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Confessions

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When we moved to PNG 14 months ago, I thought I would never lack for blog topics or things to say. But this past year has been difficult to digest and even more difficult to discuss. I had expectations of what missionary work would be like. Those expectations have slowly given way to reality: the good and the bad. I tried to make sure I was as spiritually prepared as I could be, but cross-cultural living brings up more questions about God’s movement in the world than answers. In some ways, I feel further from God, but I also know that He disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). Discipline doesn’t mean punishment, rather “teaching.” Though this year has not been what I expected and it has been one of grief and change, I am learning so much about myself, my family, God’s work in the world, and my place in it. So, for the sake of remembering some of the teaching God’s doing and (hopefully) learning that I’m doing, here’s a list of some of those things in a (sort of) confessional:

I tho…

Uncrossing Arms

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Uncrossing Arms
Deuteronomy 30:19 …I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life…
Before we came to PNG, I read several blogs about living overseas, missions, and culture shock. I read about what people had experienced when they lived as expats for the first time: the good, the bad, and the unmentionable. One of the things I read in several different blogs was that it takes a year before you really settle into a new place and begin to see it…Honestly, I didn’t believe it. I knew it would be a tough transition, but surely it wouldn’t take a year?! And suddenly, here we are at the end of 10 months and I’ve never been so wrong. As we close in on one year in PNG, I can say without a doubt that it really has taken me this long to begin to uncross my arms. Let me explain a bit.
The first couple of months here, we were surprised at the level of exhaustion we were experiencing. Every single night, we were ready for bed by 8:30 or 9. We seemed to have only en…

The March blog that never was

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This blog has started and been erased a half dozen times. It’s even saved in my computer as “blog March.” But now it’s April and that’s ok.
So, I don’t know about you, but I’m a forgetter. Each time some new crisis or unknown comes along, I get lost in the forest and I’m blinded by the trees. “There’s no way through THIS one,” I think. And the worry and stress take over. The need to change or fix or correct is strong with me. Mostly, it’s the now things: the state of the house, the fight with him, the things that never got done, she’s not eating enough protein, there’s no audiologist here, what if we have a major medical emergency, apathy toward things I should care about, her messy room, no exercise in three days, the laundry mountain hiding in the back, the pile of dishes mocking from the kitchen, the unwritten sermon…
And then, those lead into the bigger worries. Are we doing the right thing for our daughter by living in this country? Is she seeing Jesus in us? Will she grow up no…

Changing the way I think

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I am a feeler, through and through. Justin and I took the Strengths Finder test as part of our missionary orientation, and it became obvious on paper what we already knew: the analytic married the one who wears her heart on her sleeve. In 11 years of marriage, what we’ve discovered is that we have the capacity to complement each other well, but we also have the tendency to be like oil and water if we’re not careful.
So, after a tough month back in PNG after vacation, I was struck hard when I read the paraphrase of the verse above: Romans 12:2 says, “Let God transform you by changing the way you think.” But what about how I feel? Nope. The original says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your MIND.” I’m learning to own the feeler/relator that I am, but sometimes, I know that my feelings betray me. How? Feelings do not always equal truth. Just because I feel something in a moment, whether it is frustration, happiness, sadness, disappointment, or any other of a plethora of emotions, d…

Mi gat 44 Krismas

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Mi gat 44 Krismas. That’s Pigin for “I’m 44 years old.” In Papua New Guinea, years are counted in the number of Christmases you’ve seen. I like it. Christmas has always been my favorite season anyway, so why not count your years by them? 
When I was a child, many of my Christmases were marked by traditions of our family, Santa’s arrival, a few carols, a wooden manger scene, and Dad forcing us to read Luke 2 before any presents could be opened. I sort of resented it. OK, I really resented it! Sometime in my childhood I remember thinking, “do we have to bring Jesus into everything??” My sister and I learned that Mark held the shortest version of the Christmas story, so as we got older, we always requested that Dad read out of Mark so we could get to the presents already.
I’ve never put this into words, but I guess I was about 12 when I found out about Santa and, even though we continued to get great gifts, the magic started to fade. I know it sounds strange, but I used to have an idea…

Reflections of a new missionary v 2.0

We’ve been in Papua New Guinea now for three months. ¼ of a year. Until last weekend, I don’t think I realized the depth of my woundedness in the transition. Justin has been sick once, then last weekend, it was my turn. There’s something about being sick that literally and figuratively knocks you off your feet. I felt horrible and, on top of that, I was just plan mad. My homesickness reached a new level and my body was betraying me. It was a rough combination. I went from feeling like I might be getting better for an hour or two, and then falling back on my face anytime I tried to do anything but rest. I didn’t get anything marked off my weekend ‘to do’ list and all I managed was sleep.
My outsides began to mirror my insides. I was grumpy with my family (though I’ve gotten good at putting on the missionary happy face around my peers) and I just wanted to stay crawled up in my hole, angry about everything…wondering if we made the right decision, this place, my job, and the fact that …

Reflections of a new missionary

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47 days ago, my feet hit a soil I never imagined in my wildest dreams they would. For one thing, a few years ago, I had never heard of this country (or if I had, it was in with the rest of forgotten geography files in my aging mind). As we descended into Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, I felt sick. If it had been nausea from the plane it would have been easy to treat, but this was the feeling of being out of control of my future and a complete loss of everything I knew as “normal.” What was worse? I had chosen it. This wasn’t something that just ‘happened’ to me, but it was preceded by months of planning, fundraising to get here, and the liquidation of over 80% of my family’s worldly possessions.
A few years ago, Justin and I both read “Radical” by David Platt. I have to say that this book set the stage for many discussions and ideas we had in our marriage of what we might do with our lives. Then, in a random string of events, we ended up traveling overseas to adopt o…