Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Is Canceled

Well, shoot. We had big plans for our first Christmas in the tribe.

Our family would spend the morning opening presents under the tree and drinking hot chocolate while we listened to Willy Nelson's "Pretty Paper." (aren't you proud, Mom?) Then we would go outside to have a big meal with the entire village.

It is called a "mumu". The guys of our village go out hunting and bring back pigs, snakes, tree kangaroos, pretty much anything that can be considered meat. The ladies spend the day gathering garden food, and then they bury it all in a big hole in the ground with big hot rocks and let it cook for several hours while we all hang out and just enjoy each other's company.

We were all looking forward to it, but we had to postpone. Why, you ask? Well, think of reasons you may have to postpone your church's Christmas fellowship or potluck. Snow storm? Icy roads? An outbreak of the flu?

Well, none of those are our reasons for the delay. We are postponing because all the village dogs are in heat, so none of the dogs will go hunt, and there will be no meat for the party.

Didn't see that one coming did you? Neither did I. My life is always full of surprises here.

Anyway, we will still have our regular family activities and one day, later this week, we will get together with the believers in our village to celebrate. I don't think Jesus will mind since it isn't His real birthday anyway.

So, to all who read this blog, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas filled with joy, hope, and peace that is uninterrupted by the menstrual cycle of your pets.

With Lots of Holiday Cheer,

The Tribal Wife

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How To Save A Witch

This past week was a very interesting one in Hewa-land. As I mentioned in my last post, we sit in this nice peaceful village full of believers who love each other and are working together to live life in a way that honors the Lord. But all around us is chaos. Throughout the week we heard rumors of a neighboring village going to war with another tribe, a revenge killing for a murder that happened two years ago, and plans to kill a young mother and her 18 month old son because people accused her of being a witch.

The first two were far away and there was really nothing we could do about them, but the last one came to us from the believers in our village who assured us that this lady's time was up, and if we didn't help get her out soon, she and her son would surely die.

You see there are many women and young girls who have been accused of being witches. When someone young or youngish dies then someone has to be blamed. It wasn't malaria, or cancer, or the infection that the person refused to take medicine for, it was a witch who worked sorcery on you and ate your insides causing you to die. And if a lot of people are dying then the only way to stop it, is to kill the witch.

So how do you get the ugly finger of blame pointed at you? First you typically have to be from a small village that is more remote or out of the way of the other villages, so people don't visit you often. Then if you are shy, quiet or keep to yourself at all then your chances just skyrocketed. No one wants to blame their friends, people they like, or people who give them things.

Finally, someone has to call you out. This happens when a friend or relative says they "heard" the last words of a person and they said your name. Or someone has a dream that tells them you are the witch. Or you just happen to be a sister, brother or child or someone else who has been accused of being a witch. (this is why most children are killed with their mothers, even if they are small babies)

Anyway, this particular young lady named Tiko had actually been accused for a while but because of an increase in sickness and death all around Hewa territory, people decided it was time for her to die. Our coworkers previously made arrangements with another village in PNG where there are missionaries and a strong believing church (remember Mariama, where we did our bush orientation? Well, that is the place!) to send this family to live with them. The believers there agreed to love and protect this precious family. So, some of the leaders of the Hewa church went to Tiko's village to tell them that if they were ready and could come up with the money to fly out, then they would be safe and welcomed in a new place. Even though there were lots of family members arguing and fighting about this, they agreed and hiked back here with the leaders to finalize all the arrangements. They spent three days here getting prepared, and allowing our people to convince Tiko's husband that this was the best decision for his fam
ily. (Her husband's family told him to just let her go, and begged him to stay saying that they would buy him a new wife). In the end he agreed, since the believers in Mariama told him it had to be the whole family or they would not be able to take them in. (a young single woman would have a very hard time making it on her own and the people would have a hard time protecting her) It was strange to sit with this lady, to hold her baby, constantly wondering if they were going to make it out of here alive. There was no way that they (or we) could afford to fly them out on the helicopter, so our only option was for them to hike to the village that has an airstrip and our NTMA pilot would pick them up there. The problem was that the village with the airstrip was full of the very people who were planning to kill her, so our coworker, Jonathan hiked out with them to try to make sure that nothing went wrong while they were trying to get out. All of it was very complicated, but we were truly thankful that we had so
mewhere to send them.

It might not seem like that big of a deal, but after having spent time in both villages, I can tell you that it is a big deal. Tiko and her family will experience culture shock as they do not speak the language of the people there or the national language of Melanesian Pidgin. There are also different beliefs, customs, and foods they will have to get used to as well as different types of houses.

It will also be a challenge for the people of Mariama as they will have a hard time communicating with this family who are not believers and who will probably be suspicious of everything that goes on. But it is amazing to see this church body come together to save a lady and child that they have never met. To see them live out their faith in a way that is not convenient or easy. I hope and pray that this Hewan family will see that all this was only accomplished through Christ Jesus and the love He has for them.

We were all on pins and needles when they hiked out of the safety of this village, and waited anxiously by the radio to hear from our friends in Mariama if they made it or not. It was definitely a 24 hour period of praying without ceasing and during that time the Lord gave me this verse to pray over Tiko:

"Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them." Psalm 10:17-18

Honestly, there are days I wonder what I am doing here. I wonder if I will ever be able to learn this language when I am confined in my house, cooking and homeschooling for the better part of my day. I get overwhelmed with all that I am supposed to accomplish here: kids who are well fed, well behaved, and well educated, maintain nice clean house that is a comfortable home to my family and to guests, and learn a tribal language so I can minister to and disciple young believers, and help them to reach the surrounding Hewa villages. I wonder why God didn't give me more hours in the day or at least two more arms for all these plates I am juggling. But this experience taught me that if I do nothing else. I can pray. I am here. I know the people, their names, and situations. And that is saying a lot for these people who are some of the most remote in all of PNG. They are mostly unknown and forgotten. They even have diseases that they rest of the world believes to be
eradicated. But the Lord has brought me here to show me that He has not forgotten them. Even in these mountains blanketed with thick jungle they are not hidden from Him. He brought me here, and I can pray. I can call them by name to the one who knew that name before it was ever on the lips of their mothers and fathers. I can do my best to learn to communicate His love and truths to them, but until that happens (or even if it never does) I can pray.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

House Living

Hey, remember me? I live in the jungle and I write this blog? I know I promised blogs from the bush via email, but that was a dumb promise to make. I expected that our email would just work like it was supposed to, but no. That was a very presumptuous expectation. I will spare you all the boring details, but our email doesn't really work, so we have to use our co-workers computer to email, which makes it difficult for this homeschooling, potty training, language-learning mama to do. This morning I barely made it to the bathroom much less to my coworker's house to write emails (and yes, I did say �potty training��Mia quit going to the potty as soon as the helicopter landed, so now that we are somewhat settled, we are trying again).

Anyway, I think it is going to take me a while to figure out what works with writing out here and what doesn't. There is so much going on and so much I want to say, but most of it really needs a picture and that I can't do. I will save those posts for when we come out to town. Right now I will just try to fill you in a little on what life is like out here in my remote jungle home. My last posts were about house building, but there is a huge difference in building a house when you are not living in it, and then finishing the house while trying to maintain a normal daily existence.

1. There will be bugs. Oh yes, there will be bugs. When we all moved in as a family, I had a working bathroom and kitchen. I had beds, and even a desk to do school with the kids. I had a washing machine and a nice laundry line to hang my clothes. I also had two huge gaping holes in the house on the gable ends. The priority is to get everything functional and then you can close everything up, so it is just you and your family and not you, your family, and one million moths. I actually had to make sure everything was covered while I was cooking because anytime a lid was off a pot for more than a second, three moths would plunge to their deaths in my family's dinner.

