Feb 4, 2018
God is so big! And He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
We have seen Him at work in the lives of precious souls, and it is so delightful!
Towards the beginning of the month we had the opening service for the new well in a part of the village called Matabalele. Tyler and Judah rode their bikes up to the upper part of the village to meet with the village leader first, and the younger four boys and I walked up the beach to meet them a bit later.
On the way to meet them, I swung by a hut to check on a lady who had called for me to come help her a few days before. She had a severe tropical sore on her leg- about 6”×5” of raw flesh, which she has been battling for the last two months (in Bulu Muri, the farthest Bulu village on the point of the peninsula), before coming here for help. Awful. She has been in much pain, but the calm, patient look on her face amazed me. I've seen it many times here… a resigned look when in tremendous pain. It's just how life is. Many family members stood around her as she laid on a bed of boards in the little “haus kuk”- waving flies off her sore, caring for her adorable round little brown baby, or just sitting and keeping her company. We prayed for her and gave what help we could (update: as I finish this letter a month after starting it, this lady is doing really well, and her leg is almost healed after a month of herbal treatments).
Afterwards we socialized for a while, watched some men putting up a house for a middle aged widow named Ellen (whose husband was poisoned several years ago, and who has attended a lot of births with me), inspected the cutest hut I've ever seen (it looks like it belongs in the alps, except for the thatch!), and waited for everyone to congregate.
The well opening ceremony was held in a big open place prepared with freshly swept dirt and a small table with a little cloth on it and a jug of flowers to complete the preparations. Three little girls sat on a board waiting for the festivities to begin in their Sunday best, combing their hair vigorously. Some people brought empty gas cans to sit on, boards, and woven mats made out of leaves.
When seventy-five people or so had gathered, Tyler shared about Jesus talking to the woman at the well, and the living water Jesus offers to all. He shared how this fresh, clean, water has been under the Bulu people’s feet for years, and yet they needed proper equipment and know-how to be able to tap into it. So it is with Jesus-He is not far from any of us, but we need to know He is there, have faith He hears us, and know how to call upon Him in order to be saved from sin and death. Tyler encouraged everyone to call upon Jesus, and to drink at the fountain of life freely!
Just the simple, sweet message of the simple, sweet gospel which is the power of God for salvation!
People listened intently. Afterwards Peter (The village leader), shared the Lord with everyone out of his heart for a while in the Bulu language, so we didn’t follow too well. Then we handed over the pump handle to two of the men who live close to the well, who are appointed to look out for it and help to manage and care for it. The villagers selected two respected men, so we feel that it will work out well.
There was much rejoicing from all as they tried out their new well. The babies were brought forward and washed vigorously by the teenage girls, little girls brought their pots to fill and walked off with full pots balanced on their heads, boys vied with each other for a chance to wash their feet and splashed each other whenever they could, and the rest stood back and enjoyed the spectacle.
A week after the well opening at Matibelele, the sad news reached us of the death of a dear little one and a half years old girl from that area. She was the granddaughter of my friend Ellen. She died of a lingering case of Malaria that had not been properly treated. That’s the third death here in this village since we got back a few months ago. So many people die. Death is a constant reminder of the frailty of life and the importance of living for eternity. It hit me especially hard as it was close to the one-year anniversary of one-year-old Gracie’s death from malaria (the baby I delivered on the boat). Both of them were babies of single mothers that had been offered to us for adoption. Both were very vulnerable and unprotected. I am so glad that they are safe in the arms of Jesus.
