I have a friend named Sominak who lives near Uria Village. He is gentle, intelligent, thoughtful. He has a charming way with people and immediately puts children at ease. He is a school teacher, a leader of teachers. When Angela and I first moved to Uria Village in the late 1990’s, Sominak was working with several other teachers to develop reading primers for Somau Garia speaking children. The idea was to develop a whole library of simple story books, introducing letters, vowel sounds, and simple words along the way–richly illustrated so that young minds could connect the images with the words on the page.
Sominak is gifted at taking the 16 letters of the Somau Garia alphabet and making them interesting. He is an artist who did most of the artwork for the primers, so he can draw a lot of fun cartoons on the board. Imagine having a teacher draw an amazing picture on the blackboard and letting you come forward and write the name below the picture. He knows how to draw the best out of people.
Vowels: A, E, I, O, U. Consonants: K, L, M, N, P, R, S, T, W, X, Y. These are the elements of written Somau Garia. These letters can be combined to make a story about a snake in the jungle or a man who takes off his arms and legs and head to warm them in the sun (weird) or to write Bible verses like the following, “Yesusue pa kapia xekerina kisamaira wati, nupo tatiwopi kanikina, ‘Tini nonomi weinikitari kouwa. Kakixanari taiyeri nikaku. Xuwe. Xoiteu Waiwai Purotai Wese paiya, muanum nono nikau.’ ” which in our mother tongue reads, “But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.’ ” Mark 10:14, Somau Garia translation; ESV
While Sominak’s primary role over the years has been literacy, he has given much of himself to the translation of the New Testament into the Somau Garia language. The Gospel According to Mark has been in use since 2007. The remaining 26 books await translation. Men like Sominak await their translation. The Word of God in the language of the heart has the power to transform a people.
Angela and I long to be in Papua New Guinea again soon, working alongside friends like Sominak, getting the Word out to a people needing the power of the gospel at work in their lives.
Thank you for reading this post. Thank you for praying. Thank you for giving of yourself to get the Word out to a precious people whom God loves very deeply.