Confessions of a missionary wife…the worst of times

by mendibpng

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Charles Dickens in a Tale of Two Cities

For those of you new to this blog, we live in Papua New Guinea. We have just spent five weeks in the village. This was a momentous time in our project because Papua New Guinean translators from five of the language groups we work with took home copies of Luke and literacy primers. Our teammates Beth, Jessie and Ange completed a two week ‘walk about,’ hiking around to villages dedicating these books of Luke and encouraging church leaders and families to read God’s word in their langauge!

We travel from our training center in Ukarumpa to Arop, on the north coast near Aitape, several times a year.

This post is going to be about the hard things I encountered in the last five weeks; however, the next one will be about the ‘best of times’ aspect so I hope you will read both to get the balance.


I knew this trip to the village would prove to be a personal challenge for me. I told a friend recently that this was by far the hardest time out in Arop that I’ve ever had.  I had three school aged kids to homeschool and two 20 month old toddlers to keep happy while also keeping everybody fed and clothed in the village.  I often felt that I barely made it to the end of each day. The pidgin phrase “mi no inap” (I’m not able/capable) kept coming to mind. I’ve been in the village since 2002. I pulled out every trick I knew to cope. Each day I fought weariness and frustration.

 Some challenges included:

-spending over an hour discussing why a certain child needed to write a WHOLE page of a journal entry three times a week while a baby was crying

-talking calmly with another who dissolved into tears when she found a math problem too hard

-keeping Jacob from severely injuring himself (aka The Climber and Jumper) or breaking something

-holding a clingy Jenny Beth who was sick with Malaria

-breaking up squabbles between big kids who had very little privacy or space from each other

-cooking (from scratch, no refrigeration) while the toddlers were hungry and fussy

-mopping the floor and doing the dishes only to realize they needed cleaning again

-nearly running out of food

-feeling torn between printing the literacy primers (especially when the printers didn’t seem to cooperate) and being home with my kids. Ben was in charge of the kids that last week but he was also trying to get our friend Joel’s translation up to speed since he had to leave (and come back) for a funeral. Both of us felt urgency to get the literacy/translation work done before we left.

Add these to the ‘normal’ things of village life and I was a pretty stressed out mama.  It was not uncommon for Ben to come home to a wife in tears.

I think the most distressing event of the village stay was when a church leader and trusted friend of our family beat and kicked his mother because she had asked for a grass knife from her grand-daughter in law. They yelled and shouted in plain view of our side windows, and I had to explain to my kids why our friend abused his mother. When she came for pain medicine and showed me her bruises, she tearfully and angrily told me how she would never forgive her son unless he made it right. I gave her pain medicine and prayed for another opportunity to talk to her.

This is just a little glimpse of what those five weeks were like. It wasn’t all difficult, so please feel free to come back tomorrow when I’ll post my ‘best of times’ view.


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