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! 

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!)

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…

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Double digits

Children are a blessing, a reward! We’ve been parents for 10 years now. Crazy. Our girl is sweet, silly and yet seriously thoughtful. We love that she can make up the strangest songs and stories, and also ask very deep theological questions.

Happy tenth birthday, Calista! May you continue to grow in your understanding of, and love for the Word of God. May Lord Jesus capture your heart, so that you will become a young lady after his own heart.


Square One


Our first applications for work permits to enter PNG, were submitted in March 2017. In August 2017, we were told that these applications were lost somewhere at the Department of Labour. We had a second application ready in country, so we sent these to our agent for resubmission. The last 8 months we have waited eagerly for news, but none has come. We have placed increasing pressure on our agent in PNG for feedback with the result that he was forced to admit that he never submitted our applications. We are back to step 1 in the work permit application process, but with reliable agents this time.

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‘Normal’ life

“No, we are still waiting.” Most of my conversations these days start with the question, “Have you heard anything about your papers?”  There has been some movement (another agency had one of their missionaries’ papers processed). But for now, we have a pretty ‘normal’ life here in South Africa.

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If only for this…

On Thursday 4 January, Ledo Silvano Giovanni Raffanti breathed his last breath. His nurse helped him wash up and dress in the morning, and left the room to fetch his breakfast. When she returned, he had quietly slipped away.

Oupa Joe was proud, strong, meticulous, and hard-working. He was a real engineer – a problem-solver, who invented many gadgets on a large scale (his ingenious ideas solved many problems in our public hospitals), and small scale (like using a rod to pull his car cover when he was not physically strong enough to do so anymore).  At 91, he was still living alone, driving and fishing.

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Wrapping up 2017

I have not written in a while. I cannot give you the exciting news everyone is waiting for – we do not yet have our work permits… And thus no clear idea of when we’ll finally head to PNG. But God has not been wasting time. So pull up a chair, and let me tell you about our good God!

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While we wait


Being in ministry often means arriving at church a little earlier than most people – sometimes Daddy has a prayer meeting or a counselling session. Sometimes we arrive early just to make sure that we arrive on time! We’ve learned to include ‘waiting time’ in our planning – our kids often have a picnic dinner before church on a Sunday evening, or I finally read them that book they’ve been asking for…  I often ask them: “What will you do while you are waiting?” You see, waiting time does not have to be wasted time.

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