Tanya was born in Australia and was raised in a non-Christian home with a younger brother and sister. Tanya’s parents moved their family a lot, to new houses and towns, hoping for a better life. When Tanya was 11, her parents divorced and she lived with her dad. Tanya and her dad moved and started going to different churches. While attending a church in her hometown, some missionaries came through with New Tribes Mission (NTM) and challenged her dad to become a missionary. (This same church is still Tanya’s home church and currently supports the Robinsons financially). Her father accepted that challenge and began his first step as a missionary at the age of 47 by attending Bible School in 1989.
Tanya stayed behind with a couple from her home church to finish up her last two years of high school. Tanya’s dad was so excited about Bible School that every time he called, he would talk to Tanya about how much she would enjoy Bible School. So, Tanya began to pray about going and ended up leaving school at the end of that year to go to Bible School.
At the end of Bible school, Tanya wanted to go straight into missionary training, but was too young. So, she worked in the kitchen at the school for a year cooking for the single students. Close to the end of that year, she heard a missionary from Papua New Guinea (PNG) tell of a need for a cook in PNG for the dorm kids. So, Tanya began praying and after she finished cooking at the school in Sydney, she had enough money for a one way ticket to PNG.
Tom is the youngest of 5 children and because his parents were saved just before he was born, Tom was raised in a Christian home. He was saved at the age of 13 and that next summer, Tom went to a youth summer camp and heard a missionary from Argentina tell about his ministry. This missionary ran a farm to provide meat for a school. Since Tom was raised on a farm, that type of ministry appealed to him. However, although he felt the Lord’s leading in this direction, he had always planned to take over the family logging business. After graduation, Tom worked in the logging business for 3 years until the Lord literally knocked him over the head with a branch when he was cutting down a tree. However, Tom was still hesitant because he thought he had to go to college and seminary and he did not want to do that. Tom looked into short-term missions and discovered that NTM did not require Bible college and seminary but he could go straight into missionary training. So, Tom went on a Summit trip with New Tribes to Bolivia, South America. The team leader there talked Tom into going to Bible School. So, after the Summit trip, Tom went directly into Bible School for 2 years. At the end of Bible School, Tom heard about Interface (ITF). ITF is a five-week long school run by New Tribes Mission for young people that want to know more about what is involved in being a foreign and especially a bush missionary. The teams take on vigorous Bible and language study and are exposed to the living conditions that tribal missionaries encounter. New Tribes was building the campus and needed help with logging, so after Tom graduated, he was off to PNG.
When Tanya arrived in July of 1991, Tom was already in PNG working on a Summit team. Tom’s original goal was to be at Interface (ITF) but they didn’t have any room for him. So, until ITF had a place for Tom, he had to go out to Lapilo, where Tanya was cooking for the dorm kids, to help a Summit team. In the meantime, she and Tom became friends.
In December, Tom got word that his mom was very sick and only had six months to live. Tom went home at the end of February, just when he and Tanya began thinking seriously about starting a relationship. Tom spent four months at home and came back the end of July. The night he got back, he proposed and they became engaged. They were married in January of 1993 and a year and a half later went into missionary training. In 1995, during the third semester of training, Victoria was born. The Robinsons had already decided to go back to Interface. Tom’s ministry was to be a mechanic in campus maintenance. Tom needed diesel engine experience and spent the next 10 months getting some training working in a friend’s shop. From there they went to Australia and discovered that Tanya was pregnant with Christy. After Christy was born and paperwork was in order, the Robinsons arrived in PNG in October of 1997 when Christy was only 6 weeks old.