Monday, September 23, 2013

The Bright Side

In my last post I shared with you all how my husband had malaria and a big staph infection in his leg, and also how two of my kids had ringworm.

Since then my oldest child contracted a stomach virus, and as it turns out the other two kids (and myself now) actually have scabies! 

Yesterday I noticed that my middle child's rash now covered most of her body, so I immediately wrote the doctor and sent him some pictures. His best guess was scabies and advised us all to be treated and to wash all our bedding in hot water. 

There were two problems with that. I didn't have the proper medicine to treat it, and we don't have hot water hooked up to my washing machine. Plus without a dryer it will take us weeks to wash and dry everyone's bedding. I very quickly went into meltdown mode. And because misery loves company I informed my coworker of what the doctor told me since her kids have had the same types of rashes as well. She quickly melted down with me as her laundry situation is way more difficult than mine since she is working with a small twin tub that has a broken spinner. (She comes to my house to spin her laundry).

So, I got on the radio to see if this medicine could be airdropped to us tomorrow on a flight that was headed sort of close to where we are located. My sweet missionary friend made the calls to find out if it would be possible, but she did something even greater for me. She told me about when her kids had scabies, and how they just treated it with lice shampoo and didn't wash in hot water (because they had none) and it all went away pretty easily. She told me that scabies was way easier to treat than lice. I sighed in relief and sang the Hallelujah Corus in my head, and decided that we would just wait for our next flight to get the medicine since I do have lice treatment in here. 

It then hit me that the bright side of all this…the words that brought me comfort were, "Scabies is way easier to treat than lice." Ha ha! 

It also made me think about all the other problems we've experienced since coming back and the bright sides that have come along  with those. 

Here they are:

My husband gets malaria- I know I don't have to shave for three days.

My husband gets a bad leg infection- He has to sit and listen to me talk about everything I did that day and every thought and emotion I had while I am bandaging him up. 

My child gets a stomach virus in the middle of the night- We had a slumber party in the living room together and I finally got to spend one-on-one time with her that is really hard to find in the tribe. Sure she had vomit in her hair, but she got to hear me tell her that I love her and she is beautiful without having to hear me immediately repeat it to two other girls. 

My other children get ringworm/scabies- It gives me great conversation material with my Hewa mom friends. I mean it's not like I can sit down with them and talk about the Ferber Method, soccer practice, school, minivans vs. SUVs or whether or not we eat organic. I can't just plop down and say, "So did you hear about Miley Cyrus at the VMAs?" But they can totally relate to their kids having fungus and parasites.

So, see? Life in the tribe is not so bad after all. And I think my new motivational motto when things get tough will be, "At least it isn't lice!"

**now taking suggestions for what my life motto should be if it actually IS lice**

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Back In

Well, we are officially back in the tribe. It has been sad and hard, but we are thankful that we missed all the armed and angry family members from other villages, the wailing, and having to sit around our friend's body for days until it started to smell and we couldn't be around it anymore. 

We are trying to get back into a "normal" routine.  Yesterday my husband came down with malaria and has a huge infected scrape on his leg. Two of my daughters also have what I think is ringworm, and nothing seems to be helping it. So I am playing nurse as well as mom, teacher, cook, maid, and language learner. As crazy as it sounds, this is pretty normal for us and in all honesty it is usually better for me mentally to be busy when we are in the tribe. 

On top of all that we found out that the airstrip closest to ours was recently closed because of violence in the area. That place is full of violent aggressive people, so where do you think they will come when they need an airstrip? Here of course! We are now scurrying to try to figure out if we can somehow get that strip back open and what we can do to keep unwanted visitors out of our village. 

Right now I am just praying that the Lord will surround this place with angels and not let anyone in who intends to do harm to our people or who will try to take over and control this airstrip and village! 

If that airstrip doesn't get re-opened then our time here will be cut short for sure. And with all my heart I want to see this work completed! I want my Hewa friends who love God and treasure His Word to have as much of it as they possibly can, and for that we need time. 

