So, we’re back in the land of internet access.
*cue quiet applause*
For the past three months we’ve been living in the bush on the island of New Ireland.
In the middle of April our family (with Luke & Ellenie’s family) moved there to finish our Tok Pidgin language study. The unique part about that area of the island is that there’s already an established church there among the Patpatar people. They were a huge part of our language study, and they’ll continue to be a huge part of our ministry moving forward in that region. So we were pretty excited to build close friendships with the believers there.
First off, THANK YOU to so many of you that we know were praying for us during our time out in the bush. We are so grateful for all of you. Many of you are faithfully giving so that we can continue serving here in PNG, and many of you are faithfully praying for us and encouraging us. Your emails, texts, and packages are a huge encouragement to our family.
Our time on New Ireland went by fast as expected. Luke & I (Seth) checked out of Pidgin, and Kaitlyn & Ellenie are now really close to being done. We were so thankful to be out there with Luke & Ellenie and their boys. We learned a lot, played a lot, and grew a lot together. It was definitely the toughest thing we’ve gotten to go through together.
Our time out there was full of cultural differences, language frustrations, family needs, team dynamics, logistical nightmares, living circumstances, and spiritual re-adjustments. All of those things combined put us in a place of constant need. We needed God’s grace in all moments of the day. We needed to re-learn how to abide in Jesus. We needed each other.
Now, we’re not in the bush, but we’re still in a place of deep need! And will be for a long time I guess … probably until we see Jesus.
Our days in Bom (the Patpatar village) consisted of a lot of inconsistency. Some days we were working all day with someone on language or building a house or something similar. Then other days we were having to search for scarce opportunities to progress in language. The girls always took advantage of any time they could get with the ladies. Other days, we felt like we wasted the entire day trying to fix something or figure something out. The one consistent thing that we were aiming at was talking with people as much as we possibly could. Plans rarely stayed the same, so we learned how to adjust, keep progressing, and focus on building friendships.
The other consistent thing about our time there was that God continued to re-focus our perspective & thinking as we consider how the Lord wants us to go about making disciples in another language group … or in any culture that is.
What is God after in seeing His image bearers restored?
What are the principles that He has given to see that happen?
How do we intentionally model what God is calling us all to?
How do we simplify things in order to make God and His word the focus?
Are we living this out now?
There is so much need and so many ways to get distracted, but God has called us to something very specific and we have to maintain a narrow focus on God’s word and God’s principles.
So here is a quick recap of our time so far in PNG:
January — We arrived in Madang and stayed for 6 weeks.
March — We moved to Goroka for 2 weeks then moved to Hoskins.
April — Bush orientation began and Pidgin study moved forward with the help of the Patpatar church on New Ireland.
June — We moved back to Hoskins and are preparing for the next big transitions.
To date we’ve moved 5 times in the 6 months that we’ve been in country.
Overall our family has done well through all the transitions. The last couple months have been more challenging though. Culture stress has touched all of us in different ways, and the instability of moving so much has worn us out a bit. During our last month or so in Bom, Natalie started to have some fears and anxiety about being left alone. She’s been having a hard time falling asleep without the close presence of mom or dad…especially mom. She’s able to articulate a lot of what she’s feeling, and we’ve been trying to find the best ways to help her respond well to the fear and anxiety. It has not been easy.
The Lord has so much to teach us through all the transitions, tiredness, and stress. Most of the time it’s miserable to deal with, and it’s embarrasing to see our reactions. But this is where God wants to teach us the depth of His grace and show us the joy in His rest. We are nowhere near having anything figured out, and we are constantly having to re-adjust our minds, hearts, and perspectives to be in line with Jesus’.
We have some pretty big steps and transitions still to come in the next couple months. We’ll keep you up to date on those things as they come closer.
That we would purposefully choose to rest and abide in Jesus.
That we would be proactive in our marriage, with our kids, and in our team as we are dealing with high stress and instability all the time.
That Natalie would learn to trust God (and mom & dad) as she feels overwhelming fear at times. And that God would give us tons of wisdom as we truly want to love and disciple her.