Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Encounter with God

I (Adam) ignored the voices of the security guards outside our home that morning. It had been too long since I had had quality time with God, and I didn't want anything to disrupt it. But soon I had to face reality. Security guards are not usually talking outside your house at six o'clock in the morning unless there is a problem. When Martha and I finally went outside, we discovered that the storage area under our house had been broken into and that the kids' bikes and my tools had been stolen. It was the second time our home had been broken into since we moved in a year and a half ago. The first time it happened, I had heard a loud crashing noise in the middle of the night. My first thought was that one of the kids had gotten up and accidentally knocked something over, so I ran out of the bedroom to see if they were OK. As I approached the family room, I saw a man trying to climb into the house through the window he had just shattered. I started yelling, almost growling, in a deep, loud voice, and the man ran away before he had the chance to take anything. Both break-ins happened right before a trip to Enga for translation work. The devil doesn't like that we are here.

A few days after the second break-in, I got bitten by a snake while working in the garden. I never actually saw it, but judging by the bite marks it was just a small snake, and after some time passed it became clear that it wasn't poisonous either. (Although I discovered, much to my chagrin, that the shortness of breath produced by the anxiety of being bitten by an unknown snake in the same country with a snake called the 'death adder' is remarkably similar to the shortness of breath one is supposed to feel when bitten by a venomous snake.) That night Jacob and Bella accidentally broke Asher's tricycle, the only bike that hadn't been stolen and which we had just recently received in a special shipment from America for Asher's birthday.

Three days later I left for Enga for a short ten-day trip to resume our translation work there. Since it was a relatively short trip, Martha and the kids stayed in Ukarumpa. Needless to say, I wasn't well spiritually. I was in a daze of confusion, doubt, and anger. As the Papua New Guineans would say in Tok Pisin, I had a 'heavy'. Transitions to and from Enga are always the most difficult time for me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and the 'heavies' from the previous week were really weighing upon me. I felt sick in the pit of my stomach. I went through all the doubts that the devil attacks me with from time-to-time. Am I really making a difference? Am I just wasting my time here? Will the Enga people really care that we are translating the Bible into their language? Why should I put up with break-ins, bathing in river water, and not having so many of the nice things that are part of every day life in America? I was physically affected by the spiritual heaviness and felt sick.

The day after I arrived in Enga, I poured my heart out to God in prayer. I wrote down exactly how I was feeling. I told God that I felt hopeless and alone, and I begged, literally begged, Him to help me. I have found in my experience that God rarely answers prayers like that for me immediately. However, by the end of the day I realized that the heaviness was gone. God had answered my prayer. He had also revealed to me areas in my life, like parenting, where I was falling a little bit short, and He gave me the grace and desire to begin making adjustments in my life.

Five days later, as I was relaxing on the couch after dinner, I looked up at a banner on the wall that says, 'Keep your eyes on Jesus'. I spontaneously started singing hymns. As I continued, I felt the Spirit of the Lord fall upon me in a wonderful way. The Lord led me through a wonderful time of prayer in which I felt closer to Him than I had felt in months, maybe even years. I physically felt His presence upon me and it was true bliss. God didn't abandon me. He has been here with me all along, and He reminded me of that at just the right time!

By the way, as a result of the second break-in, we are getting a watchdog, which is a highly effective way of protecting your home in Papua New Guinea. Her name is Yana, which means 'dog' in the Enga language. (We really stretched ourselves creatively to come up with that name.) She was born four days after the recent break-in, and we will take her into our home in a couple of weeks. The kids are so excited about getting a dog that they have been surprisingly at ease with having their bikes stolen.

Yana, our new watchdog