My co-worker, Abby, told me how she was trying to encourage some of the women who are believers after the death of Atipz. She said, "I wanted so desperately to share some verses from Isaiah that the Lord was using to comfort my heart when I realized that they don't even have those verses in their Bible yet!"

It is heartbreaking and motivating. We are here. Ready. Willing.

  Lord help us! Give us time! Fight for us and for your Hewa children! 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Going Home

Well, we are going home to Hewa tomorrow, and while I can't say that this is the break we had hoped/planned for, the Lord has used this time to connect us with some sweet  precious friends and fellow missionaries who spent countless hours just listening and ministering to us.

Tomorrow will be difficult for sure, so we covet your prayers as we face such a bittersweet homecoming.

Answers to some FAQs:

1.As most of you know I can post on this blog from the bush via short wave radio. I will try to update as much as I can, though sometimes it doesn't always come out like it is supposed to. When I email it through the radio I have no way to see your comments, but I promise when I come out to town I love reading every single one. If you would like to comment to me directly you can email me at, but because the radio can only transmit a limited amount of data the emails have to be less than 100k. This just means that you can send mostly text. Small file sized pictures are ok too.

2. I am asked a lot for permission to share or link blog posts, and the answer to that is always YES! If I put it on the internet then you can spread it around. If you want to use anything from this blog (pics, stories, etc.) for your youth groups, Sunday School classes or just your friends then go right ahead. We want as many people as possible to know about the Hewa people, their church, and their desire to spread the Gospel all over the Central Mountain Range of Papua New Guinea.

3. I do not have internet. I have set up a link that automatically posts this blog to facebook anytime I update it, but sadly, I cannot view facebook until we come into a town with internet.

4. Finally, we are planning on coming back to America in May of 2014 for a nine month furlough. We will be spending the month of July with my family in North Carolina, and the rest of the time in Mississippi, Alabama, or wherever else in the US we are asked to speak. If you would like us to come visit your church, youth group, small group, Sunday School class, bowling team, fight club, your mom's house-wherever- you can also contact us at the email above. 

Koyo clc,
(That's it)

Monday, September 9, 2013

You should read this

I am linking this post to my blog because truer words were never spoken in the missionary world. Even though tribal missions can be considered "sexy" because we have some pretty cool pics with people who have leaves on their butts and bones through their noses, our day in and day out can get pretty boring.

Do you really want to know all the details of learning a language on morpheme level? No. Do you want me to write about the countless hours that my coworker spends at a desk translating the Bible. No. And I don't really want to write about that either, so I understand. But it is the truth. It is the day to day.

Sure it sounds exciting and heroic to read about rescuing "witches" (aka innocent women and children accused of "eating someone's spirit" because they decided to hang themselves or died because they got bit by a flea that a rat brought into their home), but that halts most of the work we came here to do, and it TOTALLY stresses us out!

And I write about it because it is true and real, but I also know that so many times people wonder why this work we do takes so long and what are we doing when we aren't saving witches and doing "evangelism". The answers for that are not very interesting. Discipleship just takes a really long time when the people you are discipling have 1. Never heard of God AND 2. Don't have a Bible to read and study and grow from. And things you never dreamed you would have to guide and teach through pop up out of nowhere like, "Let's just kill ourselves and go to heaven now." But we have to stop and regroup and try to correct teaching with what little scripture the people have, because we are not running some sort of suicide cult here!

But this post also makes me think of all the support missionaries here in PNG. The pilots, the guys who buy my groceries, the doctors, nurses, teachers, accountants, dorm parents, and the family that runs the guest house who have been Jesus to me and my kids over the last very difficult year who may not have the most interesting newsletters, but whose feet I would kiss and wash (or maybe wash and then kiss) because of the blessing they are to me, all the other missionaries in the tribes, and the tribal people themselves.

