Another rainy season is starting here in Nagi land. We average somewhere between 300-400 inches (approx 750 – 1,000 cm) of rain a year. A fact that brings with it lots of mud, mold and other crud. Like a grumpy attitude from me when rain cancels flights and causes me other inconveniences. However, the rain also makes for some great waterfalls in the area. It might take some slippin and slidin thru the mud to enjoy the view, but our wonderful waterfalls wouldn’t be so wonderful without those 300 something inches of rain each year!
Ever since we’ve lived in Spokane, May is always a crazy month! Moody Aviation has their commissioning service for the graduates, Moody Bible Institute has their official graduation, and Moody Aviation treats all their staff/ instructors as well as the graduating seniors to a dinner cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene – all in the same weekend! We also celebrate the twins’ birthday, mother’s day, and memorial day. And every May, Moody Aviation hosts a white water rafting trip and barbeque for the staff/ instructors and graduating seniors! Whew! I’m tired just typing it all!
We are so proud of the aviation students who are graduating next weekend! Dan had some of them as students as they were just starting out their flight training 2 years ago. We are excited to see how the Lord uses them to further His kingdom using Aviation!
I’ll admit, the closer June 24th gets, the more nervous I am about the next two years. There are a lot of questions. Will I be able to learn Swahili? Will I catch on to all of the cultural stuff so I don’t offend people? Will I be a good teacher? Will I make new friends? And so many more.
But God is moving me forward. Little steps. Some people might be able to run up a mountain, but most of us get there using hundreds, even thousands, of little steps.
Little step 5,401: Purchase plane tickets.
Little step 5,552: Receive full funding for the Swahili Language School
Little step 5,617: Arrange details for transporting bicycle
Little step 5,923: Wire funds to the Language School to reserve spot
Little step 5,924: Apply for residence permit
There are so many other little things that have fallen into place. And in each and every case, there are people surrounding me, helping me, and giving generously to make this possible. To those of you who prayed and gave for my language training–thank you! To the missionaries working in administrative roles who have guided me through the visa/teaching/residential permit process–thank you! To the co-workers, friends, and family who continually encourage me, even by asking me repeatedly to stay in the U.S. because you love me,–thank you! To everyone who lifts me up in their prayers–thank you!
I can’t do this alone. You, the friends and family and random acquaintances, are the people who have made this possible. Know that God is still moving. The process is still going forward. One step at a time.
And, among the nervous vibes, is this crazy excitement that in only a few more thousand steps, I will be stepping onto a plane to Dar es Salaam…I can’t wait! But until then, its time to keep on keeping on with the everyday details of life!
Thank you for being a part of my life and this journey!
Remember the joy of holding your firstborn child? Feeling that soft, smooth skin. Looking into those innocent eyes. Marveling at a life formed by God in your womb. A miracle. The miracle of life. Remember the awe you felt. And the love for that child. Wondering if you could ever love another child as much as you love the child you were then holding.
Your life revolved around the needs of this infant. Feeding, bathing, and making sure the baby received proper medical care. You did all that was necessary to ensure that your child had the best chance possible at a good life.
Now try to imagine for a few minutes that you don’t live here, in a comfortable home with all the necessities for babies at hand, with the doctor only a phone call away.
Try to imagine that you are a Ye’cuana woman, a Ye’cuana mother of an adorable little baby boy. Being a Ye’cuana mother does not diminish your love for your child one iota. You still love your child as much as you did a minute ago. You still want the best for your child. You love this child with all your heart.
And then this chubby baby boy of yours suddenly becomes ill. You’re holding him in your arms when he stops breathing. There’s no hospital. No emergency room. No doctor. Your heart nearly dies within you. And then he starts breathing again and you sigh in relief.
However the relief is short-lived. … It happens again. … And again.
You’re scared. You could take your child to the missionaries but what good would it do? Your husband, the father of the child, claims he is NOT the father of the child. He has disowned the baby. He has gone off and made a boat. He knew that by making a boat while the child was still an infant that the child would get sick and die. But he did it anyway.
There’s no hope now. There’s no way the baby can live. The father has signed the child’s death warrant.
You’re scared. You’re without hope. You know your child will die.
This really happened. The adorable little baby boy did die. He was placed in a rough wooden box and laid in a grave. His mother was left with empty arms. Without hope.
Would you want to live that way? Would you want to live with such fears? Would you want to die that way?
We did not choose our place of birth. We did not choose the culture we were be raised in. That could have been me. That could have been you.
What are we willing to do, and where are we willing to go, to take the hope of the Gospel to those living and dying without hope?
What are we doing to make a difference?
When Finding Nemo first came out in film back in 2003 we totally missed it. As a matter of fact, I distinctly remember one of our co-workers giving Sheila Marie a stuffed fish that same year for her second birthday. I was told the fish’s name was Nemo as evident by his ‘lucky’ fin. I however had no clue. This was our first year of ministry in the Philippines on Palawan and we were busy helping tribal people in the process of Finding Jesus.
