We can’t believe that we are facing the end of our time here. In some ways it has gone by so slowly, and in other ways it has FLOWN by. We have been flooded with thoughts this week reflecting on our time here. We have had the privilege of sharing this journey with you through this blog. I am thankful I don’t need to wrap up, in one concise paragraph, what we have learned here because, well, that would be impossible. But to put it simply, God has shown us more of himself. He has shown us his children, both the PNG natives as well as the missionaries working with them. He has shown us His heart for them, how He longs to restore the broken human relationship with all of his people. He has shown us his sense of humor as we have laughed so long and so hard with so many people, again, both missionaries and natives. He has shown us his comfort as we dealt with major adjustments and struggles throughout our time here. He has shown us His wisdom through the missionaries who have gone before us and have taught us over the course of these last three months. He has shown us His grace as we made many mistakes along the way. And He has shown us His love surpasses understanding. We have felt so strongly, the love of God, both in time spent with Him as well as through his children, both here in PNG and stateside as many of you have walked through this journey with us in prayer and support.
The best part about this is we know it’s not the end. We know, especially now after this trip, God has indeed called us to work with his lost children abroad. We have seen the need and want to respond to it.
I will come back to this at the end, but first let me tell you about all the excitement from this week!!
Some HIGHLIGHTS from this week:
– We had a workshop last weekend about interpersonal relationships. One of the elders in the Itutang church (the one Bill & Kelley planted) was here on base, and we were able to meet him and hear from him. It was unbelievable to hear him teach us on the importance of unity and godliness amongst ourselves when we go into a tribe. One activity for the workshop was to draw inside a circle what has been on our minds and hearts lately. We all drew things about family, and learning Tok Pisin. Klatus, the Itutang elder got up and shared his with us. He had drawn three sections and said (in Tok Pisin), “My heart is with the Itutang church and growing them, as well as our different outreaches to the Tangguat and other areas.” It was so simple, yet so profound. Just a number of years ago, this man was lost and confused and thought white people were just the ghosts of dead black men. Here he is, standing before us, with wisdom and godliness far beyond ours. Meeting him and hearing him share bits and pieces of his faith was a joy to say the least.
– Jacob got to go on a nighttime fishing trip with his buddy Ramos! I’ll let him tell you all about that:
Last week Ramos and I had set up a night time fishing trip for this Monday night. So around 7 o’clock I drove to Susu Banis where I was met by Ramos and a ton of little boys. When I arrived Ramos told me that he wanted me to story (talk) with the head honcho of their village: a guy named Stephen. So Ramos sat me down with Stephen and a few other men from the village. He then left me because he needed to round up a bunch more boys for our fishing excursion. So I was left there in the light of a tiny lamp storying with the leader of Susu Banis. Stephen began to tell me how much he desired for a New Tribes Missionary to go to their original village which is deep in the bush. He talked for quite a while about why they need a missionary. It was heart wrenching to hear their desire for a missionary, and to realize the fact that there just is not anyone amongst their village capable of teaching them God’s Word. There are many tribes in PNG who are just like this, waiting for missionaries to come and teach. Of course there are other ulterior motives but how sad is it that many tribes are waiting to receive a missionary while there just are not enough missionaries on the field to reach them all. After storying with Stephen, Ramos returned with many little boys and we headed off into the bush. Ramos had made a spear for me and so we started our trek to the ocean. As we went we used our flashlights to shine into the water and catch the red glint of the eyes of a fish or prawn. The kids were very skilled at spearing the fish but I missed every time. I am sad to say that I failed to spear a single fish on this venture. But it was a great time. We slogged through mud together, and waded through a mangrove, and fished for a long time. At around ten they had caught quite a few fish and several prawns. I then discovered the reason they were so excited for me to come fishing with them: they wanted me to taste all of these things. So they started a fire on the beach and began cooking everything. They would just throw the fish and the prawns directly into the coals and let them cook for a while. Then they would hand the animals to me. They told me to eat the prawns in one bite, so I did. They were actually delicious, but just a little crunchy (they have an exoskeleton, tons of tiny legs, and a bony barb on their head). They then had me try a fish that they called the longpela maus fish (it had a really long mouth). This fish was very bony but it too had a good taste. I ended up eating four prawns, one fish and a clam. I had a few digestive problems after but it was well worth it. For the next several days the people of Susu Banis were talking about this trip and they were so happy that I had shared in this event with them. I say this not to toot my own horn, but just to show how important it is just to spend time with these people and to build relationships. I did very little talking on this trip but just the fact that I tried their food brought me closer to them than I ever had been before.
– On Wednesday we got to go into town to see the Madang museum! Ok so the history buff in me was super excited about this J It was just one room, but there were so many cool artifacts from their history. Sadly, their known history is only as long as Europeans have been involved since they were an oral society and nothing was written down until the 1800s. But they still have some legends and stories dating farther back. It was helpful to understand the history of the people we are working with, especially the extreme difference between tribal life in grass skirts, and large, exploratory ships from Europe with lots of strange new things landing on the shores of Papua New Guinea.
– We have had some amazing times with our village friends this week. Explaining why we were leaving was so hard. They understood that we had to go back and get more training before we were ready to become full time missionaries, but we could see they were just as sad as us. They treated us so well this week making us food, and taking Jacob fishing, and making bilums for me as gifts. We are truly saddened to leave our friends and SO thankful for the memories and bonds formed with these awesome people.
