Sunday, October 28, 2012

Family life.

As I type this we are having a "tropical downpour". We are happy that we have been having a very generous Dry Season.

It has been very hot for many days but we have had rain in the late afternoons on some days. It is an amazing reminder of God's power to watch the rain sweep down, hearing thunder and watching the clouds illuminated with lightening.

Yesterday Evan and I went on a ride into the hills around Ukarumpa. It was a warm day and beautiful. I loved going through the villages. It sort of felt like we were in a parade or celebraties. All the kids in any given village could hear us coming and would come running to the road. They would shout and wave and try to get high fives as we passed.

It was a lovely ride, though I am a bit sore. There was only about 2 miles or something of paved road, the rest ranged from gravely dirt to mud pit. I am grateful to have a strong husband who can carry me on the back of his bike through the majority of the terrain. I only had to walk two or three places. Bridges that were just few planks for instance. :)

The boys in the meantime had a good time with the babysitter. Miss Alice. She is a national woman who has worked at SIL for many, many years. She works at the preschool during the week, but she is free on the weekends and seveal of my friends use her. She had the boys playing and laughing before we were even out of the driveway. Next weekend we will use her services again as Friday is my birthday, Saturday evening we are having a dessert party with some friends.

Friday we are hoping to go into Kainantu. One of the local towns. It will be the first time leaving the boys in the day care here. But the ladies are very experienced and I am confident the boys will have a good time. And when the day care ends at lunch our friend Mandy will pick them up. We will hopefully be back in time for naptime! It will be my first PMV ride (the public transport).

Many friends in the states are getting married, having babies and going through many life changes that it makes me a little sad to not be there. But then I look at my boys, and see how happy they are here (though Liam did get a bit sad after skyping with grandparents today - he wanted them to come here).  And I love what we are doing and the people. I love my house and my friends. It is right for us to be here, but we are planning on things we will do when we come home on furlough.

I am looking forward to and sort of dreading the holidays. My mom pointed out to me the other day it is first birthday I have been away from home since almost 10 years ago, when I was in University in New York.

It will be the first Thanksgiving apart since we went to the south when Evan and I went to visit friends the first year we were married. And we have NEVER been apart for Christmas. I plan to take lots of video.

But I am REALLY looking forward to the decorating, parties and fun that comes with the holidays with all our new friends and family. We will also be that much closer to POC training!

I have added lots of new pictures to the flickr photostream. Here is the Link. The ability to be outdoors has been tremendous for the boys. We recently aquired a sprinkler, though the only chance we have had to use it Liam was the only one awake thus there are just pictures of him. But they are great, if I do say so myself.

I guess I will end on that note. Please send your comments or questions. I am sorry to those who commented on the last posts. I didn't realize I wasn't getting notices for when people comment. I have remedied that.

Keep the e-mails and letters coming!

John 5 and beyond...

I found this unfinished blog post from a couple of months ago when I was looking for the unfinished portions of the postings I just made and thought I would post it too, with my additions to finish it with more recent events.


This week I am so grateful for two teenagers who are our weekly babysitters as without them I would have not received the profound word I did at our Bible Study. We were discussing John 5:1-15. For those who are not familiar here is the extract for those who are familiar you can skip to the next part (but you may want to read it anyway):

John 5:1-15

1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] [b] One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

There was so much that we discussed (I really like our Bible Study group.). But one of the biggest things that stood out to me was when our leader for that study asked the question: “What does Jesus’command ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ mean to you?” We talked about it in somewhat general terms first. General as in we all had thoughts about it pertaining to us as missionaries taking ourselves up and out of our lives in our countries of origin. Literally moving our stuff (our mats) and walking out into the wider world. We talked about how this man in doing what Jesus told him probably was stepping into a world that he knew little if anything about as he had spent almost 40 years (perhaps his whole life?) in one spot.

Then we got more specific. We each have big and little examples of this. Our leader said that he viewed it in his own life at times like God was saying to get over yourself and just do what you are suppose to do. We also thought it applied to our specific roles as missionaries. In what ways was Jesus’command directed at us?

For me it is being willing to let other things go to be there and engaged with my family. It also means engaging in the community with other ladies so I can be a support to them as they are to me.

And other things...but sometimes commands are personal. :)

*As I said this was written a couple of months ago. In our Bible Study we are currently in John 8. This week I am leading, the first time in a VERY long time that I have done that. The section I have selected in John 8:12-30. I have been spending some time reading over that passage and making notes and It has been a really great experience, even though it has been hard. It has also been a lesson in not comparing myself to others.
You see, the other members of our Bible Study have a lot more experience than I do, through age, more schooling, or just this seemingly natural ability to absorb the Word and lead conversation well. I am trusting God to speak through me, and it is not my abilities but Him working through me this Wednesday.
I don't know if any of this will be important to anyone out there in the 'verse. But I am putting it out there because it is an important part of our lives and I want to share it with everyone.

