Friday, August 30, 2013

Today's Events

Our airstrip was opened today. We had good weather and the pilot approved everything. My family and I even got to be the first to leave the village on an airplane.

And, yes, we are truly grateful to God for this event. However, right as the inspection began taking place a big commotion started among the villagers. We soon found out that another young guy committed suicide the night before.

As tragic as the last suicide was, this one was even worse. He was someone we loved dearly and were very close to. He was my husband's best friend in the village and his language helper. He was also a very bright and happy young guy who was always smiling and making people laugh.

John Michael spent a lot of time with him yesterday at his house and even asking him if he would look after our garden when we left because the young man had just recently built his own house right behind our garden. Everything seemed normal and he was acting like his usual happy self. He was even excited that the airplane was coming the next day.

We are completely devastated and totally confused. None of this makes any sense to us. Please pray for us now as we are emotionally and physically exhausted and completely heartbroken, but are desperate to understand why this keeps happening. And please pray for our coworkers, the Dunns as they are still in the village dealing with the death.

I wish I could write more about how I am feeling and what this all means, but my head is in a fog and I don't even know where to start. I feel like I am using all my energy treading to keep my head above the waters of grief that are trying to consume me.

I will leave with this one thing though...I frequently like to share advice and experiences to missionaries preparing for the field, and right now I feel like this is the best thing I could ever tell you. Be 100% percent confident that the Lord is good and is on your side before you ever go anywhere. Because I am just going to be completely honest here- sometimes it is going to feel like He is not. At these times you can do nothing but cling to the Rock of Jesus Christ and the hope that is written in His Word. 
" The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed." Psalm 34:18

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Tomorrow is the day people. Everything worked out for SIL to fly in with their chopper, so airstrip check can go on as scheduled. And, so my family will not have to wipe with leaves. Please continue to pray for good weather. We need no rain at all from now until after the plane leaves our strip, and we are praying that God in His mercy will grant that request.

Our family will also be flying out tomorrow to take a two week break at one of NTM's mission bases. We have been in the bush for about six months now, and are in need of some R&R and some internet. So if all goes well tomorrow we will be the first people to fly out of our location on a plane. It is exciting and a little scary all at the same time. Woo-hoo.

See you all on facebook tomorrow!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Keep Praying

Three Praises:

1. I just wanted to let everyone know that we have not had any rain for TWO DAYS AND TWO NIGHTS! It is such a blessing…A MIRACLE, and I know it is the Lord responding to all the prayers being lifted up on our behalf.

2. Also, the other mission organization, SIL, has agreed to help us with our airstrip inspection on the 30th. Please continue to pray for good weather from now until then. If it is rainy on Friday and the pilots cannot come in, it will be extremely difficult to schedule another inspection anytime soon as both of our organizations are trying to service the entire country of PNG with just two pilots each.

3. Finally, the Creation to Christ teaching seems to be going very well. We have been meeting twice a day everyday for about two hours, and everyone is very engaged. It is amazing to watch our church leaders teach with such passion. There is definitely a sense of excitement in the air which keeps everyone ready and eager to return for the next lesson. This is amazing for us to see and we are praying that it continues through the coming weeks ahead. Can you imagine going to church twice day every single day? That seems like a lot for you and I, but it is a lot for the Hewa as well. It keeps them from working in their gardens and visiting relatives in other villages. It is quite a commitment for them, so we are thrilled to see so many involved.

We have had an encouraging weekend after a really discouraging week, so I am incredibly thankful to all of you who have been praying for us. During difficult days it is easy to feel alone and forgotten out here in the middle of nowhere, but sending out prayer requests and then seeing those requests answered reminds us that above all the Lord is with us, and that His Body, the church, is supporting us...holding us up in prayer.

Friday, August 23, 2013

When It Rains It Pours

When it rains it pours, both literally and figuratively here in Hewa. If you've read any of my previous posts you know that we have been getting a lot of really hard rains which is interfering with our airstrip work. 

Yesterday was no different, until it was time to check our email in the afternoon. We received word from our aviation people that during their routine maintenance check they found a part in the helicopter that needed replacing. That part has to be ordered from America and then it will take a while to complete the necessary repairs. On top of that, we only have one pilot right now that can fly the airplane to come in and open our airstrip, and he is booked up until October 18th!

