible translation?  There is a need for someone(s) in other ports in Papua New Guinea to oversee boat operations and related programs to meet transportation needs related to Bible translation, literacy and community development.  Read on to see what is happening in the Milne Bay Province.  Perhaps God is calling you to be a part of His work in Papua New Guinea!

If you'd like more information, contact Wendy at

Maritime Makings
by Tim Scott


"The most precious cargo you can have is people and the Kwadima II makes it possible for people to move safely throughout the Milne Bay Province by water."

 The MV Kwadima II is a 40 foot boat that will accommodate up to 35 passengers and room for up to 15 tons of cargo. It is managed out of Alotau by SIL-PNG. The primary function of the Kwadima II is to move language development and translation teams to and from remote areas. Many of these areas do not have regular maritime travel and are not easily accessible by smaller boats. It is not unusual to have trips of up to 24 hours or more.

Courses such as VITAL (Vernacular In Translation and Literacy) and other workshops held at the combined SIL-PNG and BTA Training Centre utilize the boat to bring in language workers from many different areas. Safety is a primary concern when selecting water transportation. Since most local travel occurs on smaller boats which are often overloaded or depart without proper water safety equipment, many passengers prefer to use the Kwadima II. But safe travel is not the only advantage. Many of the workshop and course attenders arrive on time for the courses because the "normal" travel by boat is dependent on the inconsistent departure times and available boats.
Since boat maintenance and water travel is expensive, charter loads are scheduled to subsidise the cost for the non-profit workers who use the boat for affordable transportation. When the boat is not booked for passenger travel for language development and translation, it is kept busy providing safe and reliable delivery of goods and people to many areas around Milne Bay Province.

The Kwadima II is managed by Tim McIntosh who has 20 years of maritime experience. While Tim loves the sea, being a manager doesn’t mean that he gets to skipper the boat. In fact he only gets to go along infrequently. The waters in and around Milne Bay are treacherous with many reefs and strong currents and requires navigation by those who have experience in these waters. The boat is skippered by a Papua New Guinean captain and first mates who have excellent safety records.

Although the boat is primarily used in the Milne Bay area, it has travelled as far as Tufi, Buka, and Mortlock Atoll.

One language worker states, "Our primary means of getting in and out of the village has been by taking the Kwadima II. We are very thankful for the way the boat is well maintained, for the trustworthy and competent crew, for the hard work of the boat manager—and on those 14-hour boat rides, extremely thankful for a boat with an operational toilet!"

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

PNG: Children's Home Parent

We served as Children's Home Parents at Ukarumpa for 3 years and loved it!  If you enjoy teens and desire to see the work of Bible translation continue in PNG, this role is for you!

This role and the Children’s Homes are critical for the on-going work of Bible translation in PNG.  We always say, “Happy kids, happy parents.”  If parents know their teens are well-cared for and happy in the Children’s Home, they can better concentrate on their role as a Bible translator or in another vital language role.  When there isn’t anyone available to fulfill this role, often a couple who are doing Bible translation is asked to fill the role for a school term or two. We need you!

The homes allow 7th -12th  graders to attend school at Ukarumpa while their parents are in the village. Some students stay for the whole school year while others stay in the homes for various lengths of times. There are 2 to 6 week breaks between each school term and the teens live with their parents during the breaks.

There is a great team there to welcome you and give you the orientation and training that you need to be successful house parents.  English will be used most often but the trade language, Tok Pisin, is easy to learn and you'll enjoy using it to build relationships with the local people.

 What are the homes like?

-You live together as a family. There is a girl's and boy's hall and there are beds for around 7 girls and 7 boys and they might not be filled all year round. Our home had anywhere from 2-14 teens living with us but most often we had 8-10 teens living with us.

-Parents do have a room with their own bathroom.

-Yes, you do have electricity with most of the conveniences of your home country. No dishwasher but lots of hands to wash the dishes! There is house help so clothes and basic care of the house are taken care of and they also can help with some of the cooking.

What does the role involve?

-Organize the day-to-day activities involved in operating and maintaining the home, ensuring smooth operation and a happy, homelike atmosphere.

-Plan and perform maintenance activities such as cleaning, painting and repairs using the assistance of staff available.

-Understand and empathize with children of various ages and nationalities facing the adjustments of cross-cultural situations and living away from parents.

-Provide supportive activities and mature Christian counsel, seeking to care for each child's physical, social, mental and spiritual needs.

-Assist in evening study programs, providing an adequately disciplined climate in which scholastic help is available to complete assignments.

Daily life in a home:

During the week, our teens were often out of the house by 8am and many didn’t return until dinner, although everyone comes home for an hour at lunch time. After dinner clean-up, there was some time for Ping-Pong, games, or just a good chat before study/quiet time from 7-9 pm. Then the house came alive again and we all enjoyed a snack before it was off to bed for all.

The weekends were filled with Sat. morning chores, hanging out, school activities, etc. Often the teens went to the Teen Center for Hamburger Night on Fri. nights with the Ukarumpa community and on Sat. nights, the Teen Center is open only for teens.

Minimum Skills:

-Ability to develop and maintain a happy, caring, and trusting home-like atmosphere.
-Homemaking skills are needed and cooking is an essential part of the job.
-Household management skills and comfortable working with a budget.
-Mature Christians who have demonstrated good parenting skills/positive youth work experiences.
-Home maintenance experience desirable.
-Comfortable working together as a couple for extended time.
Serve for a year or as many as you can give.  If you would like more information on this vital role, please contact Wendy.