News from the field of Papua New Guinea: At this time of year many missionaries are returning to the field from their home assignment or medical furlough times. Travel is always complex and of course, Covid complicates things considerably more. Once back in PNG the government is currently imposing a 3-week quarantine. This further delays their getting speedily settled back into their respective ministries. Prayers are definitely needed and appreciated as families seek to be faithfully involved in the work God has committed to their hands.
Jonathan & Susan Kopf are one of the families currently stateside but “en route” back to the field. They had tickets purchased but needed paperwork that didn’t come thru. They are now waiting, waiting, waiting on approval papers from government offices in PNG so they can re-purchase their tickets and return to the Hewa people in PNG. While in limbo they continue working on the Hewa New Testament translation and other projects for their language group. The uncertainties of how long it will take for approval to come thru make life here difficult though. Can they leave soon or do they need to rent a house and get their 8th-grade daughter enrolled in school??? Please pray that doors will be opened for them to return to PNG very soon. Update: they arrived back in PNG! Read their update!!
John & Christina Hutteman DID make it back to PNG and have finished the mandatory quarantine. They are now settling back into their various ministries. Christina manages the missionary guest house in the coastal town of Wewak and home schools their sons. John has jumped back into the Business Office. His primary ministry though is to do follow-up and give encouragement to the local tribal churches where missionaries are no longer in residence. He is catching up now, reconnecting with the isolated jungle churches in the East Sepik and Sundown Provinces. Most of these rural churches have HF radios for communicating but several of those radios are needing to be repaired or replaced. A few of the less-remote People Groups can get cellular service which allows John to call them on the phone. It’s expensive and spotty but thankfully a good use of the technology God has graciously made available for His work in PNG today. John is also preparing for a week of planning meetings with a group of church leaders 23-27 August. Though considered “support missionaries” their ministries are vital to the overall ongoing smooth functioning of God’s church in PNG.
Dave & Robyn Parry are another support team family with crucial ministries to keep the church planting teams in rural areas of the country effectively functioning. Robyn does the paperwork for getting items individual missionaries have shipped into PNG thru the customs procedures: household setup supplies, school books, solar panels, other miscellaneous sundry items that aren’t available locally but so needed for missionary families. Dave is full-time helping in “Tech Services” for missionaries out in the rural locations. He’s key in setting up their water, electrical, and computer systems so they can live and function effectively in their remote locations. Dave is coordinating a team of missionaries with a huge range of specialized – experts in every area, engineers, mechanics, electricians, builders/ carpenters, etc. These missionaries will be available to “go bush” and help in the isolated locations so that the language learners & church planting teams can focus on the needs of their respective ministries.
In the YembiYembi tribe where Tim & Courtney Shontere helped establish the local church, Tim sends these tidbits for our prayers:
- Sakius has been doing the Sunday Bible teaching from 1 Timothy 6. He says, “It is kick talk yeah! It shoots our stomachs greatly!”
Fidelis teaches Sunday School to the little ones (age 5-12) the days of Creation. He relayed to Tim, “There are about 30 small ones that attend.”
- Marriage Bible Study – Each leader has taken 2 married couples, and they are meeting each week for a Bible Study. They will be doing this for the month of August and evaluate how it went.
- Women’s Meeting – Matilda will be leading the women’s meeting for the month of August. (Pictured: Matilda with her husband Fidelis & their daughter Delka)
- Standing Against the Tide – The leaders and their wives received “talk stones” this month for the way they handled Nathan’s funeral and other things. They are standing on God’s Truth and refusing to go back to the old way of thinking. The talk stones have calmed down a bit this week. “We continue to reach out in discipleship. We are focusing most of our time & thinking on the serious ones. We have a few that are standing with us.”
Missionaries Adam & Anna Ferguson in the Lembena language group have been living in the village for a year now and are continuing in the grueling routine of local language and culture study. They recently had an evaluation of their progress and are at the “progressing” level – basically step 2 of 4 levels of progress. Anna writes,
We are learning over and over again how dependent we are on the Lord to accomplish anything good through us and that often He is more concerned about the work He needs to do IN us in order for us to be effective tools for His use. In every area of life we continually feel our not-enoughness and insufficiency. Overall the main thing we keep coming back to is that the Lord’s steadfast love and faithfulness each step of the way and His grace, strength and provision are sustaining us as we are daily stretched and overwhelmed beyond our feeble, human capacity.
Meanwhile, back in SEMO (Southeast Missouri) – Some dear friends and co-workers from PNG came to visit!!!! Though only a short 2-night 1 full day stay it was really refreshing to see them again – and get re-acquainted with the kiddos! Jonathan and Naomi gave me some MUCHLY needed and appreciated hugs and cuddles!!! Jacob & Beth Devine will be returning to PNG in December to fit back into their support ministry roles which serve to keep the church planting teams ministering in the more rural areas of the country.
Following that visit from representatives of my PNG Sepik family, some of my siblings, nieces & nephew were here for a week. What memories we made! Another PNG co-worker family is coming by this Friday for lunch. They’ve promised I can hold their infant son!!!! Something I have missed since leaving PNG 2 years ago. You can only admire babies from afar here in the civilized land. All in all, this summer has been filled with such wonderful, happily memorable opportunities. Thank you, Lord!
Walking update: I came across a “sleeping beauty” on the trail one day, in deep repose in her leather jacket but with no shoes, only socks on her feet. I think it was Ms. L who I have met and prayed with before. She finally woke up at my persistent disturbance to her slumber, but before I could ask her anything, she scurried off to find her boyfriend. Another occasion permitted a lengthy chat with Mr. R – a night security guard at a nearby 24/7 store. His story is filled with evidences of God having undertaken for him – but he has yet to make that connection. Prayers will be appreciated that further “howdy’s” along the footpaths will prompt acquaintances such as these to ponder their relationship (or lack thereof) with our Saviour.
My grateful thanks for your thoughts, prayers, and evidences of support as I settle into what God has for me now. Your part has helped make the transition bearable.
Co-labouring for our King!