Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The opportunity that has arisen is in the Philippines. There are a group of GFA missionaries there who have an exciting ministry underway. One part of that ministry is Bob Jones Memorial Bible College which trains national men and women to serve in churches in the Philippines and throughout Southeast Asia. Another part is New Song Ministry which is working to provide biblical music to churches throughout the Philippines. It looks as if I will have the privilege of assisting in both of these ministries.
As things stand now, I will be leaving after Christmas and ministering in the Philippines until the end of their school year in early April. I am excited about this new opportunity and ask for your prayers as I prepare to go.
Monday, October 25, 2010
So, as I mentioned before, the main obstacle to my return to PNG is now my paperwork. Michael Berbin, one of the missionaries in PNG, is continuing to work with the PNG immigration department but has been unsuccessful so far. My work permit, along with those of most of the GFA missionaries in PNG, will expire at the end of this calendar year. If I am not back in PNG by then, I will have to wait until our work permit renewals are approved, which could be several months. But, regardless of inefficient third world governments, it is a blessing to know that the Lord is ultimately in control. He allowed the issue to arise and He will clear it up in His own perfect timing.
In the meantime, I am finding various things to stay busy. I had the opportunity to speak to the Bob Jones University chapter of the University Nurses Assocation, a student led organization for nursing students. I shared with them about the ministry in PNG and about the opportunities available in medical missions. Last week was Missions Emphasis week at Bob Jones, so I was able to assist at the GFA table, sharing with students about long and short term opportunities with GFA on mission fields around the world. In a few weeks, I will be speaking at the ladies group of one of my supporting churches here in Greenville, SC. I have also enjoyed opportunities to see and visit with my family, even attending my 10 year old nephew's chapel program at his elementary school.
Please continue to pray for the Lord to open the door for me to return to PNG in His timing. Also please pray for wisdom for some decisions that need to be made in the meantime.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
But now I have a new request for you. When I went through Immigration to leave Papua New Guinea, a problem arose with my entry permit. The permit in my passport states that it is for multiple entries, but when they scanned my passport they said that it was only for single entry. That means that at present I do not have a permit to reenter Papua New Guinea. As you know, PNG bureaucracy is rather slow and inefficient so this is a real problem. Michael Berbin, the senior GFA missionary in PNG, has been communicating with the Immigration folks since I left, but we're still working to find a resolution. The last thing he was told is that they can't even find a record that I have any sort of entry permit. I am faxing some things to them today and would appreciate your prayers for a speedy solution.
As far as things back in Kiari, they are in desperate need of rain. We generally have about a 3 month dry season, but this one has stretched into 4. The missionaries there are down to about 2 inches of rain in their water tanks and the nationals (not having rain tanks and dependent on the streams) are in even greater straits. Food was getting short when I left a few weeks ago, so I'm sure things are even tighter now.
On the other hand, it appears that the ambulance situation is resolving itself. Apparently my absence (and thus our clinic being closed) put pressure on the culprits to return the ambulance so that the Kiari folks could make use of the medical facilities in Nomane (where the ambulance was from). The last I heard was that some men from Kiari had left to drive the ambulance back to where it belongs. There will likely be repercussions for some time yet, but at least it's a step in the right direction.
Thank you once again for your prayers and support during this time.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
She did a bunch of lab work and other tests and wants to see me back in a week. She is not a believer but had a lot of interest in what I am doing in Papua New Guinea and why I am doing it. Please continue to pray not only for wisdom for this doctor but also for further opportunities to witness to her.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I have not yet been able to see a rheumatologist (the specialist that deals with lupus). In fact, the doctor's office has not even called me back with a referral yet. (And I got impatient with inefficiency in PNG:-) Seriously though, I will be continuing to pursue that next week.
Thank you so much for your prayers and outpouring of support. I will continue to keep you posted as things develop.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
First, we were scheduled to leave on our first flight on Saturday afternoon, then spend the night in the capital city of PNG before flying on to Australia on Sunday. Well, the flight was cancelled (due to mechanical issues, I think). But that seeming setback saved us the cost of a hotel in the capital. Also, by the time the flight was cancelled, all the stores were closed, but we had just enough food left in the guest house to cover our supper and breakfast needs.
Then the next morning, the airline scheduled an additional later flight to take care of the passengers on the cancelled flight. That flight would have been too late for us to make our Australia connection though, but our incredibly diligent PNG travel agent made sure that we were booked on the first flight of the day, even coming to the airport to see us off. Then when we arrived in the capital, we got held up going through immigration, but again because of our travel agent's work, they held the plane until we got on, closing the door only after we arrived.
When we landed in Australia, I had a lot of energy and was able to deal with customs and immigration there without any problems. The Lord provided a hotel and a good night's sleep. I was pretty exhausted in the airport the next morning, but we had plenty of time so we were able to sit down and rest as I needed. Again, a very helpful airline representative made sure we were seated together and even straightened out an issue with Jennifer's return ticket.
We landed in LA with less than two hours to collect our baggage, clear customs, get rechecked, and get boarding passes for the next flight. Thankfully, my earlier exhaustion was gone and I was able to practically run through the airport and again we were some of the last few people on the plane.
What a blessing to land in Atlanta and find my dad and brother waiting for me. I am pretty exhausted today and still way behind on sleep, but the hard part is over. I went to an Urgent Care center today to get a referral to a rheumatologist (the kind of doctor that treats lupus). I was told that there are only 2 in Greenville and that it will likely be a few weeks before I can get an appointment. But the Lord is in control of that too!
Thanks once again for all your prayers and support. They mean so much!