2. You are living in a construction zone. There are still cabinets to be made and put up, and lots of other projects that have to be done, so you can stop living out of boxes and suitcases. Those projects get done right inside your house. There is sawdust everywhere. Go ahead and sweep, but know that what you are doing is the equivalent to shoveling snow while it is still snowing. Also, your kids now know every tool ever created and how fast that tool can kill them if they touch it.

3. Your team is gone. It is just your husband trying to finish the house all by himself. So guess who just became his right hand man woman. That's right. You. With your weak upper body strength and lack of spatial skills. You will be frustrated. He will be frustrated. That is all.

4. You are not just here to build a house. Guess what? You're a missionary. You have to interact with people. You can't just finish your house like you want to, and get it over with. You have to make time to build relationships and learn language. This is actually a nice fun break from the construction, but then you have to walk back into your house and be reminded of all that still needs to be done. That is not fun.

5. On top of all this, you are also a mom (if, in fact, you are a mom, if not, ignore this one). You have to feed, clothe, and educate your children. So there may be a day when you are simultaneously calling out spelling words, holding a ladder, stirring a pot full of moths, and incorrectly yelling greetings out your window in the new language you are learning. You may have to stop all this to do some wiping�either of rear ends or walls, but if you have a toddler similar to mine there will be many interruptions no matter how many plates you are juggling.

Ok, there it is. It is crazy, but it is life for our family. There are some mornings I wake up feeling overwhelmed, and a few nights I go to bed totally defeated, but most days are overall pretty amazing.

To live in this tiny hamlet of the Hewa people is sort of like perpetually living in the eye of a hurricane. In full candor, the Hewa are liars, thieves, and murderers by nature. But in this small village tucked between the mountains and the river, live people who no longer live by this sin nature. They have heard and believed the good news of the Gospel and their lives reflect that. We hear the tremendous winds of fighting, sorcery and witch hunting all around us, and sometimes we have to walk into those winds to help out. Other times people come running to this little eye for relief. They have heard that something is different here, and they long for the peace they see in the lives of their relatives.

It is beautiful, but also motivating. We see that this little eye could collapse very easily. That to truly call the Hewa people �reached�, all the Hewa need to hear. Every village, every dialect, every person made and loved by God. It is a giant task, one that we know we are not capable of completing. But He is. And He is allowing us the privilege of a front row seat to watch Him do it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Number Four

Ok, so I told you I had internet/posting issues up here. Basically I write a post and push "publish" 10,000 times, and who knows what is going to pop up on the actual internet. For some reason the version that got published lacked number four in my list for house building advice. I have no idea where it went. I guess it is lost in the world wide web somewhere. Maybe it ended up on some other blog in some other universe...sorry too much Fringe. Anyway, here it is: (or something like it- I am trying to write it as I did originally, but can't remember exactly)

4. Building a house is like building a gigantic 3D jigsaw puzzle, but first you have to go on a scavenger hunt to find all the pieces. In America, when you build a house the plumber comes with all his pieces, the electrician with all his pieces, etc.* But here you are responsible for ALL the pieces. And some of those may not match up. Like if you buy a washing machine and stove in America and you have to find plumbing parts and gas lines in PNG...those pieces may not will not match up, so you have to get creative. You will also forget lots of little pieces because you are not a plumber and/or an electrician, so you really have no idea what you are getting anyway. Be sure to get lots of advice from people who actually know what they are doing in these areas. It will help a lot, but you will still forget stuff, so make sure you have friends in town that can buy stuff for you and put it on a flight at the last minute.

*I saw a thing on Pinterest that said the use of "etc." is just trying to convince people that you know more than you do. In this case that is 100% accurate as I am so ignorant on house building that I have no idea who else is involved other than plumbers and electricians. Thank you for understanding.*

Monday, November 5, 2012

House Building

I have been trying for days to write this post with lots of fun pictures, but Blogger and the Lapilo internet do not get along very well. It definitely will not let me add pictures anymore. Sorry 'bout that.

Anyway, I just thought I would write a few notes about house building for all those future tribal missionaries out there who read this blog.

Here goes:
1. It will be one of the most stressful times of your entire life. I know what you are thinking...everything about this life is stressful. We move 1,000 times. Our kids don't know where we live or who is actual family. But seriously, this is the most stressful of all that. Trust me.

2. Expect everything to go wrong. Because it will. You are building in the middle of the freakin jungle in a third world country. All your supplies will be junk (unless you bought them from America and shipped them over) and you will only get half (if you are lucky) of what you actually ordered. At least now you won't be surprised when that happens, right? You're welcome.

3. Do not expect the weather the cooperate. It is called the rainforest forest for a reason. It does not care that you have not put a roof on your house yet. It will ruin your plywood floor and throw a rainbow up in the sky like it was happy to do it.

5. Go ahead right now and throw everything you own away. Just do it. Right now. I promise you will be a lot happier when the time comes for you to pay $$$$$ to fly your stuff in. Wait...I will let you keep anything that weighs less than 10 kgs. You're welcome, again. On a related note, put everyone in your family on a diet.

6. If a team is coming to help you (which you will need or else it will take approximately 1 million years to finish your house) then estimate what you think it will take to feed said team, and go ahead and double it. I promise you are underestimating. Even if you are purposefully overestimating, you are still underestimating. So go ahead and do your overestimating and double that. I cannot tell you the panic and guilt that comes from thinking these men who have been working their you-kno-whats-off for you all day in the equatorial sun will go to bed hungry because you did not buy or prepare enough food.

7. Hug your kids a lot and tell them that Mommy and Daddy are not going crazy, and that all this will end one day soon. Bring in special treats for them (I will allow kgs for this one) as you will need to buy their love during this time. No matter how hard you try you are going to be a jerk to your kids. You will be easily annoyed and you will tell them "in a minute" 17,000 times, and all 17,000 times "in a minute" turns into never. Remind them that you really love them and ask for their forgiveness all 17,000 times.

8. Wives, your husbands will be totally stressed out. Remember that need to protect and provide? Well, building a house for his family in the middle of nowhere is kinda the peak of that male instinct. When something goes wrong, let him be upset about it. Maybe you don't care that it poured down rain all night long on and now your floor is a little bubbly, but to him those are weak spots where evil creatures and/or people could come in and kidnap the family that he is supposed to be protecting. His very manhood is at stake here. Just go with it.

9. Husbands remember that without a home a wife and mother is sort of lost. She is doing her best to care for and nurture her family but it is awkward and weird and disconcerting. Sort of like a doctor with no clinic or medical tools at all. Things get done, but they are not pretty. Give her lots of credit for what she can accomplish and keep working really hard to get a "liveable" house.

10. Trust in the Lord and remember why you are there. Spending lots of time with the people will help that. Do the best you can to make friends with people in the village even though you are super busy. It will keep you motivated when you ask yourself, "why are we doing this again?"