Anyway read this post from Jamie the Very Worst Missionary. She says it way better than I ever could.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


There is a lot of talk in Christian/Mission circles about "compassion" ministries and whether or not they are effective. Some argue that missionaries should just get in there teach the Bible and get out. There are a lot of instances in ministries where helping people with their physical needs really hurt the people in the long run because when the missionaries or ministries left, the people when back to the way things were before and completely resented the fact that they were no longer living at the same standard.

Others argue that when you meet physical needs the people just say what you want to hear to get those needs met and are not really believing or understanding the truths of the Bible. These are typically called "Rice Christians".

Complicated. There is really no other word for it. I see both arguments as valid, but I also live with a people group who need help that I can provide. So how do I ignore a physical need from my friend and neighbor? I can't.

NTM missionaries struggle with this as well. The focus of our ministry is to do literacy, Bible teaching, and translation all in the heart language of the people. That takes time. A LOT of time. Medical and other works take a lot of time too, and could slow down the work of the translation.  Here in PNG missionaries work with a program called the "Village Health Volunteer" where villagers can get medical training and supplies to take care of the basic medical needs in their tribe. It is a win/win for us because it frees up missionaries and is something that the people can continue when we finish our works and phase out.

Our tribe's medical situation is a little more complicated than most, though because we are so remote. Many people from all over Hewa territory refer to our village as the "Hospital". That is completely scary for us, but the cold hard truth is that we are the best medical care that they have access to. So, my sweet co-worker, Susan, ends up doing A LOT of medical work. She is trained as a nurse and does all the training of our village medical workers. Those workers are very competent and caring, but they are not always in the tribe, or there may be "epidemics" at times where our village is full of very sick visitors each needing lots of attention from a medical worker. This spreads all the workers thin and keeps Susan very involved simply because of the high demand.

Susan teaching some medical workers

I am always in awe of what she accomplishes in the middle of the jungle with very limited supplies. I have had the privilege to watch her save lives, and I could tell you countless stories that would put you in awe of her work.

But this is my favorite...

A little family with a very sick newborn baby showed up in our village several months ago. Susan looked at this tiny baby boy who was almost lifeless and felt his rock hard belly full of infection from an umbilical cord being cut with a dirty razor blade (or some other sharp object). She fully prepared herself (and me) for the likelihood that his baby would not make it. But that didn't stop her from trekking her way over logs and up muddy paths to the house where the family was staying to give the baby medicine four times a day. The baby even got a huge umbilical hernia because his tiny stomach could not hold all the infection it contained.

The baby was so weak he didn't eat for days, and the mother was starting to loose her milk supply, so Susan took a very ancient and difficult breast pump into the house to extract milk from the mother and feed the baby through a syringe.

This was above and beyond what any medical worker would or even could do. And it was a special testimony to this family who lived in a neighboring village and had not heard the Gospel yet. Traditionally, no one would ever work this hard to save an infant younger than three months old because babies are believed to not have "spirits" or souls at until that time. In their own village, it really just wasn't worth it to anyone else to help this baby. But it was worth it to these new parents and it was worth it to Susan. Her tireless care made such an impact on this family that they decided to move to our village to "hear God's talk" and they even went back to their village to get more family members who needed to hear as well.

The baby is free of infection and the hernia has even gone down some

It was a huge testimony to how meeting a physical need can truly have a great impact for the Gospel, and how even though there needs to be a balance, compassion works cannot be completely ignored in ministry.

Our God is a God of compassion. Just do a keyword such on it and see how many pages you get to scroll through. How can we not show compassion to people when we are supposed to teach them who He is and how to be like Him?

