As we wrote in our April update, there is so much to process and tell about our most recent stay in Sivauna village! We were there for nearly two months, from February 12 to April 10. We had plans to stay a few weeks longer, but with domestic travel shutting down in response to COVID-19 reaching Papua New Guinea, we needed to leave while we could. This post has taken many days to write and has become too long to ask you to read in one sitting, so we’ve decided to break it up into three parts by topic: Family, Community, and Work.
Our village trip was long and sometimes stressful, but God did great things in our family. Without many places to go, and being almost completely disconnected from the outside world, we had a LOT of time together. We played games together, read books together, fought with each other, worked on projects, celebrated a birthday, worshiped and prayed in English, and faced the complex challenges of COVID, all together. When talking to people about what it’s like to live in the village, I often say something like, “It’s a rare week when our family doesn’t share 21 meals together.” This is part of village life that our family treasures, and we’re glad to hear reports that many of you are finding similar joy and togetherness in your forced isolation these days.
One of the highlights of the village for our kids is, of course, their friends! As they get older, there are less and less peers for them to spend time with in the village. Teens are often away at school or have many responsibilities to help their family survive. Judah, Zeke, and Silas, however, had many friends they could run around and play with almost any hour of the day.
We were so grateful for the kids’ attitudes about homeschooling during this time. The older ones carried on independently while the younger ones spurred each other on to continue learning. With a baby crawling around, needing our attention and time, this was quite a feat! Their focus and drive even allowed us to take an extended Spring Break when we arrived in Ukarumpa. Thank you for praying for Evie, Abel, Judah, Zeke, and Silas!
This was Boaz’s first time in the village, and he was a HUGE hit with everyone! He was the first white baby many of our friends had ever seen, and they absolutely loved him. Bo enjoyed going around the village, meeting people, seeing all the new things, and ESPECIALLY looking at dogs. His first words included the Mamusi words koni (dog) and mang (bird). People got no end of delight when he would point to a dog walking past and shout “KONI!” or hear a rooster crowing somewhere and ask “mang?” while looking around for the source.
Taking Bo with me when I walked around to talk to people in the morning gave me great opportunities to learn more about the Mamusi language and how it’s used in different contexts. He was an ice-breaker to begin conversations with people I’d never spent much time with before, because we could always start by talking about the baby and how much he loves koni.
We know many of you pray for us daily, and we can’t tell you how much that means for us. Here are a few family-related prayer points for you to join us in:
- Please pray for continued peace in our home. In our family we love each other deeply, but living so closely for months can be trying on our relationships. I know many of you are experiencing the same thing right now, so you know how to pray this way!
- Please pray that we re-integrate well into life in Ukarumpa. Because of the pandemic, many things are different now than times we’ve lived here before. We need discernment to navigate opportunities to love, serve, and develop good relationships here. Our leadership here would certainly appreciate your prayers.
- Please pray that Boaz would continue to grow, thrive, and sleep. He’s been very healthy and learning new things every day. He wants to be around people (and/or animals) all the time, and he lights up any room he’s in. We believe the Lord has huge plans for this little guy, and we appreciate your prayers for him.
- Please pray for each individual in our family’s relationship with God. He has plans for each of us here.
- We always appreciate your prayers over our health, but now more than ever. Travel is very limited, making any potential medevacs even more difficult.
Thank you for reading, dear ones. Your love and support mean the world to us! We’d love to connect with you, especially if it’s been a while. Please reach out in the comments or send us an email and let us know what’s going on and how we can be praying for you.
Last term, one of the kids’ biggest reminder that they were loved and not forgotten were cards and gifts from the USA. If you’d like to mail our family a card or package, please reach out for the kids’ wishlists and details about mailing us things.
Stay tuned for Part 2 in a couple of days!