Merry Christmas from Papua New Guinea!
The past few months have been pretty intense for me in so many ways… and it seems like Christmas has taken a very different flavor for me, kind of a culmination of the events of the year. Many joys and many heartbreaks and many long hours pouring over a few New Testament books in particular. Here a few highlights, so you can see what I mean.
January—As you know, I spent much of last year back in Canada due to my diagnosis of MS. In January I had another MRI scan and was very hopeful about the results. It was pretty crushing to hear that my MS had gotten worse in just a few months and that I would have to start a lifelong regime of medication to keep the flare-ups at bay.
February brought new medication and increased anxiety as I worked on insurance and continuing medical tests and wondering whether or not my body would cope with the meds. (Many people are unable to handle the side effects.) The whole time I was wondering if I would be able to return to PNG or not!!
March, April, May, June—the Lord continued to prove Himself faithful in answering many prayers regarding my medical-related worries!! During this time I also continued to work hard on the Mengen New Testament translation, hoping and praying that I would be able to return to PNG to finish up the final books.
July, August, September—Lots of fun with friends and family. A huge highlight was a visit from my friend Keri who worked with me in PNG for many years. We drove all the way to Saskatchewan to visit the Wright family and got to see “our boy” Andrew Wright get married! Such a great weekend that was with a reunion of old friends!! So much JOY!!
Then just a few days after Andrew’s wedding, the Lord enabled me to return to PNG for a few months!!
Much of September and October were spent with my Mengen friends, working on various books to see them checked and polished and ready for the final check with our mission consultant. I even got to spend 3 weeks in Lele village and to hear what the Lord is doing in the hearts of my “family” there. It was a pretty crazy time with lots of really exciting visits with people but also long hours in the office. When I finally got back to Hoskins, it took me quite awhile to recover.
October—just a few days after my visit to the tribe, I heard that my dear grandma had taken a turn for the worse. On October 30, she passed into the presence of Jesus. It was SO hard to be here on the other side of the world during this time. I had only been back in the country for 7 weeks, so that made it even harder knowing that there was no way I could turn around and go back to Canada for her funeral. I was grateful for photos and phone calls and messages of all sorts from my family at home that made me feel a bit like I was there. Even with that, it was still pretty hard to be so far from home.
All of November and December have just been a blur of work, often from 6am till 8pm, going through the many stages of Bible translation. I’ve felt the Lord’s grace each day, sustaining me even in the midst of tears and struggle and many times despair at the amount of work ahead of me. I am happy to say that I am finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I have about 2 weeks worth of work ahead of my and then I should be ready for the consultants’ checks coming up in the new year.
December also brought another event to Papua New Guinea as we suffered the loss of one of our friends in Lapilo, where my family and I used to live many years ago. It has been a crushing time for many of my co-workers in the Highlands Region and for many “kids” that I grew up with. So hard, so sad. For me, it has also been a time of contemplation and reflection and has brought heaven so much closer as I also remember my grandma’s recent home-going. There have been hundreds of posts and comments on Facebook in recent days as we remember the life of this man who just recently died. I really loved one post in particular that talked about fighting valiantly in the arena and striving until the end, making our lives count for eternity, because none of us knows what breath will be our last. A great challenge to fight valiantly and make our lives count!!
Throughout the past several weeks, I have been spending a lot of time in the book of Revelation and it has been a great way to end a such a long year. We have SO much hope for our future in heaven. When I think of the struggles of this earth and the pain of loss of friends and family, it really ties Christmas and heaven together so well. I can actually picture the angels who surprised the shepherds in their fields and peered down from heaven at the baby in the manger! They are the same ones who are in heaven crying, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!!’
Thanks for your faithful prayers for me. I have sensed the Lord’s sustaining grace each day this year and know that you are standing with me in this journey also. Amazing to think that 2018 should bring the completion of the Mengen New Testament, 14 years in the making!
Let us rejoice with the angels and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, because he is forever worthy.