On July 4th 2021, we traveled to Savo Island to start a ‘walking tour’. The purpose of our tour was to visit all the village communities around the island while also taking the opportunity to meet with people and share some information about an upcoming meeting.
The meeting on the following weekend was to bring Savosavo speakers together to talk about their alphabet. Not much has been written in Savosavo, but more than one alphabet has been used to write the language. In order to move forward in Bible translation, there needs to be ONE alphabet that everyone can read. We were hoping for wide community participation.
During the week as we walked around the island, we held 8 alphabet awareness meetings. We also encouraged people to come to Kaogele Village on the weekend to participate in the discussion on what letter symbol(s) should be used for each sound in the language.
We had wonderful weather all week long as we walked from village to village. Please enjoy this virtual tour of the island through some of our photos:
On May 30th, 2021, we were invited to Savo Island to attend a meeting of the Savosavo Bible Translation Committee. It was a full day and a blessing to reconnect with our Savo Friends!
On Sunday morning, we drove west from Honiara along the Guadalcanal coast to a place where we met the fiberglass boat with outboard motor, whose driver took us across to the island. After about 30 minutes we arrived on the island – slightly damp from the fine rain that was falling, but thankful for smooth seas.
Francis, the driver, skirted along the coast of the island hoping for a chance to see some dolphins which are often at play, but there were none to be seen. The boat continued around the island to Kaogele Village.
Once we arrived, the boat cruised past the beach and we circled around in the sea for a while, because the village was not quite ready for our arrival. It felt a bit like a plane circling an airport waiting for clearance to land!
Ah, but it was all worth the wait when we finally pulled onto the beach. You can watch the video here: Welcome to Kaogele Village
It was fun to see people whom we had met on other trips to Savo, as well as some new faces. We were served tea & coffee, donuts and ‘pudding’ – a local food made from coconut milk and cassava (not at all like American ‘pudding’).
A couple of months ago, we asked people to pray for James, the chairman of the Bible translation committee. Here he is pictured with his wife, Sarah. James asked us to thank everyone who prayed for the boil on his leg. He is doing much better, although his leg is not entirely healed. So please continue to pray for him.
One person we were eager to meet was Lucy. She is from Kaogele Village and is currently attending classes at a Bible school here in Honiara. She is receiving high marks in grammar and will be taking more courses because she is interested in getting involved in Savosavo Bible translation. Lucy’s mother grows peanuts, which she sells in the market in order to pay for Lucy’s tuition.
There were about 70 people who came to the meeting – which was really encouraging. Unfortunately, only the east side of the island was represented. We hope there will be people from all the villages at the next meeting, scheduled for July 10-11. The topic of the next meeting be choosing the Savosavo alphabet. This will be an important first step for the Savo community.
We are excited to serve the people of Savo as they seek to translate God’s Word!
Below are some more photos from our day on Savo:
More than 50 years ago in a Baeguu village on Malaita Island, a young boy was suffering from malaria. His father who had animistic rituals for everything in life, tried his best to appease the spirits on behalf of his son. When his son died anyway, he became angry with the spirits who had failed him and he moved the family off the mountain and down to a Christian village.
The family started to learn the ways of the Christian life, including attending church services. Erastus, one of the man’s sons, was about 10 years old at the time. He was given a Bible, the first book he had ever seen. He didn’t know how to hold it, much less make any sense of the lines of English words that filled the pages.
A woman in the church started to teach Erastus how to read the Bible in King James English, one verse at a time. It was hard work, especially since he knew no English, but slowly he began to understand how to read the words.
As he struggled to understand the text, he wondered what it would be like to have a Bible in his own Baeguu language. As he contemplated this idea, he thought that perhaps English was a ‘pure’ language suitable for God’s Word, but Baeguu was not.
Gradually, various opportunities allowed Erastus Otairobo to continue his education. He progressed through grade 3 and later he went to Onepusu Bible School where he became the top student in his class. Sometime later, when Erastus was a Bible student at CLTC (Christian Leadership and Training College) in PNG (Papua New Guinea), a guest lecturer introduced the topic of Bible translation and Erastus began to realize that God’s Word could be translated into Baeguu!
God lead Erastus to return to the Solomons where he was asked to help translate the Pijin Bible. His skills in translation lead to further training as a translation consultant and he helped other language groups in PNG and the Solomons to have God’s Word in their language. But he never forgot his desire to see the Scriptures translated into Baeguu.
In 2008, The Seed Company and Wycliffe Bible Translators asked Erastus Otairobo to head up the efforts to translate the Baeguu New Testament in partnership with SITAG (Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group).
The translation team included Pastor Fred Fono, Fr. Peter Faukona and Paul Saeni and translation consultant Pat Andrews from The Seed Company. Erastus worked on the translation from PNG and traveled back to the Solomons several times each year to work with the translation team to review and check the translation. After the translation was completed, the New Testaments were printed in Korea.
On Sunday 25 March 2018, more than 50 years after Erastus first dreamed of a translation in his own language, Baeguu speakers gathered in Aifa Village in North Malaita to celebrate the launch of the New Testament.
During the launch service, Erastus presented the first copy of the Baeguu New Testament to Irene, the woman who taught him to read the English Bible so many years ago and helped him to start his walk with Christ.