Ok, there you go. Do you still want to do this? I hope so, because it is really fun. Are you not getting "fun" from all those things??? Sorry. But I promise there is fun in all of the chaos. Some fun. Mostly you are just powering through so you can get to the really fun stuff later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Better day

Well, I had a much better day today. Nothing really changed other than my frame of mind. I put all my kids to bed last night, and my oldest soon got up complaining of a belly ache. Mattie, Mia, and JMG all had a stomach virus this past weekend, so I figured Lucy's turn had finally come. She was sleeping on the top bunk of a bunk bed, so I let her stay in my bed since I knew she would have no chance to make it to the bathroom from that "high altitude".  I could only imagine the splatter that would come from vomit flying that far. She apparently fell into a deep sleep and did not wake up even as she started to get sick, which resulted in my bed and my child completely covered in vomit. It took me 10 minutes in the shower to get it out of her hair. As I looked at this pitiful child of mine sick, shivering, and sobbing, I couldn't wait to get here cleaned up so I could wrap her in my arms and comfort her ailing body. In this classic moment of motherhood,  I felt the Lord telling me, "that is exactly what I want to do for you. I want to wrap you in my arms and comfort your ailing spirit."

You see, in the three shorts weeks that we have spent in the tribe, we've been through some major setbacks and disappointments with our house, two of our kids had malaria, the baby had a bad cold and ear infection, and then after all that everyone got a stomach virus. And of course the day before we were going to move into our house and start language study, Mia has this arm incident. We have had a rough three weeks.

So last night when all the puke was cleaned up, I rested in knowing the Lord sees and hears and comforts, and I finally felt some peace. It makes no sense, but that is the peace of God- it passes all understanding.

And in the midst of all this chaos, the time in the tribe with the people- part that really matters- has been truly amazing. We love the place and the people, and even though I know that this chaos may continue until the day we leave the tribe, I am certain that this place is where I want to be. The place I want to live and work. The place I want my daughters to call home.

Anyway, Mia's arm has been bothering her on off since we got here, but the doctor's have no idea what is wrong. We will be here until November 9th because the helicopter is not available to take us back into the tribe until then. Hopefully by that time the pain will either have stopped completely or we will have figured out what is causing it. And by the time we return hopefully my husband and our friend Layne (the guy from the team who stayed behind to get our solar electrical system set up) will have even more of my house completed. So even though this is bump in the road that I neither wanted nor expected, I know we will get through it and things will be better when it is over.

In the meantime, here are some pics of the progress at the time I left:

Outside of the house with tarp siding and solar panels on the roof.

Layne working on the electrical system. Don't worry he is 4 IQ points away from being a genius, so he can handle this!

My kitchen

My bathroom

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I am not even sure what to say right now.
I just made a $10,000 mistake.

Mia fell yesterday and we *thought* she broke her wrist. She was screaming and crying and wouldn't let us touch it. We got on the radio and asked the doctor what to do and he said we should fly out to the clinic the next day.

I was devastated. I knew my daughter would be fine, but we were supposed to move into our house that same day (we had previously been living with our coworkers until our house was livable), and I knew that leaving would cost us $10,000...$5,000 for the helicopter to come get us and $5,000 to go back in. Plus, I was making friends and starting to learn language. We were just getting to the really fun part.

The doctor also told us to put her arm in a sling and wrap it to her body. We did that and she screamed through the whole process. She also cried through the night whenever she would roll over onto her arm.

This morning she cried when we tried to fix the parts of the wrap that came undone, so at 7:30 am we left on the helicopter and came to the clinic.

But when I took off the wrap at the doctor's office, she acted like nothing was wrong. We took some x-rays and they showed that nothing was wrong as well. The doctor said it could have been a number of things, but at this point he really had no idea and that she was completely fine.

I was devastated again. It sounds ridiculous I know, to be devastated that my two year old's arm is NOT broken, but knowing that I just put our family $10,000 in debt for nothing is something to be devastated about.

We completely drained our accounts with house building and because of a huge mistake on the part of the company we ordered our supplies from- we had to buy some of them twice and that put us into a little bit of debt already.

But that was manageable debt. We knew that in a month or two we would be fine again. Now, I have no idea when we will be fine again.

And the biggest problem I have right now is that this was one of my major fears about coming to a helicopter only location. Can I really take care of my family in this place? This place where I have to choose between letting my child suffer or sinking my family financially. I know one day in the future we will have an airstrip, and with an airstrip this would have been a $600 mistake instead of $10,000. But that will be at least a year...maybe more. Can we survive until then?
 I also know that this experience is going to make it even harder to call for the helicopter in the future. What if there is a true emergency but we wait...

I wish I was in a better place right now. I wish I was that missionary who just bounces back and trusts the Lord, and writes beautiful words of encouragement for anyone who needs it. But right now I am just not there. I am the doubter. The questioner. The crushed.

Do you hear me God?
Do you see me?
Will you meet my needs even when I mess up. Big time?
I don't understand this, God.
I feel so stupid, and alone. 
Help me, please.

And I know He will. I know His Word brings healing and comfort and truth- every answer to those questions above, so I am going to cry, and read, and breathe. Because I know that with Him sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Please, Lord Jesus, bring the morning.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Eight Years

Eight years ago I read a book, which led me to a website which stabbed at my heart and opened up my spirit to hear the Lord saying, "this is what I want for you."

And once the Lord calls and you accept- you try really REALLY hard to make it happen. Like now. But that is not exactly how He works. Just ask Abraham and Sarah. I tried to manipulate my situation a few times to make His promise come true faster, just like Sarah, but He always reigned me in before things got too crazy and little Ishmaels entered the world. (just so you know this is a metaphor for my desire to do tribal church planting, and in no way have I ever considered my giving my slave girl to my husband to produce an heir... And in no way have I ever had a slave girl.) I have to admit, though, that I always thought that Sarah was completely crazy for what she did, but after these eight long years I can tell you that it is hard to wait for God's promises...because they are so good.

But that is what makes them so good. They are His to give, freely and with perfect timing. And anything we add to them makes them false. Just manipulations of our own hands which are nothing more than idols. Our own sad interpretations of what God is trying to give us. Stupid shiny golden calves. If we would just wait a little longer...

I can't imagine where I would be if I had given up on this promise. If I had decided that God was taking too long, so I should move on to something else. I am thankful everyday that He reminded me that He keeps His Word... so thankful that I could read story after story of His relationship with other people- people just like me with whom He never failed to fulfill a promise. And so thankful that He broke my heart over and over again for those people who did not have those stories- those testimonies those words to read to encourage them when God gives them a promise and at year six they are still waiting and wondering.

Thank you Jesus. Thank you for eight years of dreaming, and thinking, and planning, and praying, and training, and praying, and crying, and begging, and praying, and rejoicing. Thank you Jesus for loving me enough to allow me a small part in your Kingdom. Thank you that I get to start tomorrow.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What it takes to be a missionary

After this last week of preparing to move into the tribe I thought I would put together a little list of all the skills necessary to be a missionary. Here goes...

You have to be a good planner.

You have to be organized.

You have to have good math skills.

You have to be a good traveler.

You have to be a good packer.

You have to be a good language learner.

You have to be a teacher.

And a nurse.

You have to be wealthy.

You have to have physical strength.

And mental strength.

And control of your emotions.

You have to be a good cook.

And a great cleaner.

You have to be a plumber.

An electrician.

A carpenter.

A builder.

An accountant.

You have to be able to fly an airplane.

And a helicopter.

You have to be a people person.

You have to be a good example.

You have to have perseverance.

You have to be humble.

And self sacrificing.

You have to love Jesus.

Raise your hand if you know one person who completes this list? I can tell you that personally I could check off like 3 things up there and that is all. So how do we do it?

We don't.

The Lord does it all. And He does most of it through His body here on earth...the church. And I have never experienced that more than I have this week. Through our support team back home and our fellow missionaries here on the field of PNG, we have been able to accomplish the impossible.We had some very touch and go moments, and thinking back I still can't figure out how it all worked out.