Friday, September 10, 2010
and it's not an emergency or anything like that, but I'm just not
getting better. I can't stay on the high doses of medication that I'm
presently taking for an extended period of time, and the medicine has
already pretty much put my immune system out of commission, so a third
world country with all its diseases is not the safest place right now.
If all goes as planned, I will be leaving on my first flight Saturday
afternoon my time, spend two nights in hotels along the way and arrive
in Atlanta on Monday evening U.S. time. Then, I'll try to get in to
see a doctor and see where things are at. Please pray for strength for
the trip, wisdom for Jennifer Pearson (a nurse practitioner with GFA
her in PNG who is escorting me), and smooth travel.
Thanks so much for the many who have prayed and expressed their
support. It means a lot!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
health. I really have not had any significant improvement. On Tuesday
morning, I thought I was doing better, but went for a short walk
outside the guest house where we are staying and soon after was quite
exhausted and in a good amount of pain. The doctor is saying that
there is not really anything more that they can do for me here. If
things don't start to improve by Friday, it looks like I may be headed
back to the U.S. for a time to allow things to stabilize. I would
appreciate your prayers for wisdom and direction for the doctors and
other involved in the decision making process.
Monday, September 6, 2010
chronic disease called lupus. It is an autoimmune disease where I can
have difficulties with fatigue, joint pain, and such things. Normally,
it is managed well with medication, but I occasionally have flare-ups
where I have to add some Prednisone for a short time. Well, I started
having a flare-up at the end of last week, and the Prednisone wasn't
really helping, despite taking higher doses than I have ever taken
before. Since some of the Kiari missionaries were already headed to
town to take Tiffany Parks to the airport, I made the decision to go
as well and try to see a doctor. I was able to get into a mission
clinic yesterday (Monday), and they ran lab work and added some pain
medication. I am doing a bit better today but still not back to
normal. I am supposed to email the doctor a status update tomorrow and
let him know how I'm doing and then we'll make the decision about when
I will return to the bush.
To top things off, we had a break-in during the night at the guest
house where we are staying in town. Tiffany and I were sleeping
upstairs and thought the noise was the Smiths in the downstairs. They
also heard some noise but thought it was us. The Smith's computer was
stolen, some meat from the refrigerator and a CD/radio belonging to
the guest house. Pretty crazy, but we are all fine.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support. What a blessing to
know that the Lord is always in control.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
here for a little over two years as a short term teacher. She
initially came to assist another short term teacher, but when that
teacher had to leave unexpectedly, she took over the primary
responsibility for the school. This year, with my part-time
assistance, she taught 13 students in three grades. She has been a
real help and blessing to the ministry here and will be missed. Prior
to coming to PNG, she had spent two-and-a-half years in the
Philippines and she hopes to return there on a more permanent basis.
So she will be returning to America and beginning the application
process and deputation.
To continue the saga of the hijacked ambulance, the folks in Nomane
(where the ambulance belongs) gave a lot of trouble to the Smiths when
they came back to the bush last week (after a two week vacation). They
said that no cars, including ours, will be allowed to leave Kiari
until the ambulance is returned. So we are back to using helicopter
transportation only -- a more expensive method but at least a viable
When the helicopter comes to pick up Tiffany, it will bring in a very
short term visitor, Tim Owens, the brother of one of the other
missionaries here. Jeff has been here for about a year but has been
focusing on working on the airstrip and has not been able to start
building his own house yet. His brother is coming for a few weeks to
help him with that project.
Please pray for all the comings and goings and for a speedy resolution
to the ambulance situation.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
had an outreach fellowship for that area scheduled for Tuesday
evening, so we ended up holding it right next to the ambulance. That
meant that all the men "guarding" the ambulance were a captive
audience. Not quite what they were anticipating but a good way to get
the gospel out! Do continue to pray for that situation though. One of
our preacher boys is in town as his wife just had a baby and another
preacher boy wants to take his wife to town for the same reason. But
this unrest means that it is very unsafe for them to go through Nomane
to get to the airstrip and neither of their wives is up to walking
I forgot to mention in last week's blog that the school year is
officially over. If you get my prayer letter, you already know that I
will not be teaching next year. I enjoyed the experience but am glad
to have the time free to spend on other ministries. I am again hoping
to focus on learning the local village language as well as do some
translation into the national trade language. Please pray that I would
have the Lord's mind on how to best spend my time.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
share with you. The first happened a couple of weeks ago. A local
village hosted a rugby game and invited the team from our village of
Kiari to participate. Men from another village (Nomane) were
refereeing the game. Apparently some of the Kiari guys were upset at
one of the umpiring decisions and chased the referee off the field
with bush knives (like machetes) and bows and arrows. The Nomane guys
were understandably angry and demanded a compensation payment of a pig
and 1500 kina (about 700 US dollars). When we went through Nomane on
the way to the ladies meeting, some of these guys surrounded the truck
and did not want to let us past since we were from Kiari. They
threatened the ladies that were with us and waved their bush knives
around, but the Lord was good and they finally let us through. Well,
that situation was finally resolved with payment of appropriate
compensation so all was good again for a while.
Then last week, the ambulance from the small hospital in Nomane came
to Kiari bringing immunization shots for the school children. They ran
short of immunizations before they finished, so they intended to leave
and get more and then return to finish. Well, some guys from Kiari
blocked the road and refused to allow the ambulance to leave. Early in
2009, the government had asked villagers along the road to pitch in to
do the work to reopen the road and promised to pay them. Well, that
payment has never come. Since it was the government that never paid,
and the ambulance is a government vehicle, the guys apparently decided
that holding the ambulance hostage was the best way to get their pay.
So the government ambulance has been sitting in Kiari for the last
week or so. The word is that the folks in Nomane have paid the police
to come and get it, but they haven't arrived yet.
