One of the things I like to do each day as the principal of Numonohi Christian Academy Elementary is to visit each of the classrooms each day. The children get used to seeing Dr. Eggleton coming in. I enjoy sitting on the carpets with the kindergarten and 1st grade students to listen to the stories from the teacher or I sometimes join in with the singing in some of the older classes as they start their day with songs, prayers, and a Bible lesson.
This last week I happened to get an opportunity to listen as one class talked about what it would be like to head back to a home country for home assignment. For those going on home assignment it has probably been 4 years since they were in their passport country. For someone who is 10 or 11, that is a long time! One students was sharing about his last time back in the states. He shared how he looked forward to seeing a friend he remembered from the last time he had been there. When he got to the states, his “friend” didn’t even remember him.
I appreciate that our teachers take time to prepare the students for this transition. Whether the students are going or staying they face transitions. In a few weeks many of the families who currently live at our mission center will be leaving. It isn’t easy to say all of those goodbyes whether you are the one leaving or the one staying behind. Talking about it and preparing for the challenges does help. Please be praying for our many families who will soon be transitioning.
Helping the Homeschoolers
Part of Dawn’s ministry is to go to different parts of Papua New Guinea to provide testing and encouragement to the homeschooling families. Each year the children who live in bush locations with their parents fly or boat out to have annual testing and share some of what they’ve learned. In the western area of Papua New Guinea the testing occurs around the annual conference for the tribal missionaries, so this becomes a nice time for the tribal missionaries to gather to share stories and gain encouragement. In addition to having educational consulting from Dawn, one of the doctors from our support center visits to provide medical assistance to families, too.
One of the highlights of the homeschool time is an “Expo” where the children share something from their homeschooling. Dawn said there were lots of poems shared and some original writing. A few boys shared about their “science” and actually brought in a live alligator! Since the kids don’t have a classroom of their peers to compare with, the expo helps them to know that their school work is like others. The moms appreciate the sharing, too. It can be hard to be a homeschooling mom. There are always lots of doubts as to whether you are meeting the needs of your children. One job Dawn particularly enjoys is being able to encourage and challenge the moms. They usually leave the conference with new ideas and goals for their children for the coming year.
Like Sticks of Fire
Last summer we all prayed together for the birth of the church in one of the PNG Islands. Below is an update of the work that continues with these new believers:
Lots of neat neat stuff happening with your brothers and sisters in Christ here. We are working our way through Romans still and the joy that these guys have in finding out that they are “no longer slaves to sin,” but actually victorious in Christ…it’s priceless! I wish so badly that you could hear their testimonies as they work out their salvation. They are still young believers, but have such a yearning to grow.
We’ve started meeting with groups of about 5-6 men, just so we can share more intimately what they are working through. When we initially shared this idea of discipleship with them, they were elated; the first time we met together it was as if they’d been DYING to share their struggles and failures with fellow brothers, and when we prayed for each other (something that is still very hard for our believers to do in public) they were overjoyed. Their saying is “we are like sticks of fire. When we are put together, our fire grows strong, but separate we easily get cold.”
Today we had our first communion together as a body. It was unreal guys … the looks on their faces as their thoughts went back to the sacrifice that there Lord had made for them. For them to participate in this, have full understanding that it doesn’t cleanse them but is in fact an act of remembering the salvation purchased for them, they took it with joy and knowledge…a very new experience for your brothers and sisters here.
“Whether you have had a good day or a bad day, whether you have consciously sinned or not, your basis of approach [to God] is always the same – the Blood of Christ.” It is only by the blood of Christ that I can know fellowship with God – the same fellowship that brothers and sisters are gaining here in Papua New Guinea as this truth is shared. Thank you for helping them. Thank you for helping the many missionaries here by your support of our work here. As our Biem brothers have shared – as we come together our fire grows strong. Thank you for being here with us!