Blog Post Part Deux: "Hevi" Days

As I said in my last entry, we have experienced darkness here too. There have been battles with battles of sickness, fatigue, loneliness, homesickness, rebellion… many tools of Satan have been tried against us. And for a time some have worked, but God has always prevailed. And He will ALWAYS prevail.

We, well, I, a, currently experiencing another bout of homesickness (another reason I am grateful to have our Bible Study – I know they – as well as you out there – are praying for us). Also, there has been a series of events recently that weigh heavily on me. Which I think is one reason why I am up writing this.

First, two black dogs, owned by SIL members, have disappeared and now are most assuredly dead. Black dogs are especially feared by the nationals here as they are associated with magic. However, while under normal circumstances black dogs would be avoided at all costs, they are occasionally procured, sacrificed, and eaten as part of a spiritual ceremony when the village "spirit man" wishes to perform a spell that is particularly strong and/or bad.

It is believed this is what happened as it was later reported the dogs were seen being "greased" – which means being given food and being made friends with by nationals. And, these dogs would have to be taken off their chains and made to follow.

I think I am particularly disturbed by this as not only am I a dog lover, but I knew both of these dogs. One, I had walked him for nearly a month not long after we arrived here for the family who were caring for him. His name was Buka (boo-ka) and he was an incredibly sweet lab. The other was named Shadow and he was a sweet dog when he wanted to be. He was strong and very protective of his family.

Two days ago there wa a road accident on the highway between here and Goroka. I cannot give many details here, but the main thing is that because of this accident which had several fatalities SIL members are advised not to travel to Goroka.

Finally, a little girl aged six years, has passed away in Tairora village. This village is on the edge of Ukarumpa. The little girl was somehow related to our yard man, Mattias. Kinship ties are sometimes fuzzy. One thing I know for sure is that Mattias is greatly saddened by the girl's death. His own young daughter used to play with her he told me. He is a gentle man who loves children, including my boys and I could see today in his eyes the sorrow. It broke my heart.

As I lay tossing and turning not knowing why, I finally realized that not only am I affected so because I am a mother, but it reminded me of so many emotions I felt when my niece, Charlotte, passed away. All these deep wounds that never quite heal over. It makes me ache. I want to put my arms around the family of this girl I don't know the name of and cry with them. It also makes me want to see my family.

It is events like these that make me want to leave and yet, it is because of events like these that motivate me to stay. Without the light of God's Word, His love continuing to press in to this country, to these beloved people, their lives would be so many sorrows with no hope for light at the end of the tunnel.

Our neighbors, Mandy and Ben, are translators in the Sepik (a region down on the coast). About 10 years ago or so, there was a tsunami in the area the work. It devasted the coastline, sweeping out to sea forever about 50% of the villagers living there. Those who were left moved in-land. They had the Bible that had been translated into their heart language. When the tribes in-land saw this, they said - "We want this too." and it was the start of what Wycliffe calls a "cluster project". Related languages are brought together to work together and produce Bible translations faster.

Out of great tragedy can come great triumph. Like the pheonix bird.

I don't know what will come of these recent events. But I hope you will pray with me that God will be glorified in it. That comfort, peace and joy will break through.

So long, so late...

I have been trying to blog for the months we have been here. Every time I sit to write I am stymied. Overwhelmed by it all and find I can only write stilted sentences which I have no mind to publish to the web. So, finally, here we are; four months here and the 2nd blog entry.

*Side note: It has been about two weeks since I started writing this and the following blog. I am hoping to follow these two with at least one more current entry.

What finally prompted and/or enabled me? I don’t know. But I lay awake last night ---early this morning, I knew sleep would not come until I let something out. So, upstairs I went to jot down my thoughts on paper. No computer at the moment. To be typed when I could and sent when I could.

In brief here are some things that have happened, have profoundly affected me, or just propelled our family forward one way or another.

1. Moving to Papua New Guinea. The Boys flopped back and forth between being astoundingly adjusted being totally and legitimately overwhelmed. As I was. I responded by getting a bit over my head in work. Stepped back and tried to be the mom and wife I am called to be. It has been going much better since then.

2. Joining a Bible Study. It is the first Bible Study we have been in together since we were married (not including Sunday morning study). Both Evan and I have been blessed beyond measure by our friends within this Wednesday night group (and outside the group, but that’s another story) and I think I will be forever grateful to Michelle and Jim for inviting us to join. The group has been a rock in so many ways for us.

3. Our friends. In Bible Study and out we have enjoyed the benefits of a close-knit community. We have met and begun to cultivate friendships with so many interesting and Godly people. We are joyful to God for this. Our newest friendship is with our new neighbors since we moved into our very own home a few weeks ago. Having them be who they are is surely Providence. It has been such a wonderful thing to have playmates for the boys; including a caring "big brother" for Liam. To have a fellow mom who lets me come and relax in her house and chat is great too! Mandy has shown true hospitality to me and has been a great support. I hope I have been the same to her even in small way.

