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,
Jul 6, 2016
Greetings to all our dearly beloved!
Because of Jesus we are still living on the little Island of New Britian in PNG amongst the Bulu people.
He never gives up on souls- including ours, and He won't let us give up on these people whom He loves
I want to recount to you some of the sorrows, joys, and bits of life from the last few months.
The middle of May we were blessed to have Tyler's brother Scott with his little boy Reed, and our dear
friend Burton come to visit for a few weeks. Traveling with them came our friend Joyful, who is still
here, and will be here till the middle of August.
What a sweet blessing! To have fellow soldiers to war with, brothers and sisters to share, pray, sing and
serve with has been such an encouragement to our hearts. We feel so grateful to our Father, and in awe
of His perfect timing. During our weeks with the guys, Joyful and I were kept quite busy keeping
everyone fed and clothed. Tyler, Scott, and Burton had a wonderful time walking around the village
talking and sharing with many souls. Under our house was full quite a few nights for the times of
preaching and singing.
We were all blessed to see the Lord stirring some hungry hearts to seek for their Creator.
We also had quite a few opportunities to serve the community with medical emergencies.
I have clarified to the community that I am not a doctor or a nurse, but as medical help is far away, and
hard to get, they keep coming to us for help.
One of our close neighbors cut his leg quite deeply, and was losing a lot of blood. Several of us spent
some hours with him and his family, working to get the bleeding under control. This particular man has
been near death on a number of occasions because of fights he's been involved in, and has some
physical disabilities from cut tendons and muscles as a result.
He came to one of the meetings at our home, & shared later that the words that were spoken “sutim bel
bilong mi” or, cut straight to his heart. He and his wife expressed a desire to live better. Pray that they
may respond to the Spirit's wooing, and seek after God with their whole hearts.
After his bleeding was under control, Tyler, Scott, and Burton headed off for a time of sharing house to
house. Before they arrived back that night, several boys showed up, asking for help for a woman in
labor with her twelfth child. I sent the little messengers off to find Tyler and bring him back to take care
of the boys, then Joyful and I packed what we would need for the birth.
As soon as the guys got back, we headed off to the birth.
It was a beautiful, calm and moonlit night as we walked the jungle paths to the family’s home.
Arriving around 7pm, we set up as best we could and tried to prepare our hearts and minds for a birth
far from human help. The mother had been in labor for many hours, and was getting exhausted. Joyful
and I prayed over her and settled in to watch, wait, and relieve her in whatever way we could.
She had given birth to all her babies quickly and unassisted, and had lost a little girl when she fell out
on her head, damaging the little neck severely.
My heart yearned over the little one within her, asking God to help us be part of bringing life to this
dear little soul.
The labor stretched on into the night, with the mama growing more and more exhausted, and no
apparent progress. We, along with the woman, her husband, and several neighbor ladies sat under the
house with a smoky little fire, waiting and sometimes dozing.
I felt led to pray against any evil powers that were present, and later found out that one of the woman
who spent the night sitting with us for the labor is one of the village “witch doctors”. I had no idea, but
God did! He is so good.
At some point during the night, Joyful and I sat down to pray together and led those present in calling
on the Lord for deliverance, and the Lord brought to mind a position I could put the mother in to help
the baby change positions if it was not properly aligned. I had the mother get into this awkward
position and we supported her for an agonizing hour as we prayed the Lord would help the baby move.
With relief the mother finally laid down again to rest.
I told the friends and family gathered around that if the baby was not born by 5 am, we would need to
help her get on the local public transport flatbed truck which leaves early to go to the hospital in town
(a very bone-jarring three to four hours from the village).
Around 4 am Joyful and I lay down to rest, and Joyful prayed that the Lord would cause the baby to be
born before 5 am in order to spare the poor exhausted mother from such a long painful journey.
Around four thirty a friend woke me up, saying the mama was ready to deliver.
I grabbed my gloves and caught the big baby boy outside as the mama squatted in the dirt. He was very
stressed after such a long hard labor, and we had a hard time getting him to breath, but after a few
minutes of praying and working on him, he took a lungful of air and announced his presence.
Several hours later when Mama and baby were doing well resting (under the house on a rough mat on
the dirt), Joyful and I headed home to wash and sleep. Our hearts were filled with praise to God for His
great deliverance. When we got back to the house we found out that Burton had a dream during the
night in which he felt that we should put the woman in the same position that I had put her in. In his
dream he felt the baby would be able to be born if I put her in that position. What confirmation of the
Later the family brought a stalk of bananas and some turtle meat to show their thankfulness.
