For the last time

One last read-through of the Siawi New Testament translation signals a bittersweet departure.

Linda Krieg has purchased her tickets. She is finding it a challenge to figure out what to take with her from 25 years of life among the Siawi people.

And she is walking through a series of “lasts.”

Linda says that more than two decades ago when she was preparing to leave for Papua New Guinea, she remembers thinking, “This is the last time we’ll go to McDonald’s,” or, “This will be the last time we will have a Pizza Hut pizza.”

Now, Linda ponders, she is processing through a whole new list of “lasts”—things she is doing for the last time before she departs from a Siawi village to retire in the USA.

“We are doing one last read-through of all the New Testament, trying to catch all the spelling and grammar mistakes,” Linda writes.

Linda and her translation co-workers are trying to read a daily quota of 800 verses. “Please do be praying for us, that … the Lord will keep us alert.” Linda shares that God has provided nine men who have committed to this investment of time so that this important translation phase can be completed.

“Three teams of Siawi men take turns, working one day on and two days off, as we work our way through the New Testament,” Linda says. When these men are battling sleep in the afternoons and grow tired of sitting, she sometimes reminds them that while they are rotating with other teams on this task, Linda herself is working six days a week with the teams.

“How thankful I am, though, for their great attitudes,” Linda shares. “It is fun to hear their reactions as I am reading (most Siawis don’t read fast enough, so I do most of the reading).”

And even in this read-through check, God’s Word is having a vital impact on the hearers. “I hear a quick intake of breath, or a quick side remark, as the truths fly past us,” Linda says.

She will definitely not miss the cold showers that have resulted from an un-fixable leak in the line from her aging solar water heater. But there are many “lasts” that bring to a very different response.

Many “lasts” she walks through, Linda says, bring praise to her heart.

“We have not come to the last of anything vital for the completion of this translation project,” Linda writes. “The solar panels, batteries, generator, tractor, electrical system and my body have all had their crises, but none involved the last gasp.” Since they are all essential components to finishing the translation task, she is praising God for His faithfulness in keeping them going.

Linda is also thankful for the prayers of God’s people, and for God’s own promises, in these last days in Siawi. “The Lord has been answering your prayers and meeting our needs … As I was reminded, in the last verse of the last chapter of Matthew, Jesus Christ has promised to be with us, never leaving us on our own, right to the end of this world.”

And that, Linda says, is enough.