But I do know this...we could not have done it without lots and LOTS of help! So I am sending a ferocious thanks to all the people who have worked hard to make sure our family gets to be a part of the Hewa ministry. We are blessed and humbled by your great gifts!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I had this friend that I went to school with who was a "one-upper". You know what I'm talking about. That person who always has to one-up you on every single thing you say...whether bad or good (see Penelope on SNL for a great example). It always seemed like this person wanted me to be simultaneously jealous and sorry for her. I always thought she was crazy.

But now, I am totally feeling the same way. Every time I share a post and I read comments (on facebook or here) I have similar responses. If someone writes, "oh, that sounds so great...so much fun...I would love to be doing that!" or anything positive, I want to write back "ARE YOU CRAZY! THIS IS THE HARDEST JOB IN THE WORLD AND NOTHING ABOUT IT IS FUN, AND EVERYDAY I WANT TO CRY!"

But then, if someone shows me pity, with comments such as, "Oh, so sorry...I can't believe you are doing this" then I want to write back, "NO, SERIOUSLY...DO NOT FEEL SORRY FOR ME! I HAVE THIS BEST JOB IN THE WORLD! IT IS SO EXCITING AND FUN, AND EVERYDAY I PRAISE THE LORD FOR IT."

So, basically...yes...I am crazy. I have turned into that girl. But don't be afraid to leave comments. I love comments, and really you can't lose with whatever angle you choose to go with.

I am not sure which response is truly accurate. I think it all depends on the day, but I honestly believe that this job entails a little of both. Like right now, I am super excited to FINALLY be getting into the tribe in six days, but the process of getting there is very hectic and stressful and I really do just want to cry at the end of everyday.

You see in order to move our stuff into the tribe we have a limited number of flights that can carry it all. And those flights are in a small plane that can only carry so much weight. And then in a helicopter that can only carry/sling so much weight.

Helicopter "slinging" wood for our coworker's house.

But before we can get all our stuff in, we have to get our actual house in. By that I mean all the materials to build our house. And for all you MTC and NTBI folks, your batteries alone will take up and entire flight and a half. That's right. JUST THE BATTERIES, not the solar panels, and wires, and plumbing, and plywood, and tin roofing, and nails, and screws, and stove, and washer, and fridge and freezer, and really do I need to go on any further? I mean I can, but this would get pretty monotonous after a while, right? Oh yeah, and I have to fly in food supplies for five months as well. Do you see why I want to cry every night these days?

Right now, we are trying to figure out what we are going to sacrifice and live without for five months. While that list is actually pretty long, I don't really want to do to you what I did in the previous paragraph, so I will just tell you that the big things we have chosen to leave here are our furniture (yeah, no furniture for five months will be fun) and our Christmas tree. I know that sounds dumb, but I am a little sad that we won't have a Christmas tree in our house this year. There is always the possibility of chopping down something in the jungle, but please remember that this is the rainforest and the trees are huge and full of scary and disgusting living creatures. Who knows, maybe I will just draw a tree on my wall with a sharpie. We can't paint right away anyway, so I might as well...plus I will not be the first one to do it, I can tell you that (cough cough, Courtney Shontere).

I know I will feel better once we just get in there, but then there is the realization that I will basically be living in a shell of a house for a year (at least). Our goal for the work team is to get the roof, floor and walls up, and to get our plumbing and electrical going. There probably won't be any inside walls (except for the bathroom) and no kitchen cabinets. Our entire house will be wrapped in tarp like this...

And honestly, if all that gets done I will be one happy, Mama. My dear, sweet, and wonderful 3N1 will be working on the house every Saturday to try to finish it, because during the week he will be trying to get in a minimum of 40 hours of language study so that we can learn language a.s.a.p. in order to disciple believers and go with them to reach their neighboring villages. Sigh.

So, do I still seem crazy? I mean, honestly there are things to envy. And there are things to pity. But overall, I still think this is the best job in the world and there is nothing else on this earth that I would rather be doing. Except for maybe being a Cirque du Soleil performer. Nope, nothing else.

Friday, September 28, 2012


You know when you get ready to move, how you rally all your closest friends and call in all favors and blackmail whoever you can think of to come help you get all your junk out of one house and move it to the next...then you buy everyone pizza and give them high fives and I.O.Us and they go home and you enjoy living in you knew home?

Yeah, well this is nothing like that.

We have to ask our fellow-missionary-friends to come out of their parts of the jungle or town, fly into our part of the jungle and not only help us move, but actually help us build the house first...then put all our junk into it.

This process takes days-almost two weeks, in fact.

And there is no Pizza Hut.

So how do you show your appreciation and keep nine men energized and motivated to help your family?

You cook. A LOT.

This is my main job during the house building phase. I cook 3 meals a day, and clean up those meals, and I try my best to get their clothes clean everyday, so their wives do not die from the toxic fumes that would radiate from their bags when they got home if I didn't.

It really doesn't seem like enough does it? Thankfully, these guys don't do it for us, but for the Lord and the passion to see His word spread through every corner of this planet. It is a relief to know that He offers the best rewards and nothing I can do can top that!

Anyway, so in order for things to run smoothly I am doing a lot of cooking in advance. I will use my co-workers stove for each meal and she only has that-a stove- as her oven has been broken for years because rats chewed on the wiring when they were on a break. Fun.

So. Even though it is against every fiber of my Southern being, I cannot make any casseroles and have to only do stove top stuff which has forced me to think creatively a little, but it's at least better than having to cook over an open fire (which is exactly what Susan did back in March when the guys moved their house to our current village- she is a hardcore tribal wife). 

 I cook and transfer the meals into a ziploc bag and freeze them flat, so they won't take up to much space in Susan's freezer. I will have to use hers until my fridge and freezer get set up and working. Thankfully, I have some sweet missionary ladies who are helping me cook, since these 4 ziploc bags represent 3 hours and only two... that's right...TWO meals out of 30.

Here is a picture of my fridge and freezer...(ok so it is only one, but they are both exactly the same, you just change the temperature to make it a fridge or a freezer)

Yes, my fridge will be a chest style which is kind of a pain, but it runs on 98 percent less energy than a stand-up, so it is great for my solar/battery situation.
*And I did crop myself out of this photo because it was a very long, hot and sweaty day and my makeup just melted right off my face and my hair was soaked with sweat, so I looked way too much like this guy to post it on the internet for the world to see*

So there you go. A tiny peek into my part of the house building process. I know you are disappointed that I am not running a chainsaw or digging a septic hole, but if you saw me in the kitchen, then you would know it is just as dangerous and exciting!

Please pray that the airstrip we need to land on gets opened and the weather is good for all our flights in with our stuff next week! That's right, in ONE WEEK I will be an official tribal wife! Woo-hoo!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Helping Chad

As many of you read, Chad lost all his gear when the boat sank, including his wallet, computer, cell phone, and clothes. Seriously, he even lost the shorts he was wearing because he used the draw string in them to tie up the float he made for everyone to hang on to!!

Many asked about how they can help replace the things that he lost and the two best ways are listed here:

You can send a check to:

New Tribes Mission
1000 E. First St
Sanford FL 32771

**Make sure to write CHAD EARL in the memo line and it will go directly to him**

Or you can click on this link and give to him online.

I really want you help Chad, and to share this with all your friends and family, but I will resist the urge to tell you that if you don't- you don't love Jesus, missionaries, and your mom...and that you will probably burn in hell or at least get diarrhea.

