Update from the Trenches…
“We keep looking to the LORD our God for his mercy…” Psalm 123:2
Dear Prayer Warriors,
Hello from Hot & Steamy Madang! It’s not looking a lot like CHRISTmas here on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Temperatures in the shade on our porch are over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the past week or so. The weather may not be “delightful”, but thankfully our JOY is anchored in something much more solid than weather and HE really is the reason for this holiday season! It’s why we live and breathe this life while we have it! And, we couldn’t do this job we love so much here….if you weren’t doing your job there…so THANKFUL for all of you this holiday season!
The way to get around town cheaply in PNG is on a PMV (Public Motorized Vehicle). This could be an old van, an open back truck, whatever you have to register that moves people. One thing that they have in common is they are usually decorated a little and always bear a name. The one that I love passing on the road here bears the name “Simple Dust.” Every time we pass it, it reminds us of two things. 1) Madang is probably IS one of the top ten dustiest towns in the world and 2) we are truly simple dust – created from it, returning to it, living in that humility as we serve Him today.
So here’s the Simple Dust Update and a quick catch up on the ministries that you are supporting here in PNG:
Our PLANS/His PLANS Our plans for 2019 went something like this and was admittedly fairly aggressive: Bill and Kelley and their teams build the teacher house this fall, move in by October, start the school building in the fall and be finished by the spring ready to start the washhouses and the second RVA house. HIS plan for 2019 went something like this: Bill and Kelley finish the teacher house halfway and have a great time connecting with their teams. In August, Bill and Kelley step back into the e2 Training program here at NTM and fill in a needed gap and do LIFE with seven very cool families and 3 single girls (who each took turns living with us from June-November.) In September Kelley returns home to spend the month with a daughter who is struggling through a long miscarriage. Bill and Kelley’s parents come in November to kick their backsides into gear again and now…the first week of December here we are …hoping to finish the house to where it is livable before we go to the bush for a 2 week visit with our Inapang churches. We knew this could happen…Our plans aren’t always safe when we put them into his hands. The words of Mr. Beaver of Narnia come to mind, “ ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King I tell you.” He’s the King. Period. And we live where he has us today with JOY because we know that He is GOOD!
INAPANG Churches In 2 weeks’ time, we head into the bush again to spend CHRISTmas with our little Itutang church family. We are excited to see them again. Many have visited off and on the last 6 months, but it will be good to spend time altogether in the Word again. Bill will check the book of Hebrews with his language helper again while we are there and we look forward to getting more translation checked off this coming year. Kelley will be taking in four sets of literacy resources for 4 of our literacy schools that are still going strong there in the local villages. This past year, we ended up re-writing the whole entire literacy course to make it more kid friendly. Lots of work, but now that it’s done, we are praising God for the strength to have made it through that long process. Please pray for us that we will be a blessing to the church family there during our visit.
The RAMU VALLEY NTM WORKS ~ The fire is spreading through the Valley!! MUCH EXCITING NEWS THIS MONTH. The first comes from the Kaje tribe which is just a few hours hike from us. The Itutang have been praying for this group for many, many years since they first heard the gospel as many of them are married into families there. This week they are hearing the end of the four months of Creation to Christ lessons and many are beginning to believe! When we first moved into the Ramu Valley there were no other NTM works nearby. Now, the Tanguat, the Iski, and the Kaje churches have been born. This is GOD’S POWER at work!!!! The other super exciting news is that the first Tanguat Bible portions have been printedwith the updated grammar and orthography and are being used! This has been a huge project and we are thankful for Promise Vaughan’s faithfulness and dependence on the Lord to keep moving forward in difficult circumstances. Praises for part of God’s word in yet another language!! Please pray for our teams and the local leaders as we look to help them join together to hold on to the gospel and continue spreading it across the valley!