Generosity of spirit is evident in many of our friends. From borrowing appliances, to borrowed time on a computer, to watching our kids, we have been provided for. We love the friends we have here in Ukarumpa.

4. My job. I work at the High School Library two shifts a week. It has allowed me to keep loving me job at home. Plus, it has been fun! It is an interesting and uplifting experience working with kids who for the most part are polite, respectful, kind, and make me laugh. I also have enjoyed getting to know the other ladies I work with (albeit mostly through our notebook of communiques).

I am allowed creativity on the table displays, coming up with ways to engage the students with reading. And I have access to free books! Who could ask for anything more?

A recent 6th grade research project allowed me to get a glimpse into what teaching could be like here and it excited me! But for now I am content being aide to the students in the library.

5. Our new house. I already mentioned the blessing on one of our new neighbors. We are also so happy to have friends on the other side as well as just over the hill (a two minute walk across a playground from out house) to even more friends! The freedom from mesquitos here on the hill with delicious breezes has been a welcome relief. Though we have to stay more on top of Liam’s grass allergies and such as he spends most of the time out of doors and it is quite a walk anywhere; we are so happy to have a place of our own where the boys can feel secure and settled. Us too! We really feel God choose this house for us.

We had a wonderful Saturday recently where friends came and filled our home with joy, laughter, prayers and good food! Now the last step is finally getting all our crates delivered and unpacked. I am hoping the last of this will happen before Thanksgiving.

Of course living here has not been all sunshine and love. I have decided to create a second blog entry to continue this – As this one is already quite long.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Finally here!

Years in the making, we are finally in Papua New Guinea! We have been here a week and the family seems to be adjusting well. Evan’s already been to the auto shop several days this week (working on his own projects). I have been to the local market with a friend, the store a couple of times (talk about sticker shock! – more about that later), and we have visited many friends and been around the center looking at available houses. The boys sure enjoyed that, since they got to ride on the four-wheeler.

As perhaps all of you know, we spent 4 days in Fiji, enroute to PNG. It was a time to relax, decompress, and get ready for the next stage in our life. From the moment we landed we were so glad to have made that decision.

The Fijian people were so wonderful and friendly. They also helped us a lot with the children, as they were all very keen on kids. Liam and Julien soon became favorites of the hotel staff, and we were able to share with several people where we were going after Fiji and why.

We got to go snorkeling, I went horseback riding on the beach while the Evan and boys napped one day, and we spent a lot of time just walking the beach or playing the pool. Flights all went well and had no problems with security or customs. In fact we were sped through some lines and helped onto planes because we had children (once we were outside of the US). While our experience with state-side TSA was not horrible this time, they could definitely take a few pointers from Fijian and New Guinean customs and airport officials.

There was a little bit of a scary time in the MAF flight to Ukarumpa as we hit a tiny patch of turbulence, Both the boys had some trouble with their ears just on that flight. Especially since we had to descend so quickly to land in Ukarumpa. But the pilot Christopher was great. Evan went through POC with him.

It was funny when before we took-off and addressed those who had not flown into Ukarumpa before and told us that because it was an electronic plane, there would be a nice lady saying slightly disturbing things and alarms that would go off as we landed in Ukarumpa, but that it was okay because that was just what you had to do to land there.

It was fun arriving because we could look out the window and see a group waiting for us behind the little fence. Clare and Andrew (Andrew worked with Evan when was in PNG before – when he would come to work in the auto shop for his vacation away from managing maintenance in Madang at POC) and their kids were there of course (they were the family that volunteered to take us around to get us oriented and of course they have been waiting for us to arrive since Evan left in 2005) and also Tony Hinton, the manager for the autoshop.

We have had some great meals with some our friends from training and some new friends. Also Liam and Levi (Clare and Andrew’s son) have become great buddies. They are always sad when they have to part ways. But I keep reminding Liam that we live here now and we will see Levi lots. Both the boys seem to be adjusting well. They love being able to be outside so much; though it has been raining a fair bit lately. Evan has been working on unloading some of our crates, also reassembling his motorcycle.

Liam has been thrilled to be on the four-wheeler again. He is very proud to have his own helmet. We went to the store and a few mornings ago Clare took me to the market. It was nice to walk around and get a sense of what we can buy and how much it is. I bought two kinds of potatoes (about 1/2 lb. piles each I would guess), carrots, cabbage, an avacado, bok choy, fresh ginger, a pineapple, two homemade donuts and a muffin for about $8 US. It is all brought in by Nationals from their gardens. Totally organic…so you do end up with veggies you probably wouldn’t see in regular stores, due to their shape or size, but it is all lovely. You do have to buy more frequently because it goes off faster. I did learn a tip about how to keep carrots fresh.

Though you do find that some things are only for special occasions. A pie tin full of berries, which looked to be about a lb. or so was 5 kina or $2.50 US…not too much, but when you consider you can get 2 lbs of potatoes for $.50 and how much you can spend at the store on top of it you can’t always buy that sort of thing.

A couple of days ago I got a lesson in how to make yogurt. Everyone makes it here. The store doesn’t even stock it because no one buy it, the price is so high.

Speaking of prices. Here are some examples from the list of items I bought the other day at the store to give you an idea of our cost of living and how we have to budget…all I can say is Thank God for the market and ladies to help me learn how to make yogurt (We were told in neighboring Kinatu a single serving yogurt was $14) and other things.

Minced garlic flakes: $6.15

Colby Cheese 500 grams: $10.15

Powdered milk 1 kilo: $10.10

Some things are comparable to the states, some things are expensive but doable and some things are things we will probably never buy here…ice cream for example is $30 for a liter.

Yesterday we went to church. We were introduced among the new people who had arrived recently. Announcements sometimes take a long time here (like it did this week) as they introduce everyone who has arrived during the week, including anyone who is just visiting. Then they say who is leaving (either on furlough, or permanently) and then they make some general announcements typical of churches, like where the offering is going that week, Sunday school meetings and such.

It was nice having a little bit of something familiar (the songs and a little of the routine) but it was different too, most people don’t wear shoes in buildings,

I drove the four-wheeler for the first time here today. It is a little strange to get starred at by everyone you pass (particularly the men). I think they were just confused to see the woman driving and not the man who was sitting behind.

There is a waterslide here. Made from the conveyor belt used to bring luggage out of a plane I think. It is pretty awesome. Haven’t tried it yet…but the teens were having fun when we visited, there was even a couple of national boys about 8 years old going down.

Today we are going to look at one house, maybe more. We have been asked, and have decided that we will be forgoing the August training down in Madang, and waiting until the next session in January. It will help the Auto Shop tremendously to have Evan there (they already have a job lined up for him on Thursday) and it will give us some time to get some other things sorted here. I will be sending a message with a friends hus meri (housekeeper) that I want to hire a particular woman named Sandra from Ukarumpa village. I hope we are a good fit. She was recommended to us by another family. She speaks both English and tok pisin and her tok ples (the language of her village). So she can give me some lessons. Also, she is experienced at child minding, so maybe I will be able to sneak in some “me time” 

Amongst the washing, cooking and cleaning…everything takes longer here, but in a way I am glad of it (at least at the moment) because it gives me things to do. Now that we are staying longer than August we will be unpacking some more things. But we don’t want unpack too much as there are no trailers and the few trucks are small…moving is a pain unless everything is still in crates it go shipped here in.

Anyway, got to go as this post is in danger of never ending…and we have some appointments.

Hopefully the next update will sooner than later.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Preparing for moving...goodbyes...and it's not over yet.

I know it’s been months since I wrote a typical updating post, or wrote a post at all really. But it's been difficult to sit down and focus on it. And most days I don't have the words since our lives have been becoming more and more atypical…and will continue to do so, so be prepared people ;). I just feel this blog post should move further into the territory of where my heart is at. So, here you go.

A week or so ago, I was writing an e-mail to a friend in PNG. In that e-mail I told her that we are at 90% confirmed monthly financial support. And it was looking like we were going to be there by the end of May, early June (which it is looking even sooner now, as we are at 96%)  I stopped and sat there staring at the screen. We have been working so hard, for so long towards this goal. Now that it is actually in sight, the reality of it is a little overwhelming.

Off and on I have dreamed many dreams about us leaving, going-away parties, and arriving in PNG. I guess we haven’t had much time during the day to work through all of the emotions that are happening right now.

Don’t get me wrong. Evan and I are very excited and eager to leave. At the same time, I look at our life here, at the relationships we are leaving behind and it makes me a little sad. We celebrated Julien’s 1st birthday and now we are discussing having a birthday party early for Liam so we can have one for him here. I think about how Julien will be 5 years old and Liam will be 7 before we come to the States again. They will be old enough to view PNG as more their home than the States. Will I be ready to handle that? We have been packing our bags with everything we don’t need to live with here. It is simultaneously gratifying and a little terrifiying to see all those bags stacked up.

All of this induces a sort of hysterical giddiness in me. Sort of like when you survive something traumatic. You come out the other side, pat yourself all over, realize you are okay, and then have this rush of a crazy mix of elation and sadness and (to be honest) a little fear.

These many nights of off and on restless sleep culminated in a night where I woke Evan up at almost midnight because I was having horrible dreams about bad things happening in PNG, including Julien being bitten by a snake (the “what if’s” as Evan calls them). I cried and told him I was scared, that I didn’t understand why I couldn’t be stronger. His reply was that strength has nothing to do with fighting Satan's attacks; what matters is how hard we lean into God. We took our boys into our arms and we prayed. I am so blessed to have a man of God, who leans into Jesus with all his might, as the head of our family.  We lay in bed afterwards and Evan said the irony is that when Satan pushes us, it just makes us cling to God even more. And then we talked and laughed about other things, about how I sounded like a child speaking Tok Pisin. And he told me about a young man the nationals all loved because he was willing to dive in, make mistakes, (and he made some doozies – saying he was going inside the toilet instead of going to the toilet.) and learn the correct way. I fell asleep with peace in my heart. The next day we had a church meeting that went quite well (I think in part that was why I was having trouble in the night).

We are looking at purchasing a home in Ukarumpa, though we won’t be committing to anything before POC training probably, we have been given the opportunity to live in a house we are considering to see how we like it between when we arrive at Ukarumpa and our training in August. Buying a house will mean a layout of cash that we will have to save, but it will also mean not having to rent. Renting in Ukarumpa means moving potentially every few months, depending on when people are leaving on furlough and what houses are available. A stable place for our kids to call home is one of the most important things for missionary kids to have.  We are really praying for the right decision and the finances to come in God’s time regarding this matter.

In the meantime we are working on raising the last 4% (about $190) and saying goodbye. We have gotten a couple of words from folks in the last few weeks, about not worrying and knowing that when we leave, it’s okay if we feel we haven’t had time to say goodbye and don't feel totally ready. We will get there in the right time and it will work out. Knowing that I will have the support of people here and fellow missionaries on the field makes it easier for me to take this in. To end this post, I will leave you with some fun pictures because the boys are always on my heart.
In honor of Dr. Seuss' Birthday, Liam got a special hat from the pastor, but promptly wanted it made into a "helmet"

Sledding in...March?

Sons of the soil

Helping dad pack up the last container to ship to PNG

At the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museums. This plane actually flew!

At the Portland Zoo, Liam was being a bit of a mountain goat himself, wanting to be on the very top of the statue. "Riding baby goat"

At the zoo having fun with river otters

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mission Connexion

On Friday and Saturday Evan and I attended MissionConnexion. It is a huge mission’s conference, held every year in the Pacific Northwest. There are booths from many different organizations as well as Christian Universities. Some of the booths Evan and I were particularly impressed by were:
·        Crescent Project
·         Gleanings for the Hungry
·         India Partners
·         SAT-7

There were also 125 workshops to choose from as well as large plenary sessions. We enjoyed, and in some cases, were quite inspired by the workshops and sessions we participated in.
We took workshops separately and together. We would be happy to share what we learned if you’re interested. But, for this post I wanted to focus on what touched and inspired me.

Firstly, in the session with Dr. Miriam Adeney, speaking on Global Christianity, we heard three amazing stories about the power of God to work in His timing through those who are called to go. These stories are so wonderful I don’t want to diminish them by trying to shorten them to fit in this post. So I have made a separate post for them, link here.

Another class that I found particularly helpful was the class on Missionary stress and care. Though much of the content was discussed at Wycliffe training, I was still able to glean some new ideas on how to deal with stress and how to ask for help. Missionaries are not invincible. It is important for us to remember to communicate that fact to our friends and family. We want to be able to be real and vulnerable so we don’t burn out/breakdown completely.

I learned that 94% of missionaries experience trauma on the field; 86% experience multiple traumatic events. This can take the form of experienced trauma and vicarious trauma. If missionaries are not allowed to deal with these stresses and trauma, much like a soldier coming back from war, everything from our health to our psychological well-being is at risk and often times will not manifest itself until they are in a safe place, like furlough in our home country. As part of our preparation I have compiled a list of ways in which you, our friends and family, can help in missionary care. Link here.

I or Evan would also be happy to converse more on this subject anytime.

The most intense class Evan and I took was entitled: Trespassing…Continue at your own risk. It was led by a good friend of ours and her friend. The purpose was to better understand the significance of the land, and how to be covered when entering into unknown spiritual territories. Papua New Guinea is a territory that has an unbroken line of spiritual darkness. Much of the practice has changed in the last 20 to 50 years (like cannibalism and headhunting), but the spiritual foundation for them is largely unchanged. We were grateful for this class in helping us to recognize signs as well as ways to protect our family. We were given anointing oil by our friend and we fully intend to connect with her prayer group Rea’ International so we can be covered even more with all your prayers. We feel that we cannot take one step without prayer and we are so grateful for you all.

