As we come to the close of 2020, I think all of us would agree that there have been better years. These are the times when it is good to remind ourselves that our God is GOOD and He is SOVEREIGN – all the time and that there is nothing outside of his magnificent plan, which will culminate in the Return of the King. As we review the year’s events, one of the things that impacted us most was, of course, CoVid19. Personally, the virus took a dear family friend and supporter from us just days before CHRISTmas. We absolutely rejoice that he spent CHRISTmas with THE LIFE itself and in all of his new glory as a citizen of heaven. But, our hearts are heavy for his family who are long and faithful friends as they continue here on earth without their sweet husband and dad. The travel bans also delivered the biggest punch to our RVA team and timeline as we cancelled four building teams that amassed to about 480 man hours of work that fell heavily on the shoulders of Bill and our co-workers, Eric and Joshua. However, we added two of our PNG friends to our building/landscaping team and are thankful for those strengthened relationships. The travel bans also kept us from meeting our little grandson who is Bill’s namesake and still to this day our arms ache to hold him and see him face to face and to wrestle little Ansley up with some floor time that she seems to love so much these days. It’s true. Sometimes missions really hurts to the core and you have to dig down deeper into those Scriptures that give the living, breathing truth your soul is searching for. Meditating on verses about peace and about our eternal home brings reason back to our life here on earth away from things that our hearts treasure as we make our journey “home”. One of our missionary friends has a Richard Baxter quote on the wall of her little house in the tribe that asks us the question….is not eternity long enough for your rest? So, with our eyes lifted off CoVid and fixed on eternity, here is what is going on in our little corner of the world right now.
Inapang Churches The churches continue to meet and grow and struggle and grow some more. We are thankful for the elders who are on the ground everyday dealing with the messy life of the church and those who are opposing it. Please pray often for the Inapang believers and the leadership in the churches. Also, please continue to pray for the other Ramu Valley churches in the area who are fighting the fight of faith in Kaje, Tangguat, and Iski. We are thankful for the missionary teams around the Valley who are working to strengthen the churches that they have planted and disciple them as they walk together towards heaven! The Inapang churches are also preparing to send students out to the Ramu Valley Academy on January 20th from the churches and have already begun the selection process and interviews for next year. We are so excited to be working with them in this way. Pray that the future of the church is strengthened by the efforts of RVA!
RVA Team & Timeline Progress Our RVA team is geared up and ready to teach! Many hours have been spent thinking and writing curriculum specifically for these transitional days and we are thrilled to be on the precipice of teaching our first classes. The schedule and curriculum includes daily habits, spiritual disciplines, Bible teaching, logic and the normal educational endeavors. Please, please, please pray for our first RVA students. Pray that the Spirit would be working to bring things into their lives even now to make them ready and willing to hear the gospel if they haven’t already heard and believed it (especially a few that are joining us from town), to walk in obedience if they have and to be willing to put new disciplines into their lives that will make them ready to walk in the good works that the Lord has prepared for them. We will send a student list soon so that you can pray for specific names. For more details on specific ways we have been watching the Lord work in our lives and theirs, request the latest update from Marissa Myers, our newest addition to the RVA teaching team. She did a beautiful job of remembering some of the Lord’s graces the past two months in detail. If you would like to read more of how the Lord is working, please request her latest update: firstname.lastname@example.org
RVA construction has finished up most of Phase 1, with a couple more smaller builds outstanding. Time and Labor have made it hard to finish up everything for staff houses and library, but we are sitting pretty with the things we need to get started teaching. The washhouse got a PNG mural added and is just beautiful and we have decided to add a small shower house running on well water to help keep everyone clean. Pray for this last project as we try and finish it up in the coming weeks before classes begin. There are a lot of little last minutes to clean up and we would appreciate your prayers that the Lord would make our time “fat”. This is a prayer we have prayed since our early village days and have seen him answer and get things done that we never thought we’d have time for – so pray with us and let’s watch how He does it again!
RVA Students are starting to form a team here at the school and work on some projects together.
Urban Students– We have 4 community students living here in town. Then, a couple of weeks ago, Cletus (Itutang church elder) and his family moved out to “Grace Place” (much more fun to say in tok ples….”Sugum Mpəga Mpara”), which is another small lot of ground next to the school property where we have built sleep houses for the Ramu Valley kids coming out for school. We also built a “Watch Papa” house and the elders and deacons will take turns coming out to be living and mentoring the kids in the evenings when they come home for dinner and sleep. Cletus’ daughter will also be in our class so she has joined in with the four town kids and it has been so cool to see them all work and play and serve this CHRISTmas together as we did different awareness projects in the surrounding community. They served a beautiful dinner with us for the RVA student families and the local leaders and we practiced some music together as entertainment for the dinner, which ended up going really well. (See more pictures on facebook at the Ramu Valley Academy page.) We are so excited to have the Lord begin to knit all of our hearts together as a team.
Rural Students from the Valley – The students have paid their school fees and are getting ready to move to our Grace Place in town. They each have a prayer partner and sponsor from our home churches and we will begin settling them in on January 20th. Please pray for us as we make all the last minute preparations and get ready for “Welcoming Day” and the first days of RVA orientation.
RVA Kick Off & Grand Opening!
The school’s first day of regular classes will kick off January 25th! The first term will be super intense for our staff team as we work through the newly written RVA FOUNDATIONS curriculum, which reviews concepts from grades 4-6, allowing us to isolate areas of deficiency in each individual student’s education and catch them up on those specific areas. This will make it easier for us to move into the PNG curriculum as a class team, not leaving anyone behind along the way. It will also be an intense time for the students as we use this first term to move them into full time English usage (their government language). Pray for all of us to be ready and willing to work and for brains that can keep up. Again, it sounds like a lot of work, but our teaching team is ECSTATIC to BEGIN! We LOVE this job!
RVA Friends & Sponsors We can never open a monthly support statement or write an update without thinking about all of you at home who work so diligently and give part of what you earn to make a difference in lives here in PNG and ultimately in ETERNITY! We love being your hands and feet and a steward of your gifts to the Ramu Valley Academy and the students here. Please know that you are a HUGE part of this team and that you are loved and appreciated! We are thanking GOD for you all today as we move into a beautiful New Year that was planned long ago by a Very Good Father! Excited to see how he grows all of us more into his likeness this year.
By God’s Grace & For His Glory~
Bill and Kelley Housley