Isles of the Sea Micronesia conference

(October 2023) There are currently seven active translation teams in Micronesia as part of Isles of the Sea. These teams usually work on their own and rarely meet each other; the only occasion so far was in 2014, when most (but not all) teams met on Yap. For a few years we have had plans to organise another gathering, but Covid made this impossible. Finally, in October this year, we had the opportunity of bringing all the teams together for a conference on Guam. The conference was held from October 18-21 at the Surestay hotel in Barrigada, Guam, and was attended by two to three delegates from each team:

  • the Tobi and Sonsorol team from Palau
  • the Satawalese team and the Woleai team from Yap
  • the Carolinian team from Saipan
  • the Pingelapese team and the Mokilese team from Pohnpei (and Guam)

(click picture to enlarge. All photos in this report: Bruce Robert)

During the conference each team told their story, sharing their history, joys and struggles. We prayed for each other. In table groups, we discussed issues around the language (all these languages are threatened because of pressures from the wider world), as well as questions about their translation projects. The participants found that they have much in common, more than they thought. They share many of the same challenges, and it is encouraging to know that they are not alone. Speaking about which, it was also encouraging to hear about trends in Bible translation around the world: Isles is not an island, it is part of a worldwide movement of people committed to translating God’s word.

Group discussion

Another source of encouragement was hearing Betty Amon tell about the Nukuoro translation, which was finished and dedicated earlier this year. The Micronesian teams still have years of work ahead, but Betty’s  story shows that it is actually possible to finish a translation.

Vivian Nogis (Carolinian) addresses the group. Left: Malua Peter, from the same team

Each day we had a training session for Paratext, the software that all translators use. We hope this will help the translators to do their work more confidently and use some of the many useful features of Paratext that help to make the translation as good as it can be.

Paratext training

We discussed various things that can be done to help people read and understand the Scriptures and to engage with their language: Scripture and songbook apps, audio recordings, Bloom books, et cetera. The teams used their time in Guam also to make plans for the next years, to get computers fixed and updated, and to work with their different advisors/consultants on their project.

All in all we look back with gratitude on a fruitful time together. It has given us fresh energy and vision to continue the crucially important work of translating God’s Word into the languages of Micronesia. We are grateful that our funding partner, the Seed Company, made this meeting possible.


Satawalese delegates Sabino Sauchomal, Richard Ligiteiwel and Manuelina Leyarolig


Carolinian delegates Malua Peter, Vivian Nogis and Dina Kaliga


Pingelapese delegates (back) Kenson Joel, advisor Ken Dixon, (front) Bruce Robert, Jerry Jim and his wife Sirihna


Mokilese delegates Dahker Peter and Esirom Neth with their consultant Peter Knapp


Woleai delegates Johanna and John Malimai and Jerry Fagolimul


Tobi/Sonsorol delegates (1): Lucy Pedro, Paulina Theodore, Annie Tirso


Tobi/Sonsorol delegates (2): Sabino Sackarias, Laura Ierago