Matt Dodd and his family left the Mawerero ridge on September 6, 2016. Unbeknownst to us (but fully known by God), this was to be Matt’s last work day here.
Four months later, in early 2017, Matt was diagnosed with terminal stage-4 cancer. It didn’t take long for all of us to realize that we would need to find someone else to take up the work here. But once again, the Lord knew well beforehand what we did not. For the last year, he’d been working in the hearts of a family in distant South Africa (about as far away from Arizona as Papua New Guinea is) and gave them a longing to work among the unreached in the Finisterre Mountains. Within a week of Matt’s diagnosis the Mitchell family expressed their desire to take the baton from the Dodd family and run in their stead.
Just a couple months later the Mitchells traveled to America to begin training with Finisterre Vision and the Dodds. They were even able to spend time with Matt prior to his passing into paradise in July of that same year.
As training ended we aimed to get them to Papua New Guinea as quickly as possible. First the goal was September 2017. Delays in getting work permits and visas meant we had to postpone our plans until the new year. But 2018 came and went. It was not until the end of that year we were able to get the proper entry documents for the Mitchells. For many, this was a daily topic of prayer to our great God.
And then came March 7, 2019. 912 days since the Dodd’s departure. It was the official move-in date for the Mitchells. Three planes and a helicopter were positioned to get them, their household items, and supplies into the village. But as so often happens in these mountains, clouds from the valley below and the sky above created a labyrinth too thick and dense for the helicopter to fly safely. This happened right after the helicopter had dropped off a sling load on our ridge.
So instead of welcoming the Mitchell family, we had the privilege to host T.J., a pilot with Wycliffe Bible Translators. Like all of the pilots who serve us way out here, T.J. is one of our heroes, so Jude and Oliver were so excited to have him eating and sleeping in the house with us.
The next day, the Lord brought sun and clear skies to our corner of the world. TJ was able to make it back to his wife and kids (on his daughter’s birthday!). And the Mitchells made it to Mawerero. Exactly as God planned—not a moment too early or too late.
We are so excited to have them here! We’ve got lots of plans for the future of the work here. Let’s see how the Lord directs our steps.
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