If you’ve been around missionaries very long, you’ve probably heard words like ‘transition’, ‘flexibility’, ‘adjustment’, ‘goodbyes’ and ‘change’ as part of their vocabulary. Everyone experiences these things, but it does seem that it is a bit more pronounced for missionaries. Living far from home in a culture that is so extremely different from our own necessitates that those things become a regular part of our life.
For half of 2018 and the first bit of 2019, our family was in the States for a short home assignment. We thoroughly enjoyed all the blessings the Lord allowed us to experience during those months – time with family and friends,
being at our home church and visiting some of our supporting churches, our boys being able to attend our Christian school and experience some ‘normal’ American life, going on walks and dates and family outings, driving to the store, enjoying restaurants, participating in Bible studies, to name a few.
But all too soon, it was time once again to pack up, say goodbye and transition our family to our ‘other home’ halfway around the world. This transition time lasted for several months, though! On our way back to PNG, we were able to stop through Belgium to see Emily’s brother and family who are missionaries there. Our furloughs don’t always line up so it was special to have that time together. We also took the opportunity to see missionary friends from our home church who are serving in Slovakia. Once we arrived back in PNG, we hit the ground running with a trip for Bart into Amdu, buying supplies for our return to the tribe, standardized testing for the boys, our annual missionary conference, followed by a two week translation workshop which Bart attended. Whew!!
A full 10 weeks after we left the US, we were finally embarking on another transition – flying as a family back to our home in the Amdu tribe. Sitting in our small mission airplane, flying over town and heading southwest toward the mountains, the words of a song we recently heard popped into my head. “Is He Worthy?” – ‘Is He Worthy? Is He worthy? Of all blessing and honor and glory. Is He worthy? Is He worthy of this? He is!!’
In my mind I added some new lines. Is He worthy of leaving our families and living halfway around the world? Is He worthy of the pain of saying goodbye? Is He worthy of us having limited contact with the outside world? Is He worthy of the daily struggles, big and small, involved in living in a remote jungle village? Is He worthy of this? With tears coming to my eyes, I could answer ‘He is!!’ But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. And it doesn’t mean that we have it all figured out and are always joyful when the cultural differences add layers of stress to our days.
And as we got off the plane and were bombarded with once again hearing the Amdu language being fired at us, the transitions for each person in our family continued. Then as we entered our house that we had left 9 months earlier, I could add a few more new lines to that song. Is He worthy of all the dust and dirt and gecko droppings that we have to clean up before we can unpack? Is He worthy of not being able to turn lights on after dark because the batteries we use to power our house are old and need to be replaced? (More on the power/battery saga in another post!) Is He worthy of being made fun of and laughed at as we make mistakes in speaking this language. Is He worthy of all this?
We’ve been home in Amdu now for about 6 weeks and we’re finally feeling settled again. The boys are back to homeschooling, as well as deepening relationships with their Amdu friends. Bart is busy working on translation, with different passages at various stages in the process. Our teammate Benjamin is busy writing Bible lessons, and Missy is also helping with translation. I’m mostly being a wife, mom and teacher but also helping Bart with the final stage of the translation process. Our translation consultant will come next month to check many of the initial passages we will need in order to begin the chronological Bible teaching later this year.
The area comprising the Amdu language group is spread over many miles of dense jungle and rugged mountains, with villages separated by days of hiking. In relation to the rest of the world, it is just a speck. But is He worthy of this group of people trapped in spiritual darkness having the chance to hear the Truth, whatever hardship and challenge that may entail? HE IS!! That’s why God sent us here, and that’s why we stay. Please pray for us as we press on.