Our family has been back in Papua New Guinea for nearly three months now. One of the huge markers of settling into a routine has been the start of school this past week. The school year at Ukarumpa International School begins in July and ends the following June. The kids have had mixed feelings about starting, but excitement has won out for all of them. Take a moment to thank God with us for miraculously providing the needed teachers from our community here. Many of these teachers and administrators have been here since 2019, which means they’ve been through the ringer as they’ve balanced rapidly changing Covid protocols, their own health (as well as their own family’s in many cases), and their sacrificial service for the students here. Pray with us that God will continue to lovingly protect and sustain them.
Evie is starting high school this year in grade nine, Abel is a seventh grader, while Judah is beginning his middle school career as a sixth grader. Zeke is beginning fourth grade, Silas third grade, and Boaz is attending daycare a couple times a week. This is a huge adjustment for all of us, and we feel your prayers as we walk through it. For myself (Rebekah), my head is spinning at the possibilities of what to do with this mental space I’ve been given. The hours it takes to keep our household running in this country stack up quickly, whether the kids are here or at school. But the ability to have quiet and think while I’m working is a gift that I want to use wisely. I’ve committed to co-lead the tenth grade girls’ Bible Study group this school year, which is really exciting. Aaron and I have already begun leading worship together in various capacities here in the Ukarumpa community. Being ready to love and disciple my own kids when they come bounding home from school weighs heavy on my heart, so I will continue to wait to hear from the Lord about more commitments and work. Thanks for praying with each of us through this transition. Our Wycliffe ministry always has Bible translation as the primary focus, though what’s happening behind the scenes in our family keeps changing. Indeed each of us are simply called to keep obeying and trusting in love and gratitude, through His power. We pray for the same focus over each of you.
As Aaron works on his dissertation and the preparations for the next Translator Training Course (TTC2) in October, he is also needing to get caught up on required research and writing assignments to maintain the expectations of SIL-PNG (Wycliffe’s partner organization here in Papua New Guinea). We are grateful to be part of an organization that makes high quality linguistics and Bible translation a priority. So many people have gone before us and found ways to make a lasting and positive influence on the preservation of languages here, while giving Papua New Guineans tools for discipleship. Of course, our ultimate goal is for them to have God’s Word in their hands or ears, and we will keep praying to that end. Meanwhile, some of the steps required are not as exciting as the Jesus Film, but will take large amounts of time. Aaron is working diligently to make sure that their alphabet, vocabulary, spelling and grammar usage are understood and documented, even though it is challenging to reach a consensus on what is ‘correct’. Imagine if someone from Toronto, someone from Texas, and someone from Dublin had to come together and explain and then document the rules for the English language from scratch, with no prior written documentation, only what they’ve heard their whole lives! It is indeed very tedious, but necessary for the next generation to be able to hear or the Word of God in their language. Some of these tedious conversations unveil a word or phrase that will be crucial to completing the New Testament, so God has been merciful to give little glimpses of their importance.
Aaron will also be helping mentor a group of Papua New Guinean linguistics students who will study with SIL-PNG for three years, then hopefully complete their Masters Degree in Linguistics. This is an exciting new program to further equip Papua New Guineans to bear the mantle of language development and Bible translation work here in their own country. Please pray for Aaron’s mind to be clear in all his studies and work. We pray the start of school for our kids will bring in a routine that will help all of us thrive individually and as a family.
We’ve begun making some improvements to our beautiful, though somewhat weathered, home here in Ukarumpa. We had a special gift come in so we could buy another rain tank for our family’s water supply. We’re so grateful that our clean water system has drastically improved! It was a difficult thing in the past when we kept running out, even with diligent monitoring of our water usage. Praise God with us for this provision! We’ll be painting some of the interior this month and trying to finalize a plan to update the kitchen to better meet our family’s needs. Any homeowner reading this understands the list will never end, and we are often praying for discernment about what is a need versus what is simply a worldly desire.
Meanwhile, we’ve had to begin the very early preparations for our stateside assignment (formerly known as furlough, though resting isn’t actually the purpose), since it’s only a year away. We will need housing, at least one vehicle, and a good school for the kids, preferably in Knoxville. Our housing in 2018-19 was amazing, but we do not know if it will be available or whether we should try to find something that suits our family’s size better. God so richly provided for our last stateside assignment through you, our faithful partners, and we still thank Him for it. You are all well aware of how the housing and used vehicle costs have rapidly increased, so please pray with us about this need for August of 2022.
We thank God for each of you, and we pray His lasting peace will guard your hearts as you seek to love others in ways only explainable by His power.