On the Road Again

June 11, 2021

Our time in Madang has come to an end. We’ve said our goodbyes to old and new friends, coconut trees, the ocean view, and the heat (that one wasn’t a hard goodbye). During our three months in Madang, we celebrated six months in-country and our eighth wedding anniversary; learned from seasoned missionaries who flew in to teach us; and of course spent time out with the local people. A few weeks ago we had a language evaluation, and both Nate and I have made good progress in Pidgin (the national language). We’re almost halfway to being fluent.

Where are we now? We’re back in the Highlands! After completing a few months in Madang learning language and culture, new missionaries then go into what’s called bush orientation.

You can think of bush orientation like an internship or shadowing: each new missionary couple gets paired with a veteran missionary couple in the tribe and spends about two months with them. We get to see firsthand what it’s like in a tribe and continue to progress in the national language while we spend time in villages with the local people. Another great thing about bush orientation is you’re put in a tribe that has been taught through a large portion of Scripture and been presented with the gospel, so you get to see what an indigenous church looks like and spend time with PNG believers.

For bush orientation we have been paired with missionary couple Coleton and Shawna Williams. They live and work with the Kuman people group in the Highlands. Right now our family is staying on an NTM base in the Highlands, but in a few days we’ll be heading into a Kuman village. The population of Kuman is 200,000. That’s almost a quarter of a million! It’s hard to imagine a people group as large as this that has only recently been introduced to the gospel in the last couple decades (and it still has yet to spread throughout all of Kuman).

We won’t have good internet access for the next two months while we’re in Kuman, so our next update will be after our time is finished and we’re back on base. During these next couple months, would you please pray for us:

Pray that we wouldn’t have any long bouts of sickness so we can spend a lot of time out with the people and keep learning the trade language and more about the culture.

Pray that we would absorb a lot of information from Coleton and Shawna and from observing the church.

Pray that Erin would start feeling more at home in Papua New Guinea.

Pray that our time in Kuman would help clarify for us which people group we should move into in the future, and who we should partner with (missionaries move into a people group as a team; a team typically consists of three families).

Over the last couple months, PNG as a whole has taken a hard hit with Covid. It seemed for a while that the country was going to escape Covid relatively unscathed, but cases started increasing a couple months back; hospitals are at capacity; lockdowns have occurred and there’s not much that can be done (normally not anything) in rural areas when people get sick. New Tribes also experienced a difficult loss from Covid in Mexico recently. NTM works in many different countries; the first year or two of new missionaries being in-country is called E2. This is the stage we’re in right now. A normal, healthy young missionary in the E2 class in Mexico died recently from Covid. Her name is Betsaida, and she was pregnant with her and her husband’s first baby. Please pray for her husband and family. It’s a solemn reminder that we must live every day - no matter how young we are or how healthy we are - remembering that death isn’t far away from each one of us.

Thank you for your prayers and financial support; they are the reason we are here. Next time we send out an update it will be with pictures and news from our time in Kuman. We’ll catch up with you soon!

Lots of love,
Nate and Laura

Our E2 group in Madang. We're now spread all over the country! Several families have already started their bush orientation.