Another “There and back again” home assignment is finished and I’m settled in PNG! In case I doubted my locale, old “Norm” perked up his pesky head enough my 1st week back to assure me I’m really here:

  • Amid dog’s n frogs, snoring security, and the whistling wind — jet lag & heat lethargy lingered. 
  • Laundry got its 2nd rinse from a small cloud sobbing thru the sunshine. This necessitated draping soggy stuff around the F5 cluttered chaos of unpacking, with the ceiling fans roaring full blast to finish the drying process. 
  • Around half a dozen clip-type clothes pins fell apart and needed reassembled with each laundry endeavor. 
  • Garbage men sorted thru the trash looking for usable castoffs. EVERY. TINY. BIT. of the trash …. 
  • There’s no baking soda available in town. 
  • Must hold 2 matches together when striking them to light the stove as the match sticks snap easily and there’s not enough stuff on the tip of a lone one to do more than spark and fizzle … 
  • No more “too many choices” on the store shelves! I can again live on the “take it or leave it” option!

Happy surprises to being back:

Among the Bible study ladies:

  • Meta brings baby Miley, and Lisa brings both children – Isabelle & baby Michael + a babysitter to work. It’s a new norm but hey, it’s working! Bible study times with 3 children in tow will prove interesting, but  
  • Rumor has it that the Bible study gals have been taking turns leading the group! We’ll be discussing whether they want to teach or be taught when we start meeting again. Perhaps a bit of both! 
  • Meta has been taught to make up a couple of kinds of freezer ready casseroles. She does this once a week at someone else’s house and we can order what we like. Best part is that company will no longer have to eat my cooking!
  • Though town power frequently goes off, the new center generator kicks in within about 15 seconds so there’s no more being left long in the dark! AND I can run the office laminator on the geni so no more waiting around for power to proceed! 
  • All my essential electrical stuff & appliances still work! Non-essentials are another story but hey, the coffee maker, fridge, stove & washing machine have survived so I’m a happy homebody! 
  • INTERNET!!!! I missed the “dark ages” of weeks of not even e-mail. My computer immediately recognized its old stomping grounds (which happens to currently be working) so I was instantly connected almost like in the USA. Note — almost. It’s tediously slow after the warp speed of America, and I have no idea what it’s gonna cost, but it WORKS! At least at my house. At my other office – help’s been needed to get that computer back up & 
  • running for me but experts are at hand.

House repairs done while I was gone:

  • I can now open my windows without the glass louvers falling out! 
  • The plywood covered hole in my office wall is now a solid wall.Smile 
  • An oscillating fan was installed high on the bathroom wall to circulate the air and dissipate the sauna effect of showering.Smile
  •  Due to the current kina / dollar exchange rate, eggs are now only $6 something a dozen instead of $8!
  • At town market: betel nut is “out” and artifact & souvenir sellers have been allowed back inside the fence to sell their wares! 
  • The May River Iwam now have a 2-way radio in the village so we can chat from time to time. That brings me to

Ahhhhh, the Iwam. They still really need our prayers.

  • 1st radio chat with Pita was of the short friendly “How are ya?” and “Who’s still living?” variety. Later in the week I chatted at length with church leader David. From him I gleaned some praise & prayer info:
  • 40-50 of the Iwam ladies are meeting together regularly with 4 women taking part as leaders! This is just in the village area where I lived. Another ladies group is also meeting at a village upriver!
  • Church is “in” now with lots and lots of folks attending!

They still need our prayers however. I could wax wordy in explanation but suffice it to say →

  • Bible reading during church meetings is largely done from the trade language Bible instead of their Iwam NT. * 
  • All the library books we’ve translated – Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan, Hudson Taylor, Corrie Ten Boom etc., etc., etc. – are NOT being used. David says no one knows how to read them. 
  • Literacy classes are still on hold as they need some items before starting. Pita has plans for getting those items and starting a class “soon.” (They’ve been saying this for over a decade now.) ** 
  • The church leaders do not see the need to support a literacy program nor to encourage teachers and students to be active in learning, retaining, and improving their ability to read their mother tongue. They lay blame on the ones trying to get the literacy classes going, but they give them little or no support.

* & ** Quick “Stop the Presses! Note: Pita’s son Justin stopped by this morning to

1) give me a list of literacy items they want me to buy and
2) let me pick his brain for why the Iwam New Testament isn’t being used.

It all adds up. Since the Bible teachers haven’t made use of the translated library materials to hone their mother tongue literacy skills, they therefore read the trade language better than they do Iwam. All is not as bleak as it first seems though. According to Justin, they DO use the Iwam New Testament in their preparation for what to share in meetings.

We can praise the Lord that the Iwam ARE still meeting together with quite a large congregation coming to hear God’s Word. Praise Him too that, because of YOUR help, the New Testament IS there available to them in their heart language. It was the responsibility God committed to us to provide it. It’s now the Holy Spirit’s work to encourage and convict them to make full use of it. Let’s be praying that they will follow the Spirit’s prompting and come to relish the feast of God’s talk that’s available to them in their own mother tongue. We can pray too that as they meet together they will be convicted to dig into the deeper spiritual truths of God’s Word and allow Him to perform His work of making and molding them more and more into the image of our Savior, Christ Jesus.

So – 1 ½ weeks post re-arrival: the house is in as pristine a state of orderliness as it’ll ever be with me, with spaces waiting the arrival of the 9 totes of donated & collected items, still somewhere in PA in the process of heading this way. Resident roaches are fast succumbing to anti-hospitable measures. Normal sleep patterns are developing around the cat’s willingness to go out at night. 1st market run is done and a weeks’ worth of cat food + my staple stir fry are concocted and in the freezer. The computer in my “other office” is recognizing the printer and e-mail again though it still won’t let me store files, scan, and who knows what all else. Exerts are on hand and working on it for me. I’m set up with a cell phone – but
fear not — having so recently experienced the USA’s dearth of overseas connectable plans, I won’t be holding my breath expecting you to call! And with the cost per minute to call out – I won’t be making many calls to the USA either!

A BIG “Thank YOU” comes your way for your part in allowing me to return to PNG once again. Your prayers, gifts and several one-time contributions are smoothing the way to settling in once again. Re-opening the tribal printing office (TRC) and resuming meeting with the national ladies who work on our center are ministries already in process. Literacy is beckoning in its various needs for input. Hospital visitation may take a less active part in my schedule this time round but I will still be involved in that as well. Details on the why’s and how’s of that are best saved for a less lengthy epistle.

………. Til then ……..

Co-laboring together with you for the King!

Hope Sharp