Sunday, July 22, 2007

(Some) News and Prayer Requests (Update #2)

Ok, here's the thing about PNG: 1 day here can feel like multiple days. So to me, instead of being here for just 2 1/2 weeks, it feels like I've been here for about 3 months. I swear- for like 2 days now, I've been just antsy- wanting to write you, but 3 things: first- I don't like feeling like I'm "writing home from camp", second- I don't want to bug you with too many notes, and third- when I did finally check the calendar just now, I realized that it's only been a WEEK since I last wrote!! I thought for sure it'd been like 2 weeks! Too bad- I'm writing anyway!!!

And now the funny thing- there's not a whole lot to report!!! I just am really missing people today...

This week started with the totally amazing tribal visit I'd mentioned last letter, and went on to include a "staged mumu", a trip to Goroka, and a hike to the River (my favorite hike here). Good stuff!! We said goodbye to some of the girls helping with Hospitality on Thursday, and then the GI guys (film crew) left this weekend. So it's been quieting down here a bit.

Friday before GI took off, we got to see a very rough cut of what the film "might" be like, and it was amazing. I can't wait to show it to you guys back home. I got to do a lot of new and fun things on this trip because I was part of the "film crew", and I am sooooo thankful for that!! Also, God used these guys to tangibly demonstrate some very God-pleasing characteristics- wisdom, patience, compassion, servanthood, total reliance on the Lord- and I'm really grateful for that as well. ( P.S.- remind me to tell you a really cool story about the family of the camera guy!)

The students are all enjoying their taste of tribal life. This is a very young group- about half of them are 16-19. I've NEVER interacted with this age group before now, and I will say- it's a breath of fresh air. All of them are so obviously in love with the Lord, and already feel like they want to serve God thru missions- and I've just never witnessed that in people of this age group before. It's really awesome! I love the girls the most- they come into the Kitchen to ask how I'm doing, and if they can help with things, they want me to go with them to the village, and to do stuff with them after classes. They invited me to a little "all-girls-night-in-cabin-2"- complete with popcorn-which was fun until they started trying to convince me that one of the GI guys and I were "so MFEO". HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! They make me laugh a lot- it's the best. I know I shouldn't but I totally have my favorites. :) This has been a very good experience!

I'm gonna go straight to some prayer requests now, and also say that I'd love it if you'd send me some for you as well.

1. For guidance and wisdom when talking with the girls.
2. For time with Nationals- I haven't spent a lot of time with nationals here thus far, and I'd like to.
3. For Dave and Sally Cross- an amazing couple who I totally adore- they have been at Interface for 16 years- the entire time they've been married, and they will be leaving permanently just 2 weeks after I leave. So pray for packing and planning, and letting go of a long ministry, and for a smooth transition- of "the reigns" here, and back into western life.
4. For the finishing of this film project- there's been mixed reactions from staff, and I just hope and pray that clear communication results in a finished product that everyone is happy with, and that clearly represents Interface for future participants.
5. For Kara Shaylor- she is one of the ITF coordinators from back home (she and her husband live in Deltona). She has lung problems, and because of the higher altitude here, she's been very sick- to the point that she and Doug had to leave the program and go stay at Lapilo (NTM regional headquarters) so she could be close to the health clinic at all times.
6. For my heart- while I am very happy here, I'm missing people (you guys).
7. For re-connection when I come home.
8. For trip finances.

I've seen my old language helper, Joyce, and her little boy Rich a few times now, and it's been so good! Upon seeing eachother again the first time, we hugged for a good long time. I wanted to see Baby Rich immediately, and while I was holding him, she called me "susa bilong Rich" (Rich's sister), and "pikinini bilong mi" (her daughter). I'd never heard her say that before, and I wanted to cry. (it's a little funny, because she's actually younger than me, but whatever- I've got a Bena Mama)

Oh- one more very cool thing (for me): I got to see the Milky Way here! Like 3 times now! The nights here can be soooo amazingly clear at times, and the stars just stand out so brightly! No ambient/ city lights here to mute them! One night a while back now I noticed that a "cloud arch" wasn't moving- it would have been the only "clouds" in the sky- and I was told it was the Milky Way. Very cool. I see things like that, and the beauty that is every which way you can possibly turn here, and think, "who says there's no Creator? This could have happened by chance?? NO WAY!"

Thank you so much again- just for even reading this, for sending me, and for praying for me. Thank you so much for all that you do! I am so grateful for the family and friends God's put in my life.

Lukim Yu Nau.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

One Amazing Day (Summer Update #1)

Hey Folks!

