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Trainer Network

Creamy Layers of Christendom

- 07/01/09  

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Trainer Network | MAI


July-September 09

In This Issue:
Made in Papua New Guinea
Sri Lanka Workshops Draw “Creamy Layers of Christendom”
Sharpen Your People-Reading Skills
Digital Photography 101

MAI Announces Winners of Writing Competition

Hi, !

Budgets and busy lives can tempt us to maximize our money and time by importing translated material. After all, training local writers is time-consuming and costly. In this issue, one Swiss missionary tells how  locally-created devotionals help believers learn to apply God's word to the tribal fights, clan thinking and animistic beliefs of everyday life.

Consider the value of a teaching someone a new  skill or improving your own. Start by gleaning a few tips on how to shoot great images from a professional graphic designer.

Don't forget, you can access past issues of Trainer Network and our other e-newsletters in our online archive.

-Dawn Herzog Jewell, editor

Made in Papua New Guinea

Ruth Mimosa recently retired as literature coordinator with the Evangelical Brotherhood Church of Papua New Guinea, Inc. A Swiss missionary, she helped to pioneer annual writing workshops for local writers. Here she describes this ministry to MAI intern Lindsey Boothe.


Q: How did you get started working with writers in Papua New Guinea?

For many years we saw the need to train nationals in writing. In 2000, we finally began writer workshops. Since then we’ve put on workshops almost every year. We also train trainers to run workshops. About seven nationals help run these workshops.


Q: What is the biggest challenge for the writers you work with? 
There are more than 800 different languages in PNG. Schools are conducted in English, but for many people it’s hard to read books or the Bible in English. PNG has a lingua franca called PNG Pidgin. We mostly publish in this language, since most literate people (about 60% of the population) can understand it. A challenge for our writers is that they cannot write in their vernaculars; they have to write in their second language–Pidgin, or in English.


Q: Describe a typical writing workshop.
Our workshops usually last three days and are run by missionaries, teachers and pastors. We have an A and B course. Graduates of the A course may go on to the B course. We run yearly courses in three different areas of PNG.


In an A course, we walk writers through creating a very simple story using a given format, and if possible a testimony. A trainer explains each activity, and we give as much time as possible to practice what is taught. Participants learn about topic selection, structure, style and some editing. They always discuss their work together. We encourage participants to go home and write as much as possible. They have the option to send in their writing for comments.


In course B, participants work on a devotional or short article. We hope to eventually expand to C and D courses as well.


Q: Tell us one of your success stories.
Not long ago a little booklet was printed with 30 devotions ‘PNG made.’ These were written by people who attended our writer workshops.


Q: What difference do these devotionals make in the church?

The culture of PNG is very different from Western culture. Animistic beliefs, clan thinking and tribal fights are just a few problems people face living out God’s word in everyday life. Illustrations in imported devotionals don’t always speak to our people, whereas examples from “PNG made” devotionals show much better how to adapt God’s word to everyday life. They are relevant to the readers and speak clearly to them. Speaking from a PNG heart to a PNG heart is what makes the difference–a very important one.


Q: What advice do you have for other trainers wanting to encourage writers?

Start where people are. There are people who haven’t had much schooling but are clever and pick up very quickly. Have an open mind and help them to improve. Don’t rely on your own strength and wisdom, but know that the Lord is more than able to help you.


Sri Lanka Workshops Draw "Creamy Layers of Christendom"   

"Almost all were from the creamy layers of Christendom in Sri Lanka," said MAI trainer George Koshy, describing the calibur of participants at MAI’s May writer and translation workshops. More than 65 Christian leaders and writers participated in workshops led respectively by Dr. Babu Verghese and George Koshy of India, and Jophen Baui of the Philippines. The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka and Lanka Bible College hosted these MAI workshops in the cities of Colombo and Kandy.


Outcomes include a new periodical called Ink-spiration and the formation of the Sri Lankan Christian Writers Forum.  


