Our travel to PNG was mostly uneventful, although we did run into some complications at the airport in Port Moresby (PNG’s capital city). I won’t get into those details here, but suffice to say we sweated buckets, were quite stressed and Jude had the biggest melt down of his life but the Lord worked everything out so that our arrival was only an hour and a half later than we expected, with all of our bags present and accounted for and no overweight charges or customs fees. Upon arriving in our region as we pulled out of the airport in the dark with the back of the mission truck we were picked up in piled with our stuff, we had a close call when a young man ran up to our moving vehicle and tried to grab a piece of our baggage. Our hearts were pounding as we slammed on the brakes and Tom jumped out to see what was missing. Thank the Lord the guy got spooked and ran off into the darkness empty handed. We were very relieved!
After spending the night at our local NTM guesthouse and a full day of supply buying for food and other necessities, we headed out to our island. We were really excited to get back and see our co-workers and other island friends, as well as our house, which had been modified since we left. We were also excited to see our co-worker Aimee’s new house, which had been built while we were in the States. As our boat pulled up the the shore of our island it was a welcomed sight to see many of our friends walking from their huts to come greet us. It was a joyful reunion with many and we proudly introduced Iris to our friends. Needless to say she is a hit with everyone!
We were pretty surprised when we saw our house at how well of a job the people did in making the changes we had requested. On at least two occasions while we were away, there were people who came out to work on our house. We had asked them to make some minor changes, such as turn our side shed into an office, extend the walls so that they went all the way up to the ceiling, add electrical outlets among other things. Almost everything we wanted done was accomplished and we were thrilled to actually see the changes for ourselves.
We spent the first few days trying to adjust to jet lag, re-adjust to the extreme heat, unpack and get the chaotic mass of our stuff somewhat organized. (Side note: Up until now we had been living here without our own things. While we were in the states on maternity leave all our things had been shipped here so we did not just have our luggage to unpack but a whole bunch of household belongings. Big Job!)
We had the goal of getting our stuff almost completely unpacked within the first few days, because we had arranged to bring a former classmate of ours from mission training out to work on our somewhat recently acquired used solar electric system. Our friend Kevin has received specific training for setting up solar electric systems for missionaries living out in villages, so we had asked him to come out and put together our system for us, since Beth & I are totally helpless with that stuff. Thankfully, he was happy to do it and he came out for about four days and got us up and running and functioning way more efficiently than we had been.
After Kevin left, we had a visit from some of our new leadership in the country who have been in PNG for some time, but never ventured out to our province. They wanted to come out and visit the different teams working in the area. We had a really good visit from them and were thankful for the opportunity to sit down and get to know them.
After this visit we had just a few days before another couple of visitors would be coming out. One of these days, which was also my birthday, was spent in our provincial capital picking up other supplies for working on the house. Ironically the main reason we needed to go into town was to buy a twin tub washing machine, but unfortunately were unable to find one as all the stores were out! So we are currently with out a way to wash clothes but since we are in a drought season right now anyway, it seems that we will probably be wearing everything we own before we have the water to wash anything anyway!
Our next set of visitors was our CLA Consultants, Chris Lujan & Aaron Luse. CLA stands for Culture & Language Acquisition, and is a fancy way of saying culture & language study. These consultants are in charge of assisting us, along with Aimee, in our language & culture study over the next couple of years. They have personal experience in learning a tribal language, as well as church planting and how the two tie together. They will come out periodically and do “language checks” or assessments of the progress we are making and will stay in touch with us to answer any questions we have, offer practical advice or wisdom when we need it, and overall be a source of encouragement, challenging us to continue on to the end.
We were very thankful for our visit with Chris & Aaron. They were very encouraging as they communicated their commitment to help us succeed in learning the Tigak language and culture, as well as to see the Tigak church come to maturity. They gave us a lot to think about and a lot of practical tips to help us get started on the right track. Chris will return in five to six weeks for a check up to see how we are doing and then after that it may be every six months. It is a huge task to learn a tribal language, one we like to refer to as a “marathon” and we praise the Lord for help during this important endeavor!
Because many of you have asked we wanted to give a brief update on how our kids our doing. The short answer is that they are doing well. Jude is the happiest boy you have ever seen when he is out in the village. He loves playing with the kids and running around and being crazy. He gets extremely dirty every day and most of the time requires at least two baths a day. Iris had a rough few days when we first got here as she tried to adjust to the heat. Poor thing
To wrap up this blog, we’re thrilled to be back and we’re thrilled to embark on Tigak language & culture study. We will probably wait a few more days before actually getting out into the village for the purpose of language study, because we still have a couple of house projects that would be good to get finished first. However, this stage of ministry marks the next step in our long term goal of seeing mature Tigak churches established that will bring glory to God and continue long after we leave. Thank you for your prayers.