Mega thanks for your thoughts and prayers this past month during our Sepik Conference meeting days and the recovery period aftermath. Some of us are still feeling the fog of “jet lag” fatigue after the full and frenzied days!
Our Sepik’s March Madness has begun — that fast-paced full-court press toward our annual regional conference! No competition is involved other than the traditional men’s RISK tournament. Instead just lots of opportunities for encouragement with Bible teaching, prayer, singing, Ladies Nite, Men’s Nite, Skit Nite, Song Nite, Kids Carnival, Wom Day and a host ofContinue reading March 2018 -Hope Sharp
“Ring of fire” – what runs thru your mind? The Johnny Cash version? Try again. To deter his song loop-taping thru your thinking, let Wikipedia help you mentally shift gears to the Pacific Ocean’s 25,000 mile long horseshoe shaped basin of earthquake prone “oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes (more than 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes).” That’s the “ring of fire” this letter is about!
I have a feeling I’m not alone in this…. by year’s end rationed reserves are depleted. I’m running on fumes. Finally Christmas morning arrives. After dealing with the tyranny of the urgent (which anyone else so blessed with the coveted clause of “staff to a cat” among their various job descriptions understands) the Annual Event arrives! I settle in with my Bible, Cds of Handel’s Messiah and a much tattered paper listing the Bible references for each of the songs so I read the verses as the epic oratorio unfolds. My co-worker Linda and I started this tradition back about 1980 when we first arrived in PNG and it has become my rejuvenating haven at year’s end. Everything else fades away as the lyrics straight from God’s Word replenish and refresh my heart. By the time the “Pastoral Symphony” plays the cares of this world have fled. My heart bends in reverence before God! Indeed, He has again recalibrated my mindset to focus on His bountiful mercy and grace so lavished on me in Jesus.
“…. wanpela pikinini man i kamap pinis long yumi, em anpela pikinini God i givim long yumi. Em bai i stap king bilong yumi, na em bai i gat ol dispela nem, `Man bilong givim gutpela tingting tru’ na `God i gat bikpela strong’ na `Papa bilong i stap oltaim’ na `King bilong kamapim gutpela sindaun na bel isi.’” Aisaia 9:6
|For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6|
It’s Christmas again! Each December, among other holiday activities, comes the fun of creating a card for our employees. With a bit of tweaking we also use these cards to give out, along with some baked goodies, to our town business associates and the hospital staff. God always brings it together. The verse in this year’s card is undoubtedly one of the most well-known prophesies of the 1st coming of Christ – and the promise of His return! Oh, what an encouragement it is to ponder that the day He’ll come again could perhaps be even TODAY!
Thanks to YOUR prayers – last month’s literacy trip to Amdu happened! And equally in answer to prayers, God made it clear the literacy trip to Kaje was NOT to be on my agenda.
What does “autumn” conjure up in your memories? Changing leaves? Apples & pumpkins? Black cats & Halloween? This year for me has been fallen to all things pertaining to Literacy!
Combine the hospital visitation ministry with May River Iwam and what do you get? Some prayer needs far more interesting than my humdrum life! Joel Naiti, a man from the village of Aumi where I lived from 1980 until 2000 has been here in the hospital. Joel came to Wewak several months ago with an eye problem. He opted to spend big bucks (K200 = about $70) to go to a local clinic for a “full body scan” to tell him the source of his illness. The scanning machine also supposedly cured all that ailed him and he went home. Last month he came back to see a real doctor as he has an extreme case of exophthalmos – one eye so swollen it’s nearly pushed out of the socket.
|Good ole Dr. Seuss! A few of his books still rank as classics in my thinking – “500 Hats…” being among them, perhaps because of the frequent need to switch which cap I’m wearing. Thankfully I am nowhere near the 500 mark!|
You know the feeling: life stuffed to the brim with a multitude of duties crammed in and spilling outvthrough the gaps. It’s a daily prayer need that I not let anything fall thru the cracks! Without the Lord I would certainly succumb to the mental fatigue — but amid the fullness of life He gives us He is ALWAYS all sufficient. His blessings abound! God graciously allows me to be your representative to His people here in PNG and for that He allots to each day ALL things needful for the charges He commits to our care. And then, as I let Him, He does more! He faithfully uses each assignment He gives as an opportunity to further His work of conforming me to be more and more like Christ. Though a colossal undertaking – He never gives up. Thank you, Lord!
Some years ago when I first moved out of the jungle and into a provincial small town setting I had to learn to live in the urban realm again. It was decidedly not the norm for town living though. If I remember right, we got our:
- Chicken at the gas station
- Butter at the bank
- and money at the grocery store
or some equally unexpected combination for finding and purchasing the above.
Some days it’s a challenge to do even simple mental endeavors. Like today. I counted a stack of office money and came up with K300 total. That was sort of right. If you add another 0 it’s prefect! K3000 – not K300. How do I make such ridiculous mistakes???? Somehow God always intervenes to keep making everything in the finance office balance even when I succumb to such careless errors. Though 2021 is my target date for retirement, on days like today I question whether I will mentally last that long!