The Ramu Valley Academy Our passion for this school is only growing as we spend more time understanding the educational system and the needs. Our aggressive schedule had us shooting for beginning school this year, but it has been very clear that next year will be much more doable at this point with our present reality. Please pray for our building teams that are set to come this spring and summer. Pray that they will be able to make it happen and bring the needed physical help. Pray for our Itutang building teams who will also be helping to get temporary housing and gardens ready for the student who will come next January!
The RVA Team The Kitchens family is here and full on into language and culture. They have been able to dive in as a family and seem to enjoy the country. Pray for them as they continue on in language study so that they can be effective in their ministries here. We are so thankful for them and how the Lord has brought them alongside with a passion to see RVA thrive. Joshua Awangin (from Itutang) is now full time in ministry with us here at RVA. Thanks to Broadway Baptist families for making that happen!
Our FAMILY/His FAMILY The two of us are doing great and enjoying this stage of our lives very much. We do notice that we can’t move as fast or do as much as we used to, but I guess that happens when you’re pushing 50. J We miss our girls and sometimes nostalgically long for those days together around our little table in our bush kitchen with the red checkered curtains. But the nostalgia is always gets cut short by a twinge of guilt and a breath of thanksgiving… because the girls have their own very sweet little families are thriving there in Louisville, KY. God is good. He is holding them through good and bad and even allowing them that gift of suffering that he gives his children to train their hearts and souls and ready their spirits for heaven. Little Ansley is as cute as a button and it hurts every day not to have her nearby, but we don’t plan on letting distance stop the Facetimes and the chats anytime soon. So thankful for the communication abilities these days! Our Body of Christ families here and abroad have continued to be in prayer for us and have continued in their strong support of Inapang Ministries and RVA and for that we are truly thankful today!
The Ugly Truth about the Housleys We love the line from the movie The Count of Monte Cristo where the old priest is asked if he really did hide the treasure map all these years. He turns to Edmund Dantes and says, “I’m a priest, not a saint.” Maybe not theologically correct, but sometimes we totally feel what he’s saying. We want to say, “We’re missionaries…not bullet-proof spiritual giants.” Simple Dust. For fifteen years, we have written you updates about the power of God and the amazing things that he is doing here on the front lines with His Word and His Spirit. For fifteen years, we have signed each update with the words, “By His Grace and For His Glory” and that is the truth…HIS GRACE. As we push into a brand-new realm of starting a school and finishing a translation and filling in gaps where needed, circumstances have sometimes pushed our buttons and challenged us NOT to find JOY in the day. Sometimes people are the trials and sometimes it’s just trying to get a simple order from the Hardware House in town…those things that sneak up on you and show you the little “rats” hiding in your cellar (CS LEWIS). We have definitely been stretched these past 3 years and sometimes we thought we were going to break completely. We were often amazed at how quick a bitter or cynical attitude springs up when we were emotionally and physically tired…even when we have literally seen God’s miraculous salvation with our very own eyes many, many times. So often, we reflected on how much like the children of Israel we really are. But God…what a sweet Father. We have been praying to “grow old gracefully” toward our Savior and not away from him like so many of the kings of Israel did. And when we pray these kinds of prayers, we must remember that He is not safe. He will answer in His way. His time. Usually through suffering. But, we also must savor the fact that He is Good. In the end, He exposes, cleanses, and destroys those little “rats in the cellar” who so craftily hide in the dark corners of our hearts because of his deep love for us. He is goodness. He is strength. He is Sovereign overall. We are simply dust…just sin-ridden missionaries, made into saints daily through the washing of the same Savior that we proclaim to the unreached here in PNG. We proclaim Him and give every ounce of our being to His church and to His Commission because He first loved us and because He and only He is worth all of our lives, our daily breath, our energy and our time. So pray for us as we live and work here in PNG. Pray that our hearts would continue to find our strength in his Word daily. That we would love each other and others well. That we would be quiet enough to hear His voice and to Respond to his leadings…wherever they may take us. Thanks for all the love and support. We LOVE this job and LOVE being part of it with YOU! Merry CHRISTmas!
By God’s Grace & For His Glory~
Your Simple Dust Missionaries here in PNG,
Bill and Kelley