The final few things I want to share about the classes we took are from the workshop I took called: Carving God’s Message into People’s Hearts. It was a class that was showing how art could be used as ministry. I have felt for some time now that, while my primary call is to be the wife of Evan and the mother of my boys, I have been searching for another way for me to minister. I was excited as I felt inspiration rise in me as Paul, the speaker, shared his heart, encouraging us all to find that thing that “puts light in our eyes” and do it as well as we can. I still don’t know exactly how my gifts will end up being used by God, but I am even more excited to get to PNG and find out.

In closing this post I want to share the lyrics of a song we heard during the worship time. It was written by Kate White and called We Will.

If we open up our hearts
If we open up our ears
We will hear the voice of God calling our names
If we open up our hands enough
To grab hold of the cross
We will feel the touch of God ignite the flame

We will rise, with a burning heart to serve the living God
We will run, with a passion for the lost and lonely ones
We will go, to the trenches of a world that's filled
with need-We will live out the calling of our God
We will

Let us count the cost of Christ
Let us give our very lives
Let the people be awakened to His cry
God has given us a vision
So much greater than ourselves
It is pounding in our chest, we can't deny

Holy God reveal yourself
Holy Spirit fall
We await your purposes
Responding to your call

3 Stories to Inspire

Inspiring stories from: Dr. Miriam Adeney

There was a little girl in Egypt named Amina. She was from a devout Muslim family. Every morning her mother would roll out the prayer mats and this little girl would kneel and pray. One day she said to her mother, “Mommy, I wish God was like daddy. When I talk to daddy he answers me. When I talk to God, he doesn’t. Why doesn’t God answer me?”

As Amina grew up, she saw the problems in Cairo; of not enough sanitation facilities or clean water, not enough housing, etc. and she wanted to go to school to do something to help the country that she loved. When she was 12 years old she was given a religious text in Arabic, she didn’t know what it was, but she took it home, put it away in her closet and forgot about it.

Eventually Amina went to University and being an intelligent woman, was very successful. One day she came upon a Christian concert in park. She liked the music but she was puzzled by one thing. While the singer prayed he kept referring to someone called “father”, but when she looked around all the people there were her age. As she continued to ponder this, she wondered if he was referring to God. She wondered if the Christians thought of God as a father. She remembered the conversation she had with her mother as a child. And Amina remembered the text she had received many years ago, by now she knew it was a Christian text. 

She went home and rummaged around until she found it. It was the book of John. She began to read.
As she read she began to fall in love with this man Jesus. Then she came to chapter 8, where the teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus, saying to him (verse 5) ‘“In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (verse 6) They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. ‘

Amina stopped reading.  She did not want to continue because she loved the Jesus she had come to know up to that point and did not want to see him compromise himself as she had seen religious and political leaders do in her life. She knew that if he said, stone her, she could not respect him. But if he said to let her go, she could not respect him, because that would mean adultery meant nothing. So, in order to preserve Jesus in her mind as the compassionate and wise person she had grown to know in the first 7 chapters, she closed the book and went and watched television with her family.

But that night, Amina could not sleep. She got up, opened the book and read on. You know how the story ends, “those of you without sin cast the first stone.” With the words of Jesus to the woman, “Then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin” She knew the truth of Christ.
I love this story because it shows the importance of the Scriptures in someone’s heart language. There were no evangelists trying to convince her, she read and the Truth spoke for itself.

Wang and Liang
In the island province of Hainan, in the most southern part of China, there is a church. This church felt the call of God to go into the mountains and minister to the indigenous people. The largest group was called the Li.

When the group of missionaries approached the Li village, the villagers met them with anger. They said “You Chinese have pushed us into the hills; you are here to steal more from us; now you are here to take our gods.” They took their farm implements and attacked the missionaries. A young man in their group named Wang was killed. The missionaries took his body back down the mountain and mourned for three weeks. Then, after fasting and praying for three days, decided to return to the Li. A quiet young woman named Liang stepped forward saying “Take me with you.” She was the widow of Wang. They said “Oh no dear, you are still mourning. It is better you stay here and pray. We wouldn’t be able to protect you.”

Liang responded, “Haven’t I earned the right to go?” So they let her come.  As they approached, villagers came out to greet them with angry faces. Before either side could say anything, Liang stepped forward. She said, “I am the widow of the man your murdered.” Everyone was so shocked no one said anything and Liang continued. “But my husband is not dead; he has gone to paradise to live with God. When he came to your village he wanted to share this with you. If he were here, he would forgive you for what you did. Since he is not here, I forgive you in his place. I can do this, because God has forgiven me. If you want to learn more, meet us tonight at that big tree outside the village.”

The missionaries waiting and no one attacked, so they went away to talk. They said to Liang, “You should keep going; they seem to listen to you.” And Liang said, “Oh no, I was just clearing the way for you, I am no teacher.” But they said “We will teach you what to say.” So that afternoon and every afternoon for a week and a half, the missionaries prepared Liang and every evening she spoke. After this time, many villagers believed. When the missionaries left after two weeks, one man stayed behind to continue to teach, and baptize the new Christians. He was Wang’s father.

