May 2020 Update

May 1, 2020

We always imagined Erin would take her first steps in Papua New Guinea, but it looks like we'll be here a little while longer.

Has the coronavirus changed your plans?

We’ve held off on answering this question because like all of you with your jobs and future plans, we didn't know. However, we’ve received a little bit of clarification in the last few days, so we wanted to share that with you.

In February we received confirmation from our leadership in Papua New Guinea that everything looked good and we were all set to arrive in July 2020 to begin our orientation into the country.

A few weeks later we were told to hold off on purchasing our plane tickets just in case the coronavirus were to halt international travel and disrupt life in Papua New Guinea.

Earlier this week we received an email along with the other missionaries in the July group saying that September would be a more realistic timeframe for moving into the country (and even that isn't final). The reason for that is mainly threefold: First, Papua New Guinea has stopped processing all government documents and visa paperwork; several families will probably not be getting their full documentation back in time. Second, several families were on track to meet their monthly financial support goal in the next couple months, but have had to cancel church meetings and get togethers with people as we all continue to stay home. Third, much of our initial learning will be in a major city where we’ll visit the marketplaces, fishing areas, local churches and be invited in people’s homes to learn from them. Even if we were all to be able to arrive in July, if there’s a stay at home order still in place for the city, we wouldn’t be able to learn and get properly immersed in the culture and national language.

Many people in Papua New Guinea are scared. The hospital systems in the cities are some of the poorest in the world, and in the remote villages there is often no medicine or medical treatments of any kind, aside from indigenous herbs and plants. We have heard of a few villages in PNG and neighboring Papua, Indonesia, in which whole villages are suspected to have contracted the virus. Many people are living in fear. The Good News desperately needs to get to these remote villages in PNG where the gospel has never reached. The Good News is not that you and your kids won’t get sick. The Good News is not that you and your kids won’t die. The Good News is that you and your kids might get sick, and you and your kids might die, but neither sickness nor death can separate a believer from the love and security of God in Christ.

What are you doing in the meantime?

We’re pretty much doing what everyone else is doing: just spending most of our days at home. We have stopped actively raising monthly support because churches aren’t meeting, and we feel that asking individuals for money is inappropriate during this time. Thankfully though, we are 90% funded!! And we are so close to our goal. We hope to be able to raise the last 10% when things get back to normal sometime late this summer. Currently, Nate is filling a temporary full-time position at his former web development firm, and he’s able to work from home. Only God could have known how perfect this job would be.

Where is my money going?

This extra time waiting since January has allowed us to accrue a good bit of money for PNG. After we complete our initial orientation in PNG and are at the stage where we’ve formed our team and have pinpointed a tribal location to move into, we’ll need to purchase solar panels and build a house before we can move in and begin the years-long process of learning the language from scratch and begin to document it. The cost of all that can range from 45k-60k. Because you all have been so generous and so consistent with your giving, we already have 35k of that in savings in our missions account! Many missionaries have to come back home to America to raise those costs before they can return to the village and begin. It would be so amazing if because of what you guys have already given, we didn’t have to leave to do any additional fundraising but could just get right to work. Thank you to all of you who have given and continue to do so, even though you can’t see the fruit of your giving just yet.

To close, we wanted to share a video from the Moi Tribe in Papua, Indonesia. The Moi people were reached with the gospel for the first time in history about a decade ago. In this recording, Paiye tells the Easter story in his native language. Let’s continue to think about the resurrection and all its implications even though the holiday has passed.

Listen and let your soul rejoice.