“We’re suffering here,” Bill joked over the phone to the pastor from our home church, as he described the late December* weather here in Papua New Guinea. We were having another 85 degree day, while our home state of Wisconsin was getting snow again.
Bill was sharing about our life and work here, and highlighted a part of life that people at home might find enviable – warm weather all year round. But as I listened, I knew that he was holding back on some other feelings. He didn’t say that living over 8,000 miles
from home can be difficult when everyone is gathering for Christmas celebrations and we can’t be there. He didn’t say that we’re missing foods that we had at home because they aren’t available here (I’m looking at you, eggnog and cookies with little marachino cherries in them). He didn’t mention that he’s wearing his last pair of sandals, and can’t buy another pair because they just don’t have shoes big enough here (we’re still not sure how to fix that problem).
It’s hard to be honest about life here, because while there are certainly good things, there are also a lot of challenges. But we did have a great Christmas together, just the six of us. I found a recipe for eggnog that used vanilla pudding mix, milk, and spices, so I made some close-enough eggnog. We got to talk with both sides of our family on Christmas day. And most importantly, it’s amazing to know people here in PNG, celebrating the birth of the Savior, whom they have heard of because of past missionaries who, like us, spent their Christmases away from home (and who couldn’t even make international phone calls to talk with family on Christmas!)
Life here can be hard, but that’s not important. What’s important is that the Iski people heard Bible teaching from the creation of the world, to Jesus dying to “kissem bek”, or bring us back to Him. The Amdu are going through literacy training to be able to read God’s talk. And the Kaje are going to be hearing God’s talk for the first time early this year.** Several other tribes have missionaries still learning the language so that in the future, they too can hear how the creator of the world died for their sins.
*Yes, I am aware it’s February now. Katie wrote this in December and I (Bill) took far too long to actually share it.
**You can see some of the prep for the team in Kaje in the video below: