Tight Squeeze


Carl and Pat Whitehead at the Menya New Testament Dedication in February 2018.

Carl and Pat Whitehead have been flying in and out of Menyamya airstrip where they have worked among the Menya-speaking people since 1975. The village they have been living in is about 14 miles from Menyamya along a fairly typical PNG bush road—passable by small 4WD vehicles most of the time but rarely a smooth ride.

They have used utility vehicles at times but more recently they have depended on four-wheelers or ATVs. They purchased the first one in 1990 and a second one in 2001. The older one was retired to the translation center at Ukarumpa in 2008.

Carl says, “In the past ten years, when we have had the newer ATV in service in the village area, our typical pattern for getting to the village after the 35-minute flight [to Menyamya] was that I would shuttle two loads of cargo up to the village on the ATV while Pat began walking. I would then pick her up and take her the last four to seven miles, which included the worst of the uphill portion of the journey. She found the walk to be more comfortable than the ride.”

The Whiteheads take the ATV back to Ukarumpa about every two years for major service and so others can use it while they are on home assignment. Originally, they transported the vehicle in pieces in a Cessna 206. They had to remove cargo racks, fenders, and wheels (an hour’s work) to fit into the 206’s  limited cargo space. Now they fly back and forth in the Kodiak. With its large doors and spacious cabin, they can wheel the vehicle up the ramp and into the plane completely intact!

Johnny Reeves recently captured one of those transfers in the following set of photos.

Believe it or not there is still extra cargo weight to spare in this load—although not much space.

Now that their New Testament translation is complete, Carl and Pat will continue to work with the Menya part-time. They need to archive all Menya language materials and update the Menya dictionary in preparation for making it available to the people. Carl also received word that all 100 SC cards and most of the 700 MegaVoice players containing recorded Scripture have been sold. He is working with the team and local church leaders to decide on some activities that will help the Menya people use their translated and recorded Scriptures and learn from them.

The team most involved in the translation checking and recording during the last 5–10 years of the project at the New Testament dedication.

During the next three to four years, they expect to be living closer to the Menyamya airstrip while working with the Menya people but will still need the ATV, now nearing the end of its rough road life, to get around the different villages.