As I write this, I realized that all of this incidents sound
incredibly foreign to our American mindset. The thinking that
underscores them (besides man's inherent sinfulness, of course) is
that if one person does something, his entire group or village is
responsible. Hence Nomane trying to stop our truck full of women even
though none of them, or even their husbands, were even at the rugby
game. We as foreigners are not in any real danger besides getting
yelled at, but often our national Christians can find themselves in
very difficult situations. Thank you so much for your prayers for our
and their safety. Please pray for the Lord to be glorified, even in
these kinds of situations.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
for a ladies meeting hosted by the national church there. There were
about 80 ladies there from about 9 churches in the area. We took six
ladies from our church, plus three of us missionaries and the Smith's
oldest teen daughter. Each day had three sessions taught by
missionaries from that church -- two each morning and one in the late
afternoon. The sessions covered a variety of topics from child rearing
and marriage to fearing the Lord to true saving faith and security of
salvation. The time between the sessions was left free for fellowship,
eating and volleyball. The men from the church there prepared meals
for the ladies for both the noon and evening meals each day. It was an
enjoyable time of fellowship with both the nationals from the
surrounding churches and with missionary friends from that area.
Please pray that the lessons learned from the week will continue to
bear fruit in the days to come.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
termed quiet:-) School is winding down. I finished my last official
day of teaching on Thursday. The first grade also finished school this
week. We have another week with 2nd and 4th grade and they will be
done as well. I've enjoyed the teaching experience, but am glad to be
done as well. I am looking forward to being able to expand or start
some other ministries with the time I will now have available.
This week, some of us missionaries and six ladies from our church are
heading to a ladies meeting in the village of Kilau. The church there
is under the leadership of another set of GFA missionaries, so not
only we will have the benefit of the sessions of the ladies meeting,
but also fellowship with other missionaries. Please pray for the
spiritual growth of our ladies and the other ladies in attendance.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
There were eight folks baptized -- 1) Bandi, a teen boy who is also a
2nd grader in our school; 2) Lynn, a teen girl who is a 4th grader in
our school, in my Sunday School class, and in my discipleship class;
3) Ellie, another teen girl who is also in my Sunday school and
discipleship classes; 4) Aira, a young man who is married with a
couple children; 5) Eileen, Aira's wife; 6) Tu, a young man who is
married with one child; and 7) Winu, who is the second wife of an
unsaved man. For the actual baptism, we hiked about 30 minutes away to
a fairly large, fast-flowing river. The men had gone down earlier and
dammed it up to form a baptismal pool, then the children had thrown
flower petals into the water, so it was very pretty. Each baptismal
candidate gave their testimony of salvation, then they were each
baptized. As each went into the water, a choir of national Christians
sang a verse of a hymn. It was a real blessing. Please pray for the
spiritual growth of these believers and for the testimony of the
service to the unsaved that witnessed it.
In other news, Paul, the man from America who has been helping with
the airstrip work will be leaving at the end of this week. Immediately
after his departure, two guys from a supporting church in Greenville,
South Carolina will be coming to continue the work. The airstrip is
getting closer to completion, but there's still a lot to be done. It
needs to be 400 meters long, so they are now in the process of carving
away the mountain at the end of the strip to get the last 16 meters
that they need. Please pray for strength for the workers and for the
bulldozer to operate without further breakdowns.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
morning. Immediately after church, someone came to and said that a
couple had been fighting and had seriously injured each other. They
had brought them as far as the church on "stretchers" (basically a
frame made from tree limbs with fabric for the person to lay on). I
assessed them and really didn't think that either was all that
seriously injured, but told them to take them on up to the clinic and
I'd have a look. The wife had a probably broken collar bone and a cut
lip, neither of which I could do much for other than some pain
medicine and a splint.
But the husband was a different story. When I started checking him
over, they told me that he had been hit in the left side with a large
stone and also cut on his head with a stick. He apparently had been
fine for a couple hours after, then started passing out and throwing
up. I first thought that he might have a concussion from the knock on
his head, but his pupils looked fine and most of the time he seemed
with it. Also the cut was pretty minor. I sewed up the cut on his
head, but still wasn't sure what else was going on. Then he threw up
and passed out there in the clinic. Of course, the 50+ people
assembled went nuts, but he did come back around eventually. I checked
a blood pressure and it was rather low. Then I noticed that he was
tender throughout his abdomen, even though he had only been struck on
the left side. He was also cold and clammy as if he might be going
into shock. I then started worrying about a possible internal injury
and bleeding. I started an IV (by the grace of God, since I hadn't
done that for several years) and started replacing the likely blood
loss. That brought his blood pressure back up to an acceptable level.
The next decision was what to do with him. Obviously, he needed to be
assessed at a facility with much better capabilities than my little
clinic. But how to get him there was the issue. It was nearly dark and
it wouldn't be possible to fly him out of anywhere until morning. So,
the family decided to keep him at the clinic (actually in my waiting
house where they could build a fire and stay with him) so that I could
monitor him throughout the night and keep IV fluids going. Then in the
morning, Brother Randy would drive him to the 2.5 hours to Nomane
where he could get a plane flight to Goroka where there is at least a
halfway decent government hospital. Thankfully, he did well throughout
the night and made the trip safely.
This man is from the Kensa line, which as you may remember from
earlier posts, has been traditionally quite resistant to the gospel,
the missionaries, and our church. This is the third medivac from their
neighborhood within the past year. We believe that the Lord is trying
to get their attention. Please join with us in praying for a
breakthrough in this community.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Owens, another missionary here, made a trip to the coastal city of Lae
to get a bulldozer part repaired. That trip went quite well and he was
able to get the part fixed so that the bulldozer could resume work.