What a blessing to be able to be part of their home for such a time.
Some of the various other medical needs we've been called to help with have been machete cuts, a
broken arm, several people with pneumonia, some stomach problems, colds, mumps, polio, food
poisoning & malaria, amongst others.
One little baby was very ill with what seemed to be pneumonia. She had been sick for about a week
and was progressively getting worse, so the family brought her by boat from the farthest village, and
they were planning on taking her to the doctor in Kimbe the next day. But because she was so ill, and
they wouldn’t be able to bring her in to town till the next day, her mama brought her to our place. I was
very concerned for her as she was unable to stay awake, but seemed to be really out of it, and was
having a very hard time getting enough oxygen.
Joyful kept our home and boys cared for as I spent several hours trying to get her taken care of.
I did what I felt was helpful for her body and prayed. I called Tyler (who was in town), and we all
prayed over her little life, rebuking the devil who we know wants to destroy. Late that afternoon the
family brought her back home, with instructions to come get me if she seemed to get worse. The next
day I figured they brought her to town. But two days later I saw a woman who lives close to the
Grandma of the baby, and asked her how she was. She said she went home after visiting us, slept that
night, and was fine the next day. I knew God had touched her with how sick she was when we saw her.
Isn’t He so good?
Later a papa brought his little girl who was sick with what appeared to be a malaria fever. He brought
her down to our house where we recommended papaya tea and citrus to help her body fight off the
malaria, and to take her to a clinic to get tested and treated. Before they left we laid hands on her and
prayed over her, and Tyler felt led to rebuke the sickness in the name of Jesus.
Several hours later Joyful and I were walking up the trail to try to help a man who had a badly cut
hand. Escorting us were about 20 little fellows who wanted to see the excitement. On our way we
passed this same little girl (balancing a pot of food on her head) with her mama, walking down the trail.
We asked how she was feeling, and they assured us she felt just fine. Her mama explained that after
they got back from visiting us, she had come back home and told her mom that we had prayed to Jesus,
and she was better. Praise the Lord! As we stood by the side of the trail talking to them, I noticed
several mothers with their little ones sitting by a house near the trail. All of them had brought sick
children to our home during the last week, so I checked on them to see how they were doing. All the
Mothers said that soon after coming to our home, the little ones had recovered. They all told me I was a
great nurse, and I answered, “Mi no wanpela nurse, tasol Bikpela, em i gutpela Docta!” - I'm not a
nurse, but God is a good Doctor!
Joyful and I had full hearts as we walked away. We had done the little we could do to help the body, but
in several cases I had been quite concerned about their symptoms and had recommended they get
medical help as soon as they could. But we had prayed over each of them, and God had abundantly
answered. One of the blessings of the many sick who come, is that we have lots of opportunities to lay
our hands on these little ones and bless them, and pray that they would be seekers and lovers of God.
May the next generation be fervent in spirit, bringing glory to their Creator.
While Scott & Burton were visiting, many of our neighbors brought food to help host them. The guys
and Joyful got to try a wide variety of various items of our diet here such as shark, turtle (including
intestines), clams, oysters, snake, roasted grub worms, sea cucumber, and lots of fish.
We recently bought beef in town, and Keen asked for seconds “Mi laik moa trosel (turtle)!”.
One day the boys and I were reading the story of a girl raised in South America. She had informed her
mother one day that she had eaten rat soup for breakfast at the neighbors. The boys were all making
comments about how gross that sounded, until Keen piped up “Mi bai kai kai that!” (I'll eat that
We continue to have snake problems- Tyler recently killed the eighth large constrictor in our chicken
pen. This one killed four chickens before they started squacking and woke us up. We are starting to
wonder if there is such a thing as a snake proof chicken coop, and if it will work to raise our own eggs.
They are just like the devil- they wrap the chickens so slowly that they don't always wake up to realize
what's happening before it's too late. They also love the dark and flee from the light.
One night Tyler and Berean headed out to the outhouse before bed, and found a fat snake in our toilet.
