2020 Break

 – Elna

Most of you probably know that I believe that Papua New Guinea is the most beautiful place on earth. Our break in Madang strengthened this belief! Here are some of the highlights:

  • Rest – We were all in need of a break after six months of village living and working. It was such a blessing to slow down, play more, think less, read more, bake less…
  • The season – We lived in Madang during rainy season, from November 2018 to March 2019. It was H-O-T! Returning for break now, during dry season, we found it much cooler. I doubt the average temperature is really very different, but the humidity was much lower and we felt less drained and hot than in rainy season.
  • Snorkelling – There is nothing quite like exploring coral reef – we saw parrot fish, clown fish, needle fish, big schools of fish, a teeny octopus, bright blue fish, almost transparent fish… So so many things live in the water. We serve a very creative Creator!

Restaurants – Usually, having pizza involves a lot of cleaning and chopping veggies, grating cheese, making the pizza base and then cleaning up the mess I make in the process… During break, I could simply place an order and enjoy my meal! Nobody even had to do the dishes. Bliss! 

  • Fellowship – We got to spend time with Finisterre Vision’s ‘Team Two’. Up till now all our interaction with them has been via messages, video chats and e-mail. We loved getting to know them, and worshiping with them each Sunday. We were also privileged to be there during a very exciting time – their first survey! The men spent a few days in the Pano language region. (We skipped this process since we only joined ‘Team Do’ later in the process. You can read about the process the Canns and Dodds went through to select Do as language group and Mawerero village here.)
  • Shopping – I know, it seems silly. But it really was fun being able to walk through stores and look at different options ourselves. Even though we had to wear masks while browsing… (For the rest of the world wearing a mask is pretty normal but it was a first for us.) 
  • Transport – Unless something unexpected happens and we end up leaving the village later in the year, these are the only three weeks the Mitchells will have spent outside of the village in 2020. So it is also the only three weeks during which we used anything except our own feet to get around… We enjoyed ‘normal’ things like car rides (I even let the kids sit in front with Ryan!), ‘normal-for-here-but-really-not-normal’ things like heli flights, and ‘new-to-us-things’ like taking off from a bush runway in a teeny Kodiak. Our return flight from Madang was my favourite heli flight yet! Our pilot stayed low to avoid stronger winds and we got to see vast stretches of uninhabited jungle from closer up than before. 

You can thank God with us for providing the opportunity for us to rest, and for bringing us home safely. 

Celebrating Sebastian’s Birthday

The average energy levels in our home rose by a huge amount nine years ago. Sebastian started out as an active baby – and he has not slowed down yet! 

His current favorites are: Quesadillas, waking up early to stargaze with Ryan, sneakily reading ahead in our family bedtime book, star wars, lego (all time favourite!), and ‘sciency’ things. His favourite birthday gift is his new Archeology Study Bible – he loves studying maps, comparing cities at different time periods, and reading about ancient artefacts.

We celebrated his ninth birthday just after returning from a break in Madang, and he was so happy that he got to enjoy his army party with the Cann boys.

We thank the Lord for giving us Sebastian. What a joy to be his parents. You can pray with us that he will keep growing in his understanding of, and love for the Word and Lord Jesus.

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.