VIllage Boys Unsuccessfully finding lice in our boys hair (a common pastime among the Bulus)
You may remember the old woman we had asked prayer for a couple years ago, who had been sick with TB for many years (from what dates the family gave, it sounds like at least seven years). One day she and I had met on the trail going to the bush water hole, and she had told me of the sickness she had suffered from for so long, often spitting up blood, and almost continually feverish. She was very thin and gaunt, with very sad eyes. She asked if we had any medicine that would help her, and after asking questions of her and her family, and consulting my village health book, it seemed to me that even with aggressive treatments for a year or more (which would be nearly impossible with the difficulty of transport out here), she did not have much hope as the TB was already well established in her body. I had a strong burden to pray for her from that point, and we and some of the other believers prayed over her several times over the next year. We also helped her get to the hospital for some testing. At the end of that year, right before we left for America last year, she came by with a gift of mumu tapioc, and was absolutely beaming with joy. She said the Doctors had tested her, and she was disease free! Now that we’re back in the village we've seen her quite a few times, and she looks so much better! She says she’s still doing well, and she’s been going to church meetings nearby our place. Some of our friends here were telling us a few days ago that she has “Tanim bel” (repented) since God healed her. Please pray she will be a bright light to her family, as they are very dark. We recently cut up a big dead mango tree for her to use for firewood. As we sat together visiting I marveled again at the change in her countenance, and the healthy glow of her face. Praise the Lord! She can’t seem to smile enough, just bursting with joy.
Several nights this week I was awakened by people loudly calling my name outside our bedroom window. I jumped out of bed with my heart pounding the first time, and followed my neighbor Scola down the trail to meet a young man from Bulu muri being carried up from a boat on the shoulders of two buddies. They carried him under our house and I treated a machete cut on his leg which had been bleeding badly. He was in a lot of pain due to a tight tourniquet that was wrapped around his leg to stop the bleeding since he had cut it earlier that day. Several guys were with him along with his elderly parents. We got the bleeding stopped and Tyler and I prayed for him before we went back to bed.
A few nights later it was a little girl from our village who had stepped on a glass bottle and deeply cut her foot. She was hardly awake and dizzy from loss of blood when I got to her, but with prayer, young coconut water, a good amount of cayenne pepper and a pressure bandage, she was stabilized and went on the truck to town the next day for stitches. Each medical emergency is observed by a group of usually at least ten to twenty people, while I vainly try to keep things sanitary. There is usually a very helpful assistant available, and I am amazed at the gentleness of some of the tough young guys when they are helping. It is also really neat how respectful everyone usually is when I pray.
Bullet hole from a homemade gun in our taxi truck that gets us to town.
This was from a holdup on the road
One of our constant prayers for this place is that God would raise up more laborers for the souls here. Since we got back here a few months ago, we have received requests to hold a weekly chapel at the school, open an elementary school, run a clinic, hold preaching meetings at the weekly sports meet, do house to house evangelism, drill private wells, start a weekly singing night to teach people songs…. The list goes on.
Some of these things we see a real need for, and would love to do, but we are only two people, and we are quite busy as it is. But what potential there is! It would be quite easy to get one hundred students or more, all very eager to learn English, and teach them English from the Bible. So many possibilities!
We are finding comfort in the fact that God sees the need, and we are not expected to meet anything beyond what He appoints to us to do. He is able to meet those needs in other ways and through other people. Pray we do not get distracted from what God shows us we are to do. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to raise up more laborers for the harvest is plenteous but the workers are few.
Right now we are focusing on praying, loving and training our children (and taking care of our home/property), Sunday meetings, weekly discipleship meetings with Peter, and well drilling. On Sundays we have started to have a prayer meeting up at Peter’s house in the late afternoon, which has been really blessed and sweet. We have been very blessed to see many come who are hungry for God, and have had amazing times of pouring out our hearts to the Lord together. The Spirit of God has been meeting us bringing a sense of His great love along with a deep conviction of sin, and we look forward to what God is going to do as we seek His face together.
Cutting Boards For The Children's Bible School House
We also felt peaceful about starting a Sunday school for the many kids that come to services. Often the meetings would start out with 15-20 kids, but there would only be two or three at the end, often with the adults running them off for being too disruptive. We have felt a burden that they would know they are loved by God, and have often thought of the verse “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Tyler, Peter, David and the boys all built a “Sunday school room”, which is basically a wooden platform with a tarp tent over it. There have been 20-25 kids coming, and we've had a great time! I am teaching them Jesus Loves Me, My God Is So Big, God Loves Me, and His Name Is Jesus, all with hand motions, which they love. They love to learn English songs. We are reading through Matthew, as I feel a burden to show them who Jesus is, that they may fall in love with Him. I am very grateful for the help of Peter’s wife, Annie, who will repeat what I say (the right way) when my pidgin doesn't turn out too well! I made play-dough for them to play with after one of our Bible lessons, and was completely mobbed with twenty-five little bodies crowded around me with outstretched hands. They had never seen play-dough, and loved it! We are looking forward to what God is going to do among the children. Pray for them! Most of them come from homes with drinking, drugs, and fighting. Annie has informed us that many children who want to come haven’t, because some of the parents are making fun of the children when they want to come, saying,” You’re going down to find Jesus, are you?”
