May is the month of the great missionary exodus from the country. As the academic year ends, families of high school grads head home en-masse to help their children settle. Other families too depart for their transitory Home Assignment (HA) time. Those left behind function as a skeleton crew. We’ve worked as bare bones before and God has always proven Himself faithful. He’ll certainly do it again this round!

Out in the sticks – tribal teams are not immune to the lure of the exodus. With the home-school term also ending, missionaries who recently finished their years of CLA (Culture & Language acquisition) may take a few months HA time before launching into the long haul ahead: scripture translation, writing Bible lessons, teaching basic Bible foundational truths, presenting the Gospel, seeing the birth of the tribal church, then delving into the ongoing years of discipleship needed to see the infant believers grow in their faith and an autonomous tribal church be established.

Such staffing changes on the local front have revamped what’s ahead ……..

  • The family who oversaw our supply department this past year is leaving to meet state-side family needs. This originally looked ominous for those left behind. God though, already had a plan! A new family currently awaiting allocation (Christopher and Lilli Meyer) have agreed to take on the supply ministry for the coming 9 months or so until the return of a full time family to staff supply.
  • Plans for linking the tribal churches now standing on their own (including the May River Iwam) with other more mature PNG Christians has gone from “Plan A” to some plan way beyond Zebra! Our tribal liaison missionary John Hutteman had hoped to visit Iwam land next week – but flights just don’t work out. Instead John will be taking Christians from the YembiYembi, Waxe and Biem language groups to a workshop of Believers Leadership Meetings being held over on New Britain Island. Eventually he hopes to include May River Iwam in this sort of encouragement and training time, too. Please do pray to that end!

The monotony of daily duties has been happily broken of late by interludes forbaptisms and birthday parties. Several of the missionary children had hoped to be baptized at our recent Sepik regional conference – but the day proved too cold and wet for many of us desiring to witness the occasion to submit to the downpour. The baptism was put on hold then finally rescheduled to occur this past weekend. Five or our NTM MKs gave personal testimony of their faith and their desire to follow Christ. Jason Stuart’s 2 children – Jedidiah and Ella Jo – were among them!

Lisa’s son Maikel turned 4 in February
Rosie’s son Pilip turned 1 in March
Meta’s son Kodi will turn 3 this month
Naomi’s daughter Luen will turn 6 the 1st of June.

An also much overdue group birthday party was finally held for 4 of the young children of the PNG ladies who work on our centre. Instead of trying to hold individual parties we grouped all the spring birthdays into one big bash!

Naomi & Luen Lisa, Isabelle & Maikel Meta with Maili & Kodi Rosie & Pilip

Such occasions also give us as missionaries and the missionary children fun opportunities to interact with our employees and their stay at home baby sitters / child care members. Lillian, Betila and Yacinda (pic @ right) make it possible for the Moms to work! Though we have less contact with these gals they are sweet members of the team.

For some literacy updates from out on the jungle front ….

  • Amdu is finishing their 2nd literacy class. The team recently all had their initial trial translation scripture portions checked and were given the go ahead to delve into this massive task of providing a Bible for the Amdu people in their own mother tongue. The Ben Hatton Family is among those heading out this month for a short HA time while Bart & Emily Allen and family continue in the village until their HA turn arrives.
  • At Pei, Candace Swift and Justin & Lauren Rees continue to limp along with ongoing advanced literacy and early Bible lesson preparation and scripture translation. Their co-workers Chris & Evie Jones remain stateside working toward Chris’ full recovery from a bizarre injury to his ankle. It has been a long drawn out process and he still needs an Achilles tendon transplant, then months of physical therapy before they can return to PNG.
  • In Kaje, Taylor and Abby Goheen are persevering in their 1st literacy school and all must be going well as the daily phone calls have ceased! They will likely want to revamp their primers once this initial class finishes. Thankfully their co-workers Jon & Jen Myers (currently in Australia awaiting the paperwork for their newborn son) hope to return soon to be a part of the ongoing literacy program.

And other mission matters for prayer …..

  • Fellow missionaries Gail Chen and Deb Rodges continue their battles with advanced cancer.
  • Slow progress has been made relocating the Kadawar Island evacuees to the mainland.
  • John Hutteman and Thomas Depner persevere with teaching the basic foundational truths of God’s Word to the PNG men who work on our centre. Of the 9 men we employ only about 5 attend and of those only 2 are consistent.

As stated in the opening paragraphs we are going thru another period of there being few people to cover all the bases. Prayers will be appreciated that nothing falls thru the cracks!

To all of you back home who help provide for God’s work here thru your prayers, gifts and other indications of your support – you are as vital to His work as are any of us on location in PNG. You pray – God hears and answers. Thank you for remembering the needs of your New Guinea brothers and sisters in Christ. You may likely never get to meet them until eternity but once there you can be assured that, because of your faithfulness, you have had a part in their being in heaven with our Saviour, too. We remain continually grateful for your part on the team. Thank you!
Co-labouring to bring back Christ as King!
Hope Sharp