Every year our Numonohi Christian Academy Elementary School has a reading festival at about this time. It is hard to believe that this is the 25th! We start out the event with a big assembly where several of the classes share living book reports. In the pictures above you can see our first grade acting out “Koala and the Dragon”, our 6th grade sharing “Maniac McGee” (sleeping with his rat!) and our 5th grade sharing “The Whipping Boy”. They usually take you to a suspenseful part of the book and then stop and say, “If you would like to find out what happens, then you need to read …” The kids all set goals for how much they will read during these two weeks and we put out a challenge to stay “screen free”. During each day we have DEAR times – Drop Everything And Read. The classes also have Mystery Readers. (Even the principal gets involved – see picture!)
One of my favorite parts about these weeks is the excitement for our newest readers. In kindergarten they have been learning letter sounds since the beginning of the year. Reading Festival occurs just as they are sounding out simple words. They are so excited to read their short books. I love to sit with them and let them read to me. It is like seeing a whole new world open up to them – and it is!
Our librarian has lots of fun activities for the students in the library. The students love the bookmark decorating contest. Every day many of the children give up their normal recess activities to go to the library to make bookmarks or explore the books in other ways. We are having a lot of fun! I really do love teaching and working with these young people!
Our Spot in the Jungle
If you were to drive along the Highlands Highway (the only paved road that runs the length of the mountains in Papua New Guinea) this is what you would see as you drove past our mission center. Before and after our little area you would be traveling along the grasslands and jungles of Papua New Guinea. While our center is rather isolated, we are fairly close to a small town in the highlands. Being so close to this town gives us lots of nice privileges. We have an airport that has flights twice a day (if you’re lucky) on a Dash 8 back and forth to the capital city of Port Moresby. We also have the advantage of a few food and supply stores as well as a couple of restaurants.
One of the stores in town has a bakery that makes bread. We are so thankful for this. If they didn’t make and sell loaves of bread, we would be making all of our bread by hand. We even get a choice between white bread or brown bread (I think the “brown” is supposed to be a whole wheat). We can also order hamburger or hot dog buns and even loaves that look like Italian bread or Cuban bread! Until this last week we have taken our wonderful bakery for granted! This week we had a notice that came from our supply center … “The bakery’s mixer is broken, so there will be no bread orders this week!” Making bread by hand this week has reminded us again that we do live in a little spot in the jungle. Our tribal missionaries understand this so much more, but once in a while we are given a small reminder of how blessed we are by even our small town nearby. The fresh baked bread at home has smelled and tasted great, but we are thankful that most weeks we can receive this from a bakery!
In the pictures above you see Elizabeth and one of her friends as we took a hike to the river. The first picture shows a huge gathering of bamboo. It is enormous. Elizabeth and her friend enjoy the mud at the river in the second picture, and they walk through an archway of coffee trees as we traveled through one grove in the 3rd picture.
I read this week in 1 Corinthians 10 where Paul told the Corinthians how the people of Israel rebelled against God even though they had experienced so many blessings from Him. “And all of them ate the same miraculous food, and all of them drank the same miraculous water. For they all drank from the miraculous rock that traveled with them and that rock was Christ.” This verse reminded me of the miraculous bread and water we experience every day – both literally and figuratively! We never know how God will supply, yet He always does – often giving the body of Christ a privilege in being a part of that miracle. We are thankful for the miraculous bread we experience each week – even if it doesn’t come from the bakery in town!!
Floating in a Cell
Even in the middle of the jungle, our teachers manage to find ways to make learning fun. This week the science lab was turned into a giant cell. (I told the students to pretend they were floating around in the cell while I took their picture!) Our elementary students had the opportunity to visit the cell while the 7th grade students explained all of the many parts. We are so thankful for the creative teachers we have here.
Continued Spiritual Growth
Before we ever knew what New Tribes Mission was, Dawn and I saw an incredible video called “Ee Taow”. (If you’ve never seen this, you should! It can be found at the NTM bookstore online.) The video documents the incredible response of the Mouk people to the gospel message. The Mouk people live on one of the smaller islands that make up Papua New Guinea. The Mouk have a dynamic, growing group of believers in their village. This week we had an update on this church from one of the NTM missionaries. “I had a conversation with one of the Mouk deacons yesterday and he passed on a praise and prayer for us. Praise: The church, especially in the main village, is seeing many who are dying to self and choosing to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them. It’s amazing to see the people begin caught up in ‘Christ Alone’. They are holding small group Bible studies regularly – even with the children – to encourage one another. Prayer Request: A number of people in the bush have TB (Tuberculosis). Some have completed medical treatment and are recovering, others have serious cases and some have died.”