Poor Berean is too nervous to go out by himself now, and I must admit to checking the area thoroughly
Joyful has been very brave in all her new jungle experiences such as riding the truck, killing a
cockroach that was crawling on her face as she slept, cooking our food over the fire, etc! She has
developed nice callouses from wringing out clothes too. What a blessing she's been. We've had such
fun fellowshipping and working side by side. We have caught up on all the mending, planted more
garden, organized and cleaned long neglected corners, and she has often taken over so I can rest or
write. What a blessing. I feel so refreshed, and much less overwhelmed. Often when people come for
help she has kept our home running and the boys going so that I can help them without everything
We are continually thankful for the Lord's help and protection in our lives. He is so good. We had
another hold-up on the truck we normally take to town. Tyler was led to go to town on Friday, so he
did. The next day, the truck was held up by about twenty men as they drove through the neighboring
tribal area on the way into town and our friend the drivers arm was broken in the struggle. There was a
lot of money stolen from the passengers also. I am grateful that the Lord again protected us from
another hold up. We would appreciate prayer for the situation, as it seems the violence between the two
tribes has increased in the last few months. The police escorted the Bulu truck through Bola territory
for a while, and are attempting to catch the men who held up the truck this time.
The bible study, and church service held every week at our house has continued to be a blessing.
Sometimes we have a lot of people, sometimes a few, but the Lord seems to be working in several
hearts. One couple who come quite often have a teenage son that they are concerned for. He is starting
to mess with a lot of sin, and is rebellious. They asked for prayer at the meeting several weeks ago,
after leaving him grounded at their house for the morning. We all prayed together earnestly for him.
That afternoon they headed back home, only to find he had left the house, and his brothers didn’t know
where he had gone.
They sat down and prayed that the Lord would visit him with some hard things in his life, in order that
he may know the power of God, and turn to him. Late that afternoon several teenagers came to get
them with urgency , saying that their son was unconscious and having some sort of a seizure. He was
unresponsive, but jerking around violently, and no one could hold him down. Both his parents were
completely at peace, and praised the Lord for working so quickly and powerfully.
His mother stayed home to pray, and his dad went to find his son. When he got to the house where his
son lay, he found people really worried, and some were working witchcraft on him. His Papa was not
happy about that and laid his hands on his son, and prayed over him. Soon after, his son was calm, and
slept peacefully- all that night, all the next day, and all the next night. When he woke up the next
morning, he got ready and headed off to school. Later in the day his Mama sat down with him to talk.
He already knew the Christians had prayed for him and then this happened to him within hours- that
whole part of the community knew, as some of the kids had spread the news that we all had prayed
Sunday morning for him, and that afternoon he had this strange experience. So he was sober. His Mom
told him “Bikpela i no pilai” (God is not messing around), and that His power was real. She gently
exhorted him to change his ways and seek the Lord. He listened meekly. She and her husband are
greatly encouraged, and a great fear of God fell on many people through this situation.We all are
rejoicing in God, and would appreciate prayer for this young man, that he may seek the Lord with his
While Scott and Burton were here, there was one man in particular who came under deep conviction
for his sin during the preaching. He was a seeker of God in his youth, but has wandered far from God,
and has walked in much sin and left many broken hearts in his wake. Ever since we came here we have
had a special burden for this man- who is about Tyler's age. Also, everyone who has come to visit us
has had a special love and burden upon them for him, without us even expressing our heart and prayers
for him. So we feel God has his hand upon him. He has had some deep soul searching conversations
with Tyler, Scott, and Burton, and has seemed so close to repentance. Please pray that whatever is
holding him back would be broken, and he would surrender completely to Jesus.
We feel a deep battle for his soul is being waged, and the pull is strong.
The brevity of life is so real and stark here. There has been yet another death in the village, of a middle
aged man from health problems. He was not a seeker of God that we know of. Tyler, Judah, and Josiah
were on the truck going to town when they heard the news. The truck stopped at the clinic a few miles
from the house and picked up the man's body to bring it to the morgue in town. Many wailing relatives
came along, and Tyler said that it was a very sobering ride.
The next few weeks were full of weeping and wailing as all the relatives came to mourn at our next
door neighbors house. Several nights in a row they stayed up all night wailing and screaming, and some
singing. Some cry while other groups sit nearby singing beautiful four part harmony and playing guitar.
We are sobered by the many lost souls yet surrounding us. May we labor while it is yet day.
Sometime during the last month Tyler and I were each feeling under attack spiritually. We talked and
prayed before drifting off to sleep. During the night Tyler dreamed a very dark dream. But in the dream
he fought the darkness by kneeling down and singing a song loudly, and all the darkness left. When he
woke up he remembered the song and taught it to us for our morning prayer time. I was so encouraged
by the reminder that we are in a spiritual battle. The devil doesn’t want us here, and we must fight with
praise, as God led the Israelites to do, as Paul and Peter and Silas did, and as so many Christians after
them have. Our victory lies in praising God with our whole hearts and trusting in the Arms that are
Everlasting and will never fail us. Let us stand back and see the salvation of the Lord our God.