Since then we’ve had the opportunity to watch Finding Nemo a number of times and I would say this is arguably one of the greatest cartoon films ever created. After all, who can forget lines like, (insert surfer accent) “Taking on the jellieees! Dude, you’ve got some serious thrill issues.” Back in Palawan, currently the gospel is being preached among the Calamian Tagbanwa and when I stop and think of the work this takes, it makes me want to say to our co-workers as little squirt said to Marlin, “Dude, you totally rock!”
Our co-worker Nate recently wrote, “Teaching people who have never clearly understood God’s word is slow going… sometimes painfully slow, but taking the time to teach steadily from the beginning has been so worth it!” He went on to say, “As we teach about Jesus, people really connect the dots right away and He makes sense to them.”
In Finding Nemo, in order for Marlin to save his son Nemo, he had to venture off the reef into dangers unknown, cross the ocean and fight of some hungry sharks and other creatures of the deep. Despite the danger, Marlin’s love for Nemo compelled him to set out on this incredible journey. Along the way he found help from forgetful Dory, a 150 year old sea turtle named Crush and numerous others along the way.
So what’s the point? Whiling Finding Nemo is a cool cartoon, Finding Jesus is of far greater importance. Leaving “the reef” per se to travel across the ocean into challenges unknown so that we might teach people about Jesus is not always easy and fun but it is worth it. Why do we do it? It’s because His love compels us! As for these other fish in the ocean such as Dory & Crush, planting tribal churches doesn’t get done alone. It requires help along the way. To that extent, my wife and I might be nothing more than an old sea turtle and forgetful Dory (Shay for sure is our little Squirt), but coming alongside of our co-workers in this incredible journey is a privilege we wouldn’t change for the world.
Please pray for the continued teaching among the Calamian Tagbanwa as they are in the process of Finding Jesus. Blessings to each of you and thanks for your partnership in helping to see the gospel preached among the least reached people groups in the Philippines.
Currently it’s really hard to keep my part of the preparation ball rolling because I spend so much of each day schooling. I have one more week of school to finish up with the children. I’m thankful we homeschool and have flexibility in our schedule to finish up our year a little early. After that, it will be much easier for me to give our mission field preparations more of my focus, time, and energy.
I’m pretty sure I could go on and on if listed all the things that need to be done, taken care of, or figured out before we make it to the field. None of these jobs are in and of themselves huge, undoable tasks, but when I start thinking about all of them I tend to get very overwhelmed. I’m thankful to God (who is the best match-maker) for a husband that doesn’t get so easily overwhelmed, who keeps things all in perspective with a good outlook on them and keeps me focused on what needs to be done each day. He calls the day’s task “the long-lead item”. Today’s long-lead item is painting cabinet doors. I can do that.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16
It’s FINALLY time to go! Our final visa approvals came in yesterday, our passports arrived back today, and we’ve purchased our plane tickets. We leave in just 4 days!!! Please pray for a smooth transition (especially for our girls) and for God’s grace in the days ahead. We have a very long journey just to arrive in Papua New Guinea and covet your prayers. Thank you for the encouragement and prayers thus far. Praise God for all He has done and all He will do!
Our new address will be:
CHRIS & SARAH COOKE
NEW TRIBES MISSION
GOROKA, EHP 441
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
- I can no longer tell that we don’t own a hot water heater
- Siesta time moves from a nice treat to a necessity for my sanity
- I regret every time I leave mid day without my hat
- The boys will sit and play in a tub of water as long as I will allow them
- It is possible to start and finish our laundry within a few hours
- Forgot to take meat of the freezer? No big deal, just give it an hour on the counter
- By the time I get up in the morning it is already time to close the windows
- Mangoes make their appearance in market
- After “hello, how are you?” comes “man it’s hot today”
- I start preparing myself mentally for the trials the hottest months will bring
Yep, it’s time to get out our suitcases again. We are preparing for an important trip to Bolivia. We leave the end of this month for Bolivia. One project we’ve been working on is to update the literacy training that missionary candidates receive and then to train the trainers. This trip to Bolivia is a part of that process. We are so excited to work with about 15 students from Bolivia and Peru, as well as help train the literacy course teachers and field literacy consultants. And we have an added blessing of being able to visit our daughter and her family who are serving at a school for missionary children in Bolivia!
One of the great things we have enjoyed during the last three years or pursuing this new ministry is the great wealth of stories, testimonies, and first hand accounts from the mission field. During our year-and-a-half of training in Ontario we were surrounded by experienced missionaries and got to hear first hand their adventures and challenges overseas – AMAZING! If you like missions you would love to experience this training program, and I would love to take you there – even to visit.
Of course that’s probably not a reality in the busy-ness of life, but there is another way to have at least a sample of that experience. New Tribes Missions publishes a quarterly magazine, NTM@Work, full of great testimonies and stories that lets you have a peak behind the scenes into tribal missions. If you’ve donated to our ministry you’ve probably received a copy in the mail but it’s also openly available online. You can even read back issues for more great stories or to learn about a particular region that interests you. And seriously – if you would like to visit the Durham Ontario campus let’s make a plan and do it.