It is not uncommon to find tribal groups who have had a brief exposure to the gospel to simply make those teachings much like their beliefs about other spirits, while still not knowing the true God. New Tribes Mission is dedicated to seeing growing churches. The Mouk church is a wonderful example of a church that accepted the gospel and then grew to be a thriving church. The New Tribes missionaries stayed to help this church grow and then have consistently been following up to meet needs while they continue to grow through their study of the scriptures. It has been over 20 years since this church first heard the gospel. They have reached out to many other areas and now share that they are “dying to self”. Many of us (and I include myself) could learn a lot from these tribal groups!
Some NCA students on Sock Day!
This last week I really enjoyed this passage from Psalm 46: “We will not fear – even if earthquakes come and the mountains crumble in to the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! … The Lord Almighty is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.” Sometimes situations come that can cause fear and worry. This verse reminds us – even if the earth were to crumble away under our feet, we can know that our Lord is among us. We can trust His plan, even when it seems frightening or painful to us. I hope you can enjoy the peace that can come when we trust completely in Him – even as the mountains crumble beneath our feet!
The work of New Tribes Mission is to provide the good news of Jesus to people who have never heard it in their own language. To do this, missionaries must live in very remote tribal locations that can often only be accessed by small airplane, helicopter, or boat. To educate their children while serving in these remote locations, families provide a home based education, at least until the children are old enough to enter the dorm program at Numonohi Christian Academy (at grade 7). Dawn’s ministry while serving in Papua New Guinea has been to assist the many families who are providing education in their bush locations.
Most of Dawn’s work is done through email. Moms in the bush location are able to send questions to her through email and then Dawn can give them a timely response. In addition, Dawn oversees a curriculum library where she can pull materials that can be sent to bush locations to help with the education of the children. Since our support center is often visited by the bush missionaries when they have medical or technological needs, Dawn is also able to visit with families when they are here. She can then meet the family, help moms find good solutions to their educational problems, and encourage families in the difficult task of schooling their children while in their remote locations. Dawn also organizes annual standardized testing for the children. To provide these annual tests, she often needs to fly to locations closer to the tribal works where she proctors the tests and meets with families. Part of the support you provide for us each month enables her to make these trips and help so many families.
Tribal missionaries visiting our center often like to have their children get a “taste for school,” so we allow the children to visit in our classrooms. Often the children have never sat at a desk or had peers their own age with whom they can compare their work. Learning to raise their hands to ask a question or share a response are often new behaviors for our visiting students. As principal at the elementary school I usually get to meet with the families when the children visit. I regularly hear how much they appreciate Dawn for all the help she provides the families in the bush. On their behalf, I’d like to express their thanks to you for making it possible for Dawn to be here to minister in this way. She has been a tremendous blessing to many families!
Friends of ours are working with the Pal people group of Papua New Guinea. They have been serving there since 2009. Even after 2 full years with this people group, they are just beginning to feel that they can understand the language to a point of following a conversation. Imagine living in a village where every word of conversation is completely alien and there is nothing written to help learn the language. They have had to start with the most basic words and work their way to the point where they are now – actually able to understand conversations. The work of tribal missions is very challenging.
As with most missionaries in the tropics, there are always the dangers of various diseases. Nate, our friend in Pal, encountered a not-so-friendly mosquito who shared dengue fever with him. Now the challenge he faced was not just seeking to understand the people who lived near him, but to face chills and fever in a location that is only accessible by a helicopter. Thankfully, New Tribes Mission provides a great support team that can help meet those needs. Nate wrote the following regarding the support team: We’d also like to take a minute to publicly acknowledge the support personnel who were there for us in the emergency. From the mission doctor who took 2 am phone calls, to the pilot, supply and maintenance guys who dropped everything to get the helicopter ready for us, to the many folks who took turns to stay with me in the critical hours or to watch our kids so Elizabeth could. We are so very thankful for the great team here in PNG, truly we would not be able to be here without them. Sometimes serving on the support side of the mission work does not seem very exciting, but we are thankful that we can be part of the team that cares for needs like Nate described above. In 6 weeks we will be returning to our remote location in the mountains of Papua New Guinea. Thank you for making it possible for us to be there to help expand the reach of the gospel to places like Pal.