So, all that just means that right now we can not get a flight in here for supplies or for our airstrip to be checked until October 18th. We are trying to arrange a flight with another mission organization, but if that doesn't happen it will be a total of 15 weeks in the tribe without a supply flight. Can you imagine not going to the grocery store for 15 weeks? We did plan for about 9 weeks, but even so we are running low on a lot of things. 

Needless to say it was very distressing news. We are desperately trying to work something else out, but right now it does not look good. If the other organization's helicopter pilot cannot schedule a flight at the same time as our airplane pilot, then we will just have to try to schedule their helicopter to come in and bring us supplies which will be a very large and unexpected expense because we will then have to pay for the NTM helicopter to come back in with our airplane pilot to do the inspection. BIG SIGH

As frustrating as it all is. I am certainly thankful for our NTMA pilots and mechanics who do the regular inspection so they can find these problems on the ground before they become problems in the air. Most of you know that I have a slight *cough cough* aversion to flying, but I have full confidence and appreciation for all our pilots do! 

It was a huge freak out moment for us, but anyone who has read this blog for any period of time will know that we have had a lot of those, and somehow God always works it  out. So after the freak out, we have calmed down and are just waiting on God. We know He knows what's best for us. I am just praying that eating only sweet potatoes and wiping with leaves for six weeks is not what He thinks is best for us. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Over the last week we have watched our airstrip conditions go from bad to worse. Before, the rain was just preventing us from completing the last section of the strip, but the rest of it was still strong and would have easily allowed a plane to land here. 

Now, the whole strip is soaked through and the rain is washing it away in places. The crazy thing is that we have really rocky porous ground that does not normally hold water, but we have just had SO MUCH RAIN that it can't take it anymore. And every night we listen to other missionaries talk over the short wave radio about how dry it is in their areas and how little rain they have been getting. I think all the rain in PNG is being dumped right on our village. 

Our best hope now, is that when the chopper brings the pilot in to inspect the strip, he can tell us that he will open it, but won't be able to land a plane until things dry out significantly. We can't put off the chopper flight because it has now been 9 weeks since we had a flight and we are running out of food and supplies. I think I have just enough toilet paper to last us until the 30th. If the strip is not considered "open" on the 30th, then we will have to pay another $5,000 to fly the helicopter in again.

Needless to say we are discouraged. We have been working so long and so hard for this, and the longer it takes for the airstrip to be opened the longer it will be before we can move on to what we really came here for. We need to learn the Hewa language so we can minister to the people, and during that process we will periodically have consultants come in to check to see how we are progressing and give us advice to help us move forward. Until this airstrip is finished those consultants can't come in and we are coming up on a year in the tribe without a language check. 

On top of all this, the Creation to Christ teaching is going on. We are not sure exactly how it is going because the dynamics are very different with a core group of believers sitting in the audience answering all the questions. But there are definitely people hearing for the first time, so all we can do at this point is pray and hope they are understanding. 

My co-worker, Abby sat next to a young mother two nights ago and listened to the story of Adam and Eve. When the meeting ended she told Abby that it was the first time she ever heard that story. It was great reminder of why we are here, because we know there are many more Hewa men, women, and children out there just like her. 

As I sit here typing more rain is pouring on our tin roof just as it has done all night long, I know we are here for a purpose even though things might not be going as we planned. We desire with all our hearts to keep going even through these days where we feel like we are at best going nowhere…and maybe even going backward. So keep praying. Your prayers are felt and are truly helping to carry us through to the end. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tribal Time

Time is a funny thing in the tribe. Our Hewa friends are pretty relaxed about it, and that usually makes us a little more relaxed. Most of the time I don't even know what day it is. But we are a family from a Western culture where schedules are very important and people who don't show up on time are viewed as flaky, irresponsible, or unreliable.

This village is more community focused, though, where people are more important than time. They do things as a group and if someone doesn't show up on time, then we all just wait a little longer for everyone to make it. We meet as a church on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and the way we know it is "time" for church is by the blowing of two horns (and by horn, I mean a piece of PVC pipe with a plastic bottle that has been cut in half attached to the end).

