It was 1975, and the island of Papua New Guinea in the southwestern Pacific -- the site of a famous Allied victory over Japan in World War II -- had just achieved independence. Roger Schroeder, a Divine Word seminarian, was fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a missionary there.
One of few Catholic missionaries on the island at the time, Schroeder would eventually pastor two parishes and oversee five church buildings, including schools and a health clinic. His parishioners were first- and second-generation Catholics who lived in simple conditions with no electricity or running water.
Before his missionary work, Schroeder had received language training through the Summer Institute of Linguistics, a Christian organization dedicated to translating the Bible into every human language. It was the beginning of what would become a lifetime of anthropological and linguistic studies.