There have also been problems since we got back from the U.S. with people mocking those who come to the meetings at our house, and saying that we are their god, (because they did not continue to have meetings when we were gone). Some people believe that we are here on a secret mission, and are saying we are acting as missionaries as a cover up. Please pray that the lying, mocking, accusing voice of the devil will be silenced, and the truth of Jesus will shine forth. We wrestle not against flesh and blood.
Peter Witnessing to Dickson after a Service
Getting to town for needed supplies has been more challenging than usual since coming back to PNG. The truck has been running more irregularly, and sometimes after getting up at 4:30 or five in the morning and walking ½ mile to the truck stop, the truck just doesn’t show up. A few weeks ago we were trying to get back to the village and ended up waiting in a hot little restaurant all afternoon as the truck was running late, and we didn't get home till late that night. A few weeks ago, Tyler, Judah, and Berean headed into town on Tuesday for food and well drilling supplies. On the return trip the truck was low on brake fluid, and they had to get off the truck along with twenty or so others to walk down one of the steeper hills as the truck went careening ahead of them! The adventures we get to have!
A few days later Tyler had to make the trip again as our solar inverter went belly-up. No major happenings, except that the day before was payday at the nearby palm oil plantation, so there were three trucks loaded with lots of people going into Kimbe to buy stuff. The neighboring tribe knows when the workers are paid, and has held up the truck frequently in the day or two after payday and robbed everyone, so the police escorted the truck through their territory. Josiah went with Tyler, and they arrived home at 5 pm, which is good time.
We have been really enjoying getting to know a little family that lives near us. They have been over frequently, and seem to have a hunger for God. The mama of the family recently taught me how to properly cook Sak Sak as mine almost always turned out weird. Sak Sak (sago) is a fibrous substance with a flour-ish sort of consistency. It stinks when uncooked, but smells fine once cooked. It is harvested from the inside of a tree. I can buy a five gallon bucket full for about $15, and it makes nice little loaves when cooked with coconut. Anyway, she taught me how to mix it to the right consistency with coconut, and how to wrap it with leaves before cooking it. It’s so yummy and we eat it for breakfast all the time.
One of the fun things we've done as a family lately is to cut rounds (with our chainsaw) of some of the big dead hardwood trees in the jungle near our house for the neighbors to use for firewood. The boys love to help, and it is easy for all of us to go along. It is quite a social event, with lots of people involved.
Some of the other fun things we’ve done this month are: making a raft out of bamboo with friends, making chocolate cake for Keens four year old birthday from the cacao trees around our home, weaving walls (for a house Judah’s building) out of bamboo strips, making stilts, cutting boards with a chainsaw (and building the Sunday school room with them), spear diving in the reef, cleaning up our property, planting (peanuts, rambutan, pineapples, avocadoes, beans, tomatoes, peppers, and lemongrass), Harvesting (and eating!) our first couple pineapples and soursop, eating lots of guavas off of our trees, playing with the neighbor kids, butchering a rooster that kept waking us up at 4 a.m., teaching Salem sign language, cooking on my gas stove, having deep theological discussions with Keen, walking home through the village after dark with friends after a really good prayer meeting, reading the testimony of Jonathan Goforth as a family…. life is full and God is good.
And now for my favorite Keen quote of the month! I was singing the song “All my days, all my days, I will worship you Lord all my days…” when Keen piped up (He is second to none for always having a comment to offer!): “We should worship God every day. Some people turn away after one day, but we want to worship Him every day; ‘cause He is the Goodest Guy- ‘cause He gives us fruit, and food, and health, and strength, and life, and love.” To which I could only add, “Amen!”