May 18, 2016
We have been tremendously blessed and refreshed with the coming of our two brothers Scott Schones and Burton Salthouse, our sister Joyful Witt, and Reed (Scott's son). The Lord has used their visit to encourage us and to more effectively share the gospel amongst the Bulu people. Scott, Burton, and Reed are planning to stay till June 1st and Joyful will be here for about 3 months (Lord willing).
The Lord answered prayer in their trip and helped them through all the customs free of duty costs even though they carried a lot of items that usually would require duty fees. Also the Lord opened the door for Joyful to come into the country even though her visa/airline reservations were not properly arranged and she was told by an official that she would be denied entrance to the country. We are rejoicing that the Lord opened the way for them and has allowed them to come to fulfill the work that He has for them in this season. We are praying that the will of the Lord would be done in their visit.
Kendra and I have been refreshed to have other laborers in prayer and ministry here. Kendra has just been having a harder time with all the work load being about 9 weeks along and then the Lord sent Joyful – what a joy! We have had several good opportunities to share the gospel with others recently. Last night we were pretty packed out under our house while Scott preached and I interpreted. We are earnestly praying for the word to take root in the hearts. Please labor with us in prayer at this time of outreach. Pray that the word of God may run swiftly and bear fruit. Their are many spirits here that are blocking people from receiving the love of the truth that they might be saved. Let us pray and fight for the souls here that their might be an opening for them to repent and believe the good news.
We had a blessed privilege to give out a wheelchair to a boy here who cannot walk. The family was very blessed and we are praying that it will touch their hearts and help them to realize the love that God has for them.
Also we ask for prayer for our neighbor Paul. He cut an artery it seems and we have been attending to that. Kendra went and has been attending and praying over him. She was having much trouble trying to slow things down and came back to the house to talk with me while Burton was helping him out. And then everything just stopped and there is no bleeding. We are praising the Lord. The man's wife was saying how he was a good man because he goes to mass. Kendra was able to testify the truth more clearly to them. Please pray that this situation would work to the benefit of their souls.
Well we have many thoughts and ideas about how the rest of our time should be spent but we ask for prayer that we would simply co-work with God and be a channel of His blessing in this place. We are also praying that the Lord would clarify our vision in this time about the next steps in service here after our company returns to the USA. We feel we need the Lord to help us in this.
May 1, 2016
Our dear Jesus is so good, a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We are so thankful for His love which lightens our days, and fills our hearts with such joy!
He has guided and kept us through twenty months of living in Papua New Guinea.
The boys are thriving and growing, which is such a sweet gift. They are so full of energy and ideas, and our home is rather wild most the time. We are constantly praying for wisdom to raise these guys in a way that glorifies our Lord. They are each such a gift.
Judah has been thoroughly enjoying his nine month old German Shepherd puppy. They have wonderful times together. He is training her to chase pigs out of our garden, and she takes her job very seriously. She is a talker like no other dog I've ever seen, and is always telling us her little dog feelings.
He has also been keeping busy with building a fort in his spare time. He is a huge help. We are so grateful for him.
Josiah is Daddy's right hand man with construction projects, and loves to analyze the building projects so he can apply what he learns on his own projects. He has recently started building himself a fort- complete with cement to support the posts (from extras he was able to collect while Tyler was pouring cement under our house). He is turning seven May second!
Berean just turned five, and is in a very cute stage. He adores his Daddy, and shadows him wherever he can. His beloved cat Lightning disappeared a few months ago (people here tell us he was probably caught by someone and eaten), but Berean did very well with it. I feel God's grace was on him. He was given a new kitten a few days ago, and he promptly named her Lightning (the second). She is swaddled, cuddled, kissed, and otherwise very well taken care of, but has rewarded the boys with many scratches and bites. She acts a bit like a wild feral cat (as did our last cat). Tyler thinks the cats here are more closely related to tigers than what we have in America =).
Keen loves on her in his rather rough way, and tells her firmly “naughty! Be gentle!” as his chubby little hands grasp her firmly by her neck.
His favorite expression right now is “Aiyo!” (a common expression here of surprise or disapproval).
He loves to help, and is always happiest when he is a right hand man.
Our little fifth (boy?!) is due December 18th. We are so grateful for the privilege of raising another soul. The boys are so excited!
Weeks nine through twenty are very difficult for me (with each of our previous little buddies) with morning sickness and exhaustion, and my Lord knew it would be more than I could bear with the heavy workload I have here daily- so He is sending our friend Joyful for weeks nine through twenty-two (planned months ago without any knowledge of God's plan to create a new life). He is so good to me! He loves me!