While in town, he picked up a man from America who is visiting for a
couple of weeks to help with the airstrip work. They flew into Nomane,
our nearest airstrip, where Brother Randy met them with the truck for
the normally 2.5-3 hour trip home. They hadn't been on the road long
when the ball joint on the steering arm broke, rendering the steering
completely unusable. Thankfully, a lady nearby had a short length of
chain link fence that she was willing to part with for a little less
than 3 U.S. dollars. They used the wire from the fence to "repair" the
broken ball joint. Of course, our roads aren't exactly smooth, so the
wire kept breaking and having to be redone. They had to stop five more
times to rewire the joint. But by the grace of God, the last repair
held for quite some distance so that they didn't have to rewire it
after dark had fallen and made it home safely. So we were quite
thankful for the watch care of the Lord through all of the difficulty.
Also, by grace of the God, the mission team finally went out this
week. Four men and three women went a day's walk away and ministered
in seven different villages doing preaching services and Bible clubs
for the children. I haven't heard all of the report yet as our
afternoon service today will be dedicated to a report from the team
leader and testimonies from other team members, but the team came back
fired up and eager to go out again on another mission trip.
We will be having a baptismal service this Wednesday. It will be an
all day affair with preparing the food for the mumu (cooking food in
the ground), going down to the nearest water for the baptism, then
coming back to the church to eat the food that should be ready and
have a brief service. We have eight people being baptized -- two men,
three women, and three teens. Please pray for the testimony of that
service to the unsaved community and a genuine understanding in the
hearts of those being baptized.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
a 3 day mission trip. Please continue to pray for the Lord to work
through the team.
Also on Tuesday, we will be getting a visitor from America. A man from
Ohio is coming out to help with the airstrip work. The work there
continues to progress slowly but surely. The majority of the bulldozer
work is done, but they are presently carving away at the mountain at
the end of the strip to extend it another 16 meters. Unfortunately,
the bulldozer has been developing mechanical difficulties, so the work
has been delayed for repairs (and trips to get the parts to make the
repairs). After the bulldozer work is completed, they will sow grass
seed, then the airstrip will have to be approved before it can be put
into use. Men from our church, community, and neighboring villages
have been working to fence in the airstrip. They have to cut down
trees to make the fence posts, then stretch and nail the pig wire into
place. We are still hoping that the strip will be in operation within
the next few months, but there are no certainties here. Once we are
finished with the bulldozer though, we will send it on to Aibai where
our GFA coworkers there will start work on their own airstrip. Please
continue to be in prayer for these projects.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
trip that our church was planning. Due to a number of reasons, the
group was once again unable to go. The trip is now rescheduled for
next week, July 20-23. Please continue to pray for the Gono area where
the team will be ministering. A number of us have been praying for
this area for some time, and it seems that their is an unusual amount
of opposition to our ministering there. Due to my school and church
responsibilities, I do not plan to be a part of this trip, but I do
covet your prayers for those who will be going.
In other news, Tiffany and I were able to spend about a week in our
nearest town of Goroka, taking care of several items of business and
getting some shopping done. It was nice to have internet access and
get to do our own shopping for a change, but I was ready to get back
to the bush long before we could arrange transportation to take us.
(The helicopter we normally use was down with engine trouble and it
took some real finagling to find another way to get home.)
This past Monday, we started the 4th quarter of school. Elizabeth, the
new short term teacher, is phasing in gradually but seems to have a
real knack for teaching and relates well to the students. It looks
like I should be completely free of teaching responsibilities by mid-
Well, thank you once again for your prayers for us. Please continue to
intercede both for the missionary team here in Kiari, the national
believers, and those who have not heard or responded to the gospel
Friday, June 25, 2010
Several weeks ago I told you of a mission trip that our church was planning to an area about a day's walk away from our village. After several delays for various reasons, it appears that this trip will finally take place this coming week (June 29th to July 2nd). There is also a good chance that I will be able to be a part of this trip. At present, there is only one national lady going who is qualified to lead the children's Bible clubs, so it looks like I will be going to assist in that responsibility. We are currently on school break (between 3rd and 4th quarters) so I do not have that work at present. Also, I was already planning to take a short town trip starting July 2nd, so the clinic was scheduled to be closed.
At any rate, whoever is going will leave from our village on Tuesday, June 29th, and walk down our mountains, cross the river, and walk back up the other side. In the late afternoon, they will have a preaching service and Bible club in the first village and spend the night there. In the morning, they will leapfrog down the road, preaching at every other village until they reach the home village of one of our national preacher's wives. They will sleep there on Wednesday night, then return by the same road, preaching in the villages that were skipped on the inbound trip. The last service will be held Thursday evening and they will sleep in that village. On Friday, most of the team will hike back to our village of Kiari. I, along with one of the national preachers and his family, will hike to the nearest "bus stop" and catch a ride into town.
Please pray for the Lord's abundant blessing on this trip and for Him to be at work even now in the hearts of those that will hear the Word preached. Pray especially for freedom from the bondage of Satan's deception, as this area is very entrenched in works-based religions.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The good news for the week is that Elizabeth (the new short term teacher) not only has her passport in hand but has also purchased her plane tickets. She and Tara (another teacher headed to another village) plan to arrive in Papua New Guinea on June 20th. Needless to say, we are very excited. She will spend a few days in Goroka to do shopping, set up a bank account, etc. and then, Lord willing, will fly to a grass airstrip about a 2-3 hour drive from our village. That airstrip has been closed for repairs for several weeks, so please pray that it will reopen in time for her arrival.