Keen and Salem
We have entered the very windy, rainy season. Right after the service this week a huge storm blew through, causing chairs and the guitar to fly across the floor, trees to come crashing down, the roof of the Sunday school room to collapse, and some of our solar panels to fly off the roof, gashing a hole in the roof on its way. The rain was blowing in under the house where we were all talking and learning songs. There must've been 35 of us huddled together in the one dry corner, waiting for the storm to subside. I was so amazed as those gathered calmly watched the storm, and went back to singing a beautiful favorite of David's “Lord I seek your holiness, Lord I seek your righteousness, I come to you in brokenness to lay my life at your feet… I long to see you face to face, to stand in awe at your throne of grace. Draw me to your blessed, holy place. And I will worship you… Father God I worship you. And I will worship you with all my heart.” These people are accustomed to facing the elements every day, and they are so tough!
As I write this closing, I am cuddling my sleeping, freshly washed, wispy haired, sweet baby. We just had another big rainstorm, and the air is warm and still. The boys are all tucked into bed for the night, thousands of insects are singing, the trees are lit up with fireflies, and thunder rumbles somewhere nearby. I can hear the sounds of the village- dogs barking, children calling, people laughing and talking. What a blessing to look back on the day and be able to say; ”Thus far the Lord hath helped us.” It was a full, busy day as usual, with housework, schooling the boys, and helping Tyler fix the Sunday school house from the last big storm. In the evening as we were preparing for dinner, a group of people came with a young woman in a wheelbarrow. She was in a lot of pain with what seems to be appendicitis or an obstructed gut. We spent a few hours with her, prayed over her and gave her an herbal drink to help if it was obstruction, encouraging them to take her to Kimbe in the morning if she was still in pain (please keep this girl, Lydia, in prayer- she is now in the hospital and we fear for her life and soul). Her parents took her home and we fed the boys as another storm whipped around us. I am pondering life. Our days pass so quickly on this earth. Lord, teach us your ways and lead us in your paths……
Dec 20, 2017
To all you dear ones,
Praise the Lord for His mercies. They are new every morning. I am so grateful to have new mornings- they are a great gift from our Father. Today has been a challenging day.... between roller coaster emotions, a constantly chattering three-year-old, bickering brothers, miscommunications with my dear husband, etc... It’s time to recount some blessings, of which there are so many!
A sweet reminder of the Lord’s goodness came to me tonight from a certain little mischievous, tough, energetic, tousled blonde, almost four-year-old boy who happens to be obsessed with Giants, and is constantly comparing various things and people to determine what or who is the biggest and strongest. As we stood in our little tin shower room together and I washed the grime of the day off of him with fresh, cold rain water (of which there is an abundance as we go into the rainy season), he pelted me with questions ranging from “Why did God make mosquitoes to bite people?” to “Is Uncle Nate (his hero) bigger than Giant Despair?” (Giant Despair lived in Doubting Castle in Pilgrim's Progress).
As I racked my tired brain for good answers (“ask daddy later”, or “that one you should ask God when you get to heaven!”), he made a statement that scattered the clouds of discouragement that had built up all day; “In Heaven, everybody is bigger than us... (in his vocab, bigger and stronger are interchangeable) Jesus and God are bigger than us. Giant despair is littler than Jesus ‘cause everyone in heaven is bigger. So Giant Despair is like this big (wet little fingers held a couple inches apart) compared to Jesus!”
Salem - after a church meeting
Tyler and I have both faced some big spiritual battles since coming back here, but we have seen Jesus prove to us over and over again that; “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world”.
Several weeks ago I was under extreme spiritual attack for a few weeks. It felt like a dark cloud was trying to completely choke out the sunshine in my soul. It got so bad that I wasn’t sleeping well, and one night I hardly slept at all, tossing and turning with dark thoughts and crying out to the Lord for mercy. Early the next morning the Lord impressed on my heart to call a sister in the Lord to pray together. I headed down to the beach in the early morning darkness to where we get cell service and rang up a dear prayer warrior. We prayed together for a while as I sat in a little thatched shelter watching the day wake up and the fish jump. By the end of our time together the devil had fled. Praise Jesus for his power!
Last week I was laid low with extreme fatigue, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and felt dizzy and lightheaded to the point of feeling as if I was about to pass out often. I could not carry Salem much for fear of falling with him and had to direct the boys in chores and the little bit of school we fit in from a hammock or chair. Days turned into a week, and I seemed to be getting worse. My wonderful husband was so sweet to me, cheerfully shouldering a lot of the home front load. He spent a lot of time making meals that were a little homier to try and tempt my lagging appetite.
