One of our favorite things about living on our ridge is hearing the rain. It starts with a faint rumbling sound from far over the mountains and comes closer and closer until it finally hits our roof! What a display of God’s glory! I love standing on our porch waiting for it to arrive.
In the same way, the people of Mawerero have stood waiting. Many years ago the leaders sent a letter to Mibu requesting that missionaries be sent. There were a couple of visits and then in 2016, two families moved to the village. Since then, there have been big changes, with the Dodds leaving, Matt going home to the Lord, and then us and Amelia arriving to take over from the Dodds. All this time, the people have heard rumbles of what would come.
Our baby is no longer a baby! He is a running, roaring, light-saber weilding, energetic boy… He still lives at full speed and full volume here on our mountain top. He has learned to climb upright trees here, and to make bamboo siding. He can tell which spiders are safe, and which to avoid. He can converse in Tok Pisin, and happily joins in all the games on the ridge.
Sebastian turned eight in August. We celebrated twice – once during the Lehmans’ visit, which was a big surprise to Sebastian. Then on his actual birthday we had a dress-up party.
Please pray with us that Sebastian will continue to grow in his love for the Lord.
A lot has happened since we last posted anything… We’ve been working hard, and God graciously provided a refreshing rest time in Ukarumpa. After eight months in country, we planned to have a two week break out of the village. We extended this to three weeks, as there were no flights available to bring us home after two weeks…
I’ve been asked why we’d need a break outside of the village when we already live in a tropical jungle – can’t get more idilic than this, right? Well, while I do believe God gave us a home in the most beautiful spot on earth, it is not our eyes that need rest or diversion… This is still our place of work – we are not on an extended holiday – and our minds needed rest. While at home, we are constantly communicating in a new language – translating every conversation in our heads takes a lot of mental effort. We also live in a culture very different to our own, so we need to filter every possible response through what we already know about the local culture. And even then, we still often make cultural blunders. We also have constant interruptions here – our village friends come knocking regardless of what is happening inside. Work, school time, meals, language lessons, family time, team meetings, movies, games – all of those get interrupted on a daily basis. And so we end up opting to go out of the village when we need rest and uninterrupted family time…
We spent our break at SIL’s base in the Highlands. We read (some of us more than others), took walks, ate ice cream (a treat we do not have in the village), watched movies, and played card games… We met some really kind people who live on the base, and others who were also passing through, spending a night or two at the guest house. The kids enjoyed seeing cows and horses again, and I loved the diverse plant life – so different from here in the mountains. Ryan got to check out the joinery, the tech support center, and the library. There is only one store on the base (we order our supplies from them when we do supply runs), but since our village store only sells salt, oil, noodles, and chewing gum we felt like it was huge!
While we were away, the village leaders started clearing ground for the building that we’ll use for the Literacy Program. We will only be able to start the program once the building is ready. On the Saturday before we returned, the Canns and Amelia announced the program to the village again, and invitations have been sent to the people we would like to attend the first class. We selected people based on where they live (we want someone from each hamlet), level of literacy (we want to include people who can read a bit, and some who cannot read at all), clan (we want to include someone from all the clans), and gender. At this point we are only including adults. We’ve purchased boxes that will house flash cards and readers, and almost all the printing and binding has been done. Please pray with us that the students will be diligent and that starting Literacy will increase the anticipation and interest in the Gospel.
We enjoyed our rest, and were very eager to get home by the end of the three weeks. On the day we returned, our logistics family (the Lehmans) joined us in the village for a six day visit. It was such a delight to have them here! The children played non-stop, the adults had encouraging fellowship. We even managed to sneak in a surprise birthday cake for Sebastian – a week early, but double the amount of kids to enjoy it with us! This is probably the last time we spend time together as a team before the Lehmans head back to their US home. They will be returning so that Jeremy can attend seminary… We are very excited with them!
We are now entering a new phase as a team – Literacy starts soon, and Zach is working hard on translating and lesson preparation. In the mean time, however, Ryan, Amelia and I are still in the CLA phase: Culture and Language Acquisition. You can pray for us as we enter this new period.
It is hard to believe, but our firstborn is eleven!
Calista is a sweet, sensitive little girl. Her understanding of, and love for God and His Word is growing… She adores animals – big and small. Her little village friends all know this, and bring around all kinds of critters for her to see. Right now, her favorite book is Beezus and Ramona, and her favorite activity is still drawing and painting. A close second is watching a movie (about animals)!
Please join us in thanking the Lord for blessing us with this beautiful, hilarious, quirky girl!
In three short days, we plan to move to Mawerero. It is quiet, my family are all still asleep. I sat down with my Bible this morning, resolved to make sure that my heart and mind is still focussed on my Saviour. Because in the excitement and craziness of moving, it would be easy to forget why we are moving. Why would we uproot our family, come to the other side of the planet, and move to a remote village? Why go live there? Why put ourselves and our friends and family through this trial of being apart? Why would we take the time, and do the hard work of learning the local language and culture? Why translate Scripture? Why pick the ‘hard way’? Why not just come for a little while, use a translator, and add another story to their story-telling culture?
I started jotting down some notes, and I am more convinced than ever that we need to keep moving forward…
We’ve been living in Mawerero for a month. During the first two weeks, we focussed on getting our home ready for ‘normal’ life here – building new stairs, building desks, organising things inside the house… The plan was to start language learning (completing our Tok Pisin learning) after that.
the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.
We were warned that we’d experience some degree of culture shock during our first weeks here in PNG. Thankfully, God blessed us with wonderful team mates who have made the transition so much easier! They often explain ‘little things’ that are helpful to know – like ‘a carton of eggs’ is a box with 9 dozen eggs, not one dozen! We often think of how much harder it must have been when the three families from GBC arrived…
“And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech”… Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth…” Genesis 11:6-9
After a few weeks of language learning, I still need to admit ‘Mi no save gut Tok Pisin’ (I do not know Tok Pisin well). But we are learning! God has blessed us with the most patient lady as language helper – Maria repeats herself multiple times, and answers the same questions repeatedly without so much as a sigh! So we are pressing ahead.
We are now at a point where we are trying not to speak English at all anymore with Maria or other nationals. But that means double checking a lot that we’ve been understood correctly (with any important conversations we check in English). And a simple question like ‘What is the word for rich?’ becomes ‘What is the name that you give a man or woman who has a lot of money?’. Add to that a lot of pauses while we search for the right word or phrase, and conversations take a bit longer than usual.
Why this emphasis on learning Tok Pisin and then nDo?
We are in Madang! It still seems a bit surreal. But the Lehmans, Canns, Mitchells and Amelia are finally all together as a team in Madang. We have spent the last few days in sweet fellowship, getting to know each other better.
God is so good. We left my parents’ house around 9am on Sunday morning. We arrived at the Lehmans’ house around 10.30am on Tuesday morning…Altogether almost 40hours spent travelling. And though we were all in serious need of a shower, we could still smile at the end of it.