After two months, he returned to the church with three tribal men. One of these men stood in front of the congregation and said, “I am the man who killed Wang.” The congregation was silent and he continued to speak about how God had forgiven him, he asked for forgiveness and expressed gratitude for the missionaries who came to their village. They brought a money gift from the new church in the Li village to the church that had brought them the good news.
Those who are called to go can and do great things for God.

The Lambalo

In Borneo, there is a people group called the Lambalo who lived the in the mountains. In the 1800’s some missionaries from Australia felt called to go to these people. Those in the valleys warned them, “You should not go there, the Lambalo are dying out.  Alcoholism is so rampant there are almost none left. In a few years, their language and culture will be no more. It is not worth your time to go up the mountain.” But the missionaries went anyway. Through education, Bible translation and simple, pure, loving relationships the Lambalo were saved. Now there are more than 150,000 believers and 1,000 churches. Their language and culture has been fortified by giving an alphabet to their language. A believer said that Christ had not only saved their souls, but also their lives, language and culture. All because those who felt called, heeded the call and became the hands and feet of Jesus to the Lambalo.

I hope these stories blessed you as they did me. They give you a glimpse of how we feel about our mission to go to the peoples of Papua New Guinea. We are going to be the hands and feet of Jesus there. You are part of the mission as well, by sending us. Your love stretches across the ocean and becomes part of the global Christian movement.

Missionary Care

Tangible ways to care for us as we go to and return from Papua New Guinea:
  1. Sending letters or e-mails. We want to hear about your life, the life of the church and things that are going on back in the states. It helps us to feel we are not forgotten, we are still a part of the community.
  2. Skyping
  3. Care packages. Small or big, from an individual or a group. Everyone loves receiving presents. Especially for our kids, this will make them feel special. We have a list on to give you ideas. Search wish lists: The Larson family**** One thing to keep in mind, we cannot have food products of any kind shipped into the country. The best gifts are books, movies, and games. Things we can share with others as well as enjoy ourselves.
  4. Providing opportunities for true rest (particularly when we come home on furlough). If you have a place for us to stay and recoup as a family/couple for a few days it would mean so much to us. As much as we will love to be back in the states, we will need time to renew ourselves and debrief.
  5. Scheduling – Particularly when we return, and now as we are in the final stages of our fundraising, help with organizing talks, meeting people and all the logistical areas of partnership development would be invaluable. If you know someone we should talk to, want to put together a slide show for us, make copies of hand-outs, arrange for the snacks at an event, or even host an event, we would be so grateful.
  6. Grocery shopping – Again, particularly when we return, we anticipate there being culture shock. Even going to the store for milk and cereal will at first seem overwhelming. To have someone stock our fridge for the first week or so would be great appreciated.

In-tangible ways to care for us as we go/return
  1. Allow us to be human. We feel sad, angry, stressed just like everyone else.
  2. Understand that particularly for our children home is a complex concept.
  3. Keeping up with us as best you can, if we hear things like “How was your vacation to Africa?” we feel you don’t care about us, and we are sad. If you can’t remember, or don’t know something, ask, we won’t be offended.
  4. Just listen, don’t try to fix, particularly as we return we may need just to process things.
  5. Ask questions, please don’t assume all missionaries think or act the same.
  6. Understand we do value you and your friendship, just because we can’t meet you for coffee doesn’t mean we don’t love you. And we will do the same for you.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Spiritual Warfare