We are nearing the end of the rainy season. It is time to start planting more food in the garden, so with some help from neighbors and our four little men, we have beans, peppers, ginger, kaukau, tapioc, greens, sugarcane, peanuts, pumpkins, bananas, papayas, tomatoes, and pineapples thriving and growing in our garden, along with the weeds. =) We are enjoying having fresh garden food after a few months where most of it was not producing well because of the heavy rains.
Our water tank has been keeping us well supplied with water (after some trials with leaking and many attempts at fixing it, my patient husbands determination paid off!). We have a nice little concrete pad with a drain under a lean-to roof on the side of our house. Tyler walled in a section of it for a shower room, and the other part he set up for me to wash clothes and dishes, with a little spigot coming from the tank. It is an amazing luxury after our previous setups, and I am so grateful!
We have also been preparing for a group of our dearly beloved brethren in the Lord to come in a few weeks. Part of the preparations underway is pouring cement under our house (which has taken atleast nine days of work and many work crews as all the materials -except the cement-must be collected in the bush and brought to our home, then handmixed, poured, and smoothed!).
We are so grateful for the help of many of our neighbor men, who have made this project possible!
We are thankful for the opportunities to reach out to people here, and have been establishing some sweet relationships, especially with the children.
Recently one of our little neighbor girls borrowed our flashlight so she and some friends could go look for crabs on the beach. When she returned it later, she said they had not gone after all, because shortly after they started out, they heard what is called the “devil bird” crying. That is a bad omen, so they were afraid and came back. The last few months one person after another has died here, more than ever before (in our time here) at one point. Our neighbors tell us that the devil bird was crying a lot at the beginning of the year, so they knew this would happen.
There are so many fears that bind the souls of those who have not yet turned to Christ.
I was walking back from the beach several weeks ago, and as I walked past one of the fresh graves (of a gangster who was killed in a holdup), I saw a woman bringing a plate of food to put under the little tent that was erected over it. I later heard people believe that the spirits come to eat it.
A few weeks ago a baby girl died (most probably from pneumonia). The Mama lived way out in the farthest Bulu village, and was trying to get her to town when she died on the way (in our village, as they had to wait overnight to take the truck). This baby girl was born to a single mother, and the mother claimed it had no earthly father. When she died, the onlookers said she had eyes like the spirits, and she was taken to be buried inside the catholic church building (I'm not sure why- maybe her spirit was considered holy?). I feel the Lord was gracious in sparing her from who knows what kind of life with those evil beliefs surrounding her. But still my heart was grieved.
A few months ago one of the leaders of the village died after an operation in Port Moresby. He was the father of one of our friends here. We were very grieved to learn of his death, as he was an unrepentant elderly man. For several weeks after his death there were many customs going on around his death.
As he was a “Big Man” in the area, several hundred people came- from his mothers tribe, from the two other Bulu villages, and our whole village, and they spent most their time at the “house cry” (as homes are called for quite a while after someone from that family dies), which is about half a mile from our home. They were all camping out in little makeshift shelters and filling the homes, porches, and kitchen houses around his home. I thought the man's wife and family would appreciate some quiet time to grieve, but I was assured by my neighbor when I mentioned it, that they would feel quite lonely if they were left alone, and that they would feel comforted by having everyone stay with them for a while. Our village hosted everyone, so although a lot of the village spent the night at/around his home, the ladies would go back to their homes to cook in the morning, and bring food back with them to help feed the crowd.
Part of this custom was that for more than a week the men of the village were going around the jungle blowing through a certain type of bamboo (which makes a really creepy howling/wailing sound). The women are supposed to think that it is spirits in the jungle, and so there were areas that only the men were allowed, and blockades on some of the trails to keep the women away.
As the men wander through the jungle they catch pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, etc... and eat them. So everyone was trying to keep their animals close to the house, and warning us to do the same. The bamboo blowing was quite loud, which was especially bothersome at night, when they wander through the jungle around the homes, sometimes waking us up with a start, as they would start up right close to our home. We were all feeling frayed and ready for it to be done before it was over.
Keen kept crying and running to me saying “me no like dat noise!” and was very fearful at naps and going to bed at night. He is now doing better at night, but is taking his nap under our house so he can be close to me as I do laundry in the afternoon.