While having Elizabeth come will definitely be a huge help to the school, we still have some needs that I want to share with you. The most immediate is for an experienced teacher to come out this summer, even if just for a few weeks. Ideally, we would need someone that is experienced in using the Bob Jones University Press curriculum with the elementary grades. We mainly need someone to compare the BJU curriculum with the curriculum used in the PNG schools and develop a placement test to determine the PNG grades that are equivalent to the grades in our school. We know that our students are several grades ahead of their counterparts in the PNG schools, but it is hard for us noneducation people to evaluate this accurately.
In addtion, of course, we are still in great need of more teachers for next school year. At present, Randy Smith, the senior missionary, really doesn't have peace about me continuing to teach in the school as that is not really the ministry that I came here to do (and actually is occupying time that I would prefer to devote to other ministries). We have also recognized that it really is not wise, especially for a non-teacher, to teach more than one grade simultaneously. So, with our present personnel, it looks like we might only be able to offer one grade next year in the school. Please pray that the Lord will provide more teachers, ideally an experienced teacher to meet this need.
As I've mentioned before, if you feel the Lord directing you toward either of these opportunities that I've mentioned, please contact Gospel Fellowship Association for further information.
Monday, May 31, 2010
After over a year of waiting, we received word that Elizabeth Ellinghausen has received her visa (or at least it has reached the PNG embassy in Washington, D.C.). That is exciting as it means that we will have another teacher for Joy Christian School. We are finishing 3rd quarter in a couple weeks, but Lord willing, she will be here for the start of 4th quarter. Tiffany Parks, a present short termer, will be leaving at the end of this school year, so we still are in need of more teachers. Nevertheless, it is great to see the firstfruits, so to speak. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, if this a ministry you think the Lord might have you be involved in, even for a short term, please communicate your interest with GFA.
In other news, my house continues to progress. The interior walls are all in place, most of the ceilings are completed (although not in place yet), and ladies from the church have been pulling the long grass that will be used to make the roof.
We have also begun a Read Write School for men. Our previous school was for women and children as the teacher was a woman and it would not be appropriate in this culture for a woman to teach adult men (especially since there is a devotional at the start of each day's lesson). There are two fairly new believers from our church taking the class so that they can read the Bible for themselves. Silas, one of our national preachers, is teaching the class.
Thanks so much for your prayers. Please continue to remember Elizabeth as she prepares to leave the US, as well as the other ministries here.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sorry for not posting last week. My email service shut down for a server upgrade and did not start working again until the end of the week. (Therefore if you have sent me an email and not gotten a reply, that's probably why.)
The church didn't end up going on the mission trip that was planned for last week. We got word from some folks from the planned destination asking us to delay a bit so the trip has been rescheduled for May 25th- 28th. Please continue to pray for the Lord's preparation of hearts in the Gono area.
Thank you for your prayers for the children of our church. A number of made professions in the last several weeks, with three just this Sunday. Please pray for their spiritual growth and complete understanding.
My house continues to develop. Phase 1 (or Block 1 as my national "general contractors" dubbed it) was completed on Saturday. That means that the support posts are in the ground and cemented, the floor joists are in, both interior and exterior walls are framed, the woven mat outside walls are all in place, and the woven bamboo floor is also in place. I am thrilled with how fast the project is progressing and the quality of the work being done. I really feel that the house is already opening up more contact with the nationals as I usually talk to a number of folks even on my daily walk to check the house progress.
Thanks once again for your payers for us. I can never express to you what a difference that they make.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I started discipleship classes with some of the recently saved teens this week. I had given them the books about ten days before so that they could do the first study and then we met and discussed it. I ended up with four girls Lynn, Jaunika, Jocelyn, and Ellie. Three of them have been saved within the last couple months and Lynn has been saved about two years. She had started a discipleship class before but never finished. All the girls had done their lessons and learned the memory verse. Please pray that they will continue to be faithful and grow in their Christian walk.
The church is planning a mission trip for next week. They will be walking for a day, then spending three nights in this new area, then walking back. I am interested in going, but, as I went on the last church mission trip, I want to make sure that I don't take the place of a national who really wants to go. This area is one that we have burdened for for some time. It includes the home village of Alice (the wife of one of the national preachers and also my clinic helper). Please pray that the Lord will go before and prepare receptive hearts to the message of the gospel.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Thanks so much for your prayers on behalf of the school students that were planning to leave our Christian school for the government school several hours away. Brother Randy was able to meet with the two young men after church on Wednesday and discussed the problems that they would face if they choose to leave. He told the boys to come the next morning before school and tell him their decision. They each came separately and said that they had decided to stay and finish out the year. What a blessing! This a real answer to prayer and an evidence of the work of the Lord in their hearts as their decision to stay went against everything their culture and unsaved families would pressure them to do. Thanks for your intercession on their behalf.
Monday, April 19, 2010
It's been sort of an up and down week. To start things off, last Sunday one of the national preachers approached me before afternoon church and told me that his sister and her husband had walked several hours to bring their sick baby for me to look at. I immediately went to his house to see it and found a quite lethargic 11-month-old, working very hard to breathe and burning up with fever. We went straight up to the clinic and I gave him a penicillin shot, a liquid antibiotic, and a bronchodilator (to ease his breathing). The parents brought him back every morning throughout the week for another penicillin shot. By the end of the week, his breathing was much easier and he seemed much better. But this morning (Monday), I got word that he had died during the night. It's the first baby I have lost since coming here, so that's a real blow, besides the fact that he really seemed to be better the last time that I saw him. In addition, I don't think either of his parents are saved.
