Well, I’m not sure what happened, but it’s not May anymore. In fact, it’s not even June anymore. So I’m definitely behind in my blog posting. But because we spent the past three weeks in the bush, I actually have things to tell you now instead of just posting end-of-the-year pictures of the kids. Pshftsh. Who wants to see those??
We flew out to the bush on June 2nd – three kids and I flew directly to Pal on the helicopter, and Chris and the other kid flew on a plane to a town on the coast where the helicopter could pick them up later. Unfortunately, the weather in Pal was really really bad that day, so we ended up landing and unloading on the soccer field, which is about a 45-minute hike from our house on a good day. I say again, it was not a good day. With the help of many people, we hiked barefoot through the mud carrying computer bags, boxes of frozen food, and the girls’ cat, and (I) made it home in about 90 minutes. (The kids were much faster.) It took until 3pm for the fog to lift, and then the pilot was able to fly over and get Chris and the other kid and bring them home, too.
We hadn’t been able to get to Pal much this past year. The last time the kids and I were there was almost a year ago, and Chris’ last trip was in December. We’d heard from people during that time, but it was so good to get there and see firsthand the things that God is doing in His church. Right away during my hike home from the soccer field, I was chatting with the ladies who were helping me stay upright about how the helicopter would have to wait on the field until the weather got better before it went to get Chris. After a lull in the conversation I heard a few of them behind me start mumbling to themselves as we walked. I realized that they were just casually praying about the situation. It was so encouraging to see how prayer has become part of their lives and is no longer viewed as some solemn ceremonial thing that can only be done by the right person in the right place. It is a natural consequence of their growing relationships with their Father, and it is beautiful.
Right now, Chris is meeting with the Bible teachers and they are discussing how they can move forward after succumbing to pressure and participating in the magic healing ritual instigated by a neighboring tribe. Before coming, Chris finished translating Galatians and wrote lessons for the entire book so that he could teach it while here, and this morning he shared the lesson from Galatians 2 about how even Peter gave in to pressure from “certain men” and went back to the old ways of spurning the Gentiles even though Christ’s new covenant clearly included them. Our teachers immediately saw the parallels to their current situation, and after reading about how Paul confronted Peter to his face in public, they are considering what they need to do repent and make things right. Please continue to pray for them. At this point, we aren’t sure if they should all remain teachers or if some need to be removed from the group. We need wisdom and discernment.
When our kids were little, all it took to entertain them was a mud pit and a few machetes, but now that they are big, living in the jungle is not quite as exciting. We tried to keep our kids busy during the trip with little projects around the house, like taking the generator apart and cleaning the carburetor, climbing up on the roof to scrub skylights and solar panels, digging ditches to direct rain run-off, and helping organize all the books and flashcards for the literacy school. We also tried to take hikes to nearby villages when the weather permitted, and we enjoyed the increase in family time by playing games together in the evenings.
Being gone for so long has led to some logistical struggles in our bush house. Our solar panels are so old that they are not giving us enough power to run our washing machine or even charge our batteries. The fridge doesn’t work at all, and the freezer only freezes things that are at the bottom. The termites are eating all of our cabinets from the inside out, and one toilet leaks like Old Faithful every time it is flushed. We have learned to just kind of roll with it when these things happen, but they do cause stress and take Chris’ time away from ministry, so please pray for us to find solutions to problems and to be content with the state of things.
Now the kids and I are back in town, but Chris is still in Pal for another two weeks. I have started to prepare for the classes I will be teaching at the school this year, and Chris has several translation projects to work on as well as continued teaching and discipleship in the two churches that are meeting every week. Please pray for his safety and good health while we are apart, and that God would use him to edify the Body in Pal.