Weng’s Song

Weng invited me over to hear the chapter summaries he’s been working on as he reads thru the Bible this year. We had just settled onto the bamboo floor in his house when his mother turned and offered me a cucumber. I was kinda surprised when she handed me a knife to peel it as well. It’s been years since anyone let me peel cucumbers, sweet potatoes, or any edible vegetation for that matter. I guess it pains them too much to watch me try, yet remove too much of the edible part along with the peel.

I thanked her and took the cucumber, then sat there listening to Weng continue to read me his chapter summaries, trying to savor Weng’s words and this new chance I had been given at food preparation. I waited till Weng had made it into the life of Abraham before I began peeling. The background family noises quickly faded away, till there was only silence. I looked up to find every eye in the house on me. Weng’s mother quickly stepped over and took it back, graciously telling me that she would not mind doing it for me. Oh, well, maybe next time….

The highlight of my visit, though, was even after the wonderful chapter headings and summaries. It was the song Weng shared with me before I left, a song he had written himself last week.

“When Jesus comes back
He will judge the world
But according to God’s pleasure
He regards us as His very own people
We will not be brought to trial.”

Alleluia and Amen!

Resting in God – who, like Weng’s mother, is full of grace for us in all our weaknesses,

Joey and Brooke Tartaglia Mibu, PNG

He Can Be Trusted…

After the church service, when many of the people had dispersed, Parenoowe grabbed my skirt as I walked by pulling me down on the rough bench next to her. Her face was drawn and tight, eyes still shining with tears carefully held in check. She leaned her face very close to mine, and with great emotion asked if we could talk about her daughter. It has been less than three weeks since her 9 year old, Joonoomeng, had run down ahead of her friends to the river, and whose body been found days later washed up on the shore a few miles down the steep river ravine. Parenoowe ‘s searing pain showed in her eyes, her voice, and the tight grip she held on my hand. Her questions are the same that anyone would wrestle with… “Why did this happen? Did I do something wrong that God allowed this? Where is she now? Will I see her again?”

I wish I had something to say to Parenoowe that didn’t sound trite. “My friend, God is not angry with you, He is not punishing you. You know this, don’t you. He loves you and He loves your children. We all die. We do not know when—today, tomorrow, when we are young or when we are very old. Only God knows all of this. We cannot know. But we do know that we can trust God with this. We will have to leave it with Him.” I paused, thinking. “What does Weng tell you?” I whispered, her face still very close to mine. Parenoowe ‘s oldest, married son, Weng, has carried the family through this time. He has been a Bible teacher and helped teach through the Bible to other villages, and has a very evident love for the Lord and His Word.”Yes, this is what Weng tells me,” she quietly answered.

Even while they were still searching for little Joonoomeng’s body, our family had hiked over to their village to see what we could do, and be there with them as they waited for news. In the past, we would have been needed at the forefront, reassuring and reminding everyone of God’s love for His children. Instead, when what we found were other brothers and sisters in Christ ministering to the family, and to Joonoomeng’s mother in particular. And when Weng’s faith was brought to the test, his little sister missing and feared dead, his faith was steady and shone through brightly.

Resting in His Sovereignty,
Joey and Brooke Tartaglia
Mibu, PNG

A Connection between the Church in Mibu and You!

This past Sunday we had a very encouraging time in the Word looking at Romans 1:8 – “Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world.”

With hopes of encouraging everyone, I went through and translated the wonderful responses that many of you have written to the recent updates we have sent out. I  read them to the whole group so that they could see how their faith is encouraging others thousands of miles away! Their response was true amazement…

At the end of the service each Sunday, we pick one of the other 5 tribal church planting works in the Province, and as a church we pray for them. This last Sunday the Mibu Church prayed for the Church in America instead.

A work in progress,
Joey and Brooke, and the Mibu Church

2 questions for the Mibu people – #2 (of 2)

Picking up from the other email we sent earlier, here is the second question that I asked the Mibu people last week: What specific changes has the Gospel brought about in your life since it came a few years ago? I think that their thoughts about this question are just as insightful as their thoughts about whether or not they are ready to stand as a church without the presence of a missionary. Here’s what they had to say…

“Before we were bound by many rituals and superstitions. We used to give much of our time to these things. Some of us used to be sorcerers, and all of us were afraid of sorcery – but no more.”

“We were confused about where we came from. Some of us thought we came from vegetation like a tree or bamboo. Others thought we had our originations in animals, such as a snake or a cassowary. We thought these things were our ancestors, and we would show them respect, and not harm them for fear that we were harming a relative. But not anymore.”

“We also thought that money was sent to us from the graves of dead people. But no longer.”

“We wasted much time trying to procure blessings and ward off curses from the many objects of fear and worship in our lives.”

“One thing we see now is that God truly cares for us because He answers our prayers. Recently one of the little girls here got carried away by the river and died. Because it was so flooded, we expected her to turn up on one of the coastal villages, in which case we would have had to pay big compensation money to the people there. But we prayed to God that we would find her body, and contrary to what we expected because of the high river, we found her body here in the mountains. And when Keteng’s wife died, God provided for us in that situation. And so even though bad things like untimely death still happen to us, we are seeing His care for us because He answers our prayers.”

“Before the Word of God came, we, each of us, went our own way and did our own thing. We had no respect for authority. God is changing us.”

“We have seen growth in our battle for purity.”

“We have seen God be faithful to us in learning to deal with our anger, and speaking the truth.”

Before we ever came to PNG, we purposed in our hearts to be used of God to plant a church that is able to stand up on its own spiritually, organizationally, and financially. There is still much work to be done here to achieve that end. Would you thank God for all He has done for us so far, and pray that He would mature this church for the sake of His glorious name?

On behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ in Mibu,
Joey and Brooke

2 questions for the Mibu people – #1 (of 2)

When we met together for study last week, I had two questions on my mind for the Mibu people: First – There will be a day when we missionaries will no longer be here on a permanent basis. If that happened even now, would you be ready? Second – What specific changes has the Gospel brought about in your life since it came a few years ago? It was edifying to talk together about these things for the better part of a morning. Here are some of their thoughts of where they feel they are at in terms of being able to stand as a church on their own…

“We’ve learned a lot, but we feel like we are baby birds, unable to get our own food, but still needing to receive food from our mother.”

“It’s like we are half-casts – sometimes understanding and doing the will of God, and sometimes acting out of our own selfish sinful nature. Almost as if the Holy Spirit’s power in us is flickering on and off. We wonder how we can get God’s Word to stick with us so that we can bear lasting fruit.”

“We need to understand the Bible better – sometimes we have thoughts and we don’t know if they are from God, or just our own thinking. And we need a practical theology – we need to grow in teaching our own families, we need to understand and obey good business principles because we will be solely responsible for acquiring the supplies for literacy and for ministry.”

“Some areas of theology we don’t understand. For example, in Revelation where it talks about the ‘7 churches and 7 lamp stands,’ what is that talking about?”

I thought these answers were very insightful in showing some areas of need that the church here has. I would like to also share with you what their answers to the second question were, but I will do that in a separate email in the next day or so…

More later,

Joey and Brooke