On Thursday morning, a young Christian couple from church brought their 6-month old baby to the clinic. She also was having a hard time breathing and had actually stopped breathing several times during the night and once right there in the clinic. I gave her an antibiotic shot as well, and then Brother Randy was able to drive them a few hours to the nearest airstrip where they were able to fly to a government hospital. (We offered to take the other baby as well, but the parents declined.) As of yesterday, that baby is still alive and improving. Please pray for the continued healing of Joanna along with her parents Tu and Wari as well as for the comfort of Gabriel's family in his loss.
The school side of things is bringing its share of heartache as well. As I may have mentioned, age does not correlate with grade here, so several of our 4th graders are 18 or older. Due to some conduct issues, we did not reenroll some of last year's 3rd graders and they left home to go to a government school (about 6 hours away). The government school is on break this week and some of those kids have come back with rosy tales. Because of the quality of our education, the kids that had finished 3rd grade in our school were accepted into 6th grade in the community school and are finding the work much easier. This is tempting two of the 4th grade boys to leave our school and join them. I think this is an unwise decision from an academic standpoint (as they are getting a better education here and will be farther ahead the longer they stay with us), but I am more concerned from a spiritual standpoint. As I spoke with one of the boys today, I was encouraging him to pray and seek God's will and not just follow his own desires. Every time I brought that up, he looked anywhere but at me. I really fear for their walk with the Lord if they put their own plans over God's, not to mention that they will be far away from a Bible preaching church and the accountability of pastor, parents, and godly authorities. The boys have to make their decision this week as they would need to be at the government school by Monday. Please pray that they will seek and follow God's leading.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Things are progressing slowly but steadily on my house project, and I'm learning about PNG culture in the process. I purchased the land last week from one of the men in the church. I got about 2500 square feet for $40! Don't you wish you lived here? Of course, it's kind of like buying land in the Everglades. I own a plot of land on the edge of a cliff in the middle of nowhereJ I actually offered about $50 for the land and was told that was too much and we settled on $40.
One of the challenges of the project is that just about every man in the village wants to be involved. So we made a list of all the various materials needed (from support posts to wood for the frame to woven mats for the walls) and figured that we need about 25 men for supplies. Those things we will assign to various unsaved men from the different neighborhoods or clans within the village (trying to avoid any accusations of favoritism). Then we are using Christian guys to do the actual construction work (so I don't have to worry about my nails disappearing). A group of guys came Saturday and dug out another meter of ground to enlarge the flat area where I plan to build. Tuesday they came to dig twelve holes for the support posts. The next step is to gather all the bush materials needed to actually build the house. I am very excited about the project and anxious to see how it will progress in the days ahead.
In other news, Ellie, another teen girl, made a profession of faith on Sunday. She had made a profession some years ago but had not really been living for the Lord. She now says that she didn't really understand what she was doing previously. The Lord has recently provided a national couple to serve as the youth leaders for the church. The wife of the couple and I are dividing up these girls to start discipleship classes with them. (She is taking the girls who read poorly or not at all and I am taking those who read better.) Please pray for the growth of these girls and their protection from the pressures of a heathen culture.
Monday, March 29, 2010
This seems to be the month for sharing things that are on my heart, so I thought I might as well continue the trend. This week I want to tell you about our need for teachers and even give you some specifics in case the Lord might lead you in our direction.
We have a small Christian school called Joy Christian School (JCS). There are several purposes for the school but the main one is to provide a place where the young people of our church can get a Christian education that will equip them to be the pastors, deacons, and Sunday school teachers of the future church of PNG. Education is not mandatory here, so many children do not have an opportunity to attend school and even those that do often get a quite poor education.
At present, JCS has 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades, but since students start school at any age our students range from 9 to 18 years old, with a mixture of ages in each grade. English is the national language of PNG so all education is conducted in that language. This enables us to use Bob Jones University Press materials for most of the school subjects. As you may recall, we are awaiting the arrival of Elizabeth Ellinghausen, a short term teacher for the school. She will teach during the remainder of this school year and 1-2 more years. Tiffany Parks, our present head teacher, will return to the US at the end of this school year to make plans for her future ministry in the Philippines. That will leave us once again with one full-time teacher and my part-time assistance to teach 3 grades of students. We would love to start a prep (or kindergarten) class for the many interested young people of our church, but that is impossible without another full-time teacher.
So what exactly is the need, you may ask. We need folks who are willing to give 1-2 years to come to a rather remote location and participate in this ministry. An education degree would be nice but not essential. However, an adaptable spirit and servant's heart are absolutely necessary. Our school year attempts to follow a PNG schedule, so each new year starts sometime in January. As you may have deduced from Elizabeth's long wait, sometimes paperwork approval can take a lengthy time so that would be good to keep in mind. If you have an interest in this ministry, please feel free to communicate with us directly or with our mission agency (Gospel Fellowship Association).
Monday, March 22, 2010
I have been struck recently with the vital importance of the prayers of God's people. As a missionary on the foreign field, I can only do so much, but through your prayers the Holy Spirit will work in the hearts of the people to whom I minister, bringing lasting fruit. It is for this reason that I often share with you the prayer burdens that are on my own heart and this blog entry is no exception.
First, thank you for your continued prayers for the teen girls in my Sunday school class. Another girl came forward at the morning service yesterday. When I asked her why she had come, she said that she wanted to repent (the Pidgin term for becoming a Christian). I asked why she needed to repent and she stated that she was a sinner and needed God to save her. What a blessing! Please pray for Mwhity along with the other 4 girls saved in recent months (Regina, Wendy, Jaunika, and Jocelyn). [Note: I sometimes hesitate to list the names of new believers as it seems to sometimes result in a special attack of the enemy, so please do not sin against them in ceasing to pray for them.]
