Expectations and Loss

Ideal vs. Real

So here is what the “ideal” would have looked like for the past months in Konomala: 
After a quick settling-in time, our minds would quickly pick up where we left off in language and culture study.
Then our days / weeks would be reasonably consistent and we would settle into a good rhythm as a family.
Then with perfect clarity, we would attack the tasks ahead of us and make real progress in the Konomala language and culture. All the while, growing in our understanding of what Biblical discipleship will look like in this context. 

Here’s what the “real” looked like:
Settling in went fine. But our minds felt like oatmeal when it came to language ability. We knew it would take time to get back to where we were before leaving … but wow. 
Our initial weeks were all over the place. We had a bunch of community events happening one after another. It became normal to head out the door in the morning, then an hour later find out that there is an all day event that we needed be at. Actually, it’s surprisingly fun to walk for a while in the sun, then sit on the same piece of bamboo for 9 hours, then walk back … oh wait, did I say “fun”? 

The idea of having any rhythm in life felt like a distant hope. We looked under most of the pieces of bamboo we were sitting on … but no rhythm. 
That is until the last number of weeks. Even with a couple all day bamboo-sitting events on the weekends, a collapsed septic tank, and some other random fun stuff … God graciously granted us a stretch of time where things seem to have settled down and we can keep chipping away at learning a language and culture. 
We are beyond thankful for the friendships that God has given us out here. We have great friends as teammates, and we have great friends within our community. It would be a lot harder to endure on the daily without the people that God has around us. 

All that being said … we are experiencing the hardest days that we’ve ever had here in Konomala.
We’ve had stressful times, sickness, troubles with our houses etc. etc.
But none of that compares with the last few days.

On Thursday morning we were startled to hear someone yelling out our names in panic. We rushed to see what had happened.
With no explainable cause, one of our best friends, Token, had woken up that morning at 5:30 a.m., became nauseous, and collapsed at 6 a.m. Ten minutes later we found him laying on the ground without a pulse.
We had just been with him the night before joking and laughing like normal. We, along with all of our friends here, are really struggling with the loss of Token. We’re struggling with the reality that our dear and close friend is gone. We’re struggling with knowing that he probably died trusting in his religious tradition to save him. We’re struggling to rest in our Father’s goodness … wondering how He could have allowed this to happen. We’re struggling to see the bigger picture with the dread of Token’s eternity in the back of our minds.

We aren’t just on some tropical adventure in the Pacific. This is our home where we have deep friendships with amazing people. We have huge dreams about what God could do in all of our lives together. It feels devastating to lose Token.
We are in a war. We have an enemy who will use any and all strategies to destroy the work that God is doing. We don’t know the reasons. We’re heart broken. But we know that God is good. He never designed things to work this way. One day it will all be good again. We have hope. We have purpose. We have Him.

We always knew that something like this could happen. But to Token … this suddenly.
Pray for us and our friends here as we all grieve together.
Pray that we get chances to talk about truth and keep pointing people to real hope.
Pray that people in our community become more hungry to know God because of this.
Pray that we can show love like Jesus did; and that we can offer truth on a heart level like He did.

Natalie has finished kindergarten!
Standing ovation to her and to Kaitlyn! Even in all the transitions, they faithfully kept at it and did a great job. Natalie has really started growing up. She isn’t a little girl anymore. She’s articulate, observant, and nurturing.

Lauren is a bouncy little personality who loves doing things with other people. She loves playing “friends”, where her and Natalie pretend to be friends and go to each other’s ‘houses’ to play. She loves snuggling and being tickled. And now with Olivia stumbling around the world, Lauren has forfeited her title as the clumsy one of the clan.

Olivia is a year old now. She’s walking and squawking all over the place! The problem is she does quite a bit of “squawking” at night. She’s still not doing great at sleeping. We thought we had the whole train-kids-to-sleep thing figured out … obviously we were way over estimating ourselves. 

please PRAY

That we would have soft and humble hearts toward our Father as He works in our lives. And that we would willingly sacrifice our own selfish wants for the sake of others. 

That God would protect our marriages, our families, our team, and our friends here in Konomala. The battle is real and it’s costly. 

That we would lean more into Jesus each day. Especially as we continue to process the loss of Token alongside our friends here.

14 thoughts on “Expectations and Loss

  1. Sorry for all the hardships, and for the loss of Token. You have a beautiful family, thank you for serving the Lord. Praying that God will give you peace, and some real sleep.


    1. Dear family, we are so very sorry for the sudden loss of your dear friend Token. We will trust in our Sovereign God to bring you continued comfort and hope. Praying He gives you a good rhythm soon of language and culture learning. How thankful we are that He has you there to reach the Konomala with the gospel. The Lord bless you. ❤️


  2. Death is hardest when you are so close to bringing the news of eternal life. We are praying for you and grieving with you. These times are part of God’s preparing you to deliver His message, to care about His sheep, and of preparing the people of Konomala to receive the Good News. Let the trials drive you to Him and His word. Hebrews 12:2.


  3. This is very sad and I can understand your heartbreak, not only in missing your friend but his fate. I am very sorry that you are having a rough go of it since you returned. Hopefully you will have some brighter days and get into your rhythm very soon. Praying for you all.

    Shannon Oeler
    (Kaitlyn’s cousin 💕)


  4. We are so sorry for the grief and heartbreak you are suffering as a result of your friend Token’s death. We will be praying for healing for you and your community; also for peace and comfort. Your girls are precious. They are clearly happy, healthy little humans. You are doing such an awesome job parenting them. We pray for God’s guidance and love to overwhelm your marriage and your beautiful family.
    Remember John 16:33- “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world”.


  5. Oh, you guys. I have tears in my eyes as I read this. I hear you.

    What can we do but fall back into His arms… cry… and trust in His goodness that He has demonstrated over and over when others didn’t understand either.

    Un abrazo from CA.



  6. Thanks for another good update. Sorry to hear about Token. The same thing happened to us when I was about at your stage of CLA to the older man that had been our mouthpiece to excite the community about why we were there. He seemed in great health, got sick and went to the haus sik and the next day was dead. Had an impact on me.

    Will be praying.

    Aaron Luse
    New Tribes Mission PNG
    Ethnos360 USA
    +675 7250 2785

    From: KONOMALA
    Reply-To: KONOMALA
    Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 8:39 AM
    To: Aaron Luse
    Subject: [New post] Expectations and Loss

    Seth & Kaitlyn posted: ” Ideal vs. Real So here is what the “ideal” would have looked like for the past months in Konomala: After a quick settling-in time, our minds would quickly pick up where we left off in language and culture study.Then our days / weeks would be reasonabl”


  7. Wow, you guys are facing some tough, real things these days. Praying for the grace to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and the eternal value of the work you’re doing in language. Praying for your hurting hearts and your little Olivia struggling with sleep. Love to each of you, Esther

    sent from my phone



  8. Praying God heals your broken hearts. It hurt mine to hear as well. Praying for strength and perseverance to learn the language.
    In His love
    Tammy Barrett

    Sent from my iPhone


  9. Hey,

    So sorry for the loss of your friend, Token. We have been praying for you guys lots. We enjoyed reading your newsletter and getting new prayer requests. Your pictures of your girls are so adorable. Love them.

    Love and prayers, Diane and Wayne


  10. Continuing to pray for you and your Konomala family. May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward due Him through your effort among these people.


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