Monday, January 22, 2007

PNG Update #2 (long, but there's a story in here :)

Wow!! 19 days still to spend in Paradise- 21 till I see American soil. Time flies when you're having fun :).

I want to thank you again for your prayers and support of all natures. I'm so very thankful to be here in PNG, and this trip couldn't have happened without you!

This trip has been everything I prayed for. The biggest thing I desired was to build relationships with the students, staff, and Bena- and God has definitely allowed that to happen. The students and Assist team members are fantastic. Good friendships have been forged amongst us, and I know we'll be in touch for times to come. It'll be neat to hear about what they do in the future- either with missions or in daily life.

Just like last year, I find myself spending a LOT of time in the evenings with Dave and Sally Cross- a dear couple who just pour themselves into whomever is around them. They are such good role-models, and so inviting! Also very good sources of wisdom and encouragement. Sally heads up the kitchen too, so I get double time with her.

And the Nationals- that's the best part for me. When I arrived here, a few of the girls in the Kitchen recognized me. Julie was one who remembered me from last year. Then going to the village on different occasions now, I've been able to spend time with Joyce- my old language helper (and her baby), Quala- who had baby Jill with her last year (Jill now lives in Goroka with another relative), Lucy- a lady who does laundry here who remembered me, and Yagaso- the grandma of the village. A few days ago, we walked to another village, "New Camp", and I saw the same children walking on the road that I saw last year! Yesterday (Monday for me), we went up to the village for Market Day, and all the girls from the Kitchen called out to me by name. That is soooo cool!!

Yesterday in Yamo-yalo (closest village) at the market, I ran into Julie from the Kitchen. She was carrying a bilum (string bag) that she was still working on, and I told her she should help me with mine. She said to bring it to the Kitchen that night when we were both working. She also introduced me to her daughter, Joy. I forgot my bilum, because I was in such a rush to get to the kitchen in the afternoon, but she did ask me about it, and I told her I was sorry, I'd bring it tomorrow (today). Later on while working, Julie started saying something in Pidgin, and I couldn't quite follow. Sally told me she was saying that she's been watching me, and that she admired me, thought I was pretty, and liked having me around the kitchen when she worked. I got so bashful then! I said "thank you true" and turned bright red. But I was sooooooooooo very happy!! Yay! I really like Julie too.

Sally and I got stuck in the kitchen for an extra half hour last night because of a small storm, so we sat, drank coffee and chatted. I asked her about the work meris- are any of them believers? She said no, there was only one believer in the group (of about 10 I think) that she knew of for sure. I asked, "What about Julie?" She told me no. Since she's known Julie, she's been with several different men, all of whom (she claims) have left her because she can't have children (it turns out Joy is her adopted daughter- probably taken from another family member). Some she's been married to, and some she hasn't. Apparently, she hasn't really shown interest in hearing the teaching from the missionaries who work among the Bena.

Instantly- in hearing (a little of) her story- my heart just went out to her. Many of you know my testimony- I would be willing to bet that this lady and I have some parallel areas- in spite of our cultural differences. She and I have experienced the same hurts, felt the same pain... I wish she would know the Lord, and find His peace and rest and comfort... It makes me so sad to think that she doesn't have that right now, and is blind to the fact that she needs Him!

That leads me to Prayer Requests:
1. For Julie- that someday her heart will melt, and that she would come to know the Lord.
2. For the Bena people- who haven't shown great interest in the Bible teachings over the past year. I want to see these people in Heaven! They have become so dear to me.
3. For my perseverence with time spent in the Word and with the Lord. I could definitely do better in this area...
3. PRAISE- I get to go on sidetrip!! YAY!! So also for safety while flying, and while in the tribe.
4. PRAISE- ALL of my trip money has now been raised. God is so good and faithful- why do I ever doubt?!

Well folks, I haven't yet been fired from working in the kitchen, but have instead been given more independant jobs and less instruction. I guess there's a girl who can cook hiding inside me somewhere :).

Love and miss you all! Wish you were here!


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

PNG Update #1

Dear All!

You are very much missed and loved!! Ok, I had to get that out... I just got access to email yesterday, and I feel like there's already so much to say!! I won't overwhelm with every detail, though it is tempting... Hopefully I can send some pictures in the future. I'm too tired to deal with that right now though :).

First, Thank you to those who came out last Sunday to Jess's place- that meant so much to me!

I can't even tell you in adequate words what I felt flying into Goroka. And coming up the bumpy muddy rocky road to ITF... It didn't take long to unpack and get settled into my little round house (no cabin this year). And now- I am where and as I've wanted to be since I left this place last year. My feet are dirty (had to wear the rainboots today!), my tummy's full, my bug net is up, I'm wearing skirts, and cooking constantly (can you even imagine!?). I am HOME. I am so happy, and feel so blessed to be here! Again!

With that feeling comes another, of contemplation I guess... Good thing I'm in our Father's hands. I will say though- I covet your prayers on my behalf in regards to decision making and future missions involvement.

My time here at ITF will mainly be spent helping in the Kitchen- we cook for 45-60 people at a time, plus have to prepare things in advance for Side Trip (when the students visit a tribe). They've also got me running the Kai Bar (snack bar) between classes, and doing little office jobs too. I am thankful that God has allowed for ample time to spend with the students- this is such a good group! They're who I came to serve, and I'm really enjoying doing so, and getting to know them. I have lots of time to spend with Sally- my favorite staff person here, and her husband Dave- both very good sources of encouragement and wise counsel.

I've been to the villages once thus far- haven't seen my old language helper, but heard she had a baby. Lots of familiar faces, but it's hard to put names and faces together quite yet... The ladies who help in the kitchen remembered me, which I thought was kinda cool.

On Sunday, the speaker during church talked about having a passion for God, versus inadvertently having a passion for other things over God. It's so easy to forget that love for God is more than just knowledge OF Him, more than just obeying rules we think will please Him... It's the most important thing! Paul prays in Eph.1:7 that we would be blessed with wisdom and revelation, so that we would know God better. Paul is referring to an experiential knowledge here. I hope each of you grows in this type of knowledge of Our God.

I do have some prayer requests- some are kind of silly, but still they're requests!

1. For the teaching in the Bena tribe- they heard the Gospel in 2006, but seem to have a very low level of spiritual interest, and lots of "lotu-ism", or "playing church" without true belief. This area has been very "missionized" in the past, by people who had good intentions, but didn't communicate the message in an effective manner. The result now is very mixed beliefs, and real reluctance to any different message (including the Truth).
2. (this is the silly one) I really would like to go on Side Trip with the students! This would be a total bonus for me.
3. For finances to continue to come in for me- especially since I want to go on sidetrip, because that's an extra $200 or so (since we have to fly into the location).
4. For health to maintain- Last year I wasn't sick at all, and I've already been sick after just a week here...
5. For stamina- it's easy to want to nap in the sun, or on my breaks, and I want to be as helpful and involved as possible. Jetlag stinks...
6. For the Spirit's control over my mind- it's easy to think about situations I left behind, and it's very easy for me to get homesick. It took 4 days for it to kick in last year, this year it took a full 8- so that's improvement! I just pray that my focus would be on Christ first, students and staff next, and the surrounding Bena.

I love you all, and wish you could be here too! I wish you could witness the beauty of this place. You'd never want to leave either. Please send me your prayer requests, if you have any- that I may pray for you more effectively.