The first horn is the alert to everyone that we will be having church soon. It gives people time to cook their sweet potatoes in their fire pits and feed their families. The second horn is supposed to mean we are starting, but most of the time after the second horn we wait at least 30 more minutes for everyone to show up. Then when everyone is present and accounted for, the service finally begins. Can you imagine this is a Western church? Not a chance.

Most of the time it doesn't really bother us because after all, this is what we are here for, and I mean what else do we have to do? As a mom of three little ones it can get frustrating if I just wasted all their nice quiet patience just sitting there doing nothing. I mean, I can only keep a two year old sitting quietly for so long. I figured out early on, though, since I can see the church meeting area from my house, I just watch until most of the village is there and then go up with my kids. Like I said before, the inconsistency usually doesn't really bother us, but we have an exciting event coming up and all the uncertainty is a little frustrating.

The church leaders here have been talking for some time about starting the Creation to Christ teaching in our village for those Hewans who have never heard the Gospel or who are unbelievers. They have gone back and forth about when to start this teaching until randomly last week they announced that it would start on Monday. We were very surprised but excited to hear that it was finally going to take place. Then over the weekend we heard that they were going to delay the teaching, but we didn't know why. The latest news we heard was that the pictures needed to illustrate the Bible stories were in another village, so someone must go get them. Right now, we have no idea if the teaching will start tomorrow or not, but either way it would be great to have as many people praying for this huge event as possible.

Several new families have moved into our village and many are unbelievers. Some because they have never had the opportunity to hear the teaching of the Gospel in their own language before, even though missionaries have ministered among the Hewa for many years. The reason for this is because our people are spread out all over the Central Mountain Range and live in many different hamlets, and most of those hamlets are of people who speak different dialects. So, please pray for those hearing the Gospel for the first time. Pray that the Lord will give them understanding of these deep truths and pray that the dialect differences would not hinder that understanding.

There are others here who have heard the Gospel before but rejected it the first time. We have one man in particular who once told the missionaries that he was working for Satan, but now he is practically begging to hear the Good News again. I truly believe that seeing the way the believers live in this village has softened his heart and drawn him to the Lord. The hard work of evangelism, discipleship, and translation by the missionaries before us has left a strong core body of believers among the Hewa and their lives are a huge testimony to the rest of the villages surrounding them.

We are excited to be witnesses to this event, even though our language skills are not strong enough to participate in the teaching. We know that each of the leaders who are teaching have the same Holy Spirit that we do, and are fully capable of this huge task of evangelism. It is thrilling just to come alongside them with prayers and encouragement.

So we ask that you come alongside them as in prayer as well. Even though you may be on the opposite side of the planet you can support these men by going to the Father on their behalf. Their names are Ken, Yanis, Maikol, Kefeson, Faimpat, and Fato (ps- you can find a video of Fato's story on

The teaching may start tomorrow or may start next week, but either way we would love for you to be a part of it through prayer, and I will try to update regularly about what is happening during the teaching, so that you can keep praying all the way through.

These are exciting days for this tribal wife and I feel honored and privileged to be even a small part of the Lord's story of redemption among the Hewa people.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Air Drop

What do you do when you live in the middle of the jungle, you are trying to build an airstrip, and you get a flat tire on your tractor just days before you complete the work?

Well, there are two options…

1. You pay $5,000 for a helicopter to come in and bring you a tire patch and tube.

2. You pay $250 for the airplane pilot to fly over and throw the tire patch and tube out the window.

We chose the second option. It is called an "air drop" and it is very exciting and fun. We had some sweet friends send little goodies for our kids as well and it was extra special for them to watch treats falling from the sky. It has been about seven weeks since we had a flight and it will be about three more before we get another. So, even though today's event was brief it was still entertaining in a place where nothing really ever changes.

We also got a good report from the pilot who said that the strip looked good and he sees no reason why he won't be able to open it on the 30th as long as we have good weather for him to get in here.

So, keep praying for our weather. We need sunny days to finish the work on the strip and for it to dry out and settle before the plane comes in on the 30th. Please be specifically praying for our weather on that day, so that the helicopter can bring the pilot in to inspect the strip and then if everything looks good, the pilot can bring the plane back in and land that day.

As fun as today was, I know that the rejoicing will be 100 times what we experienced today when we actually see a plane land here! There won't be any Champagne, but I bet there will be lots of pig meat and sweet potatoes!

