FAQ after 1 year in PNG

What has been the hardest things about being in PNG?

  • Missing friends and family. It just does not get easier. 
  • Learning to negotiate a culture very different from our own. Having to think through the possible interpretation of every comment, implications of every action… And being humbled as we often get it wrong, even after thinking it through. 
  • Learning two new languages. Getting to a conversational level with Tok Pisin was not too hard.  We still both need to practice a lot before we get to the point where we can communicate abstract, foreign concepts clearly and effortlessly. Learning nDo has both of us feeling old and not too clever. As a fully fledged language, it has a much bigger vocabulary and the grammar is very different from English.
  • Seeing the darkness around us. There is not a place on earth not touched by sin – everywhere we’ve lived before, we’ve been touched by seeing lost souls. But here, the lostness feels almost raw. The evil is so exposed. The confusion as result of syncretism, so crippling. We are getting to know people with the desire to worship that God built into all of us, but with no knowledge of the only true and living God. The darkness saddens us. But we’ve read the end of the book! In the end, people from every tribe and nation will worship the King! 
  • The logistics involved in living in such a remote location. I laugh when I remember times when I forgot my list at home on a grocery run. Shopping is now called ‘Supply Runs’ and involve a big  ugly spreadsheet, on which every desired item needs to be evaluated in terms of amount needed per week/month, availability, weight, and cost. Another aspect of remote living, is that when things that break, they are not easy, cheap or quick to replace. 

What has been the best things about being in PNG?

  • Seeing growth in our walk with the Lord, our marriage and our parenting. We have faced a long series of transitions in the last few years, which brought with it some unique challenges. We are very thankful that while we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, He is at work in us! We have come to rely on God even more. And He has sustained us every step of the way.
  • Watching our kids mature, even when it wasn’t always easy for them. They are learning early on what it means to count the cost… Some of the lessons are just part of growing up, and most people could relate. Others are unique to having parents who are missionaries. 
  • Our team. God picked our teammates for us. And we are SO thankful that He picked the Canns and Amelia. (This also extends to the rest of the FV team.)
  • Feeling like foreigners. Because it reminds us constantly of the fact that we are sojourners here on earth… 
  • Living in the most beautiful place in the world. From my front lawn, I can often see seven waterfalls, a flock of white cockatoos, the ocean, and plants with numerous different shades of green.  All at the same time. If you don’t believe me, come and visit. 
  • Flying. The heli flight home is like sitting in a see-through bubble, looking down on the mountains and valleys of PNG. Beautiful!!
  • The best thing according to Calista: Gardening! You can pretty much just throw flower seeds on the ground, and they’ll grow. Also, she says it is great that we know all our neighbours, their children, and their ‘stories’. In busy cities people don’t know their neighbours this well. 
  • Sebastian’s favorite things: Jude and Oliver. And that there are almost always village friends around who want to play lightsabers, ball or running games.

Growing to love the people of our village. During our time in Ukarumpa, we really missed our village friends, and it was such a blessing to be able to return home! 

Literacy starts!

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.

View of the main ridge of Mawerero from the waterfall-road – our house on the very left. Those clouds might look promising, but we only know for sure that rain is coming when we hear it…

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.

Read more

Sebastian is eight!

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.

Ninja, Iron Man, Jedi, and Cleopatra

Please pray with us that Sebastian will continue to grow in his love for the Lord.

August update

First break, visitors and progress…


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… 

The kids are strapped in and ready to go! They love having their own headsets… Thankfully, the pilot can switch off the passengers’ chatter (and occasional sneezes).

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…

Resting in Ukarumpa

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!

Amelia’s garden is to the left of the picture.
The rest of the cleared space is for the Literacy building…

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.

Mawerero from the air – what a beautiful sight, home!

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!

Sebastian was very surprised, even though he saw me baking cake…
The Canns, Amelia, Mitchells, and Lehmans…

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. 

Calista turns 11!

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!

We celebrated with Calista’s favorite meal – salad bar
(everybody builds their own salad so everybody’s happy!)



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…

Read more

One month of village life


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.

Read more

Know Things, New Things

culture shock

 – noun

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…

Read more

Learning Tok Pisin

“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?

Read more