It was the first time for me to be in a village in Papua New Guinea over 7,000 feet in elevation. At 5:30 in the morning, just as the darkness begins to slowly give way to another day, I stepped away from the wood burning stove in the missionary’s home and walked outside into the cold crisp air. I could see my breath as I climbed the trail that led higher up the mountain while my lungs felt the exertion of having less oxygen available. I finally arrived at a point where I took my hands out of my pockets long enough to snap a photo of the Wantakia village below me where the missionaries’ homes stood.
Decades before another missionary had taken a picture from the same spot of the same village, when other missionaries had lived there. For various reasons those missionaries had to leave the country before they finished learning the difficult tribal language spoken there and were never able to present the Gospel or see a church planted. Now years later, 3 new families had allocated there once again. My goal (along with another consultant, David Ogg,) was to assist them as they learn that language and culture so the work that was started so long ago could be completed. (Read more at www.ntm.org/bj-sanders or www.reachwantakia.com )
A few weeks later I followed some missionaries along a sun scorched trail towards a village only a few feet above sea level nestled on a miniature peninsula just outside of a town in Papua New Guinea. I had never been in a place so dry in this so called “tropical rainforest” part of the world. The lack of rain, the brush fires, and the unrelenting sun contributed to my feet becoming darker with each step as the layers of dust slowly turned to mud from the oncoming sweat. I paused just long enough to take a picture.
This was this family’s first language evaluation on their ability in the trade language of PNG. They along with 9 others in orientation had been in the country less than 2 months, were still adjusting to life overseas, and had not yet chosen what people group they would be working among. My goal was to encourage and guide them as they continue to learn the trade language and the national culture and to follow the Lord’s lead as they try to decide where to go among the many people groups that are needing missionaries. (Read more at www.ntm.org/jason-cizdziel or www.facebook.com/NTMPNG )
My family and I have been stretched over the past few months as our “tribal mission” ministry has expanded even further outside the borders of the Patpatar and it has been good, but we do look forward to this week getting back to our house in the village we call ‘home’. During our time out of Patpatar we have also been stretched once again to the importance of so many different roles that are required for the “tribal missions” team to work. There are the helicopter and airplane pilots getting people in and out of hard to reach places; there are the teachers at the high school where Avalon has begun her high school career and there are the dorm parents that provide a home for her during each term. There are the center managers and maintenance folks who look after property, houses, and facilities. There are doctors, nurses, as well as people who have come to help with computer issues. There are the those that help manage our accounts and do all that is required to keep up with the government requirements. There are directors, and there consultants who oversee literacy, translation, church planting, and language learning. Whether trying to finish a work or start a new work, it takes a team!
Pray with us as many of those roles on the team are short on personnel and there are many people groups that need missionaries. Thank you for your part in world missions as you pray, encourage and give as well.