So, help out, if you want...or don't. But helping would be way cooler than not helping.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

He Shouldn't be Alive

No, I am not talking about my husband. I am talking about a friend, and fellow missionary who just had a very harrowing experience. Seriously this should be on TV one day.

 This is Chad. He is our friend and former neighbor. In this picture he is in Hewa (our tribe) helping to move our co-workers' house. (He is a man of many talents)

He is in the country serving as a missionary, doing what we call "People Group Assessment." Basically he goes into the jungle to check out places that are reported to have no Gospel witness. They hike into a village, stay in a tribal house, eat whatever the people give, and sleep wherever the people tell them to sleep. These guys are hard core. They seriously could hang with Bear Grylls on any of his adventures.

Chad with the green hat, and Tony, the head of the PGA department out on a survey. (Tony has many great qualifications for this difficult job, but my favorite one that people comment on is his iron stomach. He can eat anything that the people hand him without blinking an eye. That is a much needed talent for this type of work.)

Anyway, Chad recently went to the Islands region of PNG to assess some people groups, and find out if they need missionaries. As you can imagine with the name "Islands region" this requires a lot of travel by boat. I am not talking nice big yacht or speed boat. I am talking dingy...possibly something like this...

Ok, so he is on this small boat with at least 9 other people traveling from one island to the next when a big storm comes out of no where...fast. One big wave swept over the boat instantly sinking it. There was another boat traveling with them that circled when they went down, but did not grab any passengers fearing they would go down as well. When this second boat landed on the nearest island, they shared the fate of the the other boat, and the news eventually reached the missionaries on the island who then told our leadership...who then contacted Chad's family.

This is part of Chad's family...

The pretty blond is Holly, Chad's sister and they just happen to be our neighbors right now in Wewak, although, you may remember them from our time in Bush Orientation. They are the family that helped us learn what it would take to live in the jungle and plant a church there.

His mom and dad are also missionaries here in PNG. They work in Goroka at the mission headquarters.

He also has brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews back in the States who were rocked over the news.

So, at first, all this precious family knows is that Chad's boat sank. They have no idea where he is or what happened to him after that.

A few very long hours later, two men from the sunken boat drifted/swam ashore to the island where they were supposed to land. These men told the islanders and missionaries there that Chad stayed behind to help the other passengers who could not swim. He used his belt and shoelaces to tie some pieces of wood to the gas tank from the boat, so they could all stay together as they floated in the ocean. The family clung to this glimmer of hope that Chad was alive. They stayed up all night waiting and praying, knowing that they wouldn't know anything else until morning. But they weren't alone in this. Almost all the missionaries in PNG who knew about it were up all night praying as well. Along with many people in the States who received the news via the internet.

Meanwhile, the missionary on the island who received the news was this guy...

His name is Ryan. They were our neighbors for a while as well before they moved into this island tribe where Chad was headed. As soon as he heard that Chad and the others were floating in the ocean...and would be there all night, he spent all night going from village to village finding boats and people to leave at the first light of day to search for the drifters. At the break of dawn Ryan and the Patpatar people left the island, praying that they would not be too late. After two hours of searching, Ryan and the villagers found and rescued Chad and the other passengers.

They were all Alive.

They were all uninjured.

After FIFTEEN total hours drifting in open ocean. 

Chad lost all his gear. Including his clothes and computer, but God spared his life and the lives of the PNG citizens who were traveling with him.

Sometimes being a missionary is very difficult, and very scary. But nothing compares to seeing God's glory in the miracles He bestows on His people.

So today, we are praising a merciful God who rescued a prophet from the belly of a fish, a disciple from sinking in the waves that he once walked on, and a humble servant on a small boat in the Pacific Ocean, who was searching for lost the lost sheep that the Shepard wants for His own. 

Thank you Jesus for the life and service of Chad Earl. And thank you Jesus for allowing him to continue to serve you another day.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dog Bling

I recently read an article in People magazine that said dressing your dogs in bling collars and outfits is totally out. Collared shirts and preppy looks are now in.

I am so glad I saw that, and can let all the dogs of Papua New Guinea know. 

I mean how embarrassing would it be to show up for a pig hunt with a bling collar when all your friends are wearing preppy shirts? I mean, they would probably die of embarrassment and their owners would then die of starvation.

I know I speak for all tribal dogs everywhere, when I say, "thanks for caring about canine fashion, People Magazine". It is truly making a difference in the world.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Highlights Part 2

Some other stuff happened unrelated to building, but just as significant. Some people from outside villages came to visit. This guy came from a place called Yano. They have been asking for missionaries for 20 years. When we first visited Hewa, a man from this village came in to beg us to come to his village instead. He said his grandfather died asking for missionaries, his dad died asking for missionaries and he is old now and afraid that he will die asking for missionaries as well. Our plan is to disciple the believers in our village and then one day go with them to reach the people in Yano.

This guy, Mas, found out about that plan. He came to the village to help my husband, and told him it was because he knew that he was going to one day bring God's talk to his village. He was actually sick with two boils and in a lot of pain, but he worked very hard the whole two weeks.

Some other people came into the village as well. They are from the original village where our coworkers entered and presented the Gospel. There were some people there that listened and believed, but there were some who didn't. There were some people that were angry, controlling, and violent, and eventually made it unsafe for the missionaries to be in there, so they moved into another village. And some of those people came to visit. And started rumors that when John Michael left he was not coming back. This was totally untrue of course, and my husband cleared it up as soon as possible.

But the people of our village got angry. They told them to stop trying to cause trouble, and leave if that is all they were going to do. Mas (first picture) told them that all the Hewa people in all the different villages would have the gospel by now if they hadn't forced the missionaries out the first time.

The village leaders stood up and stood their ground, which is something they were always afraid to do before.

But you see Mas lost his wife and children because they were marked and killed as witches. He knows that there is hope. He has seen it in the believers in this village who are changing. Who are no longer in darkness. Who don't fear spirits or witches. Who can love each other enough to stand up to people who only want to cause fights and dissension. And he wants that for himself and his village as well. So much that he was sick when he came to help my husband and worked tirelessly until it was time for the guys to leave. He wants the Gospel. He wants Good News.

Its stories like these and experiences like this that make me think that if no one were to go to these people that even the rocks would cry out. The people are that ready.  I mean I know that would be easier. The rocks wouldn't have to build houses or learn different languages. But God doesn't love the rocks. He didn't breathe His breath of life into the them. He loves me, though, and He wants me and my family to experience real life. Abundant life. Life that is a small foggy glimpse into the real true life that is His Kingdom. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me enough, to allow me to be a part of Your Kingdom here on earth.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Highlights Part 1

3N1 came back with so many pictures and stories that I am having a hard time deciding which ones to use and tell you about here. So I will do this in two parts to make sure I get it all in. This one will be mostly pictures and their explanations. Here goes...

Remember the purpose of the trip was to cut down trees and then cut them into lumber for the building of our house. Here are the guys that went in to help us, doing just that.

This tree fell down the side of a mountain. The guys had a hard time trying to work with it on a slant. Notice the locals had no such trouble.

Just getting to the trees (that are usable for house building) everyday was quite a chore.

This is the Hewa line of swimwear. This has nothing to do with the slabbing, sorry, just thought it was cute.

My coworker, Susan, prepared meals for the village guys who helped. She also cooked for the missionaries who came in to help too. I owe her my life now.

This is where my house is going. It is only partially cleared. 3N1 cleared the rest...

And now it looks like this! Yay! The sticks mark out the area for the house. It looks tiny to us, but the people said it looked huge.