One afternoon I had a big group of kids over helping me with mulching our beans, when the whole orchestra of bamboo blowers started blowing a certain way in the jungle between us and the house cry. Their brown eyes wide, they stopped their work and listened. Then they told me in hushed voices that they cannot go to the gardens or run around in the jungle after they hear that, or the men will catch them and punish them (with various mean measures), then put them in an enclosure that was built near the man's house, and their parents will have to pay to get them back. They were really afraid, and I had opportunity to talk to them about the freedom there is in Jesus, and the evil of such practices. I asked them if these were things Jesus wanted the men to do, or if it was the devil, and they readily told me that “tewel's” (devils) enter the men during this custom.
One day during this time Tyler walked up and sat with some of the guys up at the house cry. The Lord opened up a conversation with a man in his late seventies. Tyler asked him if he had repented and he said no, but he's planning to right before he dies. Tyler warned him that no one knows when they will die, and that he should turn to the Lord now! Later in talking to a christian brother here, we found out that this man is a well known “poison man”, or what we might call a witch-doctor. We pray he humbles himself under the mighty hand of God, that he may obtain mercy.
The more we get to know this culture, the more we see that the “customs” as they are called, is the fabric that holds everything together. It is a whole religion in itself, and takes nearly all their time, energy, money, and loyalty. The people often do not have good clothing or satisfactory houses, but it is not because they do not have money- the customs take almost all the money they make, and they borrow a lot of money for customs, too. Then the money that's not used for customs is used to buy drugs and alcohol. I am not saying this is true for everyone, as we have met a few exceptions, but it is VERY few.
Even among Christians, there are not many who have taken a stand against them as they need to in order to have true freedom and victory. Whoever makes himself a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. What are the customs? How do i begin to explain what I am still trying to grasp? Here's a try....
There is a big custom ceremony and feast when a man (and all his family) pays a bride price to his wife's family (which is not a one time payment, but many payments and many feasts and ceremonies, and goes on until the woman dies, when they have a payment ceremony after the death and the final one about six moths later). When a baby is about to be born, a custom ceremony/feast takes place. Every time a firstborn child goes to the lake, the island, or catches his first fish, a custom must be performed....When a child visits his parents village for the first time, goes to town for the first time, and on, and on and on- each time one of these events happen, certain people must gather, and each family member (family being much broader with even very “extended” family) are expected to contribute to the payment a certain predetermined amount of shell money, cash, or valuable items such as pigs, woven coconut mats, etc.... It is very expensive, and very frequent. And we've asked “what will happen if you don't perform expected customs”?
Well, the whole family will be angry with you, and will not help you when you need to make a large custom payment, and when you live in a village and are related to everyone, that is no small thing.
Often there are demonic beliefs and charms interwoven into the customs also, so it is not harmless in that way either.
Last week I walked down the trail a ways and prayed for an old woman who has been sick with TB for at least fifteen years. So hard to imagine. I've had a burden for her for months. I am asking God to touch and heal her. The health-care system here is incredibly bad, unless you have lots of money and can go to a private doctor. And even if it was good, at this advanced state in the disease there is not much that can be done. Later that day she came to our home with a gift of a freshly mumued Tapioc loaf to show her appreciation. Her whole family (she has at least four grown sons and many grandchildren) is very dark spiritually. Lots of lying, cheating, etc...I am praying she will become an old woman of the Lord and bring light to her whole family. Please join us in praying for her.
God has given Tyler and I a special love for a little ten year old girl here. Her father died when she was small, her mom lives immorally, her older sisters were badly abused by one of the men in the village, her little brother is severely handicapped (I have been told from parental drug use), and her grandma has TB (not the same old lady I mentioned earlier).
She is over frequently, and loves to help me with laundry, dishes, cooking, scraping coconuts, etc... She reminds me of one of my dear sisters, and is very quiet until I am alone with her, then she chatters my ear off, and I have a tough time keeping up with her pidgin! Keen adores her, and has readily accepted her as second mama. The boys really like her help with what they seem to feel is “girl work” (of which they have plenty- but I'm sure their future wives will thank me!=)). She has also been around for school several times. Last week she came with us to town (only her third time ever going that she remembers), and she was very handy, carrying a box of groceries on her head as we walked around town shopping! =)
We would appreciate prayer for wisdom in our ministry to her, and that the Lord would bring sweet light into her heart.
We are so grateful for the Lord's promise to give wisdom to those who ask. We have been seeing God fulfill that promise as we seek Him for wisdom. So many times we have felt completely unsure of how to respond to situations, and as we have sought the Lord, He has made the way clear to us! Especially in regards to Jesus' command to “Give to those who ask”.