Sunday night after a busy day with church meetings at our home I was really exhausted and dizzy. Tyler and I talked about going into town the next day to see the Doctor, but decided to spend some time more earnestly seeking the Lord about what to do. As Tyler and I sought the Lord for His will that night, my sweet Lord kept reminding me of something I'd said a few times when all my guys were sick for a few weeks recently; “I'm so tired I wish I was sick so I could rest.” In a joking sort of way, but with a bad heart underneath.
The Lord convicted me of my lack of gratefulness for the amazing strength He had given me in that season. Also, the Lord showed me that I was also having a bad attitude during my sickness, because in the midst of feeling sick I had needed to continue to help run the home from a sitting position and really wanted to escape all the needs to just curl up and rest. Self-pity was talking loudly and I had listened to his lies. I had grieved my Lord with my rebellious attitude. Monday morning during our family time of seeking Jesus, I confessed to Tyler and the boys and asked their forgiveness for not serving them more willingly and with thankfulness during that season of their sickness. They graciously forgave me. We all prayed for the Lord to raise me up and to rebuke the devil, and my dear husband anointed me with oil as he prayed for healing. I began to rapidly improve and within hours I was able to get back to work. The LORD is so good and merciful. He is a very good Shepherd to our needy souls! I'm so glad He doesn’t leave us alone, but continues to speak to us, convict us, shape and mould us!
We have been enjoying lots of cool (75-80), rainy weather around here. It feels a bit like home! Tyler recently built school desks for the boys on our porch, and it looks like a real school room! We've really been enjoying it. The porch is such a nice, breezy, private area to school. We also changed our schedule around a bit and are now doing school in the afternoon instead of the morning. It's working so much better as we are able to complete chores in the morning and the boys are able to work with Tyler as he works on well drilling or projects around here, and we are more available for drop in company, which is most common in the morning. Then in the hottest time of the day (the afternoon), Tyler spends time studying, working on projects, or seeking the Lord with Peter, and the boys and I do school.
Tyler is continuing to teach through Matthew 5-7 and the Lord is doing really neat things in people’s hearts. We are encouraged to keep sharing the Word, for it is a living seed. A few weeks ago he was sharing from chapter 5:38-48 on loving one’s enemies and blessing those who curse you. In this revenge- driven culture, it struck a very deep cord, and the whole air seemed heavy with awe at the word of God. Nothing happens by “chance” here, and whenever something bad happens, people seek for the reason, often using sorcery to try to figure out who is to blame. In the courts, medicine-men (witchdoctors) testimonies are taken into account as credible evidence. There is always reprisal to the one who did the wrong. Right now there is a battle going on between our tribe and a nearby island tribe. I don't know who “started” it, but our people are wanting to revenge the deaths of three men from Bulu who were killed last April. One of our friends (whose grandson was one of those killed), was recently telling Tyler of his determination to kill those who killed his grandson. Pray that people would repent and that they would be filled with the love of Christ, which enables us to forgive.
Our area of the village has been relatively quiet the last month or so. Although, yesterday there was another holdup on one of the trucks we take to town. No one was killed, praise the Lord! It's so sad to see people wasting the precious life God has given them! He has such good and sweet plans for those who surrender.
One of the young teenage boys here in our part of the village has a fear of God and seems to be seeking him. He has been over nearly every day since we got back here, and he and the boys have a great time together. Today I was washing laundry under our house as the boys taught him how to play Go Fish and Spot It. It was so hilarious! They were talking a mix of pidgin and English, and all five of our boys and Meli were quite entertained for at least an hour. Lately the four big boys and Meli have been keeping busy in their spare moments building little houses back in the “fort area”, (as we call the shady piece of land behind our house) that is designated “boy territory”. This is where most the hole digging, tree chopping, fort building, well drilling, and canoe carving takes place. They are getting quite skilled!
