the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’

Back home there is a small family owned amusement park. There are a couple of old school wooden rollercoasters there that must have been devised by chiropractors in order to assault people’s spines and drum up more business. Useless fact of the day: one of the rides was called “the Phoenix”. That specific ride has all the normal drops, twists, turns, etc., but its main feature is a long straight stretch where the coaster goes fast through multiple swooping ups and downs.

There was a time when me and my brothers went to the park with some family friends. We were big enough to ride the Phoenix, but we were too small for the lap bars to actually hold us in very well. So on the swooping ups and downs my younger brother would nearly fly out of his seat each time the ride would change directions. Luckily he was sitting next to an adult who could keep a hand on the top of his head and hold him down.

We thought it was great at the time. We would all laugh and complain a little about how jarring the ride was. Since that trip I’ve ridden that roller coaster once or twice … let’s just say I don’t ever need to do it again. As an adult it felt like every bone in my body was playing musical chairs.
Not worth it.

Sebastian is one of our best friends

As we worked so hard the last few years to learn the Konomala language and build friendships in our community, we always wondered “what it would look like” when we started to lead our friends into scripture. We often talk about how we know God will have to be the one to work in peoples’ hearts … our energy, ideas, and hard work is worth nothing on our own. It all comes down to the Spirit working in people as they humbly open themselves up to Him and His word.

Those times of plodding through language, long days, and unknowns felt like the clanking roller coaster climbing to the top of the first big drop. Then like the Phoenix, we finally got to take the first drop and start opening the Bible with our friends … now we’re in the swooping up and down part. That memory of the Phoenix feels like a fitting image for our emotions over the last month or so.

We are meeting on Sunday afternoons then again on Tuesday and Thursday night. There are some times we come home late at night and feel so encouraged about what God is doing in the hearts of our few friends who keep coming back to hear more. There are moments and conversations where people blow our minds and fill our hearts with thankfulness at the things they say. Those are definitely “up” moments.

Then there are times like this whole last week where things seem to totally stall. The weather is bad so no one comes … it’s too “cold”, so people don’t want to be out at night … everyone gets sick at the same time … people with so much “potential” seem to have no desire to humble themselves and listen … certain people keep showing up multiple hours late …
The list could certainly go on, but regardless of what it is, there are many things that can feel like “downs”. Most of the time it’s just a bunch of little things, but some days we feel down and frustrated. That’s when we have to help each other remember the things that are true.

God is is the only one who can change hearts.
He knows; He sees; He’s faithful.
His word and His Spirit have amazing power.
Each individual has to recognize their need and humble themselves under His work.
Our good Father is working in us too through all of this.
We have the same decision to humble ourselves under His work as we walk alongside our friends.
We get to be His ambassadors here in this far away community.
The hardships we face daily are only a momentary thing but they have eternal weight.
Soon we’ll be with Him knowing that it was all worth it.

Remembering the truth brings the discouraging struggles back into the right frame.
We can keep going. We can rest in our good Father’s hands.

We had an end of the year presentation and fun party to finish off the school year.
We celebrated our 10th anniversary with a romantic steak fajita on the back porch!
Total turkeys
This is Olivia’s favorite friend, Francesca. They’re two shy peas in a pod.

Please Pray

That each of our friends would continue to humbly open their hearts to God as He reveals Himself to them through the Word and works in them through His Spirit.

That we would choose the same humility as God is working in our own hearts each day as well.

That God would continue work in the hearts of the individuals who are closing themselves off to His truth and work. Dare I ask that they would be so bothered by the truth that they are forced to consciously make the decision to accept or reject God.

That we would learn to live in the space of deep dependence on God for wisdom and clarity as we lead our friends into His word.

That God would protect us and our friends as the physical, emotional, and spiritual battles are very real.

11 thoughts on “the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’

  1. Thank You for sharing your realities, both praises and concerns. Will be praying more than ever for heart transplants, as well as your strength if body and soul in well doing.
    Galatians 6:9
    [Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
    Because He Lives,
    Marcia White


  2. Hey brother! I always read your letters with anticipation. I’m excited for you and your team when the Good News will reach the culmination of the Story that began in Genesis. The story about Knobel’s brought back a flood of memories. Thank you for serving the Lord over there. We are getting closer to the End Times when every nation, tribe and tongue will have heard. I look forward to the day the tribe you’ve been led to will have their name written in the Lamb’s Book

    With great love and admiration,
    Steve & Karen


  3. Love you guys! Thanks for the update. You’re doing great.

    Thanks, Jonathan ________________________________


  4. Hi Seth, We were so blessed to get your “Ups and Downs” letter about using the roller coaster to describe how life has been out there for you all. All of our lives are like this much of the time. As you said, we all need to humble ourselves as we lean on God’s truths to lift us up and let Him do the work needed in our hearts. We love all the pictures and are so proud of Kaitlyn and Ellenie as they have worked so hard to bring the kids to this end of year celebration for all of their hard work too. Thank you for all the time and effort in keeping us all updated on your teaching & what you are facing with it. It truly will all be worth it all! With our love & prayers, Grandma & Grandpa Ames❤


  5. Thanks so much for the faithful updates, you and Hodgons both – love it! 😊
    Ideas??? You may want to be creative? Vern and Denny taught late at night (like 10.00) and it was really cold so they lit fires between the benches! 😊 Denny would go around handing out headache tables / pain pills to people who said they were too ill to come = no excuse…. 😊 Ask our Lord (and I will too 🙂 to show you how to be creative with ‘excuses’ and difficulties for consistency + get excited about your message, it’s contagious (and is for sure the most exciting news in this whole wide world! 🙂 Keep us posted how to pray each week, it may help if you swap letters so just one couple writes and take turns, or best writer on your team and you can send out to all weekly. Keep everyone in your hearts, minds and prayers so we can be praying more faithfully. 😊 Blessings! R


  6. We will continue to pray for you and support you financially. You are doing a wonderful job and God is blessed by your obedience.

    Blessings from Tom & Sue.


  7. We are so excited about what God is doing in and through you! The downs are important. This crazy life is the only time we will ever be able to praise God during the downs. That’s a special kind of worship that we cannot do in heaven, where there won’t be any downs. We love you guys!!!


  8. Hey guys, thanks for sharing your hearts! Praying that the Lord would sustain you with Truth in the “down” times.
    Would it be alright if I share what you wrote on the NTM PNG social media?
    Thank you, Summer


  9. Great update and thank for pointing us to the LORD in the good times and the difficult times. We can be confident that GOD is working in Both and that GOD is good and what ever He is doing is Best. We really appreciate your focus and enjoy the pictures. We are praying for you as a Family and your personal relationships with the LORD as well as for the Ministry where GOD has you as a Family.


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