Spiritual battles in the United States don’t seem to get as much press as they should. The concept of demons, evil spirits, angels, get trotted out on occasion when it really important to emphasis the power or intervention of God. “My guardian angel”, “demonic presence”, “heavenly battles for his soul” are all phrases I have heard used. Here’s the thing, and I may be stepping on toes here, I don’t believe too many people in America really get this side of our walk with God.
A friend last night, talking about marriage, said that in our society it is easy for materialism to mask over problems in our lives. But living in a culture like that of Papua New Guinea, where easy distractions and band aid-fixes are less commonplace, hidden issues can bubble to the surface which might otherwise remain unseen. The same is true with the spiritual life – including spiritual warfare. When other distractions are taken away, we notice things that we should have seen all along.
Another conversation I had last night, with another friend was discussing sacrificing. Specifically, choosing to sacrifice everything to be missionaries, this may include our very lives and (and this is the part I still struggle with) the lives of spouse and children.
Yes, you did read that correctly. When you choose a life of fulltime ministry, you stand in the enemy’s crosshairs. Now, I am not saying we are super holy people who miraculously survive 24-7 barrage of demonic attacks. You can drive yourself nuts seeing demons and angels in every bad or good turn of events. But, we have experienced a number of definite attacks since beginning our journey toward Papua New Guinea. Most have come alongside a significant step involved in the process of becoming a missionary or moving the ministry a step closer to Papua New Guinea.
One of the first being Evan’s father falling dangerously ill right after we became members of Wycliffe. It would have been easy – justified even – to set Wycliffe aside, reasoning that there are just too many other things in “real life” to attend. As a number of folks have observed, “It’s like you land on Satan’s radar”. He definitely doesn’t want us to get there.
The worst has been the targeting of our children. Another missionary told us to be very mindful of our children, as they are the target the enemy most enjoys to torment. We have had to endure and fight back when Liam has been plagued by demon forces. Quite tangibly in the case of our PNG masks, which we subsequently burned, and cleansed our home. Most recently, the attacks have come in the form of illness, the spirits of discouragement and oppression, and nightmares. This last, particularly potent for Liam. In fact, what prompted me to write this was Liam crying uncontrollably, and not being able to calm down until we turned on a light and prayed. This incident made me lie in bed crying and unable to sleep for some time. It is something I think about and struggle with almost on a daily basis. Knowing the choices I and Evan are making is affecting our kids.
I can’t claim that is takes some kind of super-human, super-spiritual person to be a missionary. But, I can say with absolute certainty, it takes all the love, support, and prayers of hundreds of people to send one. I don’t know where we’d be without the prayers of those I know are behind us and beside us. But, I do know we are where we are because of them (you all).
I don’t know what this is going to accomplish other than me being able to let a little out of my heart onto the page. Maybe make it a little less difficult (at times) to walk this path. I’m not a martyr, I’m not a saint; I’m not even a particularly good person sometimes. I’m a mom, wife and missionary. All that I ask is that when we cross your mind, you send up a little prayer. Because there are demons and angels in America and they do battle. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We're not dead!

Well, dear followers of our blog. Here we are in 2012 and I find I completely bypassed fall 2011 for blog entries. For that I am sorry, and it’s not that I didn’t think of you. I even attempted several times to write entries. But somehow they didn’t feel right, or didn’t get finished for one reason or another.
Looking back on what we requested prayer for all the way back in July, here are some over-due updates (though I hope you have heard at least some of these through other avenues of communication):

Our time at the JAARS training facility in Waxhaw, NC was an intense, educational and profound experience. We certainly saw God in the new and old friends we met there. We are looking forward to seeing many of them again when we arrive in PNG.

We are currently staying with our friends, the Dolan’s. We have been staying with them since we arrived back home from training. Our family has been blessed in countless ways being in their home. Our boys love being here and love John and Connie. They have been a great influence on us and on the boys. We cannot express our gratitude for the privilege we have had in their graciousness and experience God through them.

We have been making slow, but steady progress on our financial goal. We took a bit of a break over the holidays, but we are now at just under 60% and we are very excited to see how God chooses to bring us the remaining 40% as we begin to schedule more meetings and speak to more individuals in 2012. We have been in communication with the Papua New Guinea branch of Wycliffe and they have made it very clear that they want us there as soon as possible. We are working hard to make that possible. If you have not already done so, we ask you to prayerfully consider your part in our work. If financial partnership is something you are considering, please know that we mean it when we say a few dollars a month helps. We have been truly blessed by the individuals who took us seriously on that; your $5, $10, $25…ect. monthly gifts have helped get us to where we are.

As 2012 dawns, we aim to prayerfully to determine, and reach our goals for this year.
We are in the process of getting Evan’s work permit. Once we have that, we can apply for our visas. Once we have our visas, (which usually takes about 30 days to process) we will be poised to leave as soon as finances come through. In the meantime, we are getting our final immunizations and gathering supplies in readiness to leave. On this note, if you would like to make a one-time gift donation to defray our costs, that would be greatly appreciated. Another option is checking out our needs list on We mostly don’t need new versions of these items, so if you have something on the list you would like to donate, or purchase for us, that would be appreciated too.

I will be doing my best to post some more pictures and video updates of the family. Also, we would love your participation on a new project we are launching on youtube site.
We are going to be posting some videos, answering frequently asked questions, and not so frequently asked questions. If you have a/some question/s for us, respond to this post, or shoot us an e-mail and we will try to answer all of them. You can ask about us as individuals, a family, about Papua New Guinea, Ukarumpa, our living conditions…anything! Looking forward to hearing from you, and recording the first installment.

In closing here are some praises and prayer requests:

*A wonderful and safe advent season
* New prayer and financial partners
* God’s provision for our needs

*Smooth workings for the rest of the state-side strings to be tied up (vaccines, government approvals)
*A clear leave date-goal
*Temporary welding work for Evan (if this is indeed what God wants)
*Guarding of our family’s health
*New partners!

Thank you so much for being a part of our mission with us to minister to the peoples of Papua New Guinea. We pray that God keeps you and brings you joy in 2012.

The Larson family