Seriously, these guys were amazing! I cannot thank them enough for all the hard work they did, so that we could have a place to call home in the jungle!

They got a little dirty in the process.

These guys are also key in EVERYTHING we do. One is the airplane pilot, and one is the helicopter pilot. It takes both to get us into the tribe. That is what working with one of the most remote people groups in the world is all about!

By the end of the trip, 3N1's three quarter thumb was healed enough for him to use the saws! Thank you Jesus!

This is our septic hole. It is a lot of work digging through all those rocks! A guy and his sons from a neighboring village came in to help John Michael. He told John Michael that he knew that he was eventually going to help bring God's talk to his village too, so he wanted to come help.

And finally this is the reason for all the time, money, and hard work put into this trip. The fellowship and teaching of the believers! Also know as church.

Monday, August 13, 2012

When My Husband is Gone

When my husband goes away on trips into the jungle, I look forward to the first couple of days of him being gone. That sounds bad, I know, but we have the kind of life and the kind of job that has us together ALL.THE.TIME. It is one of things I love most about missionary life. But every now and then I enjoy a little alone time (please notice the emphasis on little).

So, for the last three days I have enjoyed not wearing make-up, and not trying in vain to look attractive in a culture where only mumus are appropriate. I have enjoyed not spending 10 minutes of everyday trying to figure out how to make a ponytail look cute (please notice the emphasis on everyday)! I have enjoyed wearing granny panties, not shaving, and not holding my stomach in so I don't look pregnant under my mumu.

I have also enjoyed watching chick flicks at night after the kids go to bed without someone asking, "Why are the pants magic? Did they get some sort of chemical spilled on them? Or was the jean factory built on some sort of meteor crash site?" " Wait. If they are magic why do the girls have to mail them to each other? Why don't they fly or teleport or something? "So what are their powers, exactly?" "What? their only power is that they fit four different girls?" "I'm sure they fit lots of different girls, especially if they are sisters!" WHAT? The girls are not sisters?!" "I don't get this movie. I am going downstairs."

So yeah. For the last three days, I have been comfortable. But now I am getting to the point where I really miss my husband too much to care. I am now willing to shave, and put on make-up and wear ridiculously uncomfortable underwear. Come home, please. Come home!

But really, as much as I want him to come home, I know that what I really want deep down is for him to stay there and get as much work done as possible so that the girls and I can join him soon. And I am reminded in the note he left me in my Bible to find after he's left that it is also what God wants for our family...

"I really hate being away from you and the girls, but I am so excited to build our house so we can start what God has given us to do together."

Love sigh. Not much hotter than a man who loves Jesus. And the fact that he is building our house from scratch with his own two hands (minus one quarter of a thumb) isn't hurting him either.

Another love sigh. Build, baby, build. Then come home to me. I promise to fix my ponytail just for you!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Is it worth it?

My husband and the guys who volunteered to start cutting the wood we need to build our house made it into the tribe safely on Friday. There was a brief scare with a broken down plane two days before they were supposed to leave, but the plane was fixed and everything went smoothly from there.

However, things seem to be going not-so-smoothly in the bush. The guys are working really hard to just cut the trees down that will become our house, and have yet to start actually slabbing it into lumber. But that is the way things go when you build a house in one of the most remote places in the world. I mean, where is Home Depot when you need it?

Anyway, so I have been talking to him through email and through short wave radio. Yesterday, when I listened to see if he would come on, my new coworker, Susan, said that they have to fly a man out of our village into another village...

Because he had a tooth infection.

And would probably die.

Yeah. Die. She gave him a course of antibiotics before she left to go on break, but as soon as she was gone, he stopped taking them. He now has gangrene, and probably will not make it. It is very sad, frustrating, and heartbreaking.

What is even more frustrating and heartbreaking is that he had to be flown out because he is not from our village and if he died there someone would accuse one of the teen girls in our village of being a witch.

Then they would kill her.

On my first trip into Hewa Susan pointed out a skinny young girl in a red necklace and told me that one day, she would be marked as a witch because her mother was marked as a witch. Thankfully, they helped her mother escape to another village. I haven't been about to stop thinking, "will she be as lucky?"

All I could think about when I heard this story, was the skinny girl with the red necklace. And although, my heart goes out to this man who will die because of a tooth, my heart is relieved knowing that this precious girl is saved...for now.

One of the biggest challenges with this work is the Hewa people are so big and so spread out that reaching all of them with the truth of the Gospel will be very difficult. Most of the people who live in our village are believers and are done with witch killings, but all the villages surrounding are still ruled by darkness. For them, someone has to pay for every sickness... someone has to die for every death.

Is it ever going to change? Are we going to make any difference at all? Are these guys out in the middle of no where busting their rear ends for nothing? Even if we disciple these believers, so that they can reach the neighboring villages, what about the villages even further away that our people cannot even communicate with? They are still called "Hewa" but the dialects are so different, they might as well be foreign. And even if those villages get reached what about the neighboring tribes? Tribes that are known to be dangerous and violent, and missionaries are advised to not to go there. Will it ever end? Will these people ever not live in fear?

The truth is probably, no. They will always live in fear of death of the body. If not by murder, by disease, accident, hunger...who knows.

But the truth is also hopefully, yes. They will no longer have to live in fear of the second death. Death of the soul which is separation from God. They can have hope through the precious blood of a Savior who loves them. Hope that to be absent from the body is to be present with the One who created them and knows them by name.

But isn't this the truth for us all? For those who feel safe and secure in America, that is really only a false sense of security. If you really think about it, don't you fear things everyday just as these people do? Don't you fear drunk drivers, and cancer, and terrorists? Don't you fear just walking into a movie theater now?

The truth is I cannot create for them a perfect life. I cannot give them material wealth or earthly security. And I cannot even give them eternal security. That is up to God our Father.

But what I can give them is myself. I can offer love and friendship and sisterhood. I can be there to walk, eat, garden, talk, and parent alongside them. I can cry and laugh with them, and show them love that does not come from my wicked, sinful self, but love that comes from a Father who loved me first. And whose Spirit fills me with that very same love.

I can spend my life with this little girl and hope that one day she knows that no matter what her neighbors call her... her Father calls her His.  And no matter what they do to her body...her Father will treasure her soul forever.

No matter what the outcome, I can be obedient to Him who gave me the honor and privilege of being involved in His kingdom. And that is definitely worth it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Right now we are trying to organize the process of getting our house built. I know from many friends' experiences that house building in the US is very stressful.

Here it is stressful times a million. Times trying to disarm a ticking time bomb with 30 seconds before detonation.

First, my husband has to go in and "slab" lumber. That means that he flies in on a Cessna 206 airplane with some other guys that you owe your life to for leaving their homes, families, and a small degree of civilization to come help you for two weeks. Then, you land on an airstrip in the middle of nowhere to meet a helicopter to take you even further in the middle of nowhere. Then you cut down a tree. Then you cut that tree into nice pieces of lumber that will soon be your house.

Our friend Tony slabbing wood in the middle of the jungle.

Next you have to fly in a whole other group of guys who are willing to help you actually put those pieces of slabbed lumber together to form a house. And also, fly in all the other stuff you need for your house that you can't make out of stuff found in the jungle. Like a toilet...and a water tank so you can collect rain water or stream water in order to flush said toilet. 

