In mid-April, we traveled to homeschool testing at the New Tribes center in the Highlands and after a week there we left for Australia for a medical visit and break. We had a great time while we were away and it was great to be able to spend 4 weeks with Ellen’s parents who traveled over to spend time with us in Australia and then Papua New Guinea. Thanks for praying for us. It was good to get connected with a specialist on this side of the world for Emmanuella and we’re praising God that things are still looking fine for her.
Over the past month or so I (Paul) have been thinking through some things that I really hadn’t thought about in a while. I don’t know if it was just being in a different setting or a more US-like setting, but I began to think through the challenges of life and ministry outside of what would be “normal” in our home country and culture. I began to think through the very different life experiences that our kids have and how that may impact them in the future. I began to think about “the good old days.”
In the process of thinking about all of that, I began to feel overwhelmed with where we are in life and what we are doing. The enormity of the task ahead of us…learning another language, living in a more isolated environment from the things we’re used to, communicating scriptural truths to those whose culture has taught them to think so very differently from me. It’s way beyond me to be able to do that and yet that is once again the point that God wanted me to get to. Why? Because when I’m weak, HE is strong. “My grace is enough for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9 NET Bible) God desires to use us in our weakness for His purpose and glory. That is why He calls us to things that make us feel like we’re in over our heads. In our own strength, we are over our heads, but with God working in us and through us He can accomplish the impossible. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13) As I reflected on different Scripture verses which brought me encouragement, I also began to think through the words of “Beyond Me” by TobyMac. The chorus says, “That you gave me the stars, put them out of my reach, called me to waters a little too deep. Oh, I’ve never been so aware of my need. You keep making me see; it’s way beyond me.” It’s then we can say in faith as the song continues, “You take me to the place where I know I need You, straight to the depths that I can’t handle on my own and Lord I know I need You. So, take me to Your great unknown.” After reflecting on all of this, I can say that I am so thankful for the opportunity that God has put before us to do something that is way bigger than us and I look forward to see how HE will accomplish it. After all, it’s not about us, but it’s about HIM. HE alone is worthy!
What have been up to? After spending the time in Australia, we came back to PNG refreshed and ready to keep moving forward. We were able to spend a couple of weeks showing Ellen’s parents different things around PNG. It was fun for them to be able to experience life here with us for that time. We have also been continuing forward in the team formation process which has included working on thinking through Bible curriculum and a team strategy statement. A team strategy statement is a guide for us as a team in a particular ministry. It will lay out our team philosophies for aspects of life and ministry in the village. We’ve also been involved in helping with a few things around the center here and we’re thinking and planning ahead to mid-June into July when we will be helping with the Interface program for college age students.
Building Fund Update: We have about $30,600 of the expected $60,000 for the house build/ air transportation costs associated with a house build in a helicopter location. If all goes well and things happen in the timeline we think, this build will start in late August. Would you pray about helping us with this one-time expense? Here is the information on that: https://swensontribe.wordpress.com/house-building/
- Our trip to Australia was relaxing and we had mostly uneventful travels. Emmanuella saw the doctor and all of her results came back great.
- We enjoyed showing Grampa and Grammy Laber around PNG:)
- As we work on a project with our potential team, things are going very well.
- Praise the Lord that He is beginning to provide funds for our house build.
- Pray as Paul leads a Bible study series in our local church here.
- Pray that God will use us to be a blessing to the students coming for the Interface program and that God would be preparing their hearts for the 6 weeks they will spend here in PNG.
- Even though we cannot name the place yet (and may never use its name on the internet), please pray for the village that, Lord willing, we are aiming at moving to this year.