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.
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.
“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.
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.
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!
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.
As missionaries, we depend on those who send us and support us.
John Ryland wrote of this relationship in his book “The Work of Faith: the Labour of Love, and the Patience of Hope, Illustrated in the Life and Death of the Rev. Andrew Fuller, Late Pastor of the Baptist Church of Kettering, and the Secretary to the Baptist Missionary Society from its Commencement, in 1792” (what a mouthful!):
“Our undertaking to India really appeared to me, on its commencement, to be somewhat like a few men, who were deliberating about the importance of penetrating into a deep mine, which had never before been explored, we had no one to guide us; and while we were thus deliberating, Carey, as it were, said “Well, I will go down, if you will hold the rope.” But before he went down… he, as it seemed to me, took an oath from each of us, at the mouth of the pit, to this effect —that “while we lived, we should never let go of the rope.”
In one of my (Elna’s) favourite sermons of all time, our shepherd and friend Joel James clearly laid out the responsibilities of those who go, and those who send. (You can download “Keep your eyes on the map” here). We have been diligently working on our preparations to go. And while we have been doing that, God has been preparing a long line of faithful brothers and sisters to hold the rope.
Romans 12:10-13 (ESV)
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
One of the things that made our decision to join the Finesterre Vision team very easy, is the fact that we will be planting a church. God’s wisdom is so clearly displayed in his design of the church – we are not left to work out our salvation by ourselves! When we are unified with other members of the body of Christ, we get to serve one another with the gifts He has given us. We get to bless others and be blessed by them. Involvement in a local church body is critical for spiritual growth. This is where we are fed with the Word, taught and discipled, admonished, encouraged…
We’ve run out of letters. But we’re changing our plan again!
Our work permits have not been approved yet. And our application for entry visas can only be sent in after they are approved. As such, we will not be able to stick to our ‘original’ time frame. (We were planning on flying out to PNG on 20 September.)
We have prayed and weighed up options, and decided the following: The Mitchells will be going home to South Africa for a while. We will be in SA from the end of September. God willing, our visas will be approved and finalised by January 2018. As soon as everything is in place, we will determine the date for our departure.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths.
If you’ve asked me how you can pray for me in the the last few months, chances are good that ‘wisdom for us as we plan’ was on my list. And I can give you a heads up: it will probably stay high up on the list. Soon, we will have no more ‘Oops, I forgot to get brown sugar!’ emergency grocery runs. Or even ‘Guess we need to get an ointment for that!’ trips. Those times when all your socks seem to get a hole at exactly the same time? Those moments will mean waiting a month or so for new socks (that is, if there are even socks available in town!).