Meli and Keen
While I was sick, the young mother I asked for prayer for went into labour. I was unable to respond to their call for me to assist her at the birth (although I prayed for her!), but it went well, and she delivered a healthy baby girl. The first few days the baby barely nursed at all, so she brought her to our house. I taught her to sterilize a spoon to feed the baby her mama’s milk, as she wasn’t strong enough to suck well. She fed really well with the spoon, and gained enough strength to nurse within a few days. What a precious little soul in the sweetest little body! A rosebud mouth, chubby cheeks, soft black curls all over her round head-life is such a miracle!
Recently two brothers in their early twenties (young men are called mangis here), that live a few miles down the beach came to talk with Tyler. They had some good honest spiritual questions, and seem to be seekers. He had a wonderful conversation with them. They said that they are confused about truth. I wish you could have seen the earnest, hungry expressions on their faces as Tyler shared with them. This is the first time I can ever remember young people coming just because they wanted to talk about spiritual things. We are so encouraged, and continue to pray for the Lord to stir up a deep hunger for himself in this place! They asked if he will come preach at their weekly ball games (starting in the spring), when nearly the whole village gathers together. We appreciate prayer for wisdom on that. Their Dad introduced the Seventh Day Adventist denomination in Bulu, then later joined the Bhai religion. Before we had left PNG last year, Tyler had met him and had several good conversations with him. Tyler had felt the Spirit leading him not to try to argue about Christianity versus Bhai with him, but just to simply ask if he has found freedom from sin in his religion, to which he admitted he hadn’t. Tyler then shared the power there is when the Spirit of Jesus enters a human heart, and the freedom he has found walking with God. The man was deeply touched and wanted to hear more, and invited Tyler to come visit his home sometime. Please pray for the Lord to lead the way and timing on that.
One of the young couples in our community have been coming regularly to the meetings on Sunday. We have also been spending time getting to know them during the week. They are almost the same age as Tyler and I, and have four precious little ones (one of which is in heaven). We are really enjoying their friendship, and have been so excited to see signs of the Lord’s work in their lives. Please keep them in prayer as you think of It! Their names are Tuka and Balu.
Judah and Salem Celebrate Their Birthdays At the Vanderdecker's House
Tyler, the boys, and some of the guys here have just completed another well. It is in an area of the village with exceptionally poor water, and they deal with a lot of sickness as a result. Peter and Tyler are planning to have a big “bung” (gathering) the day that they put the pump on the well- both to lay down the laws that the community has decided on for well usage, and to have an opportunity to share some living water! Bulu people love to bung, so it'll be fun. Please pray that the Lord will anoint the time with His sweet presence.
May the Lord build up his kingdom!
Nov 20, 2017
Dear Family and Friends,
How we appreciate you all and your love and support of us. You are a big encouragement to us! We have had an eventful reintroduction to PNG. The Lord has been so faithful.
Our first six weeks here were pretty busy with getting settled back into our home- cleaning out mice and cockroaches, repairing things, setting our solar and water pump back up, and doing a few home improvement projects. The most wonderful one was a dear little kitchen Tyler made for me in a little room under our house- complete with a double sink, a gas stove (!), and a hutch. He also built a big family sized table for under our house-right outside the kitchen. It’s been so homey and nice to cook over gas with my little boys playing under the house, instead of bending over a smoky little fire in the kitchen house with a dirt floor. I’ve never gained much proficiency at fire building! The ladies here are much relieved for me- I think they agonized for me with my awkward village cooking skills! =)
Josiah House Building
Tyler shared in his last e-mail about our neighbour who broke into our tool room and stole some things. He also mentioned how his wife was unable to walk because of a lower back injury for a month or so. We went to pray for her and to share that we cared for them. We also brought them a gift from America. Within a few days she was able to walk again, for which we are so thankful! The village grapevine is a very effective newspaper, and a lot of people were saying that she was suffering this pain because of stealing from the “wokman bilong bikpela” (God’s worker). Several of our neighbours were upset that we gave a gift to this family because they had done us wrong, and did not deserve it. We were able to share that Jesus tells us to do good to our enemies, and to bless those who curse us. It is a new thought- so contrary to our natural inclinations, and has prompted some good discussions.
