As we sit here and look back at this past year, so much has happened. And so much has changed. Some things — okay, a lot of things — didn’t go quite as we expected, but other things went miraculously well! We hoped to be in the tribe by this time, but God has ordained that it would take a little longer.
And so as we look back at this last year and the many things we have prayed for, we are able to see clearly many of the answers to those many prayers.
Here are just a few of the prayers we prayed that God has answered.
God provided a place for us to stay in Madang
Before we even came to Papua New Guinea, it was really quite amazing how God provided houses for all of us. And now that we have been here a year and have gotten to know the layout and organization of Madang, we know that the housing arrangements couldn’t have been better. Our teammates, the Canns, live right below us, and our other teammates the Lehmans live a short walk (by the ocean) away!
We learned Tok Pisin
The first several months being here we put all of our efforts to learning Tok Pisin, the trade language of Papua New Guinea. This could be one of the easiest second languages to learn if you speak English, but still it was a challenge for us in the midst of adjusting to life here and raising kids.
It was (and still is) especially challenging to learn the details or intricacies of the language. I remember earlier on, after an hour of trying to learn Tok Pisin with our language helper, Julie, I would be exhausted. Or, after taking the PMV (Public Motor Vehicle—the PNG equivalent of a bus), or trying to talk to our guards — I would be so tired. When we took our trip to Nekgeni (a village on the coast of the mountains) when we knew very little of Tok Pisin, it was so difficult to talk all day.
Yet at this point, we can talk almost without thinking about it. I’ve never done this with a second language before. This is encouraging—especially knowing that we are moving into a tribe and will be learning another second language for the next two years.
We homeschooled our kids
This has been and will continue to be one of the main challenges for our family living here. In the last year and a half, we have moved out of our house in Arizona and in with another family, raised support, gathered supplies to move to Papua New Guinea, travelled across the US, said goodbye to family and friends — trying our best to do homeschool all along the way.
Then we moved here and we had to figure out how to live in a new place with a new language. Shopping was different, paying bills was different, the weather was different, we got sick, our kids got sick, and we had many other things to plan out. And in the midst of all of this, our three oldest kids needed to be schooled.
Sure, we haven’t had a “summer vacation” for a while, and sure our kids may be about 8 months behind in math, but our youngest son is learning to read and our older kids are learning to multiply and divide and speak Latin, and so there has been progress! And as we prepare for yet another transition when we move into the tribe, we will continue to fight to school our kids even in the midst of the craziness!
God provided a vehicle
Our teammates, the Lehmans, raised support for a vehicle as our logistic coordinators and we are so thankful for this vehicle. I don’t think we would have been able to do what we have done without it. We’ve had to drive to the lumber yard and all around town to purchase various house building supplies, filling up the truck again and again with them. Just the weekly tasks of driving to the grocery store have been so helped by this vehicle!
Before we had the vehicle, we had to take a PMV everywhere, which you can read about here. And though at the time, it was a great opportunity to meet the people and learn Tok Pisin, it also probably contributed to how often we and our kids got sick. So while we miss that medium of meeting new people, the vehicle has helped us accomplish what we came here to do! And so we praise God for the it!
God provided a place for us to go
Coming here, we did not know what tribe we were going to go to. You just can’t look up online which tribes still needs the gospel and pick one—though you can read what information is available. But when it comes down to it, to really know what’s going on in a tribe, you have to just fly or hike in there and talk to them — so that’s what we did.
We took one trip to Nekgini, then a 9-day hike through the Rai Coast mountains, then a helicopter to three other tribes, then another helicopter flight back to two of those tribes, then one more hike back to one of those tribes to let them know we wanted to come back!
And it’s still that tribe of Mawarero that all of our efforts are working towards getting us to, but praise God, we know where we are going!
Earlier on, this was such a huge prayer. It seemed almost impossible to find a tribe or learn anything about these tribes. We didn’t have the finances to fly to all of them and find out who they were, and we didn’t have the time to hike to them all, so we did a combination of hiking and flying with the time and finances we did have, and God used it all to lead us to the right place.
Looking back now at the 9 day hike which took me a week to recuperate from, that hike took us through the village we are now moving to, and many of the people we met on that hike are people we still have a relationship with now which is sweet.
