- Left Saturday to begin a 3.5 hour extreme hike to the 2nd village church
- Cautiously crossed many places on the trail that had been washed away by landslides.
- Nearly swept away by higher than normal river water since the bridge got washed away.
- Stung by bees (both Caleb and I) on the way.
- Finally arrived several pounds lighter, had a wonderful time visiting and being fed tribal food (sweet potatoes, spinach, and beans).
- Stayed up late with 2 bible teachers and families discussing Scripture and discipling.
- Slept on half a mattress (shared it with a bible teacher from our village)
- Woke up at 5am to our host worshipping the Lord in prayer.
- Worshipped together with the believers in the 2nd village, who have just started the book of 1st Corinthians.
- Hiked up to the 3rd village for the evangelistic lessons from Creation to Christ.
- Few more pounds lighter
- Observed as the group of bible teachers did the teaching and taught one of the 5 lessons for that weekend.
- Consulted with the Bible teachers as to how things are going (if I was grading them I‚Äôd give them an ‚ÄúA‚ÄĚ!)
- Were ready to leave to head back home on the long trail, but God sent a huge rain and everyone wanted us to stay for fear of more landslides and even higher water level.
- So glad God orchestrated it to stay another night as we got to visit with the 3rd village and heard amazing testimonies.
- Hiked back down to 2nd village and ate more yummy tribal food (same as night before)
- Sat in a house with just Caleb and one other man as he played his guitar and we sang worship songs together. Amazing!
- Fell asleep to him continuing to sing and pray.
- Next morning awoken at 5 by a man from another house playing his guitar singing worship songs.
- Left for home. This time a man came with us to guide us.
- Killed the bees that stung us on the way. (Not my idea but the man escorting us said they deserved it.)
- Built a makeshift bridge over the troubled waters.
- Just about crawled over the bridge.
- Came to a really bad place on the trail that was washed away and watched the ground moving underneath as our guide trampled across it.
- Caleb crossed fine, but I found myself giving in to fear. I felt frozen. God helped and I went across as fast as I could.
- Turned around to look at what we had just crossed and saw more of the land slide down the steep mountain!
- Thanked God for His protection.
- Arrived home and put on all the pounds we just lost.
- To see more pictures follow this link: http://blogs.ntm.org/gary-smith/photos/?album=1&gallery=13&show=gallery
This verse brought us much comfort recently as we‚Äôve seen it happening around us, quite literally! Much rain has brought on several landslides that he taken out people‚Äôs gardens, fish ponds, and recently our own water source that supplies our water for our houses and electricity. So when Felix read this verse Sunday morning we were all reminded of God‚Äôs wonderful protection of us all.
Notice the verse does not say if these things come it says when. And God did indeed help. He has provided wisdom and strength through it all. It took us several days to dig out and clean up our water source but we are back in business and the people who also benefit from this water also have fresh water in the village once again.
Mature Church Evaluation
A group of church development consultants came into our village to assess the state of the church (not the building). They came in the evaluate the Church here and it‚Äôs development into maturity. We evaluated the church‚Äôs access and response to the Word of God. Along with the church‚Äôs identity and life, and the discipleship within the church. It was a wonderfully enlightening time and revealed to us several areas that we can trust the Lord for in improvement.
Creation to Christ outreach
You‚Äôll remember back in February the church here in our village partnering with the church in the second village to begin the evangelistic teaching in another village. It is still going forward and the response is incredible. People saying things like, ‚ÄúWhat are we going to do? We all deserve eternal punishment!‚ÄĚ And they are anxiously awaiting the promised redeemer. The teaching is half way completed now and the soil of their hearts are well prepared. Please continue to pray. Also the teachers from the second village church seem to be feeling the weight of the responsibility and are beginning to waiver. So please pray for them to fight the good fight and not give up.
Our family went out to our mission center for the annual school testing which helps us to stay on track with homeschooling. Our kids all did wonderfully and we are glad to see them stay on track. It was fun for them (and us) in that many other children from our regional area came so that had the chance to interact with many and do extra-curricular activities. Like we took them on a field trip to a coffee factory, and the smell was better than a Starbucks store ÔĀä
We pray that you all are sensing the same ground breaking comfort from our loving Lord weather you are experiencing things crumbling around you or not, God is our refuge!