Salem at the Guesthouse
Tyler has felt led to teach through the sermon on the mount, with emphasis on the fact that we- in our flesh- cannot obey the teachings of Christ. But we have been promised a Helper, the Holy and Faithful One- who is ABLE to live His life through frail human vessels. It’s been a great blessing to see God stirring, convicting, encouraging and challenging through His word. We have been encouraged lately that the Word of God is living and powerful- it is not our poor little word, the seed is the Word of God, and it WILL NOT return void. All we must do is be faithful to share His word with much prayer “If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” being sensitive to His Spirit, and HE will give the increase. It is not our work, It’s HIS. It’s not our burden, it’s HIS. We are just to follow and obey with childlike simplicity. Thank you Lord that your burden is easy and light!
We have done pretty well for the most part in adjusting back to the tropical climate. Salem has had the hardest time, and has gone through malaria, amoebic dysentery, skin problems, and many low grade fevers as his immune system gets accustomed to all the new bacteria and viruses. It’s been such a blessing to have only one sick child instead of four! Tyler has also struggled often with not feeling well. I am very grateful that I have been strong and healthy and able to take care of the boys when he’s not well.
One of the highlights of the last few weeks was drilling a well about one and a half miles up the village from our home. It will service at least one hundred people. The boys enjoyed helping Tyler immensely! It is such a great community project, with lot’s of people involved. Tyler was excited to be able to drill it in one day with the new hand drilling equipment we got while in America. They struck water at four meters down. The next step is to pour a cement pad and put in the pump.
Salem Culture Learning
Recently one of our neighbours took a trip up to the lake in the middle of the peninsula. He stayed for several days and came back with seven baby crocodiles he had caught to sell. He had also killed a medium sized one to eat. They very generously shared part with us. We enjoyed it immensely for dinner that night. Later I was helping Keen write a letter to some of our family, and he was telling them about the crocodiles. I asked him to explain to them what it tasted like; “kinda like turtle!” was his enlightening comment.
The man who gave us the crocodile has a grown daughter (maybe twenty), who is married and lives a few miles away. I had helped her last year when she gave birth to her second child. She has a two year old, one year old, and is expecting another little one soon. Her husband is young and not at home much. She has not had much help with taking care of her little ones and so moved into her parents house for a season while she waits for her baby. They live in a house about 8’x10’. After she’d been there for maybe a week they told her she was not welcome anymore, so a friend of mine who is our close neighbour (and her cousin), invited her to move in with her and her husband and their three little ones (in their home which is about 10x12). They are a sweet family who we have really enjoyed getting to know. I would appreciate prayer as I may attend her birth, and want to show the love of Jesus to her. Also for health for her and the baby.
Morning Fishing with our Neighbors
The last week or so we have battled with a severe virus sweeping through our home. All the boys have had their turns, with the highest temperature reaching 103.9. A bit scary, but the Lord has helped us through, and they are all on the mend now. Tyler was hit really hard, with what seems to be malaria on top of the virus. We decided to evacuate the village when we’d toughed it out for a few days in the village, but I had a hard time finding transport to get us out of there. The public transport taxi (a big flatbed truck) that we usually take is undependable right now for multiple reasons. On Tuesday Tyler was really weak and I went down to our next door neighbours house to talk to them about the status of a boat to take us to town. While I was there talking to their adult daughter, her brother came running up the path- both of us looked at him apprehensively as he had been upset the last day or so and had been destroying things around their property. In the past we’ve witnessed him acting in extremely bizarre, demonic ways, and we are really praying for him. He came running straight towards us with three huge rocks in his hands. He raised them threateningly towards his sister, who was holding her baby. She ran and hid behind me, hoping he wouldn’t dare throw them at her if she was behind me! I was holding Salem, so quickly passed him off to Judah and sent the boys off to the house. Thankfully he threw the rocks at the house behind us instead of at us. I am so thankful that the Lord has promised to send His angels to keep us in all our ways.
We were finally able to secure a little motorboat, and loaded up with a group of others from our village for the 1 ½ hour trip to Kimbe. The boys were quite entertained to watch flying fish sailing through the air alongside our boat as we bumped along. Close to town we ran out of gas, but it was a blessing that it happened right near the road, and a few of the guys in the boat were able to catch a PMV to town to get more gas. We were really grateful to be able to rest in a shady spot and renew our strength before finishing the trip on the boat and then cramming into a minibus taxi for the remainder of the trip.
