Life in the Woods

April 22, 2018

We just got back from living in the woods for 10 days with our classmates. We built structures to live in, attended classes and practiced teamwork in less than ideal circumstances.

We lived communally, cooked together over open fires and learned a lot of practical skills for remote missions work.

Before we moved into the woods though we had a lot to prepare for. Missions isn’t solely “have faith and trust God.” There is a lot of planning involved.

When we move into a village overseas, we will have weight and dimension limitations on what we can bring. Our stuff has to fit into the missions helicopter. So we had to decide how to divvy up weight and space among our team and organize it in a way that could fit on the plane.

We planned out strategically how to construct our houses in light of children, weather, geographic area etc.

We planned out our meals and went to the store to supply buy, split the cost and divvy up responsibilities.

Though we have mentors here, we were not allowed to get help from them. We decided how team dynamics, building and time and resources played out. Whatever we failed at was an opportunity to learn.

After three full days of building our houses, we backpacked into our area. It snowed that day. We built a fire. The kids sat around all bundled up and sang Little Einstein songs. The adults unpacked and got ready for the next 9 days of classes and life.

Over those days we learned:

Chainsaw safety and maintenance in other countries

How to slab wood and build basic furniture

How to use an Alaskan sawmill

How to sharpen tools

How to kill, defeather, butcher and cook chickens

Tips for engine buying, repair and maintenance overseas

Plumbing and sanitation overseas

Methods for building fires

Buying, maintaining and repairing motorcycles overseas

Common issues with solar panel systems and how to troubleshoot

Making emergency shelters

Tying knots

How to kill, butcher, skin, process and cook a pig

How to cut hair

How to be thankful and patient in rough circumstances

Part of me wants to romanticize the experience and say it was amazing and full of great teamwork and precious memories (which it was). The other part of me says, let’s be realistic: it was hard. 10 days of 20 and 30 degree temperatures at night, waking up shivering from the cold and not being able to fall back asleep took its toll. We won’t be facing the cold in Papua New Guinea, but there will be other factors that contribute to the stress.

Maybe it sounds silly. It was just 10 days. But we don’t have to do this. At any time we can bow out and say thanks but no thanks. We’re on the horizon of facing years of struggle. Can we do it?

God, you promised your grace would be sufficient. You didn’t promise how, but you did promise it would be.

Some Papua New Guineans have been writing letters to the missions base for upwards to 40 years begging for missionaries to come and teach them The Way.

We want to answer one of those letters.

Hang in there, future tribal family. We're on our way.

Nate and Laura