‚ÄúLord we thank you because in good times and in bad times you are always with us.‚ÄĚ This is how my language helper Ronny prayed on our last session of 2012. And if anyone should know this, it‚Äôs Ronny. His son suffered a meningitis attack and is severely handicapped now. However, on the last Sunday church meeting of 2012 he gave testimony before the church saying, ‚ÄúI want to praise and thank the Lord for helping me this year. That even though my son is handicapped God enabled me to teach a complete literacy course and to continue doing translation and curriculum development with Gary.‚ÄĚ
Many others (27 total) gave similar testimonies that Sunday. Praising God for His working in their lives over the past year, and to rejoice that they can trust Him in the next. One young woman summed it all up saying, ‚ÄúBefore the truth came here I was very unsure what to believe. But today after going through literacy and reading God‚Äôs word I can know what is truth and I understand it. I thank the Holy Spirit for opening my eyes and helping me believe truth.‚ÄĚ
This year has seen much to praise the Lord for here and 2013 looks promising as well. For example, one small village¬†has asked us to teach them the Creation to Christ evangelism story! So beginning in mid-February the two church will join together to bring them this life changing truth. As word of this has spread some people from the village that closed their doors to us will be coming as well! We couldn‚Äôt see how God was going to open the door to that village, but now He has opened a window in another and those wanting to hear are climbing through it. We will provide more details as the time draws near.
Another encouragement we look forward to in the coming month is that a native man from another church will be bringing his family here to do a marriage seminar. Marriages here growing and changing but it is difficult for us to provide the practical advice for them into their culture. This man coming has done this in other churches around PNG and we are thrilled to host him and his family here to provide this valuable advice based on the principles of scripture. This will happen in early February so we would appreciate your prayers.
It‚Äôs a new year and we pray that as God‚Äôs word goes forth here many more will be added to the church and each of us will glory in Him alone. We‚Äôd also appreciate your prayers as we Smiths will be going out of the tribe for a couple weeks for meetings and a break.
We realize this is not an ideal time to send out an update as everyone is consumed with the election, but we are anxious to share some things with you so we are hoping your vote will be to read this and praise the Lord with us.
Here are the headlines that you can read more about later when you have time:
- Bible teacher‚Äôs life spared after slipping on the trail and a knife in his bag piercing his side.
- Sunday church service saw nearly 40 people stand up to confess sins. Incredible time.
- Although the door is still closed to the main village a potential outreach may occur in the near future to a small village asking for the teaching.
Each Monday we have a meeting with all the Dinangat Bible teachers. Three of the teachers hike from their village and we praise God every week for their safety. However last week their faith was tested. Areke and his two friends were nearing their village, but it was dark and they only had one flashlight between them. Areke slipped on a wet rock and a small knife shot into his side. His friends ripped off his shirt and covered the wound. They slowly finished the last 20 minutes of the hike up to their village and got him home. Upon taking off the bandage they could see that it was bad. The cut was deep and he lost a lot of blood. They sent for the village medical aid, and the next morning he hiked over there to stitch him up. The doctor said that his ribs saved his life. The blade of the knife went into his side, but then his ribs blocked the blade and it traveled up under his skin along the rib cage. The doctor sewed him up and he is healing now. Areke said that he is so thankful to suffer for the Lord, and that his desire is to be like Christ so he was pierced in the side just as our Lord was.
This Sunday was one of the best Sunday services I ever attended. Not because there was a spectacular band playing for worship or that the preaching was wonderful (Gary was preaching, enough said, right?). But because after the sermon nearly 40 people individually took turns standing up to confess specific sins. It was awesome. The message Gary preached was corrective teaching on the issue of sorcery and calling out the sin they had committed. People responded amazingly and said things like, ‚ÄĘ‚ÄúLord, I‚Äôm very sorry for being a part of that meeting where they practiced sorcery. I sinned and ask your forgiveness,‚ÄĚ
- ‚ÄúPlease forgive me Lord for not being a good leader and speaking out and not stopping the sorcery. I was wrong.‚ÄĚ
- ‚ÄúLord, I ask your forgiveness for me not being a good husband and father at home. I am impatient with my family and do not treat them as I should.‚ÄĚ
- ‚ÄúMy husband is one of the bible teachers and he always tells me that we do this work together, but I got bitter and angry at his over involvement, and I went away. But I was wrong to do this. I ask your forgiveness.‚ÄĚ
These kinds of confessions went on for over an hour and were mostly focused on the sorcery that had recently taken place here in the village. The believers were tempted and tested and some of them fell, but now they are restored! They faithfully followed 1 John 1:9 and James 5:16 and our gracious Lord restored them. It was amazing. We‚Äôve never seen anything like that before! After this we shared communion together which was a fitting end to demonstrate God‚Äôs graciousness and provision of forgiveness.