Sharpen Your People-Reading Skills

When you know how to tune in to other people’s emotions, you will become a more successful communicator and leader. Reason: You will form stronger relationships, pick up early warning signs and understand how to motivate and influence others.

Increase your awareness using the following tips:

  • Observe body language. Look for subtle shifts in facial expression, eye contact, posture and energy level.
  • Listen to the tone of the conversation. How intensely is someone talking? Is the rate of speech fast or slow?
  • Become curious. Reframe negative reactions into curiosity. Say, “Hmmm; that just isn’t making sense to me. What do you see that I must be missing?”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Before you move on to a new topic or start to act on a new plan, ask “Are you proud of our work/decision/goals?”
  • Prepare for meetings and critical conversations by imagining how other participants will feel about a certain issue, change or project. Ask yourself, “What worries them? What excites them?”

Use those tactics, and you will find that you naturally improve your relationships – and your results – at work.

Adapted from “Harnessing the Power of Emotional Intelligent Leadership,” Janet Macaluso, The CEO Refresher. Reprinted by Communication Briefings, March 2009.

Digital Photography 101
By Anna Pugsley

You’ve been handed a digital camera and asked to shoot photos for an article you are writing or publishing. The following pointers are a guide to guaranteeing impressive, high-quality photos for beginning photographers.

1. Crank up the pixels. Check the settings on your camera and set them to the most pixels possible. It might be as simple as changing it from “small” to “large.” Yes, more pixels make your file sizes larger and take up more space on the memory card. This is the only way to provide the most usable image for print. Once the picture is taken, pixels cannot be made where pixels don’t exist. Websites require fewer pixels than print. Shoot your photos for print (larger files with higher resolution) and then have your webmaster downsize them.

2. Shoot more pictures than expected. It doesn’t cost any more to take five digital shots than one. Maybe your subject is not smiling in the first one. Perhaps you are unsure of the lighting or how the background will affect the image. By taking more shots than you think necessary, the perfect photo might emerge that will entice an editor to run your story.

3. Take time to compose the shot. Check the background. Are there plants growing out of someone’s head? Is there a mirror or window behind them which will bounce the flash, creating a nasty white spot in the photo? Can the person move to an area which offers a neutral background or one which makes sense to the story you are trying to tell?

4. Take more time to compose the shot. Can the photo include action, not just folks shaking hands? That type of photo is known as a “grip and grin” or a “stand ‘em and shoot ‘em.”

5. Check the background of the image one more time. Do the subjects in the photo have their backs against a window? Chances are the camera is going to read the bright light from the window and not fire the flash, leaving the subjects in the dark. Are you shooting into the sun? Learn to adjust the flash on your camera so that if you are shooting into the sun your camera flash will fire. Or, have the sun at your back so that the sun is shining on the subject.

6. Choose the best “zoom.”  Digital zoom is software in the camera. Don’t shoot your photos with this option. Optical zoom is connected to the camera lens. Use this if it helps the photo but keep your hands steady when pushing the shutter. Physical zoom is using your feet to get closer to the action. Use this method as much as possible as it will help you record the event for publication.

Chicago-area graphic designer Anna Pugsley will lead a LittWorld 2009 workshop on this same topic. She also created the LittWorld 2009 logo.

MAI Announces Winners of Writing Competition

MAI is pleased to announce the first-place winners in the LittWorld 2009 Writing Competition.  Receiving  top prize in the English-language category is Ria Zebua of Indonesia for her story, "Rampage to Reconciliation." Winning the French-language category is Vestine Umubyeyi of Rwanda for her article, "L’amour en epreuve, L’evangile en action" (Love Put to the Test, the Gospel in Action).


Ria and Vestine will be awarded a full conference scholarship (not including travel) for the November 1-6 LittWorld international publishing conference in Nairobi, Kenya (or $250 US each, if they are unable to attend LittWorld).

Winning articles will soon be available to read on the MAI website.

 >>Don't forget to register for LittWorld 2009

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