But thinking of it a bit deeper they realise that it’s only because they grew up in a culture where Christmas is associated with snow, cosy fires in their homes, decorated Christmas trees and certain foods that they enjoy during that special season. After living in Papua New Guinea (PNG) for some years they can recognise some clues to the coming holiday – for example the school year finishes in December, so everywhere kids have been getting their certificates and schools have been organising graduation ceremonies for those who have completed a level of their education. Also people are getting ready for Christmas conferences – that is a very common thing to organise among the churches in PNG. Young people from Gerolf and Mailis’s church are planning on attending a conference in this week. It’s an annual event organised by the Fellowship of National Bible Churches and will take place in a Dom village this year.
A big event that Gerolf and Mailis haven’t shared about yet took place in August – the dedication service of the Dom New Testament!
Lots of Dom people came together to witness the historical event and they even had guests from the USA, Canada and UK. As customary to the PNG culture there were lots of speeches and loads of food! Gerolf and Mailis rejoice over the fact that the Dom people now have the Word of God in their mother tongue. The first print was preliminary. Jim Burdett is working on it and they hope that next year the final hardcover copies will go into the hands of the people.
Gerolf keeps working on learning the Dom language and getting to know the way Dom people think and live. It is an exciting, but also a tedious task! At times he feels like swimming in an ocean without a shore in sight, but there are many encouraging days when he sees that he is making progress and that raises the motivation again. Over the time he has been in CLA (Culture and Language Acquisition) he has had several different helpers. Right now he is working with a man who is able to explain things in more depth than any others did so far. He also enjoys going around the community to learn more about the culture and to practice his language skills. As a family they try to visit one of the local families every week. It’s always a fun time for all of them!
Part of the CLA process is visits from consultants who evaluate the learner’s progress and give him new direction for going on. A visit was planned to take place at the beginning of December, but had to be cancelled due to rain making it impossible to drive to their village. Gerolf and Mailis are hoping that the consultants will make it into the village at the beginning of 2017.
On the home front things are going well too. In September Mailis started doing a little bit of preschool every day with Richard. She is teaching him in English so that he has the basic vocabulary for starting school next year. It has been a new but enjoyable experience for both of them. Christian doesn’t want to be left out of it either! In fact he is learning from his big brother all the time and tries hard to be like Richard in everything. Both of them love to play outside and Richard is happy to have some good friends among the village kids.
The Wuest family are getting ready for Christmas in their house as well. Lots of crafts have been made and decorations put up, cookies have been baked and more will be made… But all those outward “signs” of Christmas are not what gives it the true meaning. John 3:16 is why we celebrate Christmas and that’s why Gerolf and Mailis are in the Dom and you are standing behind them with prayer. They value your ministry very much!