It has been such a whirlwind the last couple months!
We’ve been full-time in culture and language learning, and we were beyond blessed to have a young woman from our church in Missouri come out for 2 months to homeschool our girls.
During that time, the small church here in Tigak was getting ready to host several neighboring tribal churches for the annual church conference. This included expanding the church’s meeting house, constructing sleeping houses, weaving sleeping mats and mats for sleeping house walls, LOTS of fishing to raise money to feed the conference attendees, many trips to the bush to find materials for the work projects mentioned above, etc…
The church did a great job prepping, and just 4 days after our homeschool teacher left, the conference began! The conference was a wonderful week of the believers encouraging each other with teaching from the Word, singing together in Tok Pisin, and fellowshiping in the afternoons and evenings. On the final day, each church shared a couple songs in their own Tok Ples (tribal language)… and we missionaries even shared a couple songs in English with a guitar, banjo, and tambourine!
We prayed beforehand, and continue to pray, that the conference was an encouraging and eye-opening time for the Tigak church. They got to see believers who are eagerly growing in their walk with the Lord, excited to be in the Word, men who are able to study and teach the Word, and families who desire to raise their children in His ways.
The Tigak church, in contrast, has just one man who is able to regularly teach, but he desperately wants and needs guidance in how to study the Word and share/teach it to the rest of the Body. The believers here also need to grow in their excitement to walk with the Lord, have an increasing hunger and thirst for the Word, and grow in wisdom for how to raise up their children in the ways of the Lord.
Please ask the Lord to work greatly in their lives, and to give each of us missionaries wisdom in how to disciple these men and women to maturity in Christ. Pray also for our co-worker who is faithfully translating God's Word into the Tigak language! This is essential for their spiritual growth and maturity in the years to come.
On the last evening of conference, Noe and a believer from another tribe headed out into town to catch their flight the next morning to Madang for a Curriculum Development workshop. Noe was greatly encouraged by this workshop, which not only gave him tools for developing Bible lessons, but long-term direction for how to train tribal elders and Bible teachers how to do the same.
Noe flew back to the islands with our CLA consultant. We shared a meal with him and his family that night here in the tribe, and the next morning our first Tigak CLA check began! It was a busy, stressful two full days of ‘performing’ various speaking tasks, as well as discussing elements of the culture. We were both stretched, but our consultant said we both did well!
We didn’t have any major faux pas’ during the evaluation. … the dolphin ‘got me’ again though! I couldn’t figure out how to say that “He was cutting the grass”, so I used the Tok Pisin word for ‘cutting’ (there are several different verbs for cutting in Tigak, depending on what and how you are cutting), and tried to say “hair”, but said “dolphin” instead. (“He is ‘cutting’ the dolphin.”) Ugh!! That dolphin just might be the end of me…
In the end, our consultant placed us on the chart as you can see below. The "Progressing" level is essentially sentence-level speaking. We are both very encouraged by the progress we have made. Pray for us as we continue to press on! Our next CLA check will be in about 6 months.
Naya and Jocie also had their first mini Tigak CLA check, and they both passed. We’re VERY proud of them, especially since they haven’t been sitting down regularly with anyone to learn Tigak. At this point, we are happy to have them learning basic words and phrases.
So the month of November was ‘somewhere’ in that huge cyclone of events, and suddenly we found ourselves sitting at our table surrounded by family in Christ, celebrating His goodness together! Indeed, we are very thankful. Thankful for His sustaining us through such a busy season. Speaking of cyclone season, it is transitioning into that season now, which is bringing us more rain. It’s unclear at this point if the drought in PNG is over, so of course we are thankful every time it rains! Continue to pray for locations that lost their entire food crops and any that are still waiting for rain.
We put up a few Christmas decorations and are enjoying this season of thanks, remembering all that He has done. Pray that we can be an encouragement to our Tigak brothers and sisters: helping them to ever turn their eyes to Him, both in thankfulness and in dependency.
Wishing you much joy as you celebrate with thanksgiving His coming to earth as our Savior and the certain hope of His coming back… soon!
~the Martinez family