Friday, August 9, 2013


*I just found out that sending the pics with the posts is not working as well as I thought, since the pics are going with no text. Anyway, here is the post that was supposed to go with the rainy airstrip picture. I originally wrote this on August 1st, and here we sit on August 9th with more rain pouring down on us, so the prayer request in this post is still valid.*

I know you are all probably sick of hearing about our airstrip, and to be honest, we are kinda sick of talking about it. It is such a huge project that is consuming our lives and ministry right now, but it is very necessary. 

And we are really REALLY close to completing it. In fact, we would be done already if it weren't for the massive amount of rain we have been getting over the last week. 

We do live in the rain forest, so we get a lot of rain, but most of the time it is at night, and we get really good sun during the day. This last week, however has been non-stop rain and clouds. The ground is muddy and sloppy and this makes the tractor work very difficult. (see picture)

We recently had a scare that made us realize the urgency of getting this airstrip done as soon as possible. Some of our Hewa friends spent a little over a week in their pig house that is about a 45 minute hike away. At one point we heard that the husband and father of the family, Kefeson, was very ill. Somebody even threw out the word, "pneumonia" which happens to be the number one cause of death in PNG even above malaria. So, when the family didn't return to the village on the day they previously told us they would, I became very concerned. 

I do have to admit here, that ever since the suicide, I have been pretty paranoid and on edge about everything that goes on in the village. Every shout or sound out of the ordinary makes me very nervous and fearful. Thankfully, my wonderful husband has had mercy on me and investigates every single incident, and always comes back with comforting news. So, of course, I sent my dear sweet 3N1 on the 45 minute hike to check on our friend. The entire time, though, I am worrying about how we are going to help this man. He is a good husband and father with three young kids (all the ages of my own kids) and is a church leader. The problem is that if he is deathly ill with pneumonia there is no way to get him to the nearest airstrip to get him to a hospital. That hike takes about 13 hours and crosses slippery logs over raging rivers. It is very rugged terrain that has a person hiking up and down thousands of feet of elevation. I cannot imagine anyone carrying him on a stretcher that far, but in my mind, that is what they were going to do. I felt helpless knowing that we were so close to finishing this airstrip, but still could not get our friend the medical care he needed. 

Thankfully, though my husband returned not only with good news, but with Kefeson, himself. It seems he had gotten a lot better or the reports of his sickness were exaggerated…we are not sure which. 

Either way, we were very happy, but also reminded of how much this airstrip is needed. The Lord has truly blessed the work and this project and we know that none of it would have happened with out His help. We have even seen other organizations come along side us to help complete this project like Friends in Action and Samaritan's Purse, and we are so SO close to the end! Please pray with us and for us that the Lord would send us some sunny days so we could complete this project by our August 30th deadline. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Another Tree Kangaroo

Someone brought us another tree kangaroo, but this one was for eating instead of petting. So, raise your hand if you have eaten an endangered species.…my hand is raised! Don't worry, animal lovers, it was gamey and musty, so I can't imagine that I will further contribute to it becoming extinct. I can't say the same for my Hewa friends, though. They don't get a lot of meat, so this was quite a treat for them. 

I am all about saving animals, but not when it means that my friends and their children go hungry. Let's just be honest here…vegetarianism is a luxury. When you watch people do very difficult physical labor every day just to feed their families a few basic root vegetables, you worry a lot less about animal conservation and celebrate every source of protein they can pull out of the jungle. 

Although, next time I will celebrate from the sidelines and let them enjoy this particular food on their own!  

Friday, August 2, 2013

More Rain More Bugs

It is still raining here in Hewa land which has us all wondering if we should be building an ark instead of an airstrip. 

One of the many negative aspects of all this rain are the bugs that come with the rain. They are called "rain bugs" (clever huh?) They come by the thousands and wiggle their way through our screen windows at night. Their sole purpose of existence seems to be annoying us into going to bed at 8 pm. They are attracted to the lights in our house, so when we turn them off we do not get as many, and they are all day by morning.

Anyway, here is a pic of the mess that I get to clean up the morning after they have their little party in my house. 

And now you can praise the Lord for the invention of glass windows, but don't forget to to also pray for some sun for us while you are at it! This airstrip will not get finished without it!