Sivauna was our home for nearly two months. SIL leadership had met with Mamusi church leaders and decided that this was the best place for us to start our journey with the Mamusi people. We were met with extreme generosity that has even surprised our leaders. From their flourishing gardens, the local people poured their best on our family. Many types of greens, yams, bananas, oranges, watermelons, cucumbers, tapioca, taro, and even sugarcane were constantly being dropped off on our porch. We and our closest neighbors were frequently sharing and swapping cooked food (including turtle meat!) as well. This is a custom we grew to love. What a gift to become close friends with our neighbors. On a relational level, most of the people were very kind, though we felt a slight hesitation from many to be our friends. The Mamusi people can be very shy and reserved so we will have to spend much more time with them to truly bond as friends. There is also a concern they occasionally voice that we will split their church (by starting a new one). We have reminded them many times that we are here to help them translate the Scriptures. As we dig further into the Word of God, it will be up to them to decipher the Spirit’s continued guidance on the state of their church. To a true Papua New Guinean community, harmony is of utmost importance. They leave no one behind. Decisions are only achieved with the consensus of the “big men.” We will respect the value they place on being wan bel (of one mind, in complete unity) on major issues (religion being the most important) and let the Holy Spirit work through the Scriptures and through us to deepen their faith and pull aside any veils He wishes to remove. If you have any specific questions regarding this, please email us directly and ask us. We want to be transparent with you about every part of our ministry.
There was one family, besides our neighbors, which repeatedly demonstrated a desire to help us and become our “family” in the village. They were very patient when our kids were obviously nervous and uncomfortable. They repeated many Mamusi words and phrases over and over again. They learned our kids’ favorite village foods and did what they could to provide them as often as possible. Papa is a respected leader in the local Catholic Church and members of his family have proven to be extremely helpful with logistics as well as motivating the community. It was a great comfort to have this family to lean on for support when we have so much to learn. It was this family that was so hard to leave. These are the faces we willbe most eager to see again.
We were able to witness the community go through both celebrations and deaths. We saw some lives bearing much fruit and others that seemed hollow and sad, all under the banner of a church. Sound familiar? Souls are searching and hurting next to others who are flourishing. The Holy Spirit preceded us, of course, and is working all things according to His will and timing. We are eager to continue to find our place in His plan and work for His glory.
We were able to visit another village called Auna. Aaron and I had visited this place last year and it took us 9 hours to hike through the mud back to Sivauna. They are almost done with the road so we took the kids up to meet more Mamusi people and share about what we’ve been doing. We only had to walk about an hour after the road ended this time. This village is the place where Abel began to get really ill. Two days later we were back in Sivauna, where he tested positive for malaria. Evie was sick with it two days later. This was a scary time, but God is most generous with His peace. We were prepared with the appropriate medicine, and with helpful guidance from our medical staff back in Ukarumpa, they both recovered quickly and were totally fine by the time we got back to Kokopo.
We tried to email all of you while we were in the village, especially when concerns came up. We know many of you want to know how to pray, specifically. We must apologize that we didn’t properly prepare and equip someone else to do that for us. Our internet was extremely finicky and unreliable. Most days it simply did not exist. We had our radio so we stayed in contact with our supervisors and with our support teams. We will come up with a better plan to communicate with all of you while we are in the village next time.
If you haven’t done so yet, please take a few minutes to look and look through our photos on Facebook!