We praise God for Mawarero and the open door He gave us to work there!
God provided a team to help us build
This was truly amazing. I never would have thought that so many people would have come out to help us build, but 14 people came out from 3 churches to help us build the house. Though this trip was actually one of the most challenging house building trips we have had, it still was encouraging to see our friends again and to build a house with plumbing, electricity and stairs in a mere 9 days.
Cameron’s mom was able to come out for 8 weeks and another woman from our home church came out with the house building crew to help the other ladies.
When we were planning this out and trying to coordinate helicopter flights and plane flights and house building supplies and boat trips — it’s a miracle that it all worked out!
God arranged for us to build two houses
Honestly, there are so many answers to prayer under the umbrella of house building.
We’ve taken technically four trips now to build the houses. The first we hiked in to survey the ground and plot out where the houses were going to be built. We thought we weren’t going to have enough room to build both houses on this trip, but someone had an idea and it totally worked. We then came back with our co-worker Jeremy to dig holes, mix and pour concrete, and set posts and girders. Then came the house building team where we erected one of the houses and laid the floor of the second. And finally, this most recent trip where just the three of us went in to frame and put a roof on the second house. By God’s grace and with a lot of help from people back home and the people in the tribe, there are now two houses standing in the village of Mawarero!
We didn’t think it was going to take this long to build these houses. Who knew it would be so difficult to build a house in a helicopter-access-only location? But it has been. Looking back at all this work that has gone by, it’s truly a miracle how far we have gotten. Before each trip there were about 100 things that could have gone wrong, but usually only about 10 of them actually did!
I’m praising God that I can say that the hardest part of house building is over! We have moved in most of the supplies and framed two houses through the roof! We still have lots of work to do to be able to move in, but the end is in sight! This is a huge answer to prayer.
God provided the finances we need
We have never lacked support since we have been here. God provided the support we needed to move our families here. He provided our support on a monthly basis to just live here, and when we were lacking funds to move forward, God provided what we needed.
Even now, we are raising the last of the support to finish house building and have seen God provide 60% of it—leaving just $4,000 more to raise.
I remember when we first started raising monthly support back in the US, and it seemed like such a monumental task to raise the thousands of dollars per month that we needed. And yet — it came in. Then we had to raise the one-time support again…and again…and again as things changed, other costs came up, etc.
Yet, God has provided what we needed in His time. We are so thankful to all those who have made sacrifices to get us here and keep us here.
God healed us from the sicknesses we received
It hasn’t been a year of 100% health, but all the sicknesses we have received we have also recovered from. This is an answer to prayer! At first, this was a little scary whenever we would get sick, because we didn’t know what it was and it was always just a little bit different than sicknesses we had gotten in the US. To give you an idea, Cameron has had strep throat four times this year and she has had some form of Ecoli; our kids have had many fevers of unknown origin that only last 2-3 days; some of us have gotten worms, parasites, and some nasty skin infections (mostly me for that one), Onesimus fell on the coral and cut his back and head and we have all had lots and lots and lots of mosquito bites. No one in our family has gotten malaria yet, and even after a night where I slept on the beach with my shirt off and no mosquito repellant (it was at the end of this trip — I was really tired — and not thinking clearly) and received literally 80 mosquito bites on my back, I still didn’t get malaria! God has seen us through it all.
It’s scary moving to a new country with new diseases—some we know are dangerous, like malaria, and Dengue fever and TB — but after a year, we’re all healthy — at least at this moment, and so we praise God for a year of making it through being sick!
One Prayer left to be answered
Okay, so actually there are still a lot of prayers left to be answered, like finishing the houses, wisdom in thinking through cultural considerations as we move into the tribe, raising the aforementioned finances to finish building, homeschooling that still has to be taught and caught up on.
The needs above have been huge and God has answered them and truly taken care of them. But as our time goes on here, there is one prayer that grows larger and larger.
It’s that God would soften the hearts of the people in Mawarero and the entire Tok Ples of Ndo, that He would give them faith to believe the gospel message when they hear it.
It won’t be for two or three more years before we even get to that place. But that’s why we came.
Seeing all the answered prayers that have brought us here and kept us here, it gives me hope that God will answer this prayer as well, and that one day there will be many who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.