Ray & Dee Stegeman, Papua New Guinea


Read the February 2012 Newsletter




Dear friends, family and partners,

Before I begin telling about our wonderful adventure back to Guyana, I want to apologize for this update being so late. Just about the day after we got back from our trip, both Dee and I went down with colds that seemed to last for weeks – something more than a cold, obviously, and I'm still trying to get over it. Thankfully, the kids seemed to be troubled only for a day or two and then got back in the swing of things. Anyway, forgive me for making you wait so long to hear about the Akawaio New Testament dedication. 

"Urɨ esi i'mʉ'sa'kanin pe, uko'man nɨto' ku'nin pe rɨ nɨrɨ esi. Urɨ yau apurɨnin esi a'tai iyeri'sa' pe rɨ iye'tane, iko'manto' oton nɨ. Ɨnʉ' rɨ tʉuko'mansen uyapurɨ pɨ' uma'tato' oton pen. Serɨ pe' mapurɨyan?"  Isaan 11:25, 26

"I am resurrection, I am also life-maker. When anyone is believing in me, even though he has died, he will live. Whoever is living believing me will not die. Do you believe this?"  John 11:25, 26


We had such a rich time in Guyana with our friends and co-workers, arriving on Christmas Eve and leaving the day after a very wonderful Akawaio New Testament Dedication on Wednesday, 12 January. (See pictures at the end of this letter.) About 200 Akawaio representing each village were invited and about 20 non-Akawaio attended, some only for the day, and the Akawaio Language Preservation & Bible Translation Society Council headed by our dear friend and long-time neighbor, Canon Winston Williams, had everything organized very carefully and expertly.

                The Big Day began by having ten men come to the Translation and Literacy Center. There, they loaded up their brand-new warishis (traditional backpacks) with boxes of the Akawaio New Testaments. They put them on their backs and proceeded the ¼-mile toward the Alleluia Church where the dedication was to take place. They were met halfway by church leaders. They then started up the hill, singing "God's Book has come" in the traditional Akawaio style as they marched in line, two-by-two, up and into the Alleluia church building. Many people, including the visitors, joined in the procession, so the little, square church building was fairly bursting with people and song. We then processed out of the church and into the gathering hall – an open-walled building, where we danced around, singing the traditional Alleluia songs that heralded, "God's Book has come, God's Word has come," over and over again – it couldn't be said too many times! It was time for God's Word to come to the Akawaio people!

                When the singing ended, the boxes of New Testaments were taken from the warishis and put on the central table, a prayer was said and everyone sat down – guests and VIPs inside, and others on benches outside the hall, looking in – and then the Dedication Ceremony began. The Emcee for the event was our close friend and translator, Nebblett George, who is currently the Council's Treasurer. It lasted more than 2 hours, but seemed to us to pass by in 15 minutes as we soaked in all the encouraging words, presentations, acrostics and original songs incorporating Akawaio Scripture – even a drama of Ananias and Sapphira!

                Afterwards, there was a feast including local wild meat, fish and drink as well as the fancier "borrowed" foods saved for special occasions and people were able to purchase their New Testaments. If I do say so myself, it is a first-class edition, carefully designed to give the Akawaio reader the ability to get to know God better, understand His great love for them, and respond in love and faith. It has maps and many pictures – including 16 full-page color pictures, a glossary, footnotes, cross references, all in Akawaio. Please pray with us that many more Akawaio people would encounter God more clearly and thoroughly through His Word in their mother tongue and be confident – more than ever before – that God cares for them, that He has come to meet their spiritual needs.

                An Akawaio special event would not be complete without an evening Talent Show, and this event was no exception. We enjoyed skits, Scripture memory and original songs – all based on the Akawaio Scriptures – as well as more speeches and presentations.

                One thing that did put somewhat of a damper on the event for us was that the dedication, for people outside of Jawalla, was "by invitation only." The Council invited one boatload of people from each village in the upper Mazaruni area – the village and church leaders and those who were involved in the translation. Culturally, we understand the purpose for this. When something new comes to the area, the VIPs have first access to it. They, then, in effect endorse it and it is opened up to the group as a whole. Still, we envisioned the event as a celebration for everyone, an invitation to ALL. We are concerned that it will not be easy for the Akawaio who were not present at the dedication to purchase a New Testament since no one is manning the office on a regular basis, but we are trusting that the Council will prioritize the distribution of the New Testaments, and we await news of their success.

Please PRAY with us that:

·         a good arrangement can be made whereby copies of the Akawaio New Testament are available for purchase throughout the Upper Mazaruni.

·         there would be a convenient way to get copies to the Lower Mazaruni area, where some Akawaio also live. The Council has connections in that area, but nothing firm as yet to deliver the New Testaments.

·         those New Testaments sold would make such an impact on lives that the friends and family of those who purchased them would seek out a copy of their own.

·         more heads of families would improve their reading skills enough to be able to read on the higher level of the New Testament, that they would lead the way by buying copies, read to their families and make an impact through the Spirit's leading in their lives.



                How can we adequately express our thanks and gratitude to all of you who have been supporting us financially and in prayer throughout this entire process? You have to know that WE COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU.  And we could not have made this trip without your sacrificial giving. We can never express our thanks in a way that you can know the depth of our gratitude. We came to PNG over a year ago, not knowing if we'd be able to attend the dedication, knowing the expense was possibly too great, and yet because of the generosity of the great team of supporters that God has put together – you all! – we were able to go and receive such a huge blessing that we feel inadequate to express it all. Thank you, everyone who contributed so much more than normally, so that we were able to go. YOU HAVE GIVEN US MEMORIES THAT WILL LAST OUR WHOLE LIVES. You are a real testimony to God's love and faithfulness in our lives. We pray for God to richly bless you and we encourage you to trust Him more each day, in every area of your lives, to take care of your needs and so many of your wants as well.

Here are some pictures from the trip. Thanks, again, for the part you played in getting us back to Guyana for this wonderful celebration.



                                                                                    Ray and Dee{C}{C}{C}{C}



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