About 20 nationalities are represented here at Ukarumpa. For a language-challenged guy, I still get along just fine because English is the working language of missionaries. God is merciful to me, a speaker of only English... Missionaries here normally use Tok Pisin, PNG’s trade language, with Papua New Guineans but these people also have a fairly good understanding of English.
Of course, I do have my challenges.
June is the month when many missionaries head to their home countries, mostly because it’s the end of the school year and makes it easy on their students/children. I’m heavily involved in helping these families move from the Ukarumpa email system to the main Wycliffe email system, and I’ve had a couple of sessions this week with Soong-Hwan (Korean, a physical education teacher) and then Takashi (Japanese, a translator).
I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was. I discovered that their computers displayed everything in their heart language, which I couldn’t read. Even though the steps to change their email programs were very familiar to me, I had to keep asking them “What does that say?” to make sure that I was selecting the right options or entering the right information in the correct field. In Takashi’s case, his keyboard was typing Japanese characters. In Soong-Hwan’s, the keyboard was laid out differently so that I had to hunt for a while to find the @-symbol.
Add their Asian pronunciation of English words to my less-than-perfect hearing and you can imagine what happened.
Despite the task taking at least twice as long as it would have taken if everything was in English, I thoroughly enjoyed spending the time with these two servants of God. Both have distinguished themselves as gentle and patient, serving when any need arises, and greatly desiring to see God glorified. I was happy to get to know them better and to be able to prepare them for going home.
Speaking of preparation for going home, we need to tell you about how God has used the time we’ve been on the other side of the world, separated from Julie’s mom, to bring her mom closer to His kingdom (home)…