We were rather puzzled over that for a while, as many times people would ask us for loans to do customs, empty containers for their drug powder, or other things we felt were not good for them, and we would think “Give- in this situation, Lord?”.
As we prayed about it, The Lord brought two different scriptures strongly to our hearts, one to Tyler, and one to I at different times over several days- the message of both was the same “Do good to all men”.
Oh what light flooded in! The greatest command is to love God and love our neighbor- if we are truly loving them, we will do only good to all. Sometimes love says yes, and sometimes it says no. God is teaching us how to walk in love, and how to be a blessing. He is so good, so faithful to His promises. May we have faith to believe and see more of His promises fulfilled!
The boys have had a few rough days after a wild town trip on Tuesday... We had a flat on the way into town and it was the most incredible tire change I have ever watched. The men were jumping on pry bars, propping the flatbed truck (which had a load of people on the back) up with a tire, the jack kept tipping over and plunging the weight of the truck down onto the tire which was being removed, and finally when that got figured out and the tire was back on, the truck wouldn't start and a bunch of the guys push-started it.
Town was a bit overwhelming... poor Keen gets tired of people touching him and feeling his hair, and says “mama! people, people!”
We were so grateful to be able to buy many of the things we needed (which doesn't always happen, as we only have two or three hours in town before the truck leaves again, and must carry almost everything we buy around town with us).
We felt led to go to town Tuesday, though Monday or Thursday is our usual. Later we saw the Lord's hand in it, as there was a rather intense hijacking/hold-up on the truck we usually take to and from town (which we had taken back to the village), on Thursday. Everything was stolen and the truck driver, crew, and owner were beaten. Keen's little two year old friend who is nearly daily at our home, was on the truck with his mama, coming back from shopping.
His mom was trying to keep him cuddled into her chest, but he turned and looked at the men with guns, and commanded them “yu go!”. Later he stroked his mama's face and said “Mama, yu alrite, me alrit- Jesus stap onetime yume!” (we're okay, Jesus is with us).
We are so thankful that everyone was okay, and so grateful for the Lord's sweet voice leading us in His path for us. That was apparently one trial He did not will for us to go through, for which we feel grateful.
On Tyler's Birthday the boys and I were working on our morning chores. A few women came walking up our trail and sat down under our house (the proper place to sit if you want to have a discussion or visit with someone). I went down to talk to them, and they asked if I would come take care of one of the young men in the village, who'd gotten in a fight with some of the other young men, and his hand had gotten cut with a bush knife. Tyler asked if he could come down to our home (as Tyler and I were both feeling sick), but they said that his enemies were in between our home and his. So, I collected my stuff and headed up with them, leaving the boys to finish their work under Tyler's care, though they all wanted to come. As I went I prayed for strength. I felt the Lord encourage my heart and fill me with new strength. When we arrived about half an hour later, I found a young guy of about twenty in a lot of pain. My heart bleeds for the people here. So much fighting, violence, and death. His hand was deeply cut across the muscle and tendons of his thumb, and down to the bone on his finger, and it had bled a lot. I cleaned both the cuts and super glued the finger wound closed, then applied antibiotic ointment and packed it with cayenne pepper powder to stop the bleeding, which slowed and then stopped over the next twenty minutes. His thumb wound was really bad, and I told him I would pack it with cayenne powder to stop the bleeding, but he needed to get to the hospital the next day to have surgery to reconnect the tendons, or he would lose the loss of it. As I worked I prayed for wisdom, and laying my hands on him prayed over him. There were about fifty people gathered around watching by the time I was finished.
The next day I heard he had taken a boat to a part of the tribe even further from the hospital, probably to evade the police. He will lose the use of that thumb unless the Lord intervenes.
Later I found out that they do not usually reconnect tendons at the hospital here. So I could've done all that would have been done if I had known. There are many people with disabilities here- usually from the fighting, especially because they are not able to get reconstructive surgery. My heart yearns over the young men, especially- young boys my little brothers ages. God has so much more for them! Oh God, reach the hearts of these young men!
The next morning Tyler and I were awakened by gunshots up the village a little ways from us. Around here, that's always a bad sign, as guns are illegal, and the only ones who have them have made them themselves or sneak them in for the purpose of fighting. Within minutes that whole area of the village erupted with sounds of fighting. Tyler and I prayed together, then he headed off to see what he could do, and I interceded for the situation. He came back a while later, saying no one was killed, and the fighting seemed under control for the time being.
The last few days have been rather tense as the community leaders try to make peace, and the police have come and arrested some of the young men.