It sounds complicated. But it sounds even more complicated when I tell you that NTMA has only 1 helicopter. And (right now, anyway) one helicopter pilot. So, you have to factor in the helicopter's schedule. It is currently busy for the entire month of September. And the helicopter pilot's schedule. He also flies missionaries around in the Cessna 206, and has a family. So all of these things have to come together to make this thing work. Oh, and then there is weather. There has to be good weather. And if there is too much bad weather then you miss your chance entirely and have to wait until October to even start chopping down trees that will eventually become your house.

We plan to bring another team in, in October when the other helicopter pilot comes back to PNG for one month. You see he is now in the US because his wife is going to have a baby. But they agreed that he could come back for October to help families move in to helicopter only locations (that's right- we are not the only ones crazy enough to do this...there are more! not many more...but some more). This family is pretty amazing! That is serious sacrifice, people! Anyway, this is a perfect opportunity to actually build and move into our house because this pilot can stay in the tribe with us. Meaning that we only pay the $3,000 positioning fee for the helicopter once! During that time he can shuttle our stuff from our container (like our freezer, stove, washer, batteries, etc.) into our house. So, if we do not get the wood slabbed this month, we will be set back a lot of time and a lot of money.

So needless to say... we are a little stressed right now. On Friday, 3N1 and a group of guys will fly into the village to start the slabbing process. Please pray for good weather and for safety (especially considering our track record as of late).

We would really like to live and minister among the Hewa people...soon. Really soon. Like yesterday. And we really would like to have a house. It would make life and ministry a lot easier on us.

You can help us with that by praying for all these pieces to fall into place. Because if it actually happens...it will be a miracle.

Speaking of miracles. Our friends, The Chens...remember them? All of Gail's tests came back with great news that the lump she found was not cancer! So they are returning to Biem island in a couple weeks to finish teaching the Biem people God's message of redemption for the first time ever in their language. That is a true miracle, that I know a lot of you were praying over. Isn't awesome to be a part of a miracle???

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

First World Problems

Right now, we live in a town and are still connected to the rest of the world through the internet. It is sort of strange in a way to learn of all the news and events going on in my home country and culture, but have to process them here in this new and very different culture. It gives me a weird perspective.

So my facebook wall this week is blown up by Chick-fil-a. Which I immediately resent because I would really love to eat some Chick-fil-a and I have to watch everyone else doing it. But I decided to read all about what the big deal is, and I get it. Chick-fil-a is attacked because the founder happens to be a Christian and happens to see marriage from a Biblical worldview. Chick-fil-a never mistreated a gay person or even got involved politically or financially in the gay marriage debate. Basically they were attacked for no reason. That is pretty crappy.

Then you have Christians saying that all this support of Chick-fil-a isn't really doing anything. It isn't helping any causes or bringing the Gospel to anyone. It is just perpetuating more division. I get that too. These same people are astonished at how many people are rallying behind Chick-fil-a when you can't get this many people to rally for bigger issues or real problems. To that I say, "Really? It surprises you that a lot of people will "stand up" for what they believe in when all they have to do is sacrifice an hour in their air conditioned cars in the drive through. Or stand in line at a fast food restaurant that serves delicious food with excellent service?"

It is easy to take action when that action causes very little sacrifice and in the end benefits you as well.

I am not judging or condemning. I am just processing. I would totally support Chick-fil-a. When I lived in America I patroned their establishment quite frequently because of their great food and excellent service. I was a mom by myself while my husband was working, carrying an infant in a car seat, holding the hand of my two year old, and constantly calling for my 4 year old to stay right beside me. And a nice employee of Chick-fil-a would always carry my food to my table, help me get my kids in their seats and then bring them balloons! And when I offered tips, they always said, "No, it was my pleasure."

Um, are you kidding me? It was your pleasure? It was not even my pleasure and they are my kids! That is customer service and that is one of the many reasons why everyone should go to Chick-fil-a. Even if you are a gay couple with adopted kids. Seriously, go to Chick-fil-a! They will carry your food to your table for you and give your kids balloons!

That is the American filter processing this event. The new filter I have- the one that sees people dig through my garbage and watches as kids die of curable diseases processes it a little differently. It makes me realize how unfair the world is. That some people are mad because of what some guy thinks, so they are going to stop spending their money to eat his chicken nuggets and go to the restaurant right next door to buy someone else's chicken nuggets.  And here a chicken nugget is what you get when a guy kills one chicken to feed an entire village. For a special occasion. You can't just eat valuable chickens for no reason.

It just opens my eyes to First World Problems.  These are "problems" to us wealthy westerners, but seem ridiculous to the outside world. I recently read another blog about first world problems and the writers had people write in their very own problems to contribute. My favorite was, "The Starbucks drive thru is too small for my Yukon XL to fit through so I have to walk into the store." Funny. 

The weird thing is that I STILL have first world problems while living in a third world country. It is just way more in my face and convicting, but as much as I have changed my lifestyle to become a missionary to some of the most remote people in the world, I still live a cushy nerf life compared to my neighbors. You can take the girl out of the developed world, but you cannot take the developed world out of the girl.

Anyway, I thought I would share some of my personal first world problems here juxtaposed to my neighbors problems, just so you would know for sure that I am not judging or preaching on this post...again, just processing.

My First World Problems:

I have to wash way too many dishes, and do not have a dishwasher. My neighbors only have one pot, one spoon, and possibly one plate. 

I have to cook everything from scratch. For me that means starting with opening a bag of flour. My neighbors have to plant, grow, harvest and then cook everything from scratch.

Food here is really expensive, so I cannot afford *some* luxuries. Food here is expensive, so my neighbors cannot afford any of it. At all. 

The rats ate holes in my packages sent from America. Now, I don't get to eat that tasty chocolate that my best friend sent me. Rats ate chunks out of my neighbors feet last night when they were sleeping. Their feet are so calloused from not having shoes that they didn't even wake up. 

When I move into the tribe, if my kid gets really sick, I have to pay $5,000 to fly her out to a doctor. If my neighbor's kid gets sick, she dies.

Like I said, I have no idea what to do with all this most of the time. I have no idea why America is so rich and most of the rest of the world so poor. I have no idea why even though I live a meager minimalist lifestyle compared to most of my American friends, I still look like Donald Trump to my Papua New Guinea friends.

I know my wealth gets in the way of my ministry sometimes, but everyone tells me its ok, and that we are sacrificing enough. That we need a certain standard of living to make it out here. To be effective in ministry. To keep us from "burning out" so we don't go home. But is it true? Or is it just an excuse?

I have no idea. And I probably never will.

But at least we are recognizing the ridiculousness of some of our "problems" so I guess that is a step in the right direction.

So, what are your First World Problems?

Monday, July 30, 2012

When Stuff Goes Bad

A lot of stuff "goes bad" very quickly around here. It is hot and humid with no air conditioning and most foods are not packed full of the preservatives that make chicken nuggets last through a nuclear apocalypse. Fruits rot. Crackers get stale. Ants invade my sugar. And my flour smells really bad.

Food costs a lot of money in this country, so we have to figure out ways to make things last or use them even if they have gone bad.

Rotten bananas make great banana bread.

Stale cereal and crackers can be baked in the oven to revive their crunch.

My kids can have science class by checking out all the little tunnels in my clear sugar container.

And I can make play dough out of that gross flour...

I found the recipe on the internet. It was really easy and actually looks and feels like play dough you would buy in the store. And as you can tell from the picture was very hard for little fingers to resist.

A lot of other things have "gone bad" for us lately as most of you know. My kids are staying sick. My husband keeps having accidents. We are finding out that our house building fund is only half of what it needs to be now because of the cost of the helicopter. And the fact that there is only one New Tribes helicopter here is making our plans to move into the tribe stretch out longer and longer. Yesterday, I really felt like we were never going to make it. We would be sitting out here in Wewak forever waiting on timing or money or healing or whatever else my depressing thoughts wanted to fill in the blank. It felt like nothing would ever work out in our favor.

