“If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. ” Ps.139:9,10
Unbelievable that we are starting to wrap up our time here in the States! Alayna has only 3 weeks of school left, then the crazy begins! This update will catch you up on some highlights of God’s goodness to us in the last few months and then we’ll let you know how you can be praying about our upcoming departure.
In March, we were privileged to be able to have a part in a 3 day missions conference. It was a blessing to reconnect with our friends in Albion, Michigan and to also be challenged and encouraged by fellow missionaries! There were around 10 countries represented, with a table set with cultural items, pictures, and even food. Judah and Alayna loved that we served typical PNG village food- lots of veggies, rice and ginger! (Well, I may, or may not have tragically burned the rice, but everything else was good!) And of course, PNG coffee! One of my main take-aways from this conference came from the last session we attended on Sunday morning. Our missionary friend challenged us all to not to ask ourselves if serving the Lord in missions is worth it. Sometimes, if we’re looking to weigh out the pay-off compared to the sacrifices, if we’re honest, it may not always shake out the way we think it should. As in, is leaving our boys and daughter-in-law, our parents, and older relatives who we might not see again this side of glory, is it worth it when often the work includes tediously slow progress, sometimes discouraging church issues and even security concerns? Is it worth it- that’s the wrong question. We must ask- Is HE worthy? With a resounding Yes, a hundred times Yes, we say that He is worthy of all of our love, all of our obedience, everything that we have to give! The Lamb that was slain, my Savior, my King, my Friend- He Alone and Always is Worthy!
But there was another little- not-so-welcome takeaway from this conference. Somewhere along the road coming back from Michigan, Jeremiah picked up covid! So for the third time, our little family was ushered back into quarantine for another two weeks. Unfortunately, his case was worse than mine and he felt pretty miserable for the majority of those two weeks. This meant that he was isolated from us on his birthday! I did drag him outside for some birthday cinnamon rolls and a few gifts, that was about all he had energy for! But no hospitalization was required and once his fever stopped, he actually recouped his energy levels fairly quickly.
I (April) have enjoyed some sweet treats this month (only right, I guess, since it is my month, after all!) The Lord provided for me to take a trip with my brother up to Seattle to see our grandmother! I hadn’t seen this amazing woman in 5 years! She is 89, and full of energy and life! My wonderful aunt was super instrumental in making this happen, coordinating with my grandmother for us since she has difficulty hearing on the phone, and then acting as a tour guide and chauffeur much of the time! We had a blast with her as well! It was such a blessing for me that my brother was able to get time off from work and make this special trip. Then a week later, my sister-in-law had invited me to come speak at a ladies retreat she had organized at a retreat home at the Lake of the Ozarks. We enjoyed the presence of the Lord in a mighty way through the gift of story- His story woven through the journeys, stories of His grace, His provision, His goodness; I came away so encouraged and challenged on many levels!
On the family front, Alayna (14) just finished basketball season, which she loved, and is now in the thick of standardized testing. There were also some fun dress-up days, and she took first place for her hippie costume! Judah (19) continues to thrive at Ethnos360 Bible Institute in WI! He wasn’t able to come home as planned for Easter because of Jeremiah’s covid, but he did get to enjoy a fantastic trip to California with some good friends! Jordan and Sarah are doing great in Nebraska! They were able to come visit for Easter and will be coming down soon to spend a week with us helping with a painting project. On May 18th, Alayna will have an 8th grade graduation celebration, then our family will take a mini vacation together. This will be the last time we will all be together as a family for a long time!
And in Papua New Guinea, many of you have already heard, that covid cases have surged in the last couple of months like they never have before! For the whole last year, the number of known cases had amazingly stayed under 1,000. However, we just got word that the known number of cases went from 1,000 to over 10,000 in a dramatically short amount of time! Lock-down measures are in place. Please be praying for this country as their medical resources are extremely limited and leadership strives to act in the best interest of the people. This, of course, does impact travel to and from PNG. At this point, getting back in is difficult, but not impossible, thanks to the efforts of our Crisis Management Team.
That brings us to our next steps! Passports with renewed visas are in hand, and we are ready to start the ticket process for our return. There is so much going on and so much to pray about that pertains to this whole process, so I’ll try to lay it out in bullet format.
- Please pray for wisdom for us and our team on the ground in PNG as we navigate the best timing and routing to get back into the country. We are aiming to be back by the last week of June. With ever changing border policies, it would be impossible for us to plan this trip without their current finger on the pulse of international travel procedures. Honestly, it is with fear and trembling that we start this process! So many of our friends have had multiple ticket cancellations resulting in huge financial losses. Some of that has been due to required covid test results not being returned in time, which we can do nothing about. It’s all kinda crazy and we’d just covet your prayers for His peace in it all.
- A huge praise in this is that Judah has been invited to intern at the Wayumi campus in PA this summer! This a mobilization center of Ethnos360, where people come to have a live cultural experience in tribal church planting and language learning. We are so grateful for this provision, to know that he will have a place to call home for the summer, room and board provided, as well as a scholarship for his next semester at EBI! If your youth group, church staff, college and career group or even your family is interested in this cultural and educational experience, check out: https://ethnos360.org/short-term-trips/wayumi
- Please pray over our traveling and moving schedule, for God’s peace and provision every step of the way, and that we would honor and glorify Him first and foremost!
Thank you so much for standing with us! We are GRATEFUL for you, our coworkers in bringing the Gospel to Papua New Guinea! We are excited to get back into full time Bible translation for the Dinangat people, as well taking on some new ministry responsibilities once we hit the ground. Looking at this schedule (and thinking ahead to getting settled and started in PNG) is a bit overwhelming. But HE who is WORTHY will keep us every step of the way, and we look forward to sharing those answered prayers with you as we walk with Him one day at a time!