As Christmas approaches, and we celebrate Jesus’ birth with family and friends, we can enjoy the fact that we have the awesome privilege of having many translations of God’s word in English. How many times have we listened to Christmas sermons drawn from the Gospel of Luke, proclaiming the birth our King and Savior, Jesus?
Imagine living in a remote part of the world and never having heard the Good News of Christ’s birth. You’ve never heard that there is an almighty God who loves you (Romans 5:8). You’ve never heard that God sent Jesus to atone for your sin (1 John 2:2). You’ve never heard that Jesus died on the cross for your sins so that you could be justified by faith (Romans 5:1).
That is the reality for many unreached people groups in Papua New Guinea and other parts of the world. Held in the bondage of sin, they won’t be celebrating Christmas because they have never heard of Christ. Luke 2:10 says, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” The news of Christ’s birth is for all the people, but it hasn’t reached all the people. We hope that you’ll continue praying for us as we serve in this ministry with the goal that in our lifetime, all the people will have heard the Good News!
Luke 2:8-11 — Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Holiday greetings from Oklahoma! While moving has been quite an adjustment, we’re especially glad to be near our son Robert and our grandson Ean during the holidays.
I love the Christmas season, and while I’m anticipating new traditions and experiences at Christmas time in Paraguay next year, for now I’m happy to enjoy one last familiar season of festivities. Today I spoke with Pastor Dave and was thrilled by his news. The church he pastors has chosen to partner with me and will be financially supporting me. Although this news is not intended to be a Christmas gift, it is! I am thrilled to be at 70% support now. I am only $125 a month away from the 75% requirement. I can hardly think of better news to hear this week!
“There’s only one thing worse than being lost and that is being lost and having no one trying to find you.” David Platt
Wednesday Ethan’s class sent home an envelope filled with good bye cards. As we read them aloud together the reality hit that it was beginning again – the season of goodbyes. The season that always rips at our hearts, because it is filled with so many hard moments. Those moments when Ethan reads the card from his 2nd grade best friend that says, “Without you here I will not have a best friend in Mr. Rood’s second grade class”. Those moments when he tears up on the car ride home from his last day of school. Those moments when he wonders how many of his friends will remember him in three years. Those moments when Ethan and I cry together because “it’s just too hard”. Those moments when there are too many lasts to even take note of them. Our life is full of these moments and we never get immune to them. We tear up, we grieve and then we press on. Pressing on with the hope that the day will come when there will be no more of these moments. Oh Glorious day!
Good Morning from our distant time zone. This last week (or two) has been quite a bit busier. Last week, we started the Warm-up stage of language learning. This week, we actually started Stage 1, and that means that 4 days of the week, we have a Language Helper Session. These Sessions are two hours each, and right now, we spend them getting nouns and verbs and practical expressions. After the session, we put all that information into a program on our computer, and are able to review it later. I am expected to put in 40 hours per week on this and cultural exposure (which means going out and observing how things happen around here). Alisha is supposed to do 20-30 hours. So that’s what we’ve done this week. And that is, more or less, what we’ll be doing for the next year. It’ll get more exciting when we can understand the language a bit more.
The kids have been doing a very good job of asking me every day, how many days there are til Christmas. Even without snow, they are still full of Christmas spirit. Christmas is not as widely celebrated here, since it is a very Christian holiday. It is commercialized some in the bigger cities, but not as much here in the area we live in. The believers here do celebrate it, and part of what you do here at Christmas, is go visit people. Either that, or stay home, and be visited. If your gate and door are closed, they know you don’t want visitors; but if they’re open, we’ve been told, you will get visitors, especially on Christmas day. We try to leave ours open most of the time.
-We’re learning the language, one word at a time
-For friendly neighbors
-Comprehension of the language as we have our daily sessions
-For the kids to continue to adjust- and they start school in a couple weeks or so
We went to a park last Sunday with our church for a Christmas service. The first picture is some of the people in our church. The second is the passage the pastor preached on (1 John, I think…). And the third, the kids went swimming at a pool that was at the park.
The statement “time flies” is true! It is almost surreal that we have been at the NTM Missionary Training Center (MTC) since August 17th (4 months now!). As of today, we are completing our first semester here on staff and can officially say: “it’s in the books.”
