Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Year in Papua New Guinea

"We just have to make it through the first year, and then everything will be better," I kept telling myself and Martha throughout this past year. Despite all of the excitement of traveling to a distant land, discovering new cultures, and being right in the center of God's will for our lives, there have been many times when we have struggled with culture shock and the reality of being so far away from our friends and family. I (Adam) remember, shortly after arriving in Ukarumpa in May, having a severe panic attack as the reality of a long-term commitment thousands of miles from home finally began to sink in. There were a few days when it was hard to even get out of bed. The reality hit Martha earlier while we were still in Madang completing our training. She was devastated by the fact that she had missed seeing the birth of her niece by just a few weeks. During that time, all she could do was think about when we could leave Papua New Guinea and escape on a family vacation somewhere else. Sometimes it felt as if we had died and would never see or talk to anyone back home ever again.

At my lowest point, I (Adam) had to go to a graduation ceremony for the translation training I was helping with at the time. The emotional pain I felt at that time was so severe that I could barely hold in my tears as I was sitting through the ceremony. But then a man began leading worship in Tok Pisin. We sang simple songs of praise, and God allowed the tears to flow. They were good tears, and God reminded me of why I was in Papua New Guinea to begin with. From that point forward, God slowly brought healing to my heart and helped me overcome the emotional challenges of leaving everything we had and everything we knew and coming to a completely foreign country and culture.

But God has not worked alone, He has used all of you. We have been amazed at the outpouring of love and encouragement from our friends and family! Knowing that we are not alone and that there are people back home praying for us every day, sending us notes of encouragement, putting together care packages, sending pictures, and supporting our work has made all of the difference in the world! God has used and continues to use all of you to help us, especially when we go through times of difficulty.

It is easy to praise God for the many exciting and wonderful things that have happened over the past year. It is more difficult to be thankful in the midst of the loss and suffering we have felt at times. But God has proven faithful. He has seen us through our first year in Papua New Guinea, and we are overjoyed about the bright prospects that lie ahead for helping people receive the Word of God in Enga. We are committed to this work. In fact, knowing we are committed for the long-term is what makes it so hard sometimes because we know we can't just back out if things are difficult or if we are feeling homesick.

After a year in Papua New Guinea, we are actually doing quite well. We miss our friends and family in America, but we are also beginning to feel like this is our home too. We dream about going home on furlough one day, but we appreciate many things here that we don't have in America. In short, we are adjusting to and accepting life here, realizing that there are many things we enjoy about Papua New Guinea even while there are things we miss from home. And that is OK!

"So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
- 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)

To view a short video of pictures from our first year in Papua New Guinea please click here.