DARLONG LITERRACY TRAINING
Saibual Baptist Church
by Yvonne Blake
Kristy Montgomery and Teresa Herbert's eyes widened when an elderly Darlong man said, "We used to eat everything that walked by our door. But now we do not eat people." The Darlong people used to be one of the most feared tribes in Northeast India. Other tribes hired these headhunters to help them fight their enemies. A few decades ago, Christianity came to the area, and the Darlong way of life changed drastically.
Kristy and Teresa certainly had no reason to fear now. They were conducting a teacher training workshop in Saibul, Tripura, India, on July 20-28, 2011. After traveling for five days, bouncing from airport to airport, losing and regaining their suitcase which contained their teaching material, plus a five-hour ride over a bumpy dirt road, they finally arrived in Saibul.
Kristy and Teresa were provided with comfortable accommodations at the home of the superintendant of police, where they had the privacy of their own sitting room and bathroom. They even enjoyed the comfort of air conditioning. The girls felt very safe, even safe enough to roam about the village without being accompanied. They were grateful that they didn't have to wear chunis (head and shoulder coverings) in the humidity because they had salwars (tunics and pants).
It was pineapple season. Kristy and Teresa thoroughly enjoyed the fresh fruit besides many other new tastes. The young people of the church cooked most of their meals, flavoring them with onion, garlic, ginger, and chilies. At first, the girls were concerned about the water, but they learned that it came from deep underground and was tested to be safe. God protected them from any harmful bacteria.
Siapul is a beautiful village, but they weren't there on a vacation. Kristy and Teresa had a mission --to train teachers. Bibles International's primary goal is to produce conservative Bible translations in languages that have no or inadequate translations. Some of these languages have never before been reduced to writing, so having a Bible doesn't mean anything unless they can read it.
Therefore, a secondary goal of Bibles International is to provide training for teachers who will return to their tribes and villages to teach their people to read the Bible in their own language, using the Old Testament Storybook series (OTSB).
There are four OTSB's in the series, at this time. The books cover from Genesis through Judges with each book getting progressively more difficult to read. By the time a person makes it through all four books, their reading level should be at a level where they can read and comprehend the New Testament when it is printed. They contain Old Testament stories that are mentioned in the New Testament, so they will have a basic knowledge of the stories when they encounter them.
Kristy and Teresa began their workshop on Wednesday. Seventeen nationals attended, ranging from 17 years old to their mid-30's, all speaking English quite well. The young people came from various villages to learn how to improve their teaching methods in their own schools and churches. Teresa taught music in the morning sessions, while Kristy conducted the teacher training sessions in the afternoons. It was not always boring book work. They used games similar to Go Fish and Memory to practice the different letters and words.
On Saturday, the Darlong group took Kristy and Teresa on a picnic to Unakoti, an ancient Hindu religious site, built over 1000 years ago, where one of the gods is believed to have left some footprints. Huge figures are carved into the rocks, and there are beautiful waterfalls and trails to hike. The relaxing time apart from the classroom helped the young people to know each other better.
The students were much encouraged by the training and anxious to take what they had learned back to their churches.
“We are so thankful for this training. We have never had anything like this before. We have not been very involved in the church, but now that we have learned these things, we are going to become more involved (Simeon and Gracy).” (Gracy teaches in the church’s primary school.)
“After this training, I almost want to quit my studies and become a teacher (Bethsy, age 20).”
“My church called me and asked me to teach them everything I have learned this week. I will be teaching all the other Sunday School teachers in my church. Maybe I can also go to the other churches in our association and teach them (Dika, age 22).”
Kristy and Teresa were invited to attend the dedication of the Darlong Bible, hopefully in 2012. They would love to conduct another teaching workshop at that time, either with the same group of students or with other churches.
Pray for continued growth and understanding of these young people as they teach others to read God's Word.