Malaita Adventure – Good News in Baeguu

Baeguu New Testament Launched

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!

Erastus at the translation desk

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.

The Baeguu New Testament

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. 

Irene, the woman who taught Erastus how to read the Bible in English more than 50 years ago, receives the first Baeguu 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.



A Visit and an Anniversary

As directors of our group here in the Solomon Islands, one of the most enjoyable jobs is making ‘Team Visits’. Our translation advisor teams live in remote villages around the country and we see them when they come to the capital city where we live. Once every two years or so, the director tries to make a trip out to visit the teams to see how the work is going in the community in which they serve and to be an encouragement to them.
On Friday afternoon, we climbed on a Solomon Airlines Dash 8 and flew west to Munda – a small town and mission station for the United Church. Jim and Carolyn Mudge have served the Roviana speaking people who live in this area since the 1980s.  Jim serves as the translation advisor for the project.

The Roviana New Testament, which was dedicated in 1995, has been widely used and has been sold out for years. After completing the New Testament, the church wanted the Old Testament as well. After years of labor, the end is in sight and the translation team is down to editing the last 10% of the Old Testament.

We’ve been friends with the Mudges for years and it has been a lot of fun to finally see them in the context where they have served for so many years. They have many friends and are a valued part of the community.

On Saturday, Jim took Tim and I for a walk to see some of the area. One of our first stops was a World War II Japanese foxhole. During the war, Munda saw a lot of action. In fact, the airstrip we landed on was built by the Japanese during the war.

This is the translation office the church built many years ago to support the translation project.

On Saturday afternoon we traveled to Noro – about a 20 minute truck ride away and is the home of the Soltuna cannery. The Mudges are friends with the American manager of the facility and though they were not processing fish that day, we got a tour. We learned that there is a lot that goes into producing a can of tuna and that the Solomon Islands has some of the best tuna anywhere! Later we all went to dinner at a new Chinese restaurant in Noro.

Sunday was Mother’s Day here in the Solomons. The men had planned the church service and we were given leis to wear. Since Carolyn and I didn’t have our children around to make the leis, someone took care of that and this little girl, Titiana, placed the lei on me.

The women were asked to make two lines – one for those whose mother was still living and the other for those whose mother had passed away. We paraded into church and a wreath was presented to one of the ministers for each of two groups – white flowers for the living mothers and red for the ones who were with the Lord.

After the church service, the women paraded back out of the church and formed a line so everyone could shake hands and wish them a Happy Mother’s Day.

I had asked Carolyn if she thought there would be anyone in the congregation who would have carried a Roviana New Testament to church. (Since the congregation is made up of Roviana and non-Roviana speakers, Pijin and English were used in the service.) Carolyn pointed to one old man and we were able to talk to him and get some pictures of him with his much loved and well-used Bible.

After a nice Mother’s Day dinner at the Mudge’s house, we took a walk in the area where they had lived before. We met many of their friends who were pleased to see Jim and Carolyn.

The man in the photo, Robert, was known for his drunken behavior and bad temper until through the ministry of a visiting evangelist he turned his life over to the Lord. He was excited to tell us how he was sold out for Christ and nothing was going to stop him from serving God.

Robert is a carpenter and is in the process of building a house for his family. On the wall he has a sign to remind him of his commitment to God and to his family.

Robert told us about how he and his family have benefitted from a recording that was done of the Pijin New Testament. He still has the Proclaimer – a solar powered audio device which he showed us. Proclaimers are produced by Faith Comes by Hearing and Tim and I were involved in the project back in 2008. It was encouraging to see the Proclaimer being used, although he said it doesn’t hold a charge for very long anymore. We will see if we can’t get a replacement for Robert’s device.

On Monday morning, we had an appointment to visit the minister who leads the United Church. Meeting with national church leaders is an important part of keeping good relations with the churches who are our partners in Bible translation.

Then we met with the local church leaders of the United church who responsible for the Roviana translation project. The Roviana New Testament should be completed late this year and will be typeset in early 2016. It’s time to start thinking about the dedication of the Roviana Bible and we discussed some of the factors they may want to take into consideration in planning the event.

Monday afternoon we took a break and went to the local resort where we had made reservations to stay on a nearby island to celebrate our 25th Anniversary.

Unfortunately, the water tanks on the island were drained so instead they put us up in one of their best rooms free of charge, Monday night. They repaired the water problem and tonight we are sleeping in a small house on a island off of Munda. It’s just the two of us – and the little old man who is responsible to keep the generator running this evening!

Tomorrow it’s back to Honiara and the less exotic and romantic – but still necessary – part of our job in supporting Bible translation work around the country.








If not them, then who?

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.

Breakfast buffet - cinnamon rolls, orange rolls and egg casserole
Breakfast buffet – cinnamon rolls, orange rolls and egg casserole

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.” DSC_0221

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.




Flooding in Honiara

This week has brought rain and flooding to the Solomon Islands.  There are about 14 confirmed deaths and many more missing people.  Today Tim and I walked through town and took some photos. The Mataniko River has flooded and trees, houses, people, anything in its way was carried away.

It will take a long time for life to return to normal in this country.  Please pray for the Solomon Islands and those affected by this natural disaster.

In the flotsam and jetsam - pieces of people's lives.  I wonder if the owner of this shoe is still alive.
In the flotsam and jetsam – pieces of people’s lives. I wonder if the owner of this shoe is still alive.
a piece of furniture in the flotsam and jetsam
a piece of furniture in the flotsam and jetsam
This ship was driven into the cement wharf
This ship was driven into the cement wharf
People on the waterfront looking for firewood and anything they can use
People on the waterfront looking for firewood and anything they can use. On the far shore a body had just been found.

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water soaked furniture and household goods
water soaked furniture and household goods

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a man pulling himself across the river
a man pulling himself across the river

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the floor fell out of this house
the floor fell out of this house


the water ripped the walls of this house
the water ripped the walls of this house
stores along the river falling into the water
stores along the river falling into the water
This is all that is left of one of the bridges across the Mataniko River.  The bailey bridge that was here was built by the US Marines during WWII.
This is all that is left of one of the bridges across the Mataniko River. The bailey bridge that was here was built by the US Marines during WWII.


Sarah will spend the next two years largely living in PNG (Papua New Guinea) where she will attend school.  This morning we finished packing a suitcase and bag with clothing, toiletries and other things that will help make her feel at home in the youth hostel where she will live.  The two pieces were delivered to the warehouse at our offices today where a truck picked them up for delivery to our shipping office in North Carolina.  A shipment is being readied for a shipment to PNG.  The shipment is due to be sent in May and will take about 3 months to reach the capital city and then will travel by truck up to the highlands where our center is located.

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We are thankful for this opportunity to get clothing and other things Sarah will need.  In the meantime, we are working on preparing a shipment of household goods for the Solomon Islands.


A Trip to the Night Bazaar

The meetings have been great and the after hour outings have been fun!  Last night a group of us went to the Night Bazaar.   Each afternoon the venders set up their stalls along the street.  As you can see in the photos, there is a lot to take in!