All Good Things Must….

Hard to believe this time in Mibu has come to a close. Hard to leave our co-workers, and hard to leave when it feels like there is so much left to do. Yet we are so encouraged with the church body at large, and know it is not only we Americans who have the abilities to lead and the Holy Spirit to convict!

On the last two Sundays, we had the opportunity to watch two good friends get baptized in a fish pond, were able to finish teaching through 1st Corinthians, support the local leadership by addressing some issues the church is dealing with, and help prepare for the short term team visiting Husas this week. We enjoyed Skyler’s new pet with her (something like a bush o’possum), inventoried our food and toiletries for our next trip out, and said what felt like hundreds of good-byes. I’m not sure if it’s a standard leave-taking around here or not, but a few of my friends always leave me saying, “You know, I might die while you are gone…!” As if all the goodbyes aren’t hard enough already!!!

On our ride into town from the airstrip, Brooke talked with the driver about leaving the bush. Most town people still have roots in a bush village. He came to town as his children grew up to provide higher education for them – high school, teacher’s college, etc. Brooke told him we were leaving for some of the same reasons. It was insightful to hear his ideals – from a very educated, well dressed, articulate town man with a good job… he said, “What I love the most is to be back in the village, to get outside early in the morning and work for a few hours in my (food) garden on my land as the sun comes up. Then, I want to sit on my hill, overlooking the valley and the land, and have time to sit and talk with the other men, and live with my family there around me.” I love understanding better the full circle of many of the village person’s ideal thoughts of living in town and be able to just buy food at a store, and live in the hustle and bustle of town surrounded by so many other people. 🙂

Thank you for your prayers for a smooth and safe trip back to the desert from the tropics!

Love in Christ,
Joey and Brooke Tartaglia
Shiloh, Marietta, and Solomon

Is It Time? – Follow-Up Email

I went to visit Moofore again at his hut. Walking up the path to his place, I felt such a sense of the bigger purpose God has for us during our stay on earth. Isn’t it incredible that hundreds of people can be praying for the salvation of one man on the other side of the earth? What a privilege it is to be involved in what He is doing in the world.

Moofore called me in, and we sat talked for a while on local matters before the conversation moved to spiritual things. As we caught up, God brought to mind the many people who wrote to say they were praying. Thank you, each and every one of you who prayed! The only thing I felt lacking as we talked together was the lack of other Mibu believers there with me. So many others here have been involved in sharing God’s Word with him over the years. No sooner did I have that thought, than two Bible teachers from the Mina churches (8 hours away) and one of the teachers of the Mibu church poked their heads through the doorway!!! As they walked into the room my heart was bursting at how God was answering our prayers. I looked at the men God had sent at just the right moment (even the right day!). Each of these men has sacrificed for the sake of the Gospel. And now all this coming together for one crippled old man! God’s patient love truly is great!

The timing was right, and we were eager to talk about Christ. Moofore soaked it up, interspersing questions and thoughts of his own. We discussed Jesus being born sin-free, His being God, and also Emmanuel – “God with us”. We talked about how he was called “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” We talked about how Jesus miraculously fed thousands of people and how so many of them sought Jesus not for a relationship with Him, but to get more food out of Him. Finally we talked about how Jesus was punished not for His own sins, but for ours. And how God’s anger for sin was given completely to the One who never sinned. In illustrating the wrath of God being absorbed by Jesus, one of the men pointed to a sheet hanging in the doorway that was casting a shadow into the house. He said that God’s wrath is like the sunrays, and that Jesus is like the sheet that absorbed the sun, casting a shadow for us to rest safely in.

Moofore spoke and answered with real understanding, so we asked him again where he thought he would go if he died. He said confidently that he would go to heaven. We asked him about his previous stumbling block – his own sin.
His reply: “Because of my own sin I deserve hell. But our penalty, I mean, MY penalty, has been paid by Jesus!”

Rejoicing along with the angels,
Joey and Brooke Tartaglia
Mibu, PNG

Is It Time?

Moofore’s house and garden is one of my favorites in the whole area. His steep yard drops away on three sides, showcasing a wild panorama of the surrounding mountains and valley rivers. It is still the only place I’ve been where both the village of Mibu and the village of Beng can be looked down upon from one single spot. It makes me happy to think of Moofore here, on top of his local world. Because of the severe deformity of both his feet, he seldom leaves his own yard.

When the Gospel was first presented here 5 years ago, we stood by and watched with amazement as God turned almost every adult to Himself. But there were some who did not believe. Moofore was one of them. I’ve gone to visit with him twice since coming here a few weeks ago, and today the conversation touched on spiritual things. This was the first time I have seen evidence of concern for his own sin and status with God. He asked about overcoming the real problem of sin and its penalty. At that point, I asked if we could pick up the conversation again in a few days, and asked him to keep thinking about that very question, and to ask others what their thoughts are. (After hundreds of conversations about this, I know there is a lot of good understanding out there.) I told him I’d visit again in a few days, and would like to ask you to pray with me for Moofore before we continue. Might this be his time to understand and believe the Gospel?

Thank you!
Joey and Brooke Tartaglia
Mibu, PNG

What We Miss About Home

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Keteng’s Question

I sat in Keteng’s hut talking with him while he shaved down a new wooden handle for his shovel (a nice, mindless task). There was some small talk – how they are receiving twice what they usually make for their coffee, how the local fish ponds are doing, how muddy the trail to Saidor is, day to day life stuff.

I had to smile when Keteng said he had a question from his daily Bible reading. I can’t help but mentally rewinding 5 years to when he heard the gospel for the first time, and his continued growth and faithfulness never fails to inspire me. Anyhow, his question was from Genesis, when God first gave people (Noah) permission to eat animals, but He instructed the people to always drain the blood out of the animal first. Keteng was pondering how this might still apply to us today.

In truth, I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about that. It is such a different life for most of us, shopping in the meat section of a grocery store; whereas all the meat Keteng has eaten in his life has been butchered either by himself, or by a family member or close friend. Keteng’s question is more than just theoretical! How many times have I watched them butcher pigs here, how they catch the blood and cook it up with some greens and eat it as a sort of blood pudding? And how many times do I do things natural to my own culture without stopping to wonder if it is pleasing to the Lord?

Keteng and I were able to sit and spend several hours talking, comparing Scripture, and just thinking about his question. Even the silences made me happy, enjoying the unhurried freedom to sit and ponder that comes with a decade-long friendship. If this isn’t discipleship, what is? Oh the joy of reflecting on God and His Word together!

Our conversation served to sharpen us both, and has us both still thinking.
It truly is for conversations such as this that we have come this summer. So often we do not need a shove in the right direction, so much as someone to walk along with us part of the way.

On behalf of these precious people we have come to serve, thank you for sending our family here this summer!

For His Glory,
Joey and Brooke Tartaglia