We have been in Papua New Guinea for a whole year! So much has happened – here are some highlights:

November – December 2018

  • The whole team met face to face for the first time in Madang, and enjoyed Thanksgiving together. Shortly after we arrived, the Canns returned to Mawerero. Amelia, having just finished her orientation, joined them.

November 2018 – March 2019

  • We completed our orientation in Madang. During this time, we worked on learning to speak Tok Pisin and understanding the general PNG culture. Highlights included spending time with the Lehmans (our first Christmas in PNG and even letting the kids stay up until midnight on New Years), swimming and snorkelling at Jais Aben, enjoying the great variety of orchids, and trying new fruits. Major challenges were an attempted break-in, the exhausting heat…
  • Ryan and Elna both had birthdays – Ryan’s being a significant one: 40!
Celebrating Ryan’s birthday in Madang.

March 2019

  • We moved to our village home in Mawerero. We still needed to sharpen our Tok Pisin, and as such we did not start learning nDo right away. Our first week or so was focused on getting the house ready for ‘normal life’, which included some building projects for Ryan and a lot of unpacking and sorting for Elna. Just two weeks after we arrived, our solar system broke. Again and again we saw the Lord providing! We eventually got everything up and running again after the Yates brought some parts from the US. 
House opening just after we arrived

April 2019

  • Visitors: Smedly and Janet Yates! We had not seen them since living with them for the six months of training we did in Phoenix in 2017. We had a lovely time of fellowship and encouragement.

May 2019

  • First village birthday for a Mitchell – Calista turned 11!

June 2019

  • We started nDo language learning. Elna started working with a language helper, Iriawa. Ryan started meeting with Namu. 
  • Cameron Dodd, her mom and the four kiddos came to visit Mawerero. It was an emotional time, but also very encouraging. 
  • Amelia completed her first nDo language check.
  • While Amelia took a  short break in Ukarumpa, Cassidy’s mom and aunt visited Mawerero.
  • The first formal meetings were held regarding the Literacy Program 

July 2019

  • The Canns left the village for a break, which meant it was our first time to be alone without being able to turn to them to help with daily decisions, and explanations of cultural issues. 
  • Also, we took our first out-of-village break after they returned. We went to Ukarumpa, SIL’s missions base in Ayura. We read, took long walks, and ate a lot of ice cream!

August 2019

  • The Lehmans visited Mawerero! We got to spend five days playing and visiting with our friends. This was their last village visit before their return to the US.
  • The ‘Haus Sik’ (local medical outpost) opened. This might not seem like a big event, but to our village friends, this makes a massive difference. 
  • Sebastian’s turn – Our boy is now 8.
  • Elna got her second language helper, Wila. 
Elna with Iriawa and Wira

October 2019

  • Literacy starts.  On Monday 7 October the first class sat down in the brand new Literacy Building – for the first time the nDo people will be learning to read and write in their own language. This is a very big step towards the Gospel Teaching. 
  • Elna got to assist Cassidy with Literacy while Amelia went on a break. 
The Literacy Building – ‘school’ is five days a week for two hours.

November 2019

  • More visitors! Zach’s sister and her husband visited.
  • Another first – Elna had to get a med-evac for kidney stone. We are very thankful that we could get to help and pain relief so fast. She seems to be improved and currently the plan is to return home on December 10. 

In the coming year, we plan to:

  • Continue learning nDo. In order for us to communicate clearly, we need to understand and speak nDo. . 
  • Continue building relationships in the village, and work towards understanding the local culture and worldview. 
  • For Elna – continue homeschooling the children, and working at home.
  • For Ryan – continue helping Zach in other areas as needed, for example making translation decisions.
  • For the rest of the team – Zach is already working on translating the parts of Scripture he will use for the Gospel Teaching
  • Furlough – we plan to go for a trip around the world to visit supporting churches in Australia and USA and our family and friends in SA in 2020. The timing is sooner than we had originally planned a furlough but we changed it so that we’re home in the village before we plan for  Gospel Teaching starts, and then the Canns can go on a longer furlough after that with us remaining to hold the fort.