"Yupela i mas mekim gutpela pasin long ol arapela Kristen na givim bel bilong yupela long ol. Yupela i mas lusim sin bilong ol, olsem God i lusim sin bilong yupela long nem bilong Krais." Efesus 4:32 "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32
Praises and Petitions:
- Finishing the school year – The students did well on their practice exams, which showed how much they truly learned and retained this year.
- Our students got home to the bush safely
- A wonderful, encouraging and productive visit with the mission team from Grace Community Church in Maryville, TN
- A meaningful and unforgettable time of worship and reflection with our students, the Interface group, and our Grace Church team
- Guest speakers in science class!
- I loved all the learning I got to do this year – so many different facets of science
- An unexpected retreat in the mountains
- For our students to stay unified as a team and shine the light of Christ in their villages over break
- For a safe and mutually encouraging trip to Itutang this week. That the testing of potential new 7th graders would go smoothly and that unity and wisdom would prevail
- For safe travel home to the states
- For a restful and productive time at home visiting family and friends, sharing about our ministry, and preparing for next year
- For our new class of 7th graders: That God would prepare their minds and hearts for a huge transition
- To stay focused on the Great Commission: To regularly share Christ in my classes and look for opportunities to weave scripture into my lessons
- For humility and submission as I continue to learn the culture and language
Read on below for more detail and a few stories. 🙂
Sweet gifts from loved ones in Tennessee!! I’m so thankful for the Body of Christ!!
Unexpected and much-appreciated rest!
I’m sitting here in long pants and socks, cozy on a couch, with Rainbow Lorikeets landing in the tree outside my window. This time last week, I had no idea I would be here in the mountains at the New Tribes Mission center a week later. How great and marvelous is our God who delights to give His children good gifts!
On Tuesday last week, we found out about an opportunity to come here for a week and jumped at the chance. Two days later, we flew with some friends across the beautiful verdant mountains and valleys of this country and landed in Goroka. The chill in the air is so refreshing for this mountain girl!
Once we got here and settled in, the Lord blessed me with a full 24 hours or so to withdraw and rest, pray, read, reflect, write, and rest some more…oh, and find some sweet new birds. 🙂 The unexpected nature of this retreat has made it all the more precious.
Another amazing surprise has been the opportunity to go on my first hikes in this country! I definitely didn’t expect to leave the fenced-in mission center here, but there was a group of folks planning to go hiking in the cloud forest on Saturday, so we got to join them! We heard the King of Saxony Bird of Paradise!!! We’ve also had the privilege of walking in small groups through the nearby fields and forest surrounding the mission center. I’m praising the Lord for these delightful opportunities to exult in His creation and a little bit of freedom!
3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4
Ramu Valley, here we come!
Since we are leaving for about a week in the bush the day after we get back from the mountains, I have spent much time praying and preparing my heart for my first opportunity to visit Itutang. I read through a bush orientation booklet that Kelley wrote years ago, and texted her several questions. (My team has learned well that TBird never runs out of questions, LOL). I have longed to visit the Ramu Valley and meet those dear people since I first learned of the Housley’s ministry there in 2011. It seems so surreal that I’ll actually be there in just a few days and will get to see where many of our students call home.
Please pray with me that I would be careful with my words and actions as I am still learning the culture here. Pray also that our visit would be an encouragement for the dedicated flock of believers in Itutang. We will be testing next year’s potential 7th graders, so pray for a peaceful testing day and wisdom for Bill and Kelley as they navigate the decision-making process.
Our students pushed hard and finished the academic year strong. For our seventh graders, this was particularly evident, as they have never had to study so hard or learn such discipline before they came to RVA. They had days where they struggled to pay attention or give their full effort, but with encouragement from their teachers and peers, they persevered.
We give quizzes and tests throughout each unit, and they are able to study their notes in advance. The notes are guides to help them learn important facts from our lessons, but we are sure to review the concepts and constantly remind them not to just memorize. I can’t imagine learning brand new concepts in my third language, so I’m always impressed by how well they perform.
However, the true test of how much they learned throughout the year came when I gave them practice tests during our last few days of class. These are practice tests for the national exams they’ll take next year, and the questions cover all of the material we learned all year, in no particular order. The seventh graders had no notes to study or time to prepare for the practice test that I gave them. I wondered how well they would do, and I was so pleasantly surprised when the majority of them actually remembered the material and used logic to answer many of the questions correctly! Praise the Lord for the amazing leaps of understanding these students have experienced since they first set foot on our campus!
Airfoils, Newton’s laws of physics, and the Gospel
Teaching science this year has definitely stretched me, as I have found myself teaching topics way outside my area of expertise, like the Periodic Table, Ohm’s Law and electricity, and physics. It has been super fun to learn alongside the students as we perform fun experiments and demonstrations. Check out my private Facebook group, Serving Christ at RVA, for a plethora of specific stories from the classroom.
One of the highlights for me and our ninth grade class was having some knowledgeable guest speakers from among our Interface friends a few weeks ago. Interface is a 6-week missions mobilization program for young people who are interested in being missionaries to tribal people groups. Mike is a pilot from Wisconsin who came to PNG to learn more about missions aviation, and Jerome is from New Zealand and had a brief stint teaching high school physics. We invited both of them to speak to my 9th graders, as I was teaching some lessons on airfoils and the physics of flight.
Mike and Jerome shared their testimonies first, and I was so thankful that we have a school where we can give God the glory and start class with testimonies.
Jerome gave a brief overview of Newton’s three laws of physics, and Mike explained the concept of an airfoil and Bernoulli’s principle. Our students loved picking their brains, and I was so grateful to have help teaching a topic that can be quite complex. Kelley overheard us talking about G-forces, so she brought down a 7 minute clip of the new Maverick movie for us to watch, which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
After the lesson, Morris asked the other three ITF students who were in attendance to share their testimonies. That led to a spontaneous gospel-centered conversation that lasted for the next 45 minutes!
Several of our students shared relevant passages of scripture throughout the conversation. Jefilstand reminded us that God’s word is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Morris, who had recently flown for the first time to attend a wedding in Port Moresby, shared an analogy he had thought up about how we as believers already have our ‘boarding passes’ to be with Christ for eternity, and how nothing can take that pass away from us.
It was so heart-warming to sit back and watch these students from vastly different backgrounds rejoice together in Christ, who brings us together from every tribe and nation. I shared my joy at hearing people’s testimonies and how it’s a miracle every time, of how the Holy Spirit brings a spiritually dead soul to life in Christ.
A few days previously, Vivian had shared her testimony in church and explained how once she was in ‘Satan’s bilum,’ but now she is in Christ’s bilum forever. A bilum is a woven bag that most people in PNG carry. There are bilums that mothers put their babies in and hang them up while doing work around the house and garden. It was such a visceral image to think of the helplessness of a baby in a bilum, and how we were helpless to get ourselves out of Satan’s bilum. But God!
“Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15
Then we made paper airplanes and flew them outside. 🙂