Tim and I have known Erastus and Lois since we first arrived in the Solomon Islands. Erastus was our Pijin teacher. It was an honor to attend the launch and celebrate with Erastus and his family and see the Baeguu people receive God’s Word in their own language.
Erastus’s wife Lois, daughter Delwyn and grandsons, Ethan and Ian, were proud to witness the launch. Erastus expressed his gratitude for the familiy’s strong support throughout the translation process.
The launch was held in a remote village on Malaita Island. From the provincial capital, Auki, we boarded a vehicle at 2 am and traveled 5 hours or so where we were dropped off. From there we hiked to Aifa Village, crossing the Safafa River through knee deep fast flowing waters. Rain fell Saturday afternoon and continued into Sunday.
After the lauch service there was a feast and then it was time to make our way back to the road where we were to meet the vehicle to take us back to Auki. With all the rain we’d had, our local village hosts suggested an alternative route back that only required 1 river crossing. The waters were about waist deep and our local friends helped us walk across. The bush track on the other side was muddy and slippery. At one point, my feet flew out from under me and I put my left hand out to catch my fall and broke my radius near my wrist.
One of the members in our group had a sling, Two local young women accompaying us walked on either side of me. They were strong, nimble and gracious and we made it back to where the vehicle picked us up again. A couple hours later, we stopped at a clinic where a couple of nurses managed to put a makeshift splint on my arm, and we drove on to Auki.
The next morning, I managed to get on a flight that had been fully booked and made it back to Honiara where Tim was waiting for me. We went to the hospital for x-rays and saw a doctor who advised us to come back on Tuesday for an appointment in the ortho clinic.
A few months ago, an Australian married couple who are volunteer doctors at the hospital, started renting the house next door. They are Christians and attend our church and Bible study. David is an ER doctor and has set many broken bones. His wife offered his services when he returned from a trip to Papua New Guinea on Wednesday. A friend picked him up at the airport and drove him to our house. Then we drove him down to the hospital where he sedated me and, along with another doctor, they set the arm. David’s lovely wife, Tracey assisted.
They tell me the arm is not ‘perfect’, but pretty good. Next week I will have a follow-up x-ray to check on things and make sure the bones are correctly aligned and healing well.
Bible translation ministries are getting started in 2 languages in the Solomon Islands! Double click on the link below to download our latest newsletter.
Click here to download the story: Matzke Messenger – March 2017
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Sarah is a member of the John Brown University Choir. Every three years, the choir travels to Ireland where they have an opportunity to sing and minister. Sarah is excited to a part of this wonderful opportunity. Attached is a letter about the trip and more information about how you can support Sarah through your prayers and financial support. Sarah’s contact info is on the letter and you can contact her directly or ourselves if you have any questions. Thank you! Click HERE to download: Sarah’s trip to Ireland
I woke up early this Sunday morning to put mini egg casseroles, cinnamon rolls and orange rolls in the oven. No, it wasn’t for coffee time at church, but breakfast for the Choate family. Aaron and Joanna Choate and their four kiddos are serving the Lavukal speaking people of the Russell Islands. They are about the givingest kind of family you would ever want to meet.
For the past few months, they have sacrificed of their time and energies to live in town and serve the needs of our group here. They regularly host folks for meals. Aaron helped in admin in the office and filled in as ‘Acting Director’ when we went to Bangkok for meetings. And they generally help out wherever they are needed with a gracious and cheerful attitude.
This morning, it was our turn to give a little in gratitude for the Choates and to send them on their way back to their village home for a couple of months. Going to the village means purchasing supplies for their time away and packing them up. They also have to pack up all their ‘in-town’ belongings to put in storage. It’s a lot of work and emotional energy to say the least.
We loaded up the baked goods and a thermos of hot coffee and headed to the wharf about 7 am. It was pretty quiet on the wharf and we made our way to the Kosco, the ship that will take them to the Russells. The Choates had come down in the early morning to claim a corner of the deck that will be their spot for the trip to the village. A bench on the deck served as the breakfast bar.
The ship pulled out around 9 am. The Kosco has changed it’s routing and their village is no longer a port of call. They and all their cargo will need to get off at another spot and be transported to their village in a small fiberglas boat with outboard motor. They are hoping they arrive before nightfall.
Other members of our SITAG family came down to the ship to say good-bye and spend time with the Choates before they left. The MK’s played card games on the deck, explored the ship and generally just hung out together. The other village-based family will be heading out this week and these kids won’t see each other again until April – a sobering thought on which no one wanted to dwell.
Tim prayed for them before we gathered up the pans and thermos and headed back to our house. When Joanna stood up, I noticed the back of her shirt which read: “If not US, then Who? If not me and you, if not now, then when? RIGHT NOW, it’s the time for us to do something.”
For the Choate Family – they are ones doing something. It’s big, it’s hard and it’s tough. It’s not easy trying to home school four kids and live in a village far from the conveniences of life in the USA. It’s not easy to learn the Lavukalave language – it’s one of the most difficult languages in the Solomon Islands. It’s just not easy, but the Choates keep on doing it.
The Kosco must be chugging along on its way to the Russell Islands with the Choate family aboard. They have chosen to DO something NOW and we are grateful.