There has been so much going on in our neck of the woods in the past few weeks that we thought it was time to show you what we’ve been up to. First of all, when we flew back to the tribe in February, Jason and Tami Hughes and their three kids came with us! They came to Pal to do their six weeks of “bush orientation” to get a taste of bush life. They plan to move into a different tribe and do what we do, so they came to see first-hand what it might look like for them in the future. We had lots of fun showing them around and getting to know them, and our girls loved playing with their kids (once the initial shyness was got over). We know they will make great missionaries and look forward to following their story.
A few days before the Hugheses left us, a team from our clinic in town flew in to see what church planting in the bush is like and to see what kinds of things we face when we do medical work here. The team was led by Dr. Dave (from the UK) and Michaela (a nurse from Germany) and included a medical student (also from the UK) and a visiting nurse (from the Netherlands) along with her cousin (also from the Netherlands). It was like the tower of Babel around here with everybody interpreting for everyone else and the poor Fachner kids never knowing quite which language to use! They were a big encouragement to us, and we were so grateful that they took the time to come and visit.
On the day they flew in, we got word that a local woman had given birth in the morning but hadn’t delivered the placenta yet. She lives about 15 minutes from us, but she happened to be in her garden when she gave birth. So instead of a 15-minute hike down the road, we had a 90-minute hike up into the mountains to see if we could help. Jason Hughes came along and helped carry my stuff, and I was so thankful for the Dutch nurse, Marina, who also chose to come along. She and I worked on that stubborn placenta until it finally decided to grace us with its presence, all the while telling the older ladies who had gathered around for the show to “quit chatting and pray!” We had seen quite a few ladies give birth and then die after struggling with a retained placenta, so even though my poor friend was completely exhausted from her long day of labor and was in a lot of pain, I had to give her uterus a uncomfortably deep tissue massage and yell at her to stay awake and drink water. She did great, and with a little help from her mother we were successful in coaxing out the afterbirth. Then we had another 90-minute hike to get home in the dark. We made it, but I have never had to work so hard to make it home before!
With the medical team and the Hughes family both ready to leave, we switched gears and welcomed a whole missionary team to Pal in their place. This team of three families (whose members represent Germany, the UK, the US, the Netherlands, and the Faroe Islands) will move into a neighboring tribe, Kovol, and start their church planting ministry hopefully this summer! We are very happy to see the Gospel spreading to other language groups in our area, and we are especially excited about having another church close by with which the Pal church can fellowship and share encouragement. The Kovol missionary team will spend two weeks here with us, discussing ideas and strategies, getting to know Pal believers and future church leaders, experiencing the food and climate and culture of this area, and making connections with Kovol people who have hiked hours and hours to see and welcome them. Many Kovol people from a certain village are bilingual, speaking both the Pal and the Kovol languages, and we’re expecting to see a fair number of these bilinguals attend the Gospel lessons when we start our outreach in a new village in July. This new village is actually closer to Kovol than it is to Pal, so we are praying that having bilingual believers will be a great help to the missionaries who will be working to plant a church in Kovol.
And all of that brings us to this awesome sad Sunday. It will be sad because it will be Chris’s last Sunday of preaching for a while. He really likes that part of his job, and he will be sad to lose that avenue for teaching. But it will be awesome because the Pal men will take over the teaching role, and the Pal church will be one step closer to being an autonomous, functioning, healthy body of Christ! Rejoice and pray with us as we continue to encourage those with a gift for teaching as they learn to read and study the Word and prepare for and teach a Bible lesson. There is so much growth among many of the believers, and we continually thank God for the ways in which they are maturing and becoming able to shepherd the Pal flock.
In three weeks our family will fly to town for the annual standardized school tests for our kids. Because my health has taken another downward turn in recent weeks, we have decided that we will take the opportunity to stay in town a little longer this time to give my body a chance to rest and recover. We plan to fly back to Pal at the end of May and continue the work that God has given us. Thank you for holding us up in prayer and giving so that we can be here!