This picture says it all! Have you ever been shimmied before? I certainly hadn’t! We didn’t get this sort of greeting from everyone, but the affection we did receive from our Amdu friends as we arrived last month was a delight. There were tears of joy and tears of sadness as we greeted friends who have lost a loved one while we had been gone. God has truly given us a place in the hearts of this community and we are incredibly thankful for the role we have as disciple makers here.
Here is another picture that is worth a thousand words. The painted bodies, half white and half black, were a tribute to the good feelings the community has about our missionary team living in Amdu with them. Given the mistakes we have made and the constant opportunity for miscommunication that this cross cultural ministry affords, it is only the Lord that can be credited for the health of our friendships here. We are comforted to think that the Holy Spirit will only continue to pave the way for the Gospel here in Amdu as we pray and collectively depend on Him who is the Spirit of the Great Commission.
Our first few weeks in Amdu were a blur of activity getting our mouths retuned to speak the Amdu language; getting our clocks reset to Amdu time and adjusting our expectations for living in a village setting again. We were also trying to troubleshoot a number of technical problems related to our solar power system. Thankfully there was less damage than we expected and so we were able to make do until some outside help was available. Jason Mellinger and Charlie Hawk made a planned visit to Amdu to help our team with several projects, but because of their incredible experience in helping missionaries like us they were able to solve our power problem in just a couple of minutes. They went on to bless us incredibly by doing many of our “wish list” projects saving us days if not weeks of time if we were to do them ourselves. Thank you Jason and Charlie!!
As we got ready to come back to PNG we began talking with our kids about what they were most looking forward to. The boys were unanimous in their comments. They wanted to go on an overnight hike with Dad. We have had a blast together making those wishes come true. The Amdu people are excellent hosts. They are generous and accommodating and a joy to be with in their native setting. Missy and Gianna have had a garden excursion with some of their friends already, and another one is scheduled in the next few weeks. It is wonderful to watch our kids soak up the challenge of the trail and the adventure of the jungle, rivers and creatures but there is no greater thrill than to share the adventure of serving God together with them!
When we embarked on this journey of learning the Amdu language in June 2013 we knew that it was going to be arduous. It remains so, but there is end in sight more clearly than ever. Our friends here say, “There is still some jungle to cut through” but we are getting close. Last week we worked on telling The Story About Ping to our friends helping us with language. It’s a children’s story about a duck. It is very well illustrated and so each picture tells a clear story. Benjamin hacked his way through it, speaking his best Amdu. His language helper smiled at the end and said the Amdu version of “Well done!” He said, “You have the big part. Now you just need the rest.” God has enabled and we believe that He will continue to enable. Our sights are set on a language evaluation sometime in August this year. Pray for us as we push hard to this next goal. We hope that after the August evaluation we will only need one more. Our goal is to be done by the end of the year with formal language study.
As always we find it hard to put into words the gratitude we feel for those of you who faithfully pray for us and sacrifice to help us with our finances. Without your thoughtful and faithful generosity to us we couldn’t be doing this. We praise the Lord for each one of you.
Benjamin and Missy