“I no yet.” “I no yet.” “I no yet.” (“Nothing’s happening yet”) was the continuous mantra from the hospital staff as several of us stood watch overnight (March 27th) waiting not so patiently for our dear friend Rosie to deliver her twins.
I’ll spare you most of the specifics of the prolonged unproductive labour and eventual grisly delivery other than to say if anything could go wrong, it did. The live birth of twin #1 was the decided bright spot of the ordeal and that was accomplished only by last ditch traumatic techniques by the hospital staff. After numerous further unsuccessful attempts to deliver twin #2, a C-section was the only viable option.
A year ago (January 2016) we were rejoicing on the marriage of one of our employees – young Rosie — to Rex, a Christian from the YembiYempi tribe. Over the past year many of you have continued to pray for this young couple. Now – some specific prayers will be muchly appreciated! Rosie is 38 weeks into her 1st pregnancy and on her clinic visit last Tuesday was told she is expecting twins! Because this was so unexpected and not discovered until so close to her due date, she was sent for an ultrasound – kind of a “last resort” effort here rather than a normal part of prenatal checks.
Answers to YOUR prayers! Over the past couple of years I asked you to please be praying specifically for new missionaries ….. Here’s what God has been doing!
New Year’s musings
Between Christmas and New Year’s 1970, I was privileged to attend Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship’s 9th mission’s conference at Urbana, Illinois. The musician who led the singing (Bernie Smith) would occasionally stop in hiscomments between songs and say, “Attitude check!” The appropriate congregational response was our 14,300+ voices shouting back in unison, “Praise the Lord!” 46 years later God still brings that to mind. Likely because I am often in need of doing just that – checking my attitude toward situations, my reactions to circumstances, my riotousthoughts when things weren’t going according to MY plans. Each day God brings to mind many needful “attitude checks” in my life. I admit praising Him has too often been way down the list of my responses. God is so faithful to bring me round to look at things from His eternal perspective, and as I do that – what else can I say? Praise to Him is fitting in each and every thing He allows to touch our lives as He works to mold us into the image of His Son.
Remember the song “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth….”? I don’t generally itemize or publicize my desires but I have quite a wish list this year — things that YOU can be a part of seeing become reality by praying with us!
Yes, it FINALLY happened! Thanks to your prayers, the literacy trip that has been on again off again since last February did indeed come about and is now history! The team of missionaries working with the Pei people is incredible! Chris & Evie Jones, Candace Swift and Justin & Laruen Rees are “young blood” and clearly the wave of the future of what our up and coming missionaries will probably look like. What a privilege it is to work alongside them! They have a very effective literacy program in place and donning my consultant’s cap among them was a sheer joy. I did manage to give them a few suggestions that will hopefully help enrich their program AND make them feel the trip was indeed worth the time, effort and expense of getting me into Pei land.
September is the month Wewak usually hosts a traditional cultural sing and dance festival. It’s a much anticipated highlight which, to our chagrin, didn’t happen this year. Instead we were privileged to be spectators at other local events. Attending the ceremony celebrating PNGs 41st anniversary as an independent nation was one enjoyable
venture. The all-day drizzle did little to dampen anyone’s spirits. And who knew! The town’s Police band actually boasts bagpipes! My wee bit of Scottish blood from some 10 generations ago was highly enthused!
Brightly beams our Father’s mercy, From His lighthouse evermore,
But to us He gives the keeping Of the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning!
Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor fainting struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.
Dark the night of sin has settled, Loud the angry billows roar;
Eager eyes are watching, longing, For the lights along the shore.
Trim your feeble lamp, my brother; Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor, In the darkness may be lost.
Phillip P. Bliss — 1871
Once again, the update idea index is empty …. But wait! I haven’t elaborated much about finance duties of late, have I? This month has had its moments. As you know from my frequent previous complaints laments, math is among my many weak areas. That makes it all the more obvious that if something gets done RIGHT it’s certainly all God’s doing! Evidence of that was too clear to miss one day this past month……
A word of caution – I have nothing much to write about this month. It reminds me of my mother saying we kids always ate tons more when we weren’t hungry than when we were. I fear my writing may be the same. My “nothing to say” may equal a very long letter! But – to whet the appetite of those of you who still pray for the Stuart family – I’ll include a few tidbits on them this time!
The PNG ladies who work here at our center often get mentioned in my updates, but the men – not so much. We do have a good crew of PNG citizens who faithfully help us out keeping the buildings in good repair, grounds maintained, and doing security work, etc. More than just employees, these are among our closest friends.
NTM Missionaries to the Pefiyahe language group launched their 1st ever vernacular literacy program this past week! 15 students — 9 ladies and 6 men in the 16-40ish age bracket were chosen by their village leaders to be the privileged few who get to participate in this class. Some have previously tried unsuccessfully to learn to read in Melanesian Pidgin – the PNG “trade language.” Please be praying that they will be able to master the skill of reading in their mother tongue.
This update could be all about:
- teaching, testimonies
- prayer & worship
- Kids Karnival
- Skit nite, Song nite …
Way “too-many-to-count” praise points to reinterate here so suffice it to say, a wonderful and spiritually refreshing time was had by all!