Monday, February 1, 2016

Golf Ball-Sized Hail

During our cross-country trip in January, we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a storm with golf ball-sized hail stones, and it got me thinking that sometimes that’s what missionary life feels like.

"What was that noise? It sounded like someone just threw a rock at our car. There it is again. It keeps coming. I think that is hail. I hope the windshield doesn't crack. Maybe we should pull over. No, just keep driving through it." Those were our words as we made our way cross-country just north of Houston. It had been a nice clear day, and then all of a sudden a hail storm was upon us, with golf ball-sized stones pelting the car, leaving large dents in the exterior. It was a bit terrifying. But we kept driving, and even though the storm subsided, the dents are still there.

Sometimes the transition of missionary life feels like that hail storm. Everything is going along just fine, and then out of nowhere it feels like we are getting pelted with large hail stones. Sure, the hail lets up sooner or later, but we wonder if the damage that is done might be permanent.

Since arriving in America in July, we have ‘lived’ in three different homes and spent the night in more than twenty other locations. And along with the joy of saying hello in each new place is the pain and grief of saying goodbye to those we are leaving behind, yearning for the stability of a life lived in one place surrounded by family. And when we finally get a moment to settle down and think about it all, the hail storm hits and we wonder if the damage done is permanent.

Yet we know that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18). And so when the hail storms come, we keep driving through, confident that our Lord will bring us safely into His arms, even if we pick up a few dents along the way.

Dents on our hood from the golf ball-sized hail storm that hit us just north of Houston

Release of Matthew in Enga
In November the Enga Bible translation team released the book of Matthew in Enga. They traveled to four of the five districts in Enga Province to make the new book available in audio format and found that there was a high demand for the ‘top-up’ memory cards, which people can insert into their Audibibles to receive the new book. In fact all of the top-up memory cards sold out! Last month we also received a surprise email from an Engan man who said,

“I live and work in Enga as a civil engineer. I am from a small village called Lakui in the Ambum Kompiam district. I am so moved by the incredible work that you have done in translating the Bible into the Enga language. I am enquiring to find out where I can source some of those audio bibles so that I can distribute to Christians in my community who cannot read the Word of God in Tok Pisin and English. I believe that according to Romans 10:17, ‘Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ It is my prayer that the Lord continuously bless you as you carry out the great commission of spreading the Word of God to the ends of the earth.”

It is so encouraging to get feedback like this and to see people excited about receiving God’s Word in Enga.

We spent the first couple weeks of January traveling cross-country from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Pasadena, California, where we are now settled into a two-bedroom apartment in a missionary housing complex. (You can reach us at the address below until mid-July.) During our trip we enjoyed visiting friends and relatives in Priceville, Alabama; Bethany, Oklahoma; Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, Texas; and Phoenix, Arizona. It was a special treat in Houston to visit Martha’s aunt and cousins, who are the only stateside connection to Martha’s Mexican family that we have. We hadn’t seem them since our wedding, and it was wonderful to reconnect with them and practice our Spanish (which apparently has rented out the space in our brains that is now being occupied by Tok Pisin and Enga). Bella especially enjoyed getting to meet her second cousin Ramiro Jr. and became like a big sister to him during our stay in Houston. Thank you, Lord, for a great trip!

Jacob, Bella, and Asher with their cousin Ramiro Jr.