And it is not just us. We found out that our friends the Chens are having to leave in the middle of teaching the Biem people God's Word in their language for the very first time because after harsh rounds of chemotherapy and radiation and even being cleared to come back, they just found another lump.

Sure everything goes bad. It has ever since Eve took a bite of that blasted fruit. It ruined everything. Made the world stink and rot. And caused our very existence to seem stale. But since that time, God has been working in the lives of His children to make things new and useful again. To make them beautiful and fun. And His works taste sweet to the soul.

So right now, we are waiting and watching as God makes something way more beneficial to us than play dough out of the the things that have gone bad in our lives. And we are praying for a miracle for our friends, so they can return for the end of the teaching... as the people they have come to know and love on Biem Island hear about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for the first time.

We are thankful that we have hope in Christ that allows us to persevere. And we are praising Him that He makes all things new!

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I (mostly) grew up in a Southern Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama. Every year as a teenager I participated in a youth  retreat called "Disciple Now". I think it was supposed to be a time of discipleship for teenagers, and for the most part it was. We spent all weekend in intense Bible study with a few fun events thrown in, but come Sunday morning everyone was hoping to report that someone (or every teen at the retreat) got saved. Forget that many of them were teens who were already following the Lord and doing a pretty good job at it. Forget that this time was a serious encouragement for them to keep growing in the Lord and living for Him. That is just not exciting. That is not worth the thousands of dollars the church budget put into this. If several kids did not believe in Jesus for the first time, then that is a wasted line item.

Don't get me wrong. I love people hearing and believing in Jesus for the first time. I think it is the greatest miracle that one could ever see in this world. It is why I am where I am, but there is so much more to it than that. There is the actual discipleship of the believer that will keep God's message moving forward.

I just finished reading a horrible email from my new co-workers. They sent us word that a 16 year old boy committed suicide a few days ago. He was a believer. He was one of those kids that showed "real promise". Everyone thought he would be a leader in the church in his generation. But he fell into some sin, and he didn't know how to deal with it. He needed discipleship. Many people would probably label the Hewa as "reached" because many have heard and accepted the truth of the Gospel message. "Why would they send new missionaries there?" Well, this is a perfect example of why new missionaries should join the Hewa work. Jonathan and Susan Kopf are  in there already discipling believers, and translating the Bible, and doing medical work, and teaching new Bible lessons, and helping the believers reach out to other villages, and on and on and on. Helping a new church reach maturity is too much work for one family.

When we took this position with the Hewa people group we knew a large part of what we would be doing would be discipleship and we were and still are very excited about it. But we were worried. In the back of our Baptist brains we thought we should down play that discipleship role a little and highlight the fact that we would eventually be going to other villages to bring the Gospel to people for the first time. We thought that this is what people and churches expect of us, and they may feel they are not getting their money's worth if some people do not get saved. But the believing is only the beginning.

I finished Jonathan's book about the same time I received the email, and I realized that people need to know that the presentation of the Gospel for the first time is amazing and exciting and miraculous, but to just leave it there would be a mistake. The Kopfs and the Copleys (a family who until recently worked with the Hewa and who are now leadership here in PNG) poured their literal blood, sweat, and tears into these people and to simply see them believe and not mature would be devastating. To see a small group of believers for the first time would be miraculous, but to have those believers die out in one generation because they were not mature enough to pass their faith on to each following generation would be tragic.

You see when people are not discipled they usually do one of two things:

1. Go back to their old ways. In this case it means practicing animism and sorcery. Trying to appease spirits and killing those suspected of being witches- usually young teenage girls.

2. They combine what they have learned with those previous practices resulting in syncretism. Most of the time this just means they try to live by a set of rules that they hope will please God and earn their way to heaven. (is this sounding familiar to anyone? Didn't Jesus condemn the Pharisees of this very thing) But this is actually the case in almost all areas of PNG. In most denominational churches people are following a set of man made rules like, "you must wear clean white shirts" or "you must poop in outhouses" (that is not made up or exaggerated- our co-workers heard a preacher say these very words in a church service)

Tribal man headed to church on a Sunday morning with his dress shirt, loin cloth, and "as gras"- a perfect example of syncretism.

Is this what God had in mind when He called us to PNG? Is this what we want to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into? Is this what our churches and supporters want? I believe I can answer all three of those with a resounding NO. And I am very thankful that God has placed mature believers on our team of financial supporters who would agree.

So I am praising Jesus that He forgives me for trying to "market" His work, and I am asking all of you to forgive me as well. We are here doing what Jesus tells us to do, and there is nothing that I can say or do to make that any better than it already is.  At some point we will be seed-planters, but first we will be seed-waterers (1 Cor. 3:6) and are thankful and humbled to be called to this position.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Oh How He Loves Us

I was talking with a sweet missionary friend last night about some difficult times she and her family have gone through over their missionary career. She told me at one particularly difficult point, she listened to David Crowder Band's "Oh How He Loves Us" over and over again to remind her that no matter what happened, she knew that God loved her, and her precious family.

I have now been singing that song in my head since our conversation last night and reflecting on how much He really does love us and all the ways He has shown us that in these last few months.

Honestly, if I went into every single detail this post would be crazy long, so I just thought I would put up some of the highlights...

As you know we sort of went through a long process in finding a tribe. A lot has to come together for that to happen and we were constantly getting discouraged as one place after another seemed to fall through.

But as we were in Hewa, I became overwhelmed at all the little details that I loved about the place. It made me so grateful that God knows us better than we know ourselves. That He knows what we need before we even ask. And that He gives us even more than we could ever ask for or imagine.

I have always wanted to learn how to garden and to raise chickens. Go ahead and laugh. I am the girl who participated in both theater and rodeo in high school, so I am used to it. But God loves even my weird desires, so I will be doing BOTH in Hewa.

The village is located at a higher elevation so that the weather is cooler, but not too high so that there is always cloud cover and not enough sun. It is a happy medium.

We will live right in the village with the people. Some people like to live a little away from the village to have some privacy and that is nice too, but when you have small children it is easier to spend time with the people and learn the language when you do not have to go a long way to get to them.

Our future airstrip will be right in our front yard giving our kids a safe place to play close to our house. In many villages the airstrip is a hike or a boat ride away (sometimes both)!

I wanted to go into an "existing work", meaning a place where missionaries already were, to have some help with the language. John Michael wanted to go into a new work, so he could build our house himself and "start from scratch" so to speak. In Hewa we both get what we wanted.

And the final thing that is just too amazing, and shows God's extravagant love for me is the fact that our new co-worker has written a book about his family's time in Hewa so far. I have mentioned before that I L-O-V-E reading missionary books and read anything and everything that might even closely relate to the work that we are doing. So, you can imagine my excitement to find out that Jonathan had written a book all about life and ministry among the Hewa people and that even though it wasn't published yet, they would let me read a copy. I have been reading it all week and it is really REALLY good. And it is so good to know that God loves me enough to give me this very rare and special gift.

I know we have reported a lot of craziness in our lives lately. We have definitely had some tests and trials to go through, but I also wanted to make sure that I reported all that God, in His infinite goodness and unfailing love, has given us. He has showered us with very intimate gifts of grace. Gifts that show us that He knows us better than anyone. That He knows us better than we know ourselves. Oh, How He Love Us...

 our future airstrip :)

 my future house :)