My pancreas took us out of the tribe and is now taking us out of Papua New Guinea. After three months with little to no change in my pancreatic enzyme levels, my doctor here and my rheumatologist in America said it was time to come back to the US to figure out what is going on and how to treat it.
Based on the tests I had in Australia in May, it looked like autoimmune pancreatitis, which makes since because of my autoimmune diseases.However, I was already on immunosuppresssants, so it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. So, we are going to do more tests, and hopefully find a new medicine that works for my joint pain and my pancreatitis. We leave the country tomorrow to start our journey back to America.
My doctor suggested we stay in the US for a year to make sure that whatever treatment I am on will work long term, before we come back to PNG where we have no access to advanced medical care.
We are frustrated and confused about this turn of events in our lives and ministry, but are trying really hard to focus on the Lord and trust Him in all things.
Though, I can’t help but continually ask “Why?”
My husband was just beginning to teach elder and deacon lessons to the Hewa believers – a major step in them developing a strong, healthy, and independent church.
We’ve had so many interruptions over the last two years that have kept us going in and out of the tribe, and made our family life full of upheaval and instability. For the last two years the longest we have been in one place is four months. FOUR MONTHS!! And that four months was March to July of 2016. We did have a 3 month stretch in the tribe in 2017 (May through August), and that is longest we’d been in one place for the last year.
I’ve been begging God for stability for our family and a long stretch in one place (particularly our house in the village), but He decided to answer that prayer in America instead.
My mind drifts to the many possible answers to the “Why?” Could it just be a spiritual battle? Satan trying to stop God’s message from spreading through a territory that he has had claim over for centuries?
More frequently, though, I continually wonder, “Is it my fault?” (classic child of divorce)
I read the parable of the talents and wonder if I’m the unfaithful servant? I think of all the ways I have failed in our ministry life and think maybe I’ve just wasted everything God gave to me and now it is being taken away.
And I also wonder if it is just the consequences of the sinful world we live in and that sickness, death, and chaos are part of that and something we will have to persevere through until Jesus comes back. And it doesn’t really have anything to do with me or my actions, specifically, except for how I respond- either in faith or frustration. Either dying to self or wallowing self-pity.
The truth is, it could be any of these, or a million other reasons, and all of the responses are the same. God’s response to me is the same. He is faithful, He will not abandon me, even if everything is all my fault. He will work to restore my life and relationship to Him always. And He will fight for me, my family, and the Hewa people whom He loves no matter what the cause of all the frustration. And my response should be the same…repent of my areas of sin and unfaithfulness and trust Him with whatever He wants to do in my life, my family’s lives, and the lives of the Hewa believers. And persevere through all circumstances.
When we left the tribe, my friend Emiyas came to say goodbye, and I told her I was really sorry we were leaving them and did not want to go. I told her I was scared that we wouldn’t be able to come back, but we were going to try our hardest to at least stay in PNG, so John Michael could come in and out of the tribe to teach. She told me, “Jessi, stop thinking on this. Think only on God. Only He knows what will happen. Will you stay here? Will you go to America? Will you live? Will you die? Only God knows these things. So think only on Him and nothing else.”
|Emiyas saying goodbye to and encouraging me the night before we left the tribe.|
Such a challenge in all this. I have one billion things that my brain wants to think about during this huge transition. But I will try to heed my sister’s very solid advice and think only on Him.
“I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.” Psalm 63:6
“And I said, “This is my fate: the Most High has turned his hand against me.” But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.” Psalm 77:10-12
“I rise early, before the sun is up: I cry out for help and put my hope in your words. I stay awake through the night, thinking about your promise.” Psalm 119:147-148