Finally, we‚Äôve been praying for an open door to the main village for months. However the leaders are still not open to our teaching. But God has opened another door to a small village a little further away! It‚Äôs a hamlet of families that came down the mountain to ask if they could receive the teaching. They have come once and a while to the church in the other village, and they are very intrigued. So they said they want to hear the whole story! So the bible teachers will be talking to them about all the arrangements soon. Praise the Lord with us! And pray for wisdom, and that this outreach will indeed take place.
In October we went to the annual regional missionary conference and had a wonderful time of refreshment and fellowship with fellow missionaries.
Then we took our children to the mission center where the mission school is located for a “Spiritual Emphasis Weekend” where Charis and Caleb attended. They both came back charged up and desiring to love and serve the Lord in a fresh new way. We also had the privilege of hosting the other Dinangat missionary children so they could attend also.
Soon all the ladies (Esther, April and Elli) will travel out with the girls to the school again for a Christmas bizarre weekend. Should be a great time of fellowship and refreshment. Meanwhile we have a fun “guys” weekend planned here. We are so thankful that the Lord gives us these kinds of opportunities.
Thank you so much for your love and support!
Gary & Esther Smith
Thank you for praying!
Your prayers availed much ÔĀä The abbreviated pre-soccer service went great. God gave ability to speak clearly and passionately and I‚Äôm sure many seeds were planted in hearts. Thank you for your prayers and support!
Here I am shaking hands with the main village leader of the village that does not want us to come and teach. The Lord put it on my heart to apologize to him for the negative thoughts I‚Äôve had towards him for rejecting the teaching. He was very receptive and also apologized to me for saying many false accusations about us. So praise God for this breakthrough, small as it is. And may the Lord use it for future relationship building.
Thank you! We appreciate you all!
Gary & Esther
Our corworkers (the Schlegels) are currently out of the country on medical. So far it’s nothing serious, just needed to get some testing done. Yesterday I wrote them some quick points on what was going on here and it occured to me later that perhaps others would enjoy reading this. So here you go…
1. The Bible Teachers (BT‚Äôs) have taken it upon themselves to meet on Saturday mornings to discuss church business. They say they need time themselves to talk through things and weigh things, then for things they aren‚Äôt sure on they would bring them to our Monday meetings. How cool is that?
2. Another language group is still knocking on the door and really wanting us to come. Felix said that he would be willing to move there and work alongside a missionary family as coworkers! Everyone was really excited about this and said they would support this. This is obviously way down the road, but just exciting to see the guys opening themselves up to God using them in the Great commission! A few days after this, a guy who I met at MTC back in 2009 wrote me and asked if I had any allocation ideas for him as his family wants to come to the Madang Region and work with us! So I told him about this idea and he is praying about it. WOW!
3. Village M ‚Äď all the guys decided it‚Äôs time to stop messing around. They are going to do a community service day in village M to build the literacy house. So we will speak to the church about this and set a Monday for as many as possible to go to village M and do this together with our sister church in village T! Another WOW!
4. Both T and S (sorry I’m not allowed to put village names on our blog) are going to (hold on to your hat for this one) tear down the old church buildings!!!!! They so for too long we‚Äôve been sitting scattered around and after seeing how other churches meet they feel it‚Äôs time to build a similar structure!!! Another WOW! We need to discuss this further as we wonder if it might be wise to wait until after teaching in village M since an act like this may just drive a bigger wedge.
5. More people in T and S are ready to get baptized. (Sorry I can‚Äôt remember the names of people in T, but here it‚Äôs Wamane and wife and someone else, I forget now. Pray for this, b/c Erike and Jimingke are discouraging them big time from doing this.
6. Concerning the withholding of charging their batteries until the find the theif who stole from us. We asked the BT‚Äôs about what they thought and they were unusally quiet and only said, ‚ÄúIt’s up to you guys.‚ÄĚ So when we told them that we were thinking that we’ve handled it incorrectly and read Luke 6:30 they were extremely happy and said it was right to lift the ban. So we have done that. The good part about this is that it has made the talk about it come up again pretty big. They seemed to really appreciate seeing us respond to God‚Äôs word this way.
