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Update from the Weber’s Papua New Guinea Trip

Note from GapFill.org’s Founder:  The Webers have returned from their visit to see the Bimin people in Papua New Guinea and are full of stories of God’s Blessings.  Thank you GapFill donors for your support in helping to make this trip possible.  May you be blessed as God’s Word is heard throughout PNG on solar powered Audio Bibles.

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Update From the Webers

We are back from our trip to Papua New Guinea! And full of wonderful memories! Each of us (Christiane, Thomas and our son David, 16) has a different story to tell, but the consensus is that it was a great time of having time for friends! We boiled liters and liters of water to make tea and coffee, ate crackers by the kilo and swapped stories with our friends and “family” out in our village in the remote Bimin area (in the Star Mountains of Papua New Guinea) as well as with colleagues and friends at the base, Ukarumpa. Just to be able to sit down and share about each others’ lives, of experiences over the last three and a half years in which we had not seen and barley heard from each other, was totally worth the trip. Hugs, shaking hands, looking at each other and marveling at the fact that we really had come this far, back to our home of 20 years, were part of the experience. And we are so thankful to our Lord God for his love and protection – both in PNG and in Switzerland.

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For David, this was a trip of catching up with school friends and village family, an opportunity to do things he was not allowed to do three years ago because he simply was too young then: using adventurous public transport, staying out till curfew… to name a few. Attending the High School graduation of good friends of his was also a treat.

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For Christiane and Thomas, seeing our “grandchildren” and children among the Bimin, hearing about their accomplishments at school, rejoicing with them in their successes and crying together about losses was priceless. And on the other side, spending time with some of our “parents” knowing that we may not see them again on this earth, simply because life expectancy in PNG is not as high as in Europe, was really special and bitter-sweet.

Audio Bibles Distributed

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A highlight of this trip was the distribution of 230 solar powered MP3 Audio Bibles with 20 books of the BimWeng New Testament on them. We were able to supply a number to the school, they are being used in their library system. To prepare students from the even more remote parts of the language group to carry another quantity of the Audio Bibles home into their villages and instruct key people with the usage, we spent an afternoon at the (only) local school and taught teachers and students how to use these simple MP3 players and had a lot of fun together.

More of the Audio Bibles were distributed to all 20 villages, mainly to people who have never and will most likely never learn how to read and write because of their age and other contributing factors.

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The Old Testament Translation Continues

Spending time with the men who are continuing to translate God’s Word into BimWeng (only a small part of the OT has been translated so far), we heard about their daily struggles, but also their plans to keep on with the translation. We were able to encourage them and spend time with all our co-workers and their families as well. They even made a special meal for us, prepared traditionally in a ground-oven.

Back in Switzerland, we are now able to keep in much better contact and get news from the Bimin area regularly, thanks to cell phones. We can also send and receive texts. Bimin itself does not have direct reception, but there are “sweet spots” with reflections of the geographically next tower. Another new development going along with the cell phones is the possibility to load the audio files of the NT as well as the Jesus Film, which was dubbed into BimWeng in 2005, onto micro SD-cards so people can listen to the text and watch the movie!

Thank You!

We are grateful for God’s protection during this memorable trip and to all of you for contributing financially and with your prayers to make it happen! Thank you!

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Meet the Webers: Missionaries to the Bimin People in Papua New Guinea

Note from GapFill.org’s Founder:  I first heard about the Webers from my good friend Kathy Vanaria.  Years ago Kathy emailed me from Papua New Guinea (PNG) and asked my husband and I if we would help a fellow translator get a computer.  He wanted to order a computer online and have it shipped to our home.  It was impossible then and still is now to a certain extent to order something online, have it shipped to Papua New Guinea, and have it arrive safely!  My husband and I had been shipping items to the Vanarias for years and knew the best way to get items safely delivered so of course we agreed.  Once the computer arrived, I loaded all the software ordered and verified that everything was working correctly before sending it off to PNG.  For those who have set up computers before, you know that it first asks for a name that you would like to call the computer.  When I asked the translator what name he would like to call it he said, “Well, I think you should call it Christiane after my wife, since she is the one who will be using it the most”.  You see, we were sending the computer to the Webers for the translation of the Bimin New Testament.  Only God could orchestrate my husband and I having a part in the Bimin New Testament long before GapFill was even a thought.  Don’t you just love when Jesus reveals how He has been involved with something in your life before you even knew it existed?  What a strategic planner He is!     

Christiane and Thomas Weber

Christiane and Thomas Weber

Meet Christiane and Thomas Weber

Thomas and I were missionaries in Papua New Guinea (PNG) for 20 years working with the Bimin people of Sandaun Province. We finished the Bimin New Testament and sections of some Old Testament in 2008 and stayed on 2 more years to do Scripture use and start the Bimin on more Old Testament translations.  We were also able to do audio-recordings of all the New Testament books in the Bimin language.  We had a house fire at the very end of our stay in PNG in which Thomas was burned badly and had to be medivaced to Australia. It is a miracle that he healed so well from approximately 40% burns on his body.

We would like to make a visit to PNG in June 2013, for about 4 weeks, to go and see the Bimin people, encourage them, see how they are doing and getting on.  Communication is very difficult, there is no cell phone reception in this very remote place in the bush.  We would like to hopefully bring them the polished and finished (I am still editing the audio recordings, it is very tedious and slow work…) audio recordings of  their New Testament and make sure the technical set-up we left with the Bimin translators is working.  Our last communication with them in the Spring noted that they were having issues with the audio set-up.  They have 2 netbook type computers with power coming from 12 V batteries charged by solar panels.

We are currently serving in Switzerland, but we lack the funds to make such a trip. We would like to take our youngest son David with us as he was the one Thomas tried to rescue out of the burning house. David made it out and, through a miracle, only had a bad burn under his foot and it healed very fast. Taking him with us and having him see the place again will give him and us some closure.  We were able to go back to PNG for just 3 weeks before leaving to return to Switzerland in June 2010.  Therefore, we are turning to the donors of GapFill for help with the expenses to get back to the Bimin people. We plan to take a video camera along to record what we find when we go to see the Bimin people and reunite with them. It will help our four children and former supporters see how the story continues and encourage this wonderful people group who my family and I shared our lives with.

Thomas and Christiane now reside in Switzerland where Thomas pastors a small Assembly of God church.  Visit the “Items Needed” tab on the GapFill.org website to see how you can help the Webers return to the Bimin people with audio recordings in hand.  To receive GapFill.org’s blog posts automatically via email, enter your email address in the “FOLLOW GAPFILL VIA EMAIL” box on the right-hand side of the blog and click “Follow”.