During the 50+ years since Corinne and I arrived in PNG, the Lord has faithfully met all our needs. In the early years money was short for all of us missionaries. It was not an affluent time in our home countries like now. For example, no one could afford to go home for weddings or the like. We missed all four of our children’s weddings. However, the Lord gave them all believing mates who wanted to serve the Lord. We can honestly say that we never went without a meal for lack of food.
We could write pages on times the Lord supplied for tickets, vehicles, houses for our furloughs. I will relate just a few instances.
- During our first couple of terms we went to and from the field by ship. We had to book the voyage a year ahead and had to pay for the ticket a month before departure. In 1967 we had booked through a travel agent in Seattle. When the payment was due, the agent called and asked us to come in and make the payment. We said we still did not have the money, but we were sure we would have it before departure time. The agent kindly told us the agency would buy the ticket and we could reimburse them later. We had been saving for the ticket, but three days before departure, we were still short about $400.00. That morning we received a check for that amount in the mail. Just after it arrived the agent that purchased the tickets called. She said that her boss had noticed that we still had not paid and told her to tell us that we had to pay that day. We were able to tell her that as of that hour we had sufficient funds and would be right in with the money. We were amazed at the Lord’s timing, and the agent was even more amazed.
- In 1970 I was filling in as the field chairman when the chairman, Dean Van Vliet, was on furlough. At that time field headquarters was located at our mission station in the Yagaria tribe. The school had just moved from there to Lapilo. By the time we paid school and dorm fees for our four children, we had nothing left for us to live on. On the station were fruit trees, wild greens and pumpkin. So we weren’t without something to eat. Besides being chairman, I tried to help our missionaries to be able to learn their tribal languages. So we had made arrangements to attend a two-week workshop at SIL (The Summer Institute of Linguistics at Ukarumpa about 50 miles away) on how to help missionaries in the language learning process. Classes were to begin on the Monday morning.
On the Sunday we were packed to leave but did not have funds with which to buy fuel for the car, etc. We were just waiting on the Lord to provide. Then we heard a knock at the door. It was Rebekah, the wife of James Yanepa, a Yagaria tribal leader, bringing us a letter from James. James had been a keen believer but had backslidden. In our 6 a.m. prayer meetings we had prayed for his restoration, and he had recently gotten right with the Lord. In the letter he said, “I couldn’t sleep last night. The Lord told me I was to give Him some money. I asked ‘How, Lord,’ and He said, ‘Give $10.00 to Tom Palmer and $10.00 to Louie Dodd.'” We explained to Rebekah how we were just waiting for the Lord to supply so we could leave. When we arrived at Ukarumpa, the previous tenant had left a stalk of bananas hanging on the veranda for our use. Also different ones of the staff invited us for meals. So the ten dollars saw us through.
Before Corinne’s mother died, she had given us her city house and was living in her house at the lake. The house had a separate apartment upstairs. We were able to rent out the downstairs and to store our things upstairs while on the field and to stay there on furloughs. After our children graduated and returned to the States the upstairs provided them a place to live and call home. However, the agent looking after it got it into debt, so we had to sell it in 1994. So on our furlough in 1999 we needed to find a place to stay. Not enough missionaries were continuing to use the missionary house next to our home church, so they allowed the second pastor to live there.
We had heard of Missionary Haven, a group that rented furnished houses to missionaries at a reasonable cost. One requirement was to have someone on the home end contact them and vouch for us. So we wrote to a couple from our home church who were very supportive of us and sent them the form to fill out and turn in. We were living in the bush and would not be going to town for some time, so we had given the letter to a national Christian business man who owned his own truck and went often to town. We asked him to mail the letter for us. We never heard back from our friends.
However, a lady in our church who owned a nice condo, offered the use of her condo while she was snowbirding in Arizona. So we wrote our friends to forget about arranging housing for us. They couldn’t understand why we would mention that to them. When we arrived home they told us they had been puzzled as to why we would mention that to them. They said they had never received our letter with that request. We were home about a month when they finally received it. We should have known better. Truck drivers here have a reputation for forgetting to mail letters right away. It could have fallen down behind the seat and went unnoticed for some time. Anyway, the Lord allowed him to forget sending it, as He had something else better worked out for us. The owner of the condo left one week before we arrived and returned home a few days after we departed. It was exactly the 5 months we needed in which Corinne could get her surgery and recuperate and then begin our travels. It was a beautiful place and completely furnished, and she rented it to us for a very modest cost. We just deposited the rent and utility money into her account each month. Jehovah-Jireh – The LORD will provide.
Of Health Professionals:
The Lord also undertook in supplying health professionals when we needed them. When our daughter Judy was five she needed a hernia operation. The doctor in Lae who performed her operation had written one of the surgery textbooks used in Germany.
- When Judy was seven, a log which had been cut for making fence posts fell from the crotch of a tree onto her leg, snapping her right femur in two. Had she broken her leg a day sooner there would not have been a man or a vehicle on the station. Our supply missionary, Tuss Tuccelli, had driven me to the coastal town of Lae that very day to attend a five-week Bible translation workshop with Dr. Nida. Tuss took Judy to the Bulolo hospital, but the Australian doctor was at a party and was drunk. The nurse gave Judy some morphine, saying the doctor would see her the next day. Tuss told her that Judy’s father was in Lae, so he drove her to the Lae hospital. The two regular doctors were on leave at the time, but replacing them were two bone specialists! Judy had her leg in traction for five weeks. Tom was able to visit her every day, and after 5 weeks they were able to return home together.
When our youngest child, Duane, was six and not yet in school he walked to an interior village with us for a nine-week stint in Angeya village. Constant rains had made the steep, clay trails very slippery. The same day we arrived Duane was catching grasshoppers with the national children. On his way to the house to cook some on the stove he slipped and fell, cutting his eye brow on a stone. We saw that he needed stitches, but we were hesitant to turn around and hike the two days out again to our mission center. We put on a butterfly bandage. However, swelling soon caused it to come off. Duane fell asleep on a rug on the floor while we were trying to decide what we should do.
Just then a national boy came and announced that five Australian soldiers had just hiked into the village from Aseki. Upon introducing ourselves to them we learned that two of them were medics just wishing for something to do, someone to treat. One of them did the necessary stitching. Before they left, they radioed ahead to another group of five hiking into Aseki from Bulolo in the other direction. So for five days different groups of Australian soldiers preparing for Viet Nam arrived in the village, changed Duane’s dressing, and the last group removed the stitches. One soldier, noticing how isolated the village was on the top of a mountain, asked Corinne if she wasn’t fearful being so far from medical help. “If we need them the Lord can send the Australian Army to help us.”
Except for these incidents mentioned, all four of our children never suffered any real health problems. The fresh air, outdoor exercise and the eating of local organic vegetables probably contributed to their good health.