Six days since landing on the Nankina airstrip. Six days since hiking home, and six days since being able to send or receive email. We have wanted to communicate that we made to Mibu safely, but have had to wait this week till our co-workers come in to get the drivers for email over the HF radio here!
The first day we flew to the airstrip to land, there was cloud cover over one end of the jungle grass strip. We circled several times, but were not able to land. We ended up detouring to Goroka and were able to spend the day and night with our coworkers who were there on break. It was discouraging not to be able to land the morning we expected to, but it turned out to be a wonderful blessing to spend the day with Geoff and Shannon and their girls, and also to be able to bring the kids to the NTM missionary center in Lapilo where they were able to see a number of good friends, and have some closure to a very real part of their growing up years.
The next day, we started off at first light to try and beat the clouds, and were able to land!! It was simply amazing to see our Mibu friends smiling and waving and waiting for us on the airstrip when we landed. It was a strange sort of déjà vu. Landing and greeting friends like we have so many times over the years, but coming as visitors. Knowing that our time here is short, we both feel a deep desire to use every day, every interaction, to the fullest. However, this has been tempered somewhat in the last six days by the fact that our legs have felt like they have been tied in knots and steamrolled. So most of our conversations and interactions have taken place within walking distance of our house. (Currently within about 20 feet of the front door!)
For Sunday teaching, we gave an overview of the first half of first Corinthians that we covered last year. We spent most of the day in the village and didn’t get back till 4 in the afternoon. It seems that every person in the area was there, and it was exhilarating to get back into teaching Mibu-style with lots of interaction and questions. Many stayed for hours afterwards to talk and catch up. There was a lot of excitement about the training we are beginning again in the fall in Arizona. There were lots of questions, and hopes that people would come to help them reach out to the unreached groups on either side of them. They wanted to know how they could be involved and help the new recruits get ready to reach into places that were like Mibu less than 10 years ago – outside of the reach of the gospel.
Thank you to everyone who prayed for us on our hike. It was grueling, long, and it hurt… but we spent most of the 14 hours hiking with fellow believers, and we also were able to plant small seeds for Christ in the villages and villagers we passed on the way. Thank you for praying that we would make it.
We did, in one long day, almost 14 hours of hiking and the last 2 ½ in the dark by flashlight and bamboo torches. But praise God and with thanks to our friends here, they had built a stick bridge over the raging and dangerous Pandepooai River, and we hiked all the way home within a group. Twenty minutes outside of the village, we were met by a dozen children who had run down the path to greet us all. It was hard, but it is over, and we all came safely home.
Please continue to pray for us this week, as the Lord brings us to mind.
Pray that we would be real and open in our conversations, that we would have the wisdom to know when to listen and when to challenge; when to encourage, and when to empower. Pray that these sweet, introverted people would have the courage to share their struggles and dreams for the church, their joys and their discouragements. Pray that we can accurately assess the state of the church and wisely lead and prepare them to lead. And Praise God with us for those who have expressed their desire to be baptized, despite opposition over the past two years from other groups.
To God be the Glory!!