While it is difficult to express in the space and time allotted here all that we have experienced and learned over the past 4 months, here are a few highlights:
1) We moved out of Barnabas (travel trailer) in to a temporary apartment, then in to a house in the last 4 months. We pray we are done moving for at least a while. We can state – we have become good packers, I think?!
2) Susan and I have kept a very busy schedule this semester with classes from 8/8:30 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. Monday through Friday. We have been taking almost all the first semester courses our students take to help us learn more about a) NTM, what we do, how we do it, b) relationship development with our first semester students, c) our own learning and growth.
3) The boys – Austen, Alex, and Zeb – began their 2nd year of homeschooling. It has been a challenge for them, especially with Susan’s morning class schedule. However, we are close to being on schedule for the year, and as one homeschool mom continues to remind us–the “schedule” is our schedule, what works for our family.
4) Speaking of school and learning… We have learned something in all 13 classes we (Susan and I) have taken this fall. However, three classes in particular have truly stretched us mentally and spiritually (in good ways!): Worldview, Biblical Framework, and Learning Styles. In fact, I wish every Believer could take the Worldview class, taught by George Walker. It is a course not only designed to help you begin understanding the world views of others (western culture to third world culture), but also look deep in to your own world views. Ask the tough question: Is that world view Biblical or non-Biblical?
5) Getting to know the students (missionary candidates) and their testimonies and stories has been amazing. I am at a loss for words to share how blessed and what an incredible opportunity we are being given to be a part of their lives while they train here (MTC). Way too many stories to share here but one in particular continues to just remind me how incredible the God we serve truly is. It’s a young couple here who have two boys. He met her in high school through a foreign student exchange program. At the time they met, she was basically an atheist. God allowed him and his mom to speak in to her life and eventually she came to know Christ as her Savior. They began dating soon after. There is much more to their story. However, they graduate tonight from MTC to begin their MPD and then ministry in SE Asia.
6) We have worked with Personnel in Sanford (NTM USA Home Office) to finalize and launch the new Ministry Coaching for Partnership Development program (ministry). We are excited to officially roll this out with the students that graduate tonight (12-19) from MTC. We will also be working with new missionaries in our Associates Program as well as veteran missionaries that serve stateside and those back here (USA) on Home Assignment (furlough). Pray for us as we engage in conversations with our missionaries to talk about Partnership Development and the goals/plans God has given them for this part of their ministry.
7) Our adjustment to life in Missouri and at MTC has not been without tough days. There have been days where we have struggled. There have been days where all five of us did not get along well, and some of that very much due to the many changes we have experienced in our home over the last 2 1/2 years. However, through it all, we are more deeply learning how faithful God is, and how we can make it through a tough day by His grace. I am so grateful for His amazing grace, mercy, patience, and love.
8) While there have been some tough days, there also have been many fun days, great days, days of laughter, moments of smiles, and one in particular was in late summer. We are privileged to live right on the shores of the Lake of the Ozarks. We have a fairly private cove with two piers, two swimming platforms, and a rope swing in to the lake. It had been one of those days where we needed a break, so I took the boys swimming. We had a blast! I even tried the rope swing (it was not a pretty landing!). We swam out to one of the swimming platforms and jumped off it for a while too. It is these moments where I am reminded that it is simple pleasures that truly bring us our greatest memories. I am looking forward to more of these moments as we continue to live on this beautiful campus God has brought us to reside at.
These are a few highlights of the last four months. There are so many more we would love to share with you. As we travel this holiday and in 2015, I pray God will give us the opportunity to have many one on one moments with family and friends to full convey all that God is doing in my life, Susan’s life, our boys lives, and His ministry here at MTC and NTM globally.
We trust that you are having a very blessed Christmas season. Merry Christmas from our home to yours!
Paul (for the 5 of us)
We finished our English Practicum on December 4th! Our students worked for three weeks using a language learning technique that they will use when they are learning a tribal language. Two couples from Arizona come down: Don & Jean, and Gerry & Linda for three weeks. Thanksgiving dinner was with over 30 people and included a history of why we celebrate Thanksgiving. We even had an American church service and everything that goes with it: name tags, bulletins, hymns & praise choruses, announcements, and punctuality! The students thought that it was very interesting how “fast” the church service was (1 hour exact) because here in Mexico the church service normally lasts between 1 1/2 hours to 2 1/2 hours (not including Sunday school)!