One of our challenges in returning to PNG is in leaving our oldest, Nathan, here in the states as he continues to pursue his college studies. He was fortunate to get a job at a YMCA camp for this coming summer. We are thankful for how God continues to meet his needs as he takes this next step of faith.
We are so thankful for each of you – the support personnel of our team! We couldn’t serve in PNG without you!
One of our goals in writing this update is to let you experience a little of what it is like to be a missionary. One part of being a missionary that I never realized is the many “hellos” and “good-byes” that are said. It is an incredible privilege to be able to develop the many friendships with others with the same spirit of submission to our Lord. As we visit in churches and also as we have served overseas and seen many missionaries come and go we have been able to see the “light” God has put in so many – a “light” that seems to come from within and brings glory to God through the life of the individual. The “hellos” are such a blessing and the “good-byes” seem to squeeze the heart a little. We were so blessed this last week to be able to say “hello” once again to dear friends we met on our first trip to the mission field in 2005. Of the 18 of us that went to serve in Papua New Guinea as associates that year, 16 of us were able to get together for a few days this last week – (with a great phone call to the other 2 as well!). There is a camaraderie that forms between you as you serve together in a new experience. In many ways this group has become family to us – as have many others. It had been 6 years since we were all together and it is hard to tell when or if it will ever be able to happen again. Such friendships are a wonderful gift from God – and point to the unity and love He wants us to know and experience. I pray we would all value these “gifts” from our loving heavenly Father. Each of those moments is special!
John Piper (“Don’t Waste Your Life”) describes glorifying God as being something like a telescope. If we truly glorify God we are helping others to see Someone who is so vast and beyond our understanding by drawing them closer to a small part of Him – much like a telescope helps us to marvel at the beautiful mysteries in the vast galaxies around us. I’ve been very convicted lately that my life does not emulate that telescope nearly like it should. Too often I seek people to look at me rather than simply being a mirror to reflect the One who is so much greater. Piper shares, “God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of Him in every part of our lives.” I am praying that God will work in me what is necessary to be a better “telescope” or “mirror” to glorify Him. I hope you will be able to see Him make that difference in me in these coming months and years – or maybe I should say I hope you will be seeing “less” of me in these coming months and years and more of Him. May many come to know Him more fully. What a joy there is in that!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
A question we’ve been asked a lot lately is “Do you miss the warm weather in Papua New Guinea?” As our teeth chatter and our toes about fall off we remark on how pretty the snow can be and how nice it is that our food can stay in the trunk of the car all day and not spoil and who needs an extra freezer when you can put things outside the back door – but, yes, we do miss the warm temperatures of the tropics! I don’t remember when I’ve anticipated spring so much! Of course part of that is in looking forward to everything coming back to life! We are already starting to see some of the bulbs around our rental house starting to push out of the ground. We have no idea what might be in the flower beds. It is rather fun!
Some dear friends sent us the book “Radical” by David Platt for Dawn and I to read together. We would highly recommend it. What a fresh insight into how we should be seeking God in our modern times. To give you a small glimpse, I wanted to give you a little excerpt that really speaks to us.