Today at clinic I had opportunity to speak to a young couple that I am burdened for. The woman, Anita, had come to clinic a few months ago and immediately caught my attention. Her dress, manner, and speech indicated that she had had a bit broader education and experience than is common amongst the women in our village. I asked her where she was from and she stated that she had just come from Port Moresby (the capital city of PNG). It was school break time, so I figured that she had just come for a visit and thought no more about it. When she came back today though, I asked her if she was staying in our village permanently. When she answered affirmatively, I asked if she attended church anywhere. She replied that she had attended a Baptist church before but had left her church clothes behind when she had come to our village. I, of course, told her not to worry about clothes but that we would be thrilled to have her at church. I made a mental note of her name so that I would remember it if she should take me up on my invitation.
A few patients later, I saw a man from her same neighborhood that I knew well from previous contacts. His name is Mishach and he unfortunately has rather a bad reputation in the village. As I greeted him, I realized that Anita's last name had been listed as Mishach. (In PNG, a married woman takes her husband's first name as her last name.) So I asked him about her and he smilingly confirmed that she was his new wife. I told him that I had invited her to church and told him that he should come as well. He dropped his head and told me that he had been saved some years previously but had backslidden. I continued to encourage him to come. Please pray for a real working of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of this young couple.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I want to share with you a burden that has been on my heart for some time for the ministry here. I am concerned for our young people. I know that have mentioned the teens from time to time, and they definitely face a number of struggles. But the particular group I am thinking of are not even teenagers yet. Most them are 8-12 years old and many of them have Christian homes where both their parents are saved and even church members. But they have not yet made a personal decision to trust Jesus Christ as their own Savior from sin.
They are a new phenomenon here second generation Christians. All of the adults in our church were saved in their 20s or even older. Most of them had never even heard the gospel as children. But now we have a crop of young people who have been in church for most of their lives, can recite numerous Bible verses and Bible stories, and can sing nearly every song in the hymn book. Yet they are as lost as those who have never set foot in the church. A few of them are even students in our Christian school.
Please pray that the Lord will do a convicting work in the hearts of these young people. Pray that they will recognize their personal need of a Savior and have the courage to make the decision necessary.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Things have actually been pretty normal around here for a change. Clinic attendance is up and averaging more than 20 patients each day. I am told that the local government health worker is out of medicine as is the nearest government clinic (about a 6 hour walk away). I am seeing patients from as far as 8 hours away. Pretty amazing!
A man passed away in the Kensa neighborhood last week. He was older and had gone to the government hospital in town. It was quite the production figuring out how to get his body back so it could be properly mourned and buried. They ended up flying the coffin into the airstrip and Brother Randy went and picked it up. He was related to several of our church families and 2 of our school students.
Another one of the teen girls went forward for salvation on Sunday. That makes 4 girls in my Sunday school class that have made professions. What a blessing to see the Lord at work!
I'll close with a humorous side note. Last night I went to a fellowship in one of the neighborhoods of our village. I was sitting there in the hut with a dirt floor, a grass roof, and a fire in the center of the hut. The children sitting next to me were barefoot as was the older couple seated on the ground. One of our national preachers was leading the singing, but he had to stop to turn off the cell phone that was ringing in his pocket. What a clash of cultures and times!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Several weeks ago I asked you to pray about a decision that I was considering. The decision is now made and I am free to share it with you. For some time, I have desired to move away from the mission station proper to an area that is closer to where the people live. The mission station (which includes the Smiths' house, the clinic, the school, and the duplex where Tiffany and I live) is situated on the top of a mountain above where the airstrip is being built. The other houses in the village are scattered around in groupings called house lines (sort of like our neighborhoods). There is one house line about a 20 minute hike above us, a small house line about 10 minutes below us, and then another 15 minutes down the road leads you to the church and the first of a group of 3-4 more house lines.
The problem for me moving into one of the house lines is that I have to be close to the clinic to be available for emergencies. This dilemma had me stumped for quite a while. But, as I was praying about it, I realized that I could move into the house line just below the mission station and still be only about 10 minutes from the clinic. I'll spare you the story of the process, but suffice it to say that I am now in the beginning stages of building a house in that house line. It is just behind the home of Silas and Alice. (Silas is one of our national preachers and Alice is my clinic helper.) It will be very national in style and setup, so I will be able to have most of the work done by men in our community.
I am very excited about this move and hope to accomplish several things through it. 1) It will make me more available and approachable to the people. 2) Living close to them will increase my understanding of their culture and hopefully also aid my study of the village language. 3) It will give me more opportunities for casual contacts and just to spend time with the women of the village. Please pray for the Lord's direction in the project and that it will indeed be a help and not a hindrance to the ministry here in Kiari.
Monday, February 22, 2010
I must apologize for the many weeks that have passed since my last post. The first two weeks I was in town for a break time. I had internet access and fully intended to directly log into the blog and even post pictures, but I found myself even busier than I expected and never quite got to it. Since my return to the bush, I have not had email access. So, if you have emailed me and not gotten a reply, that is why. I am trying to get it fixed but haven't been successful yet.
At any rate, things here are going fairly well. As I mentioned, I, along with Tiffany, went into town for about ten days on a combination supply trip and vacation. It was nice to do our own shopping, make some internet purchases, and even skype our families. When we returned, the Smiths left for ten days for their vacation. Now we are finally all back in the bush and hard at work. Today started the 2nd week of the 2nd quarter of school.
