I can read… Do.

– Elna

One of the benefits of joining a team who’ve already been in the village for years, is that we are seeing fruit of the ministry here much faster than we would if we came from the beginning. The Canns have been living in working in Mawerero from 2017. They completed their CLA phase (Culture and Language Acquisition) just after our arrival here. At that point, Cassidy was already hard at work preparing for the Literacy Program. She joyfully put in hours and hours of work, and the end product was astounding. Amelia and I were amazed as we watched her teach – we were encouraged to press on in our own language learning so that we can also communicate clearly with our friends. We were also encouraged to keep growing in our love for our friends in the village. And above all, to love our Lord and serve Him faithfully. We were included as ‘teachers’ in the celebration of the first literacy class graduation, even though we only assisted Cassidy in small ways, like marking homework books and helping students during reading times. In the end, all the glory belongs to the Lord, but today I want to thank Him for my friend Cassidy. She faithfully carries this part of the work here in Mawerero.

The very first Do Literacy Class had 15 graduates. They completed their basic Literacy class in January 2020. Since then, they have been meeting weekly for Post Literacy reading practice. At first, Ryan and Elna were tasked with the Post Literacy program. This included development of Do reading books, and meeting weekly for reading class. In July, Amelia shifted her focus (she’s almost done with her CLA) and is now heading up Post Literacy. Elna still helps her, but Ryan is focussing completely on CLA.

Our plan is that Literacy will be taken over and run independently by local teachers. To this end, Cassidy identified men in the first class who might become teachers. She did teacher training with them, and gave them opportunities to lead parts of the class. So when the second group started Literacy, Maikepe was ready! He taught a big part of the second literacy class. The eight students graduated on 15 August and joined the Post Literacy class last Saturday. Maikepe has proven himself to be a faithful teacher, and he is excited to start a third class soon.

God chose to reveal himself to humanity in the Word. If we want to know God, we need to read the Word. This is why we are so excited about the growing number of Do people who will be able to read the Bible in their own heart language.

Literacy starts!

One of our favorite things about living on our ridge is hearing the rain. It starts with a faint rumbling sound from far over the mountains and comes closer and closer until it finally hits our roof! What a display of God’s glory! I love standing on our porch waiting for it to arrive.

View of the main ridge of Mawerero from the waterfall-road – our house on the very left. Those clouds might look promising, but we only know for sure that rain is coming when we hear it…

In the same way, the people of Mawerero have stood waiting. Many years ago the leaders sent a letter to Mibu requesting that missionaries be sent. There were a couple of visits and then in 2016, two families moved to the village. Since then, there have been big changes, with the Dodds leaving, Matt going home to the Lord, and then us and Amelia arriving to take over from the Dodds. All this time, the people have heard rumbles of what would come.

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August update

First break, visitors and progress…


A lot has happened since we last posted anything… We’ve been working hard, and God graciously provided a refreshing rest time in Ukarumpa. After eight months in country, we planned to have a two week break out of the village. We extended this to three weeks, as there were no flights available to bring us home after two weeks… 

The kids are strapped in and ready to go! They love having their own headsets… Thankfully, the pilot can switch off the passengers’ chatter (and occasional sneezes).

I’ve been asked why we’d need a break outside of the village when we already live in a tropical jungle – can’t get more idilic than this, right? Well, while I do believe God gave us a home in the most beautiful spot on earth, it is not our eyes that need rest or diversion… This is still our place of work – we are not on an extended holiday – and our minds needed rest. While at home, we are constantly communicating in a new language – translating every conversation in our heads takes a lot of mental effort. We also live in a culture very different to our own, so we need to filter every possible response through what we already know about the local culture. And even then, we still often make cultural blunders. We also have constant interruptions here – our village friends come knocking regardless of what is happening inside. Work, school time, meals, language lessons, family time, team meetings, movies, games – all of those get interrupted on a daily basis. And so we end up opting to go out of the village when we need rest and uninterrupted family time…

Resting in Ukarumpa

We spent our break at SIL’s base in the Highlands. We read (some of us more than others), took walks, ate ice cream (a treat we do not have in the village), watched movies, and played card games… We met some really kind people who live on the base, and others who were also passing through, spending a night or two at the guest house. The kids enjoyed seeing cows and horses again, and I loved the diverse plant life – so different from here in the mountains. Ryan got to check out the joinery, the tech support center, and the library. There is only one store on the base (we order our supplies from them when we do supply runs), but since our village store only sells salt, oil, noodles, and chewing gum we felt like it was huge!

Amelia’s garden is to the left of the picture.
The rest of the cleared space is for the Literacy building…

While we were away, the village leaders started clearing ground for the building that we’ll use for the Literacy Program. We will only be able to start the program once the building is ready. On the Saturday before we returned, the Canns and Amelia announced the program to the village again, and invitations have been sent to the people we would like to attend the first class. We selected people based on where they live (we want someone from each hamlet), level of literacy (we want to include people who can read a bit, and some who cannot read at all), clan (we want to include someone from all the clans), and gender. At this point we are only including adults. We’ve purchased boxes that will house flash cards and readers, and almost all the printing and binding has been done. Please pray with us that the students will be diligent and that starting Literacy will increase the anticipation and interest in the Gospel.

Mawerero from the air – what a beautiful sight, home!

We enjoyed our rest, and were very eager to get home by the end of the three weeks.  On the day we returned, our logistics family (the Lehmans) joined us in the village for a six day visit. It was such a delight to have them here! The children played non-stop, the adults had encouraging fellowship. We even managed to sneak in a surprise birthday cake for Sebastian – a week early, but double the amount of kids to enjoy it with us! This is probably the last time we spend time together as a team before the Lehmans head back to their US home. They will be returning so that Jeremy can attend seminary… We are very excited with them!

Sebastian was very surprised, even though he saw me baking cake…
The Canns, Amelia, Mitchells, and Lehmans…

We are now entering a new phase as a team – Literacy starts soon, and Zach is working hard on translating and lesson preparation. In the mean time, however, Ryan, Amelia and I are still in the CLA phase: Culture and Language Acquisition. You can pray for us as we enter this new period.