Practically speaking, we are here in Madang, Papua New Guinea, to learn the trade language of this region– Tok Pisin. We need to learn this so we will be able to move to a tribe in the Finisterre Mountain range which has never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and communicate. But in order to get that far, we first need to purchase supplies in Madang, move those supplies to the tribe, and then talk to the tribes in the bush to explain what we want to do and ask if we can do it there. To explain and ask these things, we must learn Tok Pisin. We feel the pressing need to learn this language as it is hard to do much here without knowing how to talk people. But we also need to buy food, get phones, pay for electricity, research tribes and supply costs, and take care of our families.
Language learning thus far has been tiring and overwhelming. But it’s only day three. How do we learn Tok Pisin? First, we’ll be talking with whomever we can that speaks it. Security guards, people walking down the street, vendors we meet at the market, children who play along the fences, and–eventually–each other and our kids. And second, we have a language helper. Her name is Julie, and she is great (you can see her below). Day two, she took us to the market to purch ase vegetables and fruit. And today, we worked with her from 2 pm to 4:45 pm, learning names for family members, words describing emotions, and some information about the culture. It’s hard to believe this is only the third day we have been here because, in a lot of ways, it feels like it’s been weeks. We are encouraged, though, that when we first arrived, we knew nothing, and now we are starting to understand some things!
Please pray for us and our team as we are here. That we can learn Tok Pisin well, and make good friendships while here. Pray that we can quickly learn to get around town, and learn where everything is. To finish this post, here are a few phrases in Tok Pisin that we learned. (NOTE: these may not be entirely correct, since it’s only day three. So if you know Tok Pisin and you are reading this, please don’t laugh…at the translation OR the spelling):
Nem belong mi Matt – My name is Matt
Bubu bilong mi – My grandparents
Amamas – happy/joy/glad/healthy
Matt likem kalap go down long sol wara – Matt likes to jump in the ocean
Yu tok gen na tok isi – Can you say it again slowly (I use this phrase a lot)