– Jacob was asked to organize an afternoon of games for the E2 team (our group of new missionaries orienting to PNG) traditionally called “Bush Mangi Olympics”! He did an amazing job! We broke up into two teams and had 10 different events to compete in. Some included who can dump compost the fastest, a relay race around the base, building a fire and melting a frozen shirt, etc. Everyone had a blast!
– On Saturday our team took a trip to Top Island together as a little goodbye trip for us. It was such a special time to be together and relax on a gorgeous tropical island. I did have to face my new fear of boats by getting in one again, but it was good for me haha. We had come to this island the second week we were in PNG, and it was so funny being there on our last week. Sitting in the white sand, I took a moment to contemplate how much has changed since that second week. How much I’ve changed since that second week. We have learned so much and have seen God work in such incredible ways in our hearts, and both Jacob and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to come here. We had an amazing day with our friends who we now consider our E2 family.
Some LESSONS from this week:
– We feel like there has definitely been some unfortunate timing of events to try and hinder our last week adventures here. Jacob sprained his ankle pretty bad a week ago. It is totally fine and didn’t hinder him from much thank goodness. But it looks bad. All our friends were so concerned for him in the villages and we got a lot of interesting healing advice. Another unfortunate incident was that I got worms!! UGH! How gross is that?! It is NOT fun to have worms, but thankfully we figured out what it was and I was able to take meds to kill them. We both felt fine this week and thoroughly enjoyed our last days here!
– Sometimes when you are driving down the road, you not only have to compete with the usual maze of dogs and cars, but also a whole pack of people chanting and singing…
-When you make a meal and invite some of your PNG friends, expect that you will get about DOUBLE the amount of people you are expecting! On Friday, we cooked a big meal and invited all our language helpers and their families over for a big THANK YOU meal. It was a little stressful since Jacob’s friend Ramos has two wives, and both have kids, as well as my friends and another family we’ve worked with. So I did the calculations and I estimated about 17 people would be coming to lunch. In the back of my head I thought there could be more people coming, because when the word gets out that there is food, pleeeenty more people would try and squeeze their way in! Boy was I right- there were probably between 30 and 35 people who showed up! Thank goodness I cooked 15 cups of rice and 2lbs of pasta to go along with the chicken, sausages and veggies! There was not a single leftover! But here’s the thing, it was an AMAZING time! We enjoyed so much being able to thank our friends and spend the day with them on our home turf. We have spent so much time at their villages watching them take care of us and teach us, that it was so nice to reciprocate and show them we like to take care of them and teach them too. That is what friendship is. Reciprocal. We had a blast eating, playing volleyball, talking, and watching the kids have the time of their life trying to get mangoes out of the trees.
-Sometimes boats just aren’t made to accommodate a 6’4 man and 4 excited boys! While I was sitting talking with my friend Rosewita, Jacob was led by her little boys out to their fishing canoe. The little boys eagerly asked him to go out with them, which of course, Jacob did. Rosewitas girls come running over to us dying laughing and telling us that the boys all went out in the canoe. Of course I had to go see. It was so funny watching the little boys laugh and laugh as the floated around, the boat barely visible above the water line. Jacob said they got so much water in the boat haha!
-Sometimes, on tropical islands, you find the most incredible starfish!
– Saying goodbye is so hard. This morning we had to say bye to the little church we’ve been attending every Sunday for the past three months. (Trinity, this is the church you raised money for in VBS!) The pastor Jepheth gave us a super sweet farewell during his service. It was so hard to say our goodbyes after the service, not knowing for sure if we’d be back or what life will bring. But the best part about hard goodbyes is that you have made a relationship matter enough to make it a hard goodbye. I keep saying this over and over to myself as we keep saying goodbye to the people we have come to love here. Doesn’t make it any easier but I am so thankful for the relationships we have.
So here I am, sitting in the 90 degree heat of the night writing my final blog for our trip to PNG. I want to thank each and every one of you who have sent us notes, prayed for us, gave financially to us, and encouraged us in so many ways. We TRULY could not have done this without you. And we really REALLY want to share more with you in person! So here’s the deal:
We will be getting back to the US on Tuesday. Please, please email one of us if you would like to get together. We would like nothing more than to SHARE more about our time here, and we also want to hear how things have been on your side of the world as well! So don’t hesitate, just shoot us an email and we can work something out! My email is: Katie.firstname.lastname@example.org, Jacob’s is: email@example.com. We would love to chat!
Secondly, we are not done with missions! We are more committed than ever to pursue what God has for us through New Tribes. This means a couple years (stateside) of training at the New Tribes Missionary Training Center in Missouri. We hope to be heading there Fall of 2016. During those two years, we will be in full time training as full time missionaries preparing for the field. We cannot wait to see where the Lord leads us as we keep our hearts open to where in the world He would have us commit to full time.
And finally, we will be keeping up occasionally on this blog with information on where we are headed and how you can be a part of it! For more info, check out our website at: http://www.ourjunglelife.com
Thank you again for your incredible support and love throughout this journey. We can’t wait to get back and see many of you!