Confessions of a missionary wife: the hard times…

by mendibpng

Our first week in Papua New Guinea with Joe (age 3) and Noah (age 1). August 2002.

“Thankful for the hard times?” you may ask? Yep. James 1:3 says, “…because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance…”

When we arrived in Papua New Guinea, we were the typical bright eyed and starrey eyed new missionaries. Another older and wiser colleague warned us not to be ‘high maintenance,’ before we left the U.S., so we came here thinking that we would be the strong capable ones. We soon found out that we were not strong. Or capable. Or as culturally sensitive as we thought. When our village neighbors repeatedly threatened us or attempted to extort money from us, (sometimes sucessfully) we wondered if we had made a mistake in coming here. The theme for our first furlough was

2 Corinthians 1:8
“I think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.”

Although we had never been physically harmed, we could relate to Paul’s words, “crushed” and “overwhelmed.” We struggled in our marriage because we both handled the stress differently.

The story doesn’t end there though. By the end of our furlough, we began to see how much we had focused on our own pain throughout the whole ordeal. We had cried out to Him but in the process, we didn’t notice all of the pain around us. It dawned on us that if we were feeling this way, our Papua New Guinean colleagues had even more things to deal with. Not too long ago, one of our PNG translators lost everything in a fire, deliberately caused by an enemy of his. Other translators have lost family members to sickness because of the lack of medical care out in the bush. Most of our friends are dealing with ongoing land disputes with their traditional enemies.

We realize that Christ may ask us to suffer even more than we did those first few years. The difference between now and then is that we have those experiences behind us, so we know where to go (God) and how to talk about what is happening. But I look back on those times and am thankful for each one of those gut wrenching experiences, because as Paul said, “we learned to rely on God, not ourselves.” Thank you, God, for the hard times.

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2 Comments to “Confessions of a missionary wife: the hard times…”

  1. Yep, we remember those times too and the picture looks familiar! At POC, right? Where has the time gone? When I first looked at the picture I thought that it was Jacob and Jenny Beth in the back packs!

    • Yes!! It was at POC, on the night of our first wasfamili visit. I remember when Corney used to call Noah his ‘fat little buddy’ 🙂 Miss you guys!!!

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