Josiah, Berean, and Keen making pizza with Pam Van Der Decker
We are now resting up at a guesthouse at the New Tribes Mission base. We hope to return to the village in 2 days from now if we are all feeling well enough. Our good brethren (The Van Der Decker Family) have been kindly looking after us while we are here. We appreciate the fellowship that we have together in Christ.
Tyler and Kendra Schones
Jul 18, 2017
Greetings fellow brothers and sisters,
I recently heard a story of a missionary couple who were serving in China in the 1800’s. The wife was recounting of how many times they saw the Lord answer prayer. Her husband (Jonathan) was having a great struggle in learning the language. His colaborers in the gospel were able to communicate much better than he was. Jonathan was really struggling and felt discouraged and was concerned whether or not he was going to be able to live in this area and be able to successfully communicate the gospel to the Chinese people. One day they went again as usual to preach to the people but this time it was different. Jonathan was able to speak very well. He sensed a great anointing and blessing from the Lord. After the preaching the people were very touched and were asking him many questions. He was so impressed that he made a special note of it in his journal. Meanwhile back in their homeland of England there was a band of believers who had had a special burden for the work and especially for Jonathan. They banded together in earnest prayer for the work. They had such a distinct burden and blessing in prayer for Jonathan that later they decided to write and ask whether or not there was some great thing that happened during that time. The events corresponded exactly. It is amazing how the Lord chooses to use us together to accomplish His purposes.
The Boys are Enjoying Their Friends Here in the USA
To those of you who pray and intercede - thank you. Kendra and I cannot recount how many answered prayers we have been privileged to see and benefit from. Prayer is a language of dependence and our whole life and ministry is one of needing Him and receiving from Him. We are learning that our wise father is pleased to use his body to accomplish His work. He does not just call 1 or 2 to do it all. We have felt our great need while living in PNG and are convinced that the Lord has designed for His body to function together – each part functioning in health and doing its share. For those of you who are stirred by the Lord for this work that he is doing please realize that you have an important vital part.
Berean With "Papa Paul"
We have been encouraged in this season with fresh vision for the work and rejuvenation in our minds and bodies. The Lord has been very good to us. As we are approaching the planned departure date to go back to our home in PNG (September 10th) we are sensing more and more of our great need for help. We are simple little children that, by God’s grace, are obeying his call. All we have to offer is our broken and contrite little vessels for Him to take and consecrate and fill and use as He sees fit. Praise the Lord for His grace and willingness to use us.
We Are All Enjoying and Loving Our New Little Addition - Salem Valiant
Some Prayer needs:
- We are praying for the Lord to clearly manifest His light in the darkness of PNG and to raise up His city on a hill. There is much darkness that stands against the truth. The Lord knows just how to accompish his purpose and we want to be in tune with him.
- We need encouragement to consistently be in prayer as a couple. If we are too busy for prayer then the Lord needs to help us and some priorities need to change.
- Pray against the devil’s lies. He wants to discourage and seeks to paint a black picture before us. We need to trust in the king who said “Lo I am with you always”.
- Emotional/Physical strength – Life in PNG is hard and stressing on the body and emotions especially for us as foreigners. We need extra strength from the Lord. As we left back in November 2016 we were very tired (especially my dear wife) and now we are returning with another child.
- Wisdom: a.) We are presently seeking the Lord for clearer vision and to know our specific assignment. There are so many needs and we need wisdom and the burden to know just what the Lord has for us to focus on. b.) We are deciding on practical things to bring for the ministry and gifts for people. We don’t want to cause offenses with the gift giving (it could cause a lot of jealousies and strife if the Lord doesn’t lead us)
- Please pray as we seek to establish our homeschooling “program”. We need the Lord to help us in this so that we can still function with our schooling in the midst of so many other needs. With that we are needing wisdom how to practically direct our boys in productive healthy life-training activities within our context.
- Pray for our family relationships that they are strong. The devil tries to divide the family. We need help and wisdom in order to nurture each of our children properly with their different needs and responses to living in PNG.
- Pray for practical provision for the work.
- We still need to get the governmental visa for Salem (our 5th boy). It is in process.
- Pray about all the travel arrangements and details to still be figured out.
Thank you and may our father direct you in His service,