Craig and Sara Noyes

Craig and Sara Noyes

sent out by Grace Brethren Church of Irasburg,VT to plant churches among the Pano people

I’m lying on the bamboo floor listening for the inevitable whine of the mosquitos. I start to feel the now familiar creep of skin and joint pain crawl slowly across me as it has for the last month*. I’ve learned, in this particularly hot bush house, it’s important to move as little as possible since it takes the slightest exertion for the streams of sweat to spring up like water from Moses’ rock. Feeling sick and overwhelmed, as this was the first night of the bush/build trip back into Pano, I opened my digital Bible to 1 Peter chapter 2.

Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” (2:10).

Dear friends, I warn you as ‘temporary residents and foreigners‘ to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” (2:25)

Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.” (2:25)

As I read these passages the thoughts spring unbidden; how sweet it will it be that these people, maybe even this very family who generously moved out of their house so we could have a nice place to sleep, will themselves find that they have moved from the lowest of positions to that of highest honor as God’s people! That they who lived in continually condemned, where everything they did and strived for started and ended in the same place; separate from and guilty before God, would know of this greatest of mercies?

I thought, what will it look like for these future believers to keep away from worldly desires when it seems so much of the material comforts that consume our (my) devotion don’t even exist here? In a culture that is exponentially more community-driven than our own, how will they live out the truth of first being part of God’s clan (family) and a distant second being part of the clan they were born into?

And the emotion when thinking of how they will be able to learn to entrust themselves to their Guardian – the Shepherd – when they are wronged but they don’t pay back the oppressor, contrary to everything that was natural to them. How sweet that hope is that sits waiting for them!

Those are beautiful thoughts, but at present, those truths are like an airplane with no airstrip to land on; they can only keep circling and waiting.

The view of the island volcanos from the village we’ll be living in.

These truths kept teaching that night, however. How spectacular that I, not by an act of my own, have been given the most honorable position as a child of God; an unshakable, inviolable, unquestionable identity. How I long so badly for the worldly desires of comfort and predictability. I don’t want to sweat anymore, I don’t want these mystery sicknesses. I don’t want to see a boat heading our way on the water and wonder if they are coming to rob us. I want my kids to go to a good Christian school and for us to have the house on 10 acres and the summer barbecues. But then I remember I’m just a temporary resident. This is a hotel stay on the way to my forever dwelling. No one in their right mind repaints and buys new carpet for a hotel room. What am I thinking – wanting to walk away from what God has called us to because it’s uncomfortable for a little while? I, while tempted to dread what it will be like to actually build these houses and live among these people, was reminded that I too have a Shepherd – a Guardian who won’t let me be lost.

I had these thoughts on the first evening of my recent trip into Pano with Josh; for a short “pre-build” trip. While there, we worked at clearing and leveling the ground, mixing cement, and pouring bases for my house posts. It was very productive and very intense. It’s quite intimidating to think we’ve got 10x that work to go on those houses in that heat and no promise of help to do it. Please, please pray that we can get help in the country to build these houses.

That first day of work; sick, out of shape, working in the tropical sun, and thinking of what the next year and 10 years hold for us – I found I understood 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 in a way I had not before.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

*turns out it was malaria, I ended up having it for 2 months before we figured it out. Apparently I have the special skill of messing up a malaria test and getting a false negative!

** Get ready for a lot of pictures, I haven’t shared any in a while!

From the “pre-build” trip mentioned in the blog.

Click the link below for a printable bulletin insert. It is two pages and could be printed double-sided (or if the download button is there, just click that).