The Isles of the Sea team
When Betty was growing up, her family used the Pohnpeian Bible in their family devotions. But she and her siblings had no idea what was read, so either her father or mother had to translate.
Both her parents were involved with the old pastor and other individuals, when it came to translating the Bible into Nukuoroan. Unbeknown to Betty, her mother had learned Gilbertese from that old pastor, so she could translate from her Gilbertese Bible. Years later, after Betty’s father went to heaven, the church in Pohnpei ordained her mother to be their first woman minister.
Betty’s father had wanted Betty to stay on island and care for her siblings whenever they returned to visit. However, after his death, her mother sent her to school at Ohwa in Pohnpei. When that school closed after two and a half years, Betty chose to go to a Christian school in Palau. It was there that she came to have a personal relationship with God, and also was called to translate the Bible into her own language. Later she studied in Canada.
When her church leaders asked her to complete the New Testament translation, she returned home to do so, and found that the church already had $15,000 saved for its printing. In 1987, when the final NT draft was finished, she could send it to the Bible Society with a check covering its publication.
The leaders now asked her also to do the Old Testament. She returned to school for six years. As before, every time she ran out of money, she would drop out of school to work until she had earned enough for the next part of school. It was difficult, but when she returned to her ministry of Bible translation there were no debts. For part of her Hebrew studies she’d gone to Jerusalem.
Betty now lives in Guam, but makes many trips to Pohnpei to work with her Nukuoro Translation Team, praying to reach in a couple more years the end goal of translating the OT into Nukuoroan and also revising the NT, so that the whole Bible can be printed together.
Betty’s story is told in more detail here.
Nico & Pam Daams have been involved in Bible translation since 1978 when they began work with the Polynesian language of Rennell & Bellona in the Solomon Islands. During their 12 years in the Solomon Islands they also began translation work with the Tikopian language group. In 1990 Nico was appointed director of Wycliffe Netherlands and the family lived in the Netherlands for the next 6 years. While serving in the Netherlands, the Rennellese New Testament was completed and Nico and Pam returned to the Solomons for the dedication in 1994. During this trip they made a stop-over in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, to meet representatives of the Kapingamarangi community. They invited Nico and Pam to return and help them. So in 1996 Nico, Pam and their youngest son, Eric, went to live with the Kapingamarangi people. The New Testament was finished in 2000, the whole Bible in 2014. In the meantime, Nico and Pam took on a coordinating role in translation work across Polynesia and Micronesia; this eventually became the Isles of the Sea project. Currently, Nico and Pam live in Darwin, Australia, where Nico continues to consult for the Polynesian translation projects.
Ken & Ruth Dixon are from the USA and have three boys, Elijah, Gabriel & Timothy. Ken & Ruth met in Cameroon where Ken served as a Bible and Math teacher for the MK High school and Ruth worked with the Bantu Initiative doing computer programming. They served together for six years in Indonesia discipling nationals at a school called TITIP.
Ken is involved in teaching Bible at Pacific Islands University as well as supporting the Pingelap Bible Translation project. Ruth is homeschooling the children.
Jim and Carina Ellis lived at opposite ends of the earth back in 1986. Carina worked in a hospital in Sweden, where she is from, and Jim was doing language survey work throughout Melanesia and Polynesia. He hadn’t even heard of Micronesia when a plea to the SIL Pacific Area for Bible translation brought Jim there to survey the Micronesian language needs. While writing about Micronesia in 1990, at the Wycliffe Center in England, Carina arrived there to do volunteer work. Eight years later, dragging along their little boy Jonas and newborn Evelina, they found themselves on Saipan where they set to work on the many Carolinian languages. Gabriel joined the family in 2000.
More recently, Jim finished his doctorate on Carolinian languages from the University of Hawaii working on it long-distance from Sweden. The family moved there in 2007 so that Carina could care for her elderly parents. Carina continues to care for her parents (and the rest of the family) while Jim now takes on the role of Linguistic Consultant for Isles of the Sea.
Cameron Fruit was involved with Bible translation and linguistics since 1998. Initially he served at the SIL school in Kangaroo Ground, Australia, and then moved to Saipan in the U.S. Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, where Cameron assisted SIL member Jim Ellis with the development of a Saipan-Carolinian dictionary. At the request of one of their Carolinian co-workers, Cameron later took on the Bible translation task, while Jim remained focused on the dictionary.
With the creation of the Isles of the Sea project, Cameron was heavily involved in helping translation work get started in the related Carolinian languages of Woleai and Satawal, spoken among the migrant communities on Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia. Later two other related languages, Tobi and Sonsorol, spoken in the Echang settlement in Palau, were added to the cluster of languages assisted by Cameron during regular trips to Yap and Palau.