“I get fliers on my desk every day advertising entire conferences built around creatuve communication, first-rate facilities, innovative programs, and entrepreneurial leadership in the church. We Christians are living out the American dream in the context of our communities of faith. We have convinced ourselves that if we can position our resources and organize our strategies, then in church as in every other spehere of life, we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. But what is strangely lacking in the picture of performances, personalities, programs, and professionals is desperation for the power of God. God’s power is at best an add-on to our strategies. I am frightened by the reality that the church I lead can carry on most of our activities smoothly, efficiently, even successfully, never realizing that the Holy Spirit of God is virtually absent from the picture. We can so easily deceive ourselves, mistaking the presence of physcial bodies in a crowd for the existence of spiritual life in a community.” (-Platt, p. 50)
On Our Knees
- We would ask that you pray for the power of God to work in and through us. We are so thankful for several opportunities to share about how God has worked in and through our lives as we’ve served with New Tribes. As we share in these upcoming meetings, we would be so grateful for your prayers that the only thing that would be remembered by our visits is the power of God – how He is accomplishing things that ONLY HE can accomplish. We marvel at all that He does. Pray that we could help others marvel at all that He does as well!
- Please continue to pray that God would work through the course Dawn is taking on Educational Consulting to provide her with many new helps for the homeschooling families overseas as they continue to seek to educate their children from their homes.
- Please pray for direction for Patrick as he soon transitions from his interim role at our local church. Pray that God would direct the use of each day. He is considering the possibility of doing some substitute teaching. Pray that he could be used to direct students and staff from our community to God’s love for them.
Upcoming Church visits:
Huntington Area MOPS – Tuesday morning, Feb. 14
First Presbyterian Church of Rome, Georgia – mission emphasis dinner on Feb. 25 and 3 services on Sunday morning, Feb. 26
Union Chapel Church of Bryant, Indiana – March missions emphasis – Sunday evening, March 11
First Baptist Church of Huntington, Indiana – Sunday morning, March 18
Serving at our local church this last year has given me some sense of a “desperation for the power of God”. If I could go in and teach how to factor a polynomial or simplify a square root, I would feel pretty comfortable, but God has asked me to be His tool to lead others to know Him – to gain a hunger and thirst for all that He is and the life He desires to bring to us. Most days I start by admitting, “God, I don’t know how to do this. You’ve got to do it through me.” How can we communicate the marvel of God’s love and grace for people to even have a brief glimpse of that reality? We pray you know that desperation for the power of God – a desperation for only what He can give. The American dream may be nice, but God’s way is soooo much better!
Having served in Papua New Guinea, where there always seems to be many personnel needs, it is always difficult to hear of co-workers who will no longer be able to serve. While being back on home assignment we have heard of 3 families that will no longer be part of the team overseas for various reasons. The most common reason people have to leave the field is due to physical reasons. While we are very thankful for the medical staff God has provided for the PNG field, they are only able to meet so many needs. If complex tests are needed the individual usually has to leave the country at least for those tests. If that happens too often, the cost just becomes too much. Some of the challenges of daily living in our remote area can also become too much for some physical issues. We just heard this last week of the third family that is having to make this difficult change. It is hard to believe that these key people will no longer be able to continue in their ministries as they have. We say all this just to encourage you to continue to support any who God directs to the mission field. If someone in your church or community is led by God to serve overseas, I pray you can be a source of encouragement for them. There are so many needs and the time that any of us can give to serve is always unknown.
We are very thankful for the encouragement and support you have shown us to continue in serving overseas. This week we were able to finalize our tickets to return to Papua New Guinea. It looks like we will be leaving in early July to start our next term of service with the families there. At this point it looks like Patrick will continue to teach some math classes while also providing leadership with MK education. Dawn will probably continue her work with the many homeschooling families while Timothy and Elizabeth will attend the school there. It will be hard to leave Nathan behind to attend college, but we have been so blessed by family and friends who are “adopting” him while we are gone. We know we are all in good hands – the same hands that have led us for many years!
We have so much appreciated our home church and the way they have reached out to us this year. It has been a pleasure to be able to serve on staff for this part of the year. Last week Timothy, Elizabeth and I were able to attend a student retreat with others in the youth group. These are opportunities that Timothy and Elizabeth have not had. We are so thankful for these experiences for them. The church will soon be bringing in a full-time minister for the student and family ministry, so my time serving on staff will soon be over. The last few months, though out of my normal area of service, have been a great experience. We continue to look forward to serving alongside the ministerial staff for our last few months here in the US.