“Who has done such might deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time?
It is I, the LORD, the First and the Last. I alone am he.” Isaiah 41.4
Dear Friends and Prayer Warriors,
The first order of business in this update is a heart-felt APOLOGY. This is the longest breech in my writing since we hit the field in 2003, eighteen years ago and I am truly sorry. Although we have continued to update the facebook page with short blurbs and pictures and prayer requests, we haven’t kept up with the email updates and for that, we are sorry…No excuses. Well, I might have a few excuses, but still…we are delinquent, and we know it. Please forgive.
Assuming that you have forgiven us and are still reading, we’ll go on with what in the world has happened over here in PNG this past year! It’s been great…so great and we can’t wait to update you. So, grab your coffee and take in the 2021 whirlwind. (Also, in a spirit of true repentance, we promise not to be so delinquent in 2022.)
The Ramu Valley Academy… in General
We spent the last three months of 2020 making lists and checking them twice… not for Santa, but for our grand opening of RVA! We welcomed 17 students into our lives and began orientation in January of 2021 (following the Australian/PNG school calendar). The students were put through orientation which included physical care and hygiene, accommodations and dorm requirements, and the “RVA Way” school requirements. These kids coming from the bush really stepped up and throughout the year pushed themselves spiritually, physically, and mentally and we are really proud of them all. We look at them and we see your prayers at work.
The “RVA Way” and our Curriculum
At RVA, we only speak and write in English. This is because of government mandate as English is the government language of Papua New Guinea. Most PNG citizen speak their mother tongue and the national creole, but not a lot of English, so we want to help them learn their designated government language. RVA students are also only permitted to enter through 7th grade. This is because the first term of 7th grade, they must complete the “Foundations” course. We wrote this course based on the research and testing I did throughout PNG over the last 8 years. We looked at all the major “holes” in the average student’s learning and have crafted a course specifically geared to getting students on the same page and ready for the 7th grade material. The Foundations course covers basic English grammar, basic math facts, reading speed and comprehension along with other basic foundational skills. Once they have completed this 9-week course, we begin the 7th grade PNG government curriculum. Using the PNG curriculum allows our students to enter the PNG tertiary levels of education if they should choose to do so later. We also teach the “RVA Way” which is basically our philosophy on life and education and respect for all people. We’ve enjoyed watching the kids pick up our catch phrases like “Do what’s right, not what’s easy” and then tell each other… “Hey, that’s not the RVA way.”
Our RVA Students
…are AWESOME! These kids are from very remote places where educational possibilities are not only limited, but often failing. They LOVE being at school. They come early and seek out direction and help. They thank us…even when we are handing out disciplinary consequences. They work hard and play hard and they learn to do things much differently sometimes than what they are used to and we love them all very much. We will be adding another 16 new students into our mix this coming year. Be praying for each of their hearts to be open and their minds to be pliable as we begin to work with them!
Government and Local Support for RVA
Has been incredible. The Lord through a long, crazy event line has put some very wonderful and influential people in our lives. Many of them have already spent time orienting and encouraging our students during our PNG Citizen “Mentor Mondays.” Please pray that these contacts will continue to advertise and verbally support RVA in our local and national communities.
RVA Team & Future Needs
The RVA team has been very blessed the past year with those who have played a part in the startup of this new initiative. God has been so very kind. We have had the Kitchens family come from KY and work hard to get us up and running and the Hammonds family has come from TN to help get us through the first couple of years. We are so grateful for these! Marissa Myers from TN is with us for the long run at the moment and we have a PNG teacher with her Masters degree from Australia joining our teaching team for 2022. We also have a young family, the Bohlers, who will join the construction and teaching support side of things this spring (Lord willing and Covid doesn’t shut the world down!) This year looks fairly stable, but come 2023, when we lose the Hammonds again and bring on another class, we will definitely be looking for some short-term help (at least 1 year) in the classroom and on the construction sites. If you know someone who might be interested, please feel free to give them our contact info. At this stage, the best candidates for helping at this mentoring school are college age/career age singles or young couples and retired folks who want to share their wealth of knowledge!
Our Family at Home
I am thankful to be writing you this from the guest room at my daughter, Sabra’s, house. As most of you know, I came home to meet our new little grandbaby, William, who turned one a couple of months ago and to be with my parents for a Thanksgiving gathering to celebrate 80 years of life for my dad and 50 years of marriage for my parents. It was a lovely time together and I’m so thankful for it. My parents and Bill’s have both been such good spiritual encouragements for us over the years. I will stay on through Christmas to help Madison and her family move into their new house and as I write Bill is already safely back in PNG enjoying the warm weather again. Please pray for him as he hits the ground and gets back into the many projects that need to be completed before we begin the 2022 school year.
Our Spirit Life
We are ever learning the sweet art of growing old gracefully and with JOY. We have learned through this season how to wait longer and trust stronger and depend deeper than we ever have…and it is well with our souls. We have learned more about how to trust him for the needs of today and not worry about tomorrow. We have learned how much it really does take a team, a Body, and we have become more than ever committed to the passion and the strategy of equipping the next generation in an interdependent way for the sake of His gospel. We have learned most importantly to look at his face and be thrilled by Him and His gift of salvation. And, to remember that this is still His Work and His Story and that we are the privileged ones (not the sacrificing ones) that He allows to struggle and work and learn and grow for our joy and His Glory while we still walk his world. He has reminded us again that He is really coming back, that He will take us all into account. He did give us all one job when he ascended that day into heaven…and Bill and I want to be on his path working on that job as long as He grants our lungs His oxygen.
As we always say, “We love this job,” and we are so thankful that we get to do it. We are also thankful for you because if you weren’t doing what you do, we couldn’t do what we do. We are so thankful to God who continues to stir your hearts to love us and encourage us and support us and pray for us. Amazing Grace! Isn’t it great that we are able to work hand in hand for the same gospel, for the same harvest, for the same reward…together for His Glory!
By God’s Grace & For His Glory~
Bill and Kelley Housley