In September 2015 Cameron relinquished his SIL membership, and later he moved to Wisconsin.
Paulus and Antje Kieviet have been involved in Bible translation since 2002. They have two daughters: Mattie (2000) and Nina (2001).
After studies in Australia and an internship in Papua New Guinea, they lived in French Polynesia and on Easter Island. They worked and work with different language communities in French Polynesia: Rapa, Pa’umotu and Mangareva, and were also involved in the revision of the Bible in Tahitian. Besides this, they were part of the Rapa Nui Language Program.
Since 2012, they are located in the Netherlands. Paulus continues to be involved in the translation programs, while Antje works at the Dutch office of Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Paulus has MAs in Semitic Languages and General Linguistics and a PhD in linguistics (2016), Antje has an MA in Theology.
Peter and Robin Knapp come from Germany and the USA, respectively. They have two boys, Joshua (1997) and Joel (2000). Peter and Robin met while studying to become Bible translators at SIL in Texas. They both finished off their MA’s in linguistics before working with a people group in Northern Asia. After 7 years in allocation, they also worked in administration from Germany for 5 years while finishing up the New Testament. This NT was completed in 2010. In 2011, Robin completed a Graduate certificate in Community-based literacy while Peter assisted teaching Field methods at the SIL- University of North Dakota program.
Since February 2012 they are working with the Mwoakilloa people in Pohnpei State of the Federated States of Micronesia, along with teaching courses of the Bible Translation minor at Pacific Islands University on Guam. Joshua and Joel are being home-schooled while they all get to know the Pacific region. (Robin lived 5 years in the Marshalls as a young girl and it is nice to be back in Micronesia!)
For a more detailed version of their story, click here.
In 1977, Tom and Sharon Puaria were among the first people to bring the Gospel to their home island Takuu. More recently Tom joined the translation team that had already been working for some years on the translation of the New Testament in his language. Together with fellow translator, the Rev. Abraham Vaelani, and a team of reviewers the New Testament was completed in 2009, and dedicated December 24, 2010. As Tom wanted to increase his skills in the translation field, a track was established that will eventually result in him being able to help other language groups translate the Bible into their own native tongues. He has already started helping the neighbouring Nukuria language group with the adaptation of the Takuu NT into their language. In January of 2011 he attended the Equip initial training course in Australia, while Sharon continued to translate Bible background booklets and getting these ready for publication.
Ribeka was born into a Christian family and grew up in Kanaba village on Rennell Island, in the Solomon Islands.
Ribeka attended primary school on Rennell, then went on to Su’u Secondary School. After graduating from Su’u, Ribeka trained as a Home Economics teacher at the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education. She graduated in 1990 and taught from 1991 until 2005.
Ribeka was married to David Tago, also from Rennell. Together they have served their local church SSEC (South Seas Evangelical Church) in various ways. David has been a deacon since 2005, while Rebecca has been an officer in the Women’s Fellowship group. From 2009 until November 2013 David and Ribeka studied at the Christian Leaders Training College (CLTC) in Papua New Guinea. David obtained his BA in Biblical Studies, while Ribeka received a BA in Mission Studies. They returned to the Solomon Islands to oversee the translation of the Old Testament and the revision of the New Testament in their own language. In 2014 David was selected to lead the Bible and Literacy Partnership Solomon Islands (BTLP SI) and until his untimely death in November 2016 he worked hard to promote the importance of Bible translation in the local languages of the Solomon Islands.
Ribeka undertook various studies at the Islands Bible Ministries (IBM) Institute in Honiara to increase her skill in translation work. She completed a Biblical Studies certificate in 2015 and went on to complete English Grammar and New Testament Greek studies in 2016. She will continue the work of translation and revision of the Bible in her own language.
Ribeka has four children: a son, Anue, and three daughters, Helen, Grace and Gralen.
Edmond and Evelyn are from Tasman Island, also known as Nukumanu, in Papua New Guinea, just across the border from the Lord Howe atoll in the Solomon Islands. In 2002 Edmond got involved in the Nukumanu translation project, when Sue Andersen of the SIL PNG branch was desperate to get another person from the Nukumanu language group to attend a translation training course at the SIL centre in the Highlands of PNG. See the full story here.
They have seen God’s hand in how this has all worked out in the years since then. They encountered many serious challenges when the enemy of God’s Word tried to discourage them; the strongest attack came at the time of the final checking of the New Testament: in one week Evelyn’s brother, sister and their little daughter Katherine died. But they overcame, and on the 4th of February 2014 the New Testament was dedicated on Nukumanu.
Edmond has since then started a training programme that will make him a qualified translation advisor for related Polynesian languages, while he is also coordinating the translation of the Old Testament in his own language.