Thursday, January 1, 2015

Holding On Loosely

Recently an experienced translator told us that you have to hold on to things loosely in Papua New Guinea. Life here is very unpredictable, and things can change dramatically almost overnight. These sudden changes can cause unforeseen challenges that require major planning adjustments, so you can't cling too tightly to any plans that you have.

When we learned of the orders to deport our missionary friends in Enga, it became clear that it would not be wise to cling too tightly to our plans to build a house in January in Birip. One of the missionary families who received deportation orders was living in Birip, and their residence there was cited as one of the reasons for their deportation. Although I (Adam) had accepted that we could not build our house in Birip, I was still clinging tightly to the idea of building our house in January, so I took a short trip up to Enga in December to try to identify another location to build. An opportunity presented itself to build in the village of Rakamanda, and I quickly jumped at the opportunity because the area would provide us with a wide open piece of land for our family, which is what we wanted. Martha did not have a chance to see the land, but I assured her that it would be a great place for us.

A political cartoon that was published in the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier depicting Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato trying to deport the Lutheran missionaries (who serve in Enga) and Prime Minister Peter O'Neill blocking the deportation.

After making the decision to build in Rakamanda, I received warnings not to build there because the tribal fighting in that area had not yet been resolved. Years ago the whole area had been burnt to the ground in tribal fighting, including church and school buildings. Although the fighting has now subsided, the underlying problems and tensions have not yet been resolved. This means that the fighting could flare up again at any time and that our home (and potentially our family) could be at serious risk. Although it initially appeared to me that God had provided this piece of land for us at the last minute, I realized that, by clinging too tightly to my own plans, I had not done my due diligence in investigating the area nor had I spent enough time seeking wisdom from the Lord and others about the decision. Thankfully, God did not give me peace about the decision to build in Rakamanda, and others spoke up warning us about the potential dangers of the area.

After spending time with the Lord in prayer and seeking counsel from others, we have decided to wait until after our upcoming furlough to build our house. Our prayer is that the deportation orders for the missionaries will be reversed by that time (and it is looking like they will be) and that the underlying leadership problems in the Lutheran Church will also be resolved. That would enable us to build our house at the original location we had chosen in Birip, which would be a wonderful place for us. Please pray that God would again open the door for us to build in Birip after our furlough. Please also pray that the construction department will find a good place to store the parts of our house that have already been assembled in Ukarumpa. Pray as well that the corrupt church and government officials who actively oppose God's work in Enga will be removed from power. Finally, please pray that God would give us the grace to hold things loosely in our hands, listening closely to His still small voice as we navigate the ever-changing and unpredictable world that is Papua New Guinea.

Some of the walls of our house that have already been constructed in Ukarumpa and now must be kept in storage until we return from furlough.