We were very blessed to have Gerry show the boys how to repair water heaters, washing machines, stoves, and other home repairs. Linda & Jean showed the girls different crafts and how to make bread, cinnamon rolls, cakes, etc. While Don just enjoyed visiting with everyone! We miss them dearly as adopted grandparents. The students really enjoyed the the two couples and they learned a lot of English including the language learning method.
Kathleen & I were the two consultants during the practicum. She is the leader for the Spanish department here for the new missionaries that come down. Kathleen partnered with me during the practicum and made it out to the Ranch quite a few times to help me out with the encouraging, leading the students, and she was also able to sit in on the students language sessions. I was so thankful to have her help because it was my first time doing something like this. Based on her feedback I have several areas where I can improve and tweak to improve the language practicum for the students next year. She was a wonderful source of encouragement for me during the whole time.
I am not sure I have enough time or the right words to describe just how much work went into the language practicum. I was not only the consultant & leader, but also a taxi driver, tour guide, translator, hostess, teacher, counselor, business manager, and more! Philippians 4:13 that says “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”, and I saw a tangible manifestation of how God supplied strength for me each day as I didn’t have the strength in me to handle all the interruptions, visits, as well as all the unexpected things that had to be dealt with!
This was totally not planned. The first week that Jean was here we had to take her to the emergency room at the hospital! She had previously had an infection in one of her toes that the antibiotics didn’t clear up before she came down to Mexico. But while she was here it got worse. Thankfully Hector (Amy’s husband) was able to help with translating, errands, and transportation with the unexpected medical emergency while I stayed at the Ranch to help the students in the mornings and in the afternoons I would go visit Jean in the hospital. She was in the hospital for five days and unfortunately they did have to amputate her toe but she had peace from God to have the surgery done down here!
A week before Christmas, and all through the Guest House Everything was packed up, every toy, shoe, and blouse The family was scrambling to box up their food stuff And hoping and praying that they’d all packed enough…
Well, we did it: this last Wednesday we started our Bush Orientation. We packed all of our gear (one Action Packer, three duffle bags, and a laptop), boxed up six weeks’ worth of groceries, loaded everything into the back of a pickup, and headed up into the mountains!
The place we’re doing our Bush Orientation is in kind of unique position, as far as NTM works go, because of their proximity to a road and a town, so getting here was a little easier than it would be for many other locations. Rochelle and the boys hopped on a little Cessna and flew on ahead to a small airstrip near our location, while Seth and one of the missionaries that we’re staying with drove behind in the pickup and met up with them at the house. (With a ½ hour flight vs. a 5 hour car ride, it was a no-brainer to send the kiddos and their pregnant Momma via the air.)
Though the national people here have better access to a few more modern conveniences than many other PNG communities do, they were still cut off from access to the Gospel in their mother-tongue before the missionaries we’re staying with came and began working among them. It’s such a privilege for our family to be able to be here, living alongside these two awesome missionary families as we continue our Tok Pisin studies. What a great way for us to get a taste of what day-to-day life looks like for tribal church planters!
We’re still getting settled right now, trying to give the Fam at least some semblance of stability for this last bit of the Christmas season. So far, the boys are doing well. (Thank you for your prayers!) They are having fun playing with the other missionary kids and seem to really enjoy this new set-up we’re in. I think our neighbors’ swing-set and pet rabbit have helped with this considerably!
Anyway, that’s what’s been going on the last couple of days for us over here in PNG. Thanks for keeping up with our family. Hope you have a very merry next couple of days as you get ready to celebrate our Savior’s coming to earth!
We want to take this time to thank you all for the love you have shown us over the past year through your prayers, cards, emails, support and phone calls. It is such a blessing to know we have you all behind us and not just us, you are praying for the greater work of New Tribes Mission (NTM) across the globe. You are part of a global team that is reaching out to those who have not believed, because they have not heard because they had no one to preach the good news to them.
Now many are hearing for the first time, but there are still many more who have yet to hear the good news of a little baby coming to save the world. Praise God there are many who can now celebrate Christmas for real this year. Please as you sit down to celebrate Christmas this year think of the Pal people in Papua New Guinea (PNG) who for the first time ever in their history can worship the Saviour.
Think of the Mouk people who are bringing this good new to 3 other people groups (a people group is a people of a distinct culture and language to those around them). Pray for the Mengen people as they are sending out preachers to the villages in their own people group. Pray for these new missionaries as they set off to live in a different environment in order to share the gospel with those who have never heard.