Matthew 14:14 says, "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick."
Jesus had compassion on them and healed their sick. He didn't just preach and teach. He didn't just challenge Pharisees and tell parables. He had compassion on their physical needs as well as their spiritual. And I have heard people argue that all that healing was just to prove His authority, so people could believe in what He was teaching, but if that were the case, then I think that is exactly what this verse would say. But it doesn't. It says He had compassion. The Greek word here means "to be moved in one's inward parts". It wasn't just the job He was sent to do. He really felt for these people and their physical needs. Did He know how short and brief this life on earth is? Did He know that the best thing for all of us is to focus on heaven and not our daily struggles and earthly suffering. YES! Of course! He is God after all. But he still cared for their life here on this earth and the suffering they endured no matter how brief. Yes, His end goal was the care and restoration of their souls, but He truly loved people as they were right then. Flesh and blood. Physical beings.

So, if Jesus himself cared about the physical. Then I have to also. And I know there has to be a balance, but I have a great example to follow in His life and ministry to figure out how to minister to the physical as well as the spiritual. 

And I am blessed with a coworker who figured this out years ago, and has been filled with compassion for the Hewa people ever since. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Posts I Planned

I said in a previous post that I have been saving some to write when I could load pictures. The pictures tell stories in a way that I just can't. So I am ready now to post these so you can get a glimpse of what has gone on the last six months.

Probably the biggest thing as you all know has been our airstrip project. It was a massive undertaking by the Hewa people and accomplished with mostly hard work and hand tools. The tractor work came in the last 4 months to level the ground, but everything else was done without heavy machinery.

Here's a closer look:

JM getting our house site ready last August. The airstrip was still full of trees (although many have already been taken down)

All the trees are down and need to be cleared and burned

A big HUGE mess

Burning and clearing

A lot of hard work

Again, no heavy machines only what the jungle provides

The finished product. Notice the helicopter bringing the pilot in to check and approve the strip

The shot from the air as we flew off the strip for the first time.
We are so thankful to the Lord for this huge blessing. And we are so thankful again to Friends In Action, Samaritan's Purse, and all the individuals who contributed financially to this project. This strip with provide all of us, Hewans and missionaries, with supplies and access to better medical care.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Little Blessings

With all the tragic and stressful events coming out of Hewa right now, it was a huge blessing to talk to my coworker and find out some good news. There was a wedding yesterday between two young believers that we dearly love.

Marriage is complicated in the tribe. Most of the time a girl is sold to a man for some money and pigs. Plenty of times the girl is not happy about the situation, but there is really nothing she can do about it. And in our village we have a lot of young believers who want to marry other believers but that is virtually impossible since most of them are related somehow. Most of the men who are really committed to the Lord just choose to remain single.

It is the girls we worry about most, though, because they usually have little choice in the matter. They can be given to men in other villages and then quickly marked as witches because they are outsiders and easy targets. Needless to say, we want our girls to stay in our village where they can hear and grow in the Word of God and be protected.

One very precious girl named Joli is one of the lucky ones. She was just married to our friend Fawa who is a believer and who will remain living in our village.

Joli is a sweet, quiet girl who has been through a lot of tragedy over the last few years. She lost her mother, her brother, her step-father and was left to care for her severely handicapped sister who then died earlier this year. But through it all Joli continues to listen and grow in the Word. She is a precious girl who loves to help all of us missionary ladies and we are thrilled that she will get to stay in our village and raise her family in the Lord.

This is a sweet and precious blessing to me, especially right now in very difficult days, and I am so thankful to Jesus for allowing us something so praise worthy to think on right now.

Joli helping me dig out "paikz" or cassava root

She is laughing because I am carrying so little :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Over the last two days the drama in Hewa has only increased. As we feared, this death has brought some ladies and children in danger of being killed as witches. These ladies have been marked for some time but as disease and death increase their chances for survival decrease. So, what could I possibly be thankful for during these dark times?

I am thankful for my co-workers. The Dunn family is back in Hewa dealing with the fallout from all of this when we just couldn't handle it emotionally and physically. They are teaching and discipling after the suicide and are now leading the rescue attempt for these families.