Things seem to have settled down after the break-in last month. The court case was finally settled agreeably to everyone concerned. The village magistrates wrote a preventive order stating that anyone damaging mission property in the future will have an 18 month jail sentence. People think that that will be a large deterrent to any future incidents of this nature. Both Jeremiah and Jonathan have made things right with the Lord and want to make a public apology to the church. Jeff Owens, one of the other missionaries here, is meeting with them twice a week. Thank you for your prayers for them and please continue to uphold them.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Today (Monday) has been yet another saga in a rather interesting week. It all started last Wednesday afternoon. When Tiffany and I got home from church around 6pm, we discovered that our house had been broken into. We were missing a good number of high price electronic items including Tiffany's computer, MP3 player, and camera, a generator that I had purchased for the clinic, a full-size keyboard that I was babysitting for a missionary on furlough, my cell phone, and a large backpack. One of the national preachers was notified that evening and he gathered the men of the church and some other men with tracking know-how. They spent the night blocking the paths out of the village and searching the neighborhoods for evidence. By morning, they had discovered the culprits and some of the stolen items.
Now for some background information. There are two clans in our village of Kiari. One is KVK and is where the church and mission station are located. The other is Kensa. There is almost constant tension between the two clans. The majority of our church is from KVK, although we have a few families from Kensa. The Kensa group are quick to notice any perceived slights and feel strongly that we favor KVK. KVK feels that we are their missionaries and resent Kensa benefiting from our presence at all.
The thieves were all from Kensa. One of the thieves, probably the ringleader, was a former student at our Christian school. He was angry with us because he was expelled earlier this year. Another thief was a present student. This meant that they were familiar with our house and with our dog. Unfortunately, the whole incident just added fuel to the fire of the KVK versus Kensa battle. Even though all the stolen items were recovered, the village council (like a mayor) wanted to bring police from our province capital to thoroughly deal with the situation. Sounds good, but the council is from KVK and was hoping to get back at Kensa in this way. Confused yet? It's a bit mind-boggling.
Today, a girl came to the clinic with a broken arm. She is from Kensa and was accompanied by a number of her friends and relatives. When KVK realized what was going on, a number of them also showed up at the clinic shouting at the Kensa group and waving their bush knives. They basically thought it was pretty bald-faced of them to break into our home and then expect to get medical care from us. A fight probably would have erupted right in our yard, but Randy Smith, the senior missionary here, sent them all away while I splinted the girl's arm. There was some more shouting and such down in the village, but nothing too serious developed.
At any rate, we are completely safe. We ourselves were never in danger. There is always some danger to our possessions, but no one wishes to hurt us. The big prayer request in all of this is that the Lord will use it for His glory. We have no desire to see the KVK-Kensa dispute further strengthened because of this incident. We keep stressing that we are missionaries to all of Kiari, not one particular clan, but the clan mindset of the people makes it hard for them to understand that. Please also pray for the two teen boys who were involved in the robbery Jeremiah and Jonathan. They have both made professions of faith in the past, but their present actions are certainly calling that into question. Please pray that the Lord will use this to draw them back to Himself.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
After many months of waiting, we received word on Monday that Elizabeth Ellinghausen's work permit has finally been approved. This should enable her to get her visa in a few weeks and perhaps reach PNG in time to start the 2nd quarter of school on February 8th.
We changed the school schedule a bit after Christmas break and now have 4th grade coming 5 days a week and the 1st and 2nd coming 4 days a week. This enables us to move a little faster through the school year (more of a normal speed), and also makes it a little easier on the students as we are not doubling up as much. It does mean that I am teaching more classes each day, but somehow we are getting done even earlier.
Please pray for some major decisions that we are considering right now. I don't feel free to share everything at this time but hope to be more explicit in the days ahead!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
It is officially 2010, as you well know. Due to time zone differences, the new year arrived here in PNG 15 hours before it got to the East Coast of the US. We didn't have any noisy celebrations or balls dropping though:-)
Seriously though, it was a fun-filled week with two different church Christmas parties. The first, on Tuesday, was just for church members and their families. There were around 50 people there (including children). We had a mumu where a pit is dug in the ground and filled with large stones. A fire is lit on top to heat the stones. When the stones are ready, the fire is removed, the stones are lined with banana leaves and the food is piled on top. Then the food is covered with more leaves, then dirt is shoveled over the top. Basically the food is steam cooked as in a very large pressure cooker. A couple hours later (longer if there is meat in the mumu), the dirt and leaves are carefully removed and the food taken out and distributed. While the mumu was cooking, there was informal volleyball games and a lot of visiting. After the mumu, Elena Smith, Tiffany, and I distributed Christmas cookies. Then, for the second (or third) course, we had a soup made of maggi (like ramen noodles), tuna, cabbage, and beans, served over rice. In the evening, the adults went into the Smiths' house and watched a Christian video while Tiffany and I took the kids to our house and let them see Winnie the Pooh. They don't understand most of the English but they laughed a lot at the pictures.
On Thursday was the part for the entire church and their families. We again had a mumu, bigger this time, and the volleyball games while it was cooking were organized with formal teams. In the evening we had a Bible quiz time, always a favorite. Then they made scones (like biscuits) and coffee. All in all, both parties were enjoyable times of fellowship.
The big praise for the week regards Megan, the teen girl who had gotten away from the Lord. She was in my Sunday school class on Sunday morning, but didn't seem to really want to chat when I approached her afterwards. She didn't stay for the morning service, but I saw her around after the afternoon service. Another girl came to me and told me that she wanted to see me. When I went to her, she said that she knew she had done wrong and that she was under a lot of conviction. She knows that she made a lot of public sin and wants to make a public confession to the church. She asked to meet with me and Brother Randy and Elena sometime this week. What a blessing to see the Lord working in her heart! We have seen several of the new, promising believers wander away, but she is the first to come back with a desire to make things right. I firmly believe that the Lord's conviction in her heart is a direct result of your prayers. Please continue to pray that she will have the courage to follow through on her decision.