From the time they can barely walk, the baby boys are encouraged in fighting. We have watched adults teaching the little boys to run around hitting people with sticks, and everyone laughs. After years of this, they grow up to be wife beaters & fighters, especially dangerous when upset or drunk. Please join us in praying for revival of the fear of God in this area, that He would break down the demonic strongholds that bind people!
One blessing the Lord has given us is that the people here are very respectful towards us, and even when they are out of control with each other, are almost reverent towards us. It has been a blessing, because it allows us to step in to try to help bring peace.
The tribal fighting continues over the land payment for the oil palm plantation. The payment has not been made for several years, but recently the payment was finally made. Because of corruption in the group of men in charge of it (who are community leaders and part of the tribe), it was almost all spent by one man- on a luxurious hotel in town, drinking binges, a personal car, a sawmill for one family, etc... It was supposed to be budgeted out to help the people build better houses and invested to help create income for all the people. So, naturally there were a lot of people upset, and several men were arrested and held in prison for a few days (one of them our next door neighbor). There seemed to be no reason for them to be arrested, except that they opposed the man who was stealing the money from the tribe, so we think he must've bribed the police officers to make the arrests.
My nerves have felt worn out the last few months from everything. I feel over-sensitive and jumpy, though I don't feel afraid. I think it is just because of the effect on my naturally high-strung personality of the nearly constant drama- waking up to a seven foot long constrictor killing our chickens in their coop (it's happened three times- and we're discovering how tiny of a hole a snake can squeeze through!), a chicken thief breaking into our coop three times in one week and stealing Judah and Josiah's special hens (and other chickens), constant people, fights, the outpouring of raising four little boys in a foreign culture where I still don't feel very relaxed, the trial of being so far away from all our loved ones.... it all adds together and is wearing on me.
Please be praying that I learn to find complete peace in my Jesus and that I would learn to hide my self under His feathers in a deeper way. I know He is able to carry me through. I feel God is speaking to me that He wants to teach me yet another lesson in reliance upon His perfect strength in my many weaknesses.
I want to glory in my infirmity, press deeper into my Father, and see His promise of supernatural strength fulfilled in frail little me.
I've been living off of two scriptures the past few days as these emotions have threatened to undo me, and have found sweet solace. “His strength is made perfect in our weakness”, and also “There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God is able who will NOT allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation make a way of escape that ye may be able to bear it.”
Some days I just want to escape- but there is no where to go- no family to visit, no friends to stay with. This is where we are. I've been thinking about Christians who spend years in prison. Where do they go when the pressure becomes too much? What option do they have but to press deeper into the heart of God and to find all they need in Him? I once read a poem that said something to this effect “Not always out of our troublous times, and the dangers so fierce and grim, but in, deeper in, to the place of our one sure rest, in Him!”
This morning I read this encouraging word from George Mueller;
“I trust in thy word” Psalm 119:42
“Just in proportion in which we believe that God will do just what He has said, is our faith strong or weak. Faith has nothing to do with feelings, or with impressions, with improbabilities, or with outward appearances. If we desire to couple them with faith, then we are no longer resting on the Word of God because faith needs nothing of the kind. Faith rests on the naked Word of God. When we take Him at His word, the heart is at peace.
God delights to exersize faith, first for blessing in our own souls, then for blessing in the Church at large, and also for those without. But this exersize we shrink from instead of welcoming. When trials come, we should say: “My Heavenly Father puts this cup of trial into my hands, that I may have something sweet afterwards.”
Trials are the food of faith. Oh, let us leave ourselves in the hands of our Heavenly Father! It is the joy of His heart to do good to all His children.
But trials and difficulties are not the only means by which faith is exersized and thereby increased. There is the reading of the Scriptures, that we may by them acquaint ourselves with God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
Are you able to say, from the acquaintance you have made with God, that He is a lovely Being?
If not, let me affectionately entreat you you to ask God to bring you to this, that you may admire His gentleness and kindness, that you may be able to say how good He is, and what a delight it is to the heart of God to do good to His children.
Now the nearer we come to this in our inmost souls, the more ready we are to leave to leave ourselves in His hands, satisfied with all His dealings with us. And when trial comes, we shall say:
“I will wait and see what good God will do to me by it, assured He will do it.” Thus we shall bear an honorable testimony before the world, and thus we shall strengthen the hands of others.”
We are learning to feed on the faithfulness of our Father and to find our satisfaction not in circumstances, but in God. He is enough. More than enough.
May the Lord fill all you dear ones with His sweet presence and love, satisfy your souls craving with His spirit, and make you more like Himself through the trials of life.