Because of the enormity of the workload involved in tribal church planting, New Tribes most often recommends that a team be made up of three families. When you factor in furlough schedules, it often ends up that for the majority of the time only two families are working in the tribe together. Back in early 2012 when we formed our church planting team, we had visions of all three of our families working in Amdu for many years to come. We would be the team that stuck it out together.
However, the Lord had a different plan. Because of medical issues, at the end of last year the Parry family determined that living and working in Amdu was no longer possible for them. They recently finished their furlough in Australia and came back to PNG to serve with New Tribes on one of the support centers near town. Last week they came into Amdu to pack up their belongings and to say goodbye to the people.
It was an emotional time for our team and for the people here as well. It signified a major change in our team dynamics – going from three families to two. People who had come to know and love the Parry’s had to face the realization that the Parry family would no longer be living here and they might never see them again. As the plane took off, many stood on the side of the airstrip with tears pooling in their eyes or running down their cheeks. In the days following their departure, some people didn’t even want to talk to or come see the other white people because our presence reminded them that Parry’s were now gone. Things will get back to normal, but for a few days we were able to see a glimpse of emotions that are not often expressed.
What’s next for our team? How will the Parry’s departure affect the church planting work here in Amdu? We don’t know the answers to many of our questions right now, but we do know that the Lord knows and has a plan that is bigger and greater than we can imagine. HE is the one who brought our team to this place and HE loves the Amdu people infinitely more than we do. We are trusting Him for the work He wants to do here – even though our team now looks different than we imagined it would!
In just a few days we will be saying another goodbye. Our teammates Benjamin and Missy Hatton and their children will be leaving Amdu for their furlough in the US until early 2016. That means that for the next 8 or 9 months we will be working alone. Okay, not really alone because of course the Lord is with us. And we also have several hundred Amdu neighbors in our village and several thousand more scattered throughout the mountains that comprise this language group! We are still right in the thick of learning the language and culture of the Amdu people. As each day passes we can understand more and hopefully be understood more by our Amdu friends, but the depth of our communication with them is still very much on a surface level. We must work to acquire the ability to dig deep into this culture to understand how our Amdu friends think and how they view the world.
We were supposed to have a language evaluation at the end of April, but bad weather and other factors caused that to be cancelled. We hope to get another one scheduled soon. Thanks to those of you who were praying for us regarding that evaluation. For now, please keep praying as we continue to study hard to understand the intricacies of this language. Pray also for our family as we begin this time alone in the tribe. Pray for our boys as they are going to miss their only other western, English-speaking friends. While there will surely be challenges in this coming year, we look forward to what the Lord is going to teach us. We’re also praying that we will be able to make great progress in language and culture learning. Email is our only means of communication so if you would like to be an encouragement to us, send us note!
Thanks for your part on our team!