This isn't even a real "update"- I've been a little sick, and very busy, and haven't had time yet to write something extremely long. (Lucky you :) ) So many cool things have happened! But for now, here's a summary of today (Sunday July 15th for me- still Saturday for you).

First off, let me explain that there are some guys here working on a film project. They're making a short film about ITF, for future promotional use. Well, they need "movie stars", and I get to be part of their team. It's pretty sweet.

Today, my "big assignment" was to go on a trip to a tribe, so we could join the Believers in a worship service. I was so excited!! It was like a mini-sidetrip. So, we loaded up early, and traveled down the Highlands Highway (in the OPPOSITE direction of town- I've never been that way :) ), to a long bumpy road, over a bridge that was really scary because so much of it was missing, to the Yagaria tribe.

I didn't know this, but Yagaria was only the second work New Tribes began in PNG- back in the 1950's. Wow.

We got there, met up with the man who was "hosting" us, Iteve, and then started hiking to the church. This was like a 30 minute hike- down one steep slope and up another, complete with cliffs, water holes, and a mud pit. Waaaaay up at the top of the last ridge, there was a little village with some cool houses, and the church.

The girls and I sat down, and very soon ladies and children from the village started coming up to us and sitting with us. "Detene!" (good morning in Yagaria) I met a little girl named Darcy, and then a lady who explained (in Pidgin) that she was Darcy too- the namesake of the little girl. I got to meet Darcy's mom, and she was Eteve's wife. The ladies were fascinated with my curly hair, so they were playing with it, and I was just loving all of this! We talked and talked until it was time to go in.

So we file in, men on one side, women and children on the other. I'd brought my Pidgin Bible with me, so I could follow along with references. I tend to understand more Pidgin than I can speak, so I was able to follow along for a lot of the service. (Eteve spoke in tok ples, then would repeat what he said in pidgin for us) We sang some songs, and then listened to a message.

I tell you... being there, in that little one room church, on top of a hill, in the middle of the Highlands- it's the best thing. I WISH you could have been there with me... Because these silly typed out words don't do it justice...

Iteve said that though we're from different places, we have "one bel" (one heart), and "one lain" (we're of the same family)- we all belong to God. He said this church doesn't matter to God. The name we give ourselves, and the building- it doesn't matter. What matters is our belief in Jesus- God's son. He said the Bible will straighten your thinking, show you your sin- it's God's talk, and it's got power like nothing else. He said Jesus died on the cross, and that gives us a relationship with God. He referred to 1Peter 2:2 (I think) where it talks about spiritual food, and encouraged us to grow, and come up big- the kind of believer God wants us to be. When we do this, we'll be blessed with spiritual fruit (Gal. 5). He reminded us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). We can do good things, but if you're doing it for other men or for yourself, you're coming short of serving God. Jesus' work makes us pleasing to God. He talked about how a new car or a big house can make people in the USA, Australia, New zealand and PNG feel like they're happy, but we need to be filled with happiness from the Holy Spirit. He said that in God's eye, our souls are more expensive than "4 billion dollars". We are priceless to God. He reminded us that we "come up clean already" (John 15:3), and that if we come close to God, He will come close to us (James 4:8).


All this from a man in the middle of the forest, on top of a hill in the mountains of New Guinea.

At the end, the Papa of the tribe stood up, and explained that many years ago, he was the one who had invited the New Tribes missionaries to come there so they could share "God's talk" with them there in Yagaria, and he was so happy to have us there today too, to worship with them and share God's talk again. Like one of the film guys said- "we are in the presence of a saint", and really- this tiny little old man just radiated.

Friends- the church is alive. AND- it is in places you wouldn't even dream of. Today was such a sweet reminder to me that when we get to Heaven, it's not just going to be a "reunion" with just the believers we happened to be friends with. These people I met today are going to be there. The people I'll never see again in Pawaia (from Jan-Feb 2006) are going to be there. The 5 believers I met in Kaul in Feb 2007 will be there. People you and I can't even imagine will be there- from EVERY tribe, tongue and nation. And it WILL be like a reunion- we'll be so happy to see eachother- these people from times past and times still to come- that all worship the One True God. I get emotional just thinking about this- it's such a beautiful thing.

I pray every person reading this will get to MEET these people some day, because we have "One Bel". One heart. Isn't that cool?? You could meet these same people!

I gotta get going- some of the students are having a special little thing tonight and I promised I'd go. I love you, and hope you are doing well! Please write me! It took about 7 days before I started getting homesick! Share prayer requests- I'd love to pray for you!