The Boat of Choice

By Rachel Greco

In 1976, Bill and Sandra Callister and their two young children left Australia to live and work in Papua New Guinea (PNG). They felt called to do language development and Bible translation for one of the 850 languages there. 

Two years later, they began living in a village on the island of Misima in Milne Bay Province. 

In 1998, the Callisters and their translation team celebrated the printed form of the New Testament in the Misima language! 

Since then, the Callisters and their team have been translating the Old Testament into Misima and have now completed various Old Testament books as well.  

The Misima language committee boards the Kwadima II for Kuwanak.

But the Misima aren’t the only group they’re serving. Bill had felt for a long time that when the Misima work was at a good stage, God wanted him to help with the Rifao language community on neighboring smaller islands. 

So in 2012, after doing a survey in that area, Bill and Sandra decided—since the two languages are grammatically and lexically similar—to adapt the Misima New Testament into the Saisai dialect of Rifao. They do most of this and the Old Testament translation work remotely now because the Callisters relocated to Australia in 2018 after having served the Misima people for 40 years. 

They plan to take trips to Papua New Guinea every year to work with the teams in person. But reaching the people can be tricky. When the Callisters began living in Milne Bay Province, it had 10 airstrips. Now it has only two: one in Alotau on the mainland, and one at Misima. 

And while the Misima airstrip has three flights a week between the island and the mainland, the only option for reaching the Rifao islands where the Saisai people live is by boat, which can take at least six hours from Misima. Travel by boat is also the only viable option for translation teams who need to get to the SIL center in Alotau for training courses or to take advantage of the electricity and internet service there. 

But using local boats can be chaotic. According to Sandra, “There is no schedule for most of the boats, and there are often delays caused by bad weather or need for maintenance, while everyone waits on parts to be delivered.” 

This is why the Callisters are thankful for the Kwadima II, which JAARS keeps up and leases to Living Water Mission. “The Kwadima II is reliable and affordable for translators,” Sandra explained. “Other boats are not so dependable. We know that Guy [the boat manager] is able to maintain the boat to a good standard and has radio and tracking devices to help with safety.” It’s in part because of people like you giving to JAARS Maritime Solutions that JAARS was able to outfit the Kwadima II with the V2 Track device. Thank you! 

The Misima Language Committee meets inside a church at Kuwanak.

The Misima Language Committee, consisting of about 40 village representatives and translators, also makes good use of the boat. The members meet two or three times a year, moving to different villages and islands within the Misima-speaking language area to read through the translation and check it for clarity and naturalness. Boat is the only means of travel for the committee, and again, the Kwadima II is the boat of choice.

In March, the committee hired the Kwadima II to travel to the island of Kuwanak to discuss future plans and do community testing of 2 Kings 11—17. The boat took the team there and afterward picked them up. 

The Old Testament is already making an impact! Fiafia Awaken, one of the translators, has been moved by her work on the Psalms: “They have helped me a lot. Sometimes it feels like the enemy has a strong grip on me and wants to drag me down. But the words of the Psalms are able to pull me out of the downward spiral and release me.” 

And this work, according to Sandra, “would be considerably hampered if there was no boat available.” 

Thank you for helping provide a well-maintained, clean, and reliable boat to serve language teams in the Pacific. To continue to provide transportation solutions for these and other language teams, consider giving to Maritime Solutions