7. In church this Sunday Jinongke got up after the teaching and confessed his sin of gossiping and asked for forgiveness. Also about church there was probably about 20 people already there waiting for us! Another Sunday thing is that they changed the prayer time. Whoever has a prayer request then will actually say a prayer during prayer time. This is working well and last week a woman actually prayed! (Epepe)
8. There seems to be a different spirit among the BT‚Äôs especially since the Citizen Teacher Training Seminar (CTTS). They seem more committed and excited about serving.
9. I am going to another tribe with Nathan on Thursday for the weekend to help another missionary do a comprehension check on his lessons. The BT‚Äôs were very happy about this as they have developed a real heart for this place since having Ambox here and being with him at the CTTS. Jaspa even brought it up as a prayer point this Sunday b/f he knew about me going. Also they are concerned about and praying for Manam.
10. The day after I returned there was a community bung led by the elementary workshop people with Boomy and Rafael. They did a big talk about how to raise children! Lots of it was really good, like scheduling, and helping kids to succeed in their God given talents. But one thing was a little off. They said you should never spank your children. The heart of it was good because abuse and disrespect is rampant in this country, but still not consistent with Scripture about how to discipline children so we had a long talk about it with the BT‚Äôs yesterday and it was great! It‚Äôs nice to be finally teaching them these kind of practical things.
Ok, that‚Äôs enough for now. That‚Äôs some big stuff going on! God is moving. And it‚Äôs encouraging how people are responding, for the most part. I mean there is still those on the periphery. Sorry this is so long, but I figured this stuff would encourage you as you sit there waiting on reports.
Love you guys!
Gary & Esther Smith
NTM ‚Äď Private Mailbag
Madang Province, M.P. 511
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
After two years of being in Christ the believers in the other village are doing very well. Normally the bible teachers from our home village hike up there on the weekends for teaching and discipleship, but once every 6 weeks or so we missionaries go up for a visit to encourage. This time I think I was more encouraged by them! They are doing very well and clearly understand how they were in the past and how well they exist now, and give all the glory to God!
Caleb went with me this time. After four hours of tough hiking we arrived and went to our host home. Normally we stay in a house that they built for us with just one or two bible teachers, but this time we stayed with the family. The families house had become unlivable so they have moved into this house. At first I wasn’t excited about this as it is a little awkward since the whole house is only one room! But it ended up being a very good thing as I got a unique picture of family life that I normally do not get to see. And since they are believers now much of their family life has changed!
It used to not be uncommon that husbands would hit their wives to force them into submission. Relationships between parents and children was not one of joy but just existence. And wives did not respect their husbands talking bad about them to other women. But what I got to be a part of this weekend was the exact opposite! The husband does not hit his wife anymore and the wife smiles when she talks about her husband now. The children smile and laugh together and with Mom and Dad. After I laid down to sleep I listened to the husband and wife share stories about how each of their days went. It was genuine and sweet fellowship. They actually enjoy one another, this is in stark contrast to the past. And indeed all glory goes to God!
The hike was intense and I’m still recovering, but worth it all to get to look into the windows of their souls and see Christ! Here are some pictures of our hike…
“Our trip to another village March 2012″
Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher
The Lord moved and worked out a way for us to be able to get internet while we are here in the tribe! So in this remote location we are able to stay better connected to family, friends and fluency (okay so that was a stretch, I just needed another word that started with “f” ). A church in the States donated the funds for us to be able to purchase a satellite dish and other hardware necessary to connect to the internet.
Already Esther and the kids have talked to Grandparents and parents a couple times. I instant message with my family and have posted several things to Facebook. Homeschooling has been dramatically enhanced. For example, we’ve always seen links to go to and see how things work or to get more information, but we’ve never been able to utilize that before now! Just yesterday we were instructed to do an experiment, but we didn’t have the proper materials to do so. However, the book said, “If you don’t have the proper materials just go to this link to see the results,” and presto the kids we able to see it work!
We are very thankful for this addition to the ministry here and will try to post more often on this blog so perhaps you can get a deeper peek into the lives of tribal missionaries. Of course that may not appeal to everyone, so I’ll try not to post the pictures of all of us eating spiders. Oh wait, there are no pictures like that. Which may have something to do with the fact that we really don’t eat spiders because their hairy legs get stuck in our teeth. It’s worse than popcorn.
See you around the web. No pun intended with the above spider joke.