In July, the number of Covid cases in Johannes and Lisa Schermann’s area skyrocketed. Lockdown ensued and so they were at home for most of the month. They used the time to learn a lot of vocabulary and did their language lessons online. The situation improved during August and things are pretty much back to normal now.
Johannes and Lisa continue to make progress with language learning. They already understand and can chat using most words used in everyday life. However, there are still many difficult areas. Sometimes, they still do not know how to address people properly. As their language improves, the more they realise just how much the culture and language are connected. For example, it is very important in the culture to be polite and respectful. It is not enough to learn vocabulary and grammar. They also need to learn how to express themselves adequately in different situations. Once a week Johannes and Lisa have grammar classes in a language school.
Johannes has become good friends with a young neighbour. They meet several times a week and also go to the gym together. The gym is a good place to get to know new people. People are always curious about where Johannes and Lisa come from and why they are living in Asia-Pacific. This gives them the opportunity to explain the Good News. It is easy to build relationships. For example, a conversation at a supermarket led to the exchange of phone numbers. Their new friend tells them a lot about the culture, provides interesting newspaper articles, takes them to soccer games, and asks questions about their faith.
Johannes and Lisa have also become good friends with one of their language assistants, her parents and various other people from the community. They are all so welcoming and always show them new delicacies. The women are also happy when Lisa asks them to teach her how to cook. Thanks to these and other friendships, they learn so much about the culture and feel at home. They have really come to love this amazing country and its people.
A construction project was started after the lockdown, and Johannes and Lisa are quite involved in it. The church‘s roof was in dire need of repair, and a room is being added as well. Since there are not any machines, everything is done manually. The whole congregation, young and old, men, women and children work together on the weekends.
The culture is group-oriented, so everything is always done together. It is also relationship – oriented, meaning that fellowship is more important than efficiency and finishing the tasks.
Due to coronavirus, Johannes and Lisa have not been able to visit any regions. Instead, they obtained lots of information from the field leaders via Zoom and email. Many language groups are still waiting to hear the Good News. Teams in existing works have lost co-workers and need help. Johannes and Lisa would like to help everywhere, but of course, that is not possible. So many more workers are needed in this ripe harvest field!
During conversations with the field leadership, it became clear that due to the current lack of missionaries, it would be difficult to create a new team to start a new work. Johannes and Lisa then contacted a small team that have been working among an isolated people group for two years. This location is currently only accessible via helicopter or a five-six day hike through the jungle and mountains. They really want to have the Bible in their language. Johannes and Lisa have been “meeting” regularly with the team via Zoom for a few weeks and developed quite a burden for this people group. They are considering joining the work, and currently plan to visit for two weeks in October to meet them personally in one of the cities. Pray that their visit will work out despite the travel difficulties and for clear guidance with regard to the future!