The Kopf family has served the Hewa for 12 years and in three different locations. They have seen tragedy upon tragedy and have dug deep into the minds and hearts of the Hewa people to know how they think and what exactly needs to happen to help these ladies who are marked. They are currently on furlough in America with a very busy traveling and speaking schedule but are still taking the time to email and guide us in what needs to be said and done in these situations.

In these times when I feel so alone, confused, helpless, and inadequate I am so thankful that God blessed us with two families with different gifts and abilities to share this burden. And above all I am so thankful for each of their hearts for the Lord and for the Hewa people.




Sunday, September 1, 2013


Break. We had plans for a break. Eat fun foods. Sleep in. Connect with friends on facebook. Help my mom with her grandkid fix by uploading lots of pictures. I even had some great posts planned for this blog that I have been waiting to write because the pictures tell the best part of the stories. But I can't even open iPhoto because there are so many pictures and videos of our friend, Atipz (pronounced AH-di-paw) and I just can't handle looking at them. I tried today and I got one picture uploaded before I saw a picture of him digging the grave for the boy who committed suicide last month.

It was all I could do to not throw the computer against the wall.

And I can't really eat. How do you eat when images of your friend's body being carried out of the jungle wrapped in vines and tied to a pole, just like a pig being brought from a hunt are running through your mind? Those images permeate every bite and sour my stomach.

And I can't sleep. I can stop thinking about him chasing my kids to make them laugh. Or his singing as he passed by our house every night on the way to his. Or about who is going to live in the brand new house that he built right behind mine, and how am I going to look at it out my back window everyday without falling apart.

I have already had to look out that same stupid window for a month and see the patch of jungle where another boy tied himself to a tree with a dog chain. That is one of the blessings about being in a different place. My eyes can look wherever they want without bringing painful memories into my mind.

I am just so angry. And I feel so helpless. I feel like Satan is robbing us. He is stealing the future of our church by tricking these bright young men to just give up. And to be honest, I am mad at Atipz. We had plans. He was going to teach my husband language and help us spread the Gospel to the hundreds of Hewa men and women who haven't heard it yet. We left our lives and our families and we battle homesickness, fatigue, and culture stress every day to be there to do this work, and it so hard to find good helpers who understand what you need in a language helper and he just quit and left us to fend for ourselves.

But the messed up part of it is that I see every minute how ridiculously hard their lives are. How the curse of Adam weighs much heavier on their backs than it does on ours. I know in their heads they are wondering, "Since heaven is so great, why not just go now?" I know that it is our job as missionaries to teach them to act selflessly, and to LIVE their lives for the Lord even through suffering and hardship so that they can bring others to Him. But I feel like such a hypocrite. Sure that is easy for me to say. How do I tell them this? Where is my credibility? Would you listen to Donald Trump telling you to suffer and persevere?

How do I do any of this? I am the least capable person for this job. I am overwhelmed and feeling completely inadequate. And I could name twenty people right now who are better equipped for something like this, but for some reason I am the one God has placed there.

And I am scared. I think of Seke, Alison, Luben, and Laimon- all boys around this same age and I am terrified that they might consider this as well. Tribal life is so community based and once one person starts doing something everybody else does it too. And what if some of the young girls start to follow this path?

My flesh is telling me to wall up my heart. Stop thinking. Stop feeling. Just go in and get the job done and get out. But "the job" is not just a checklist of taught lessons and translated verses. It is to make disciples by following the example that Jesus set. And loved those people. He felt their pain. He wept with them in their sorrow. And in the end those people quit Jesus. They left Him to fend for Himself. But he didn't have to. His Father the God of the universe was with Him and accomplished His purpose of defeating sin and death.

 I know that in reality we are not fending for ourselves either. That the God of the universe is going to accomplish His purpose with the Hewa people no matter what. We are not left alone. He is with us and He will see us through because He is always victorious. In life and in death.

So today, I cling to this truth from His Word:
" So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." 1 Corinthians 15:58