Archive for August, 2012

August 22, 2012

navigating transition…

by mendibpng

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” C. Kingsley

I used to think that change was exciting. I welcomed the idea of getting on an airplane and traveling thousands of miles to an unknown land. Meeting new people excited me and although I found some things hard, I remember feeling invigorated by all of the adjustments I had to make.

Now that I’m only a couple of years away from 40, change and transition are different for me. I like being in one place for months at a time. I like being able to put up curtains and pictures on the wall.  Although I crave stability, I also have a itching to travel occasionally…as long as I can get back ‘home’. Growing up as a missionary kid, I learned that being numb whenever there was a transition or goodbye kept me from experiencing the pain of it. Now that I’m an adult I see how destructive denying feelings can be, not just to myself but to others I live with.

As I pondered the emotional moments I had today, I came up with a few things that I’ve gleaned along the way. It’s not rocket science…more so common sense and perhaps obvious to the rest of the world…but since I come back to it over and over I guess it’s worth writing down.

  •  Transition is exhausting. Before we got to the village, there’s a flurry of packing and sleep deprivation. The most common thoughts are, “what do I need for the next 6 weeks?” and “did I bring enough food?”  I realize that for me, once I arrive, I need to build in time to nap and go to bed early even though there’s food to be unpacked, school to start and a house to clean. Also if I can keep my meal preparation easy and expectations low for a few days, I do much better.
  • Transition is ‘letting go’  I have to grieve the things or people I’ve left behind. On Sunday I said goodbye to several friends who will not be in Ukarumpa when I get back. My daughter said goodbye to her best friend, and it was heartbreaking. I tell my kids, it’s ok to be sad—that is how we can move through it. Acknowledging our feelings is the first step. Additionally, there’s the other ‘little’ things to let go of: using a microwave, going to the store, and being able to talk to people in my own language. (the last one is silly because I can call anyone I like on Skype out here, but it’s not the same as seeing them in person!) Even though they are seemingly inconsequential, it does help to acknowledge that I miss them. On the other hand, if I start obsessing about missing something then it’s a short jump away from self pity, not a fun state for me to be in!
  • Transition is disorienting. After 13 years of parenting kids in constant transition, I know enough now that a two year old who cries a lot during the first week of a village stay is behaving normally. Shoot, I cry a lot during the first few days of arriving, especially on the first day of homeschooling! I try to give my kids extra grace and work on explaining how transition is affecting all of us. The older kids tend to bicker a lot because they aren’t used to being around each other 24-7. They just need time to adjust to each other.
  • Transition is a chance to be honest. I have learned a lot about myself in the middle of transition. Perhaps the strong feelings that transition brings on makes me more vulnerable, but it also makes me want God in my life more. It makes me want to love my husband and kids better. The selfish bits tend to hang out, don’t they, in transition?
  • Transition can be an opportunity to start a new thing. I decided that I was going to do more fun things with my kids this time in the village. Normally I work really hard all day and crash in the evening. Tonight I had finished almost everything I wanted to do and sat down to play Bananagrams with Noah and Ellie. I surprised myself by enjoying it! Sometimes I just need to nudge myself past the exhaustion and expectations.
  • Transition is an opportunity to practice good self care. I tend to get caught up in the ‘doing’ for everyone else…wiping bottoms, fixing meals, negotiating arguments, etc., but I can easily forget to eat or take a few minutes break for myself with a cup of coffee.
  • Transition is a chance to invite God into all of the above. He knows better than I do what I am feeling and what I need. He can help me navigate all of the exhaustion, disorientation and grief of letting go.

I think the best advice that I’ve ever heard about transition when I took a course a few years back from Russ Rogers was to ‘pay attention’.  He emphasized noticing what is going on around you. I’m trying to do that and to help my kids navigate what’s going on for them too.

“The last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” V. Frankl

I like this quote because I need to be reminded that I am not helpless. I can choose God. I can choose to have a good attitude. And I can choose to make the best of my circumstances. It does help that the job we have here has purpose–we’ve invested in this Bible translation work–this makes everything worthwhile.  It doesn’t mean that I pretend I’m doing great when I’m really not…but I have the chance within myself to make good choices and to trust Ben with all of those negative feelings. Down through the years he has been good about letting me debrief without having to ‘fix’ me.

and one more  final quote from Roger’s transition class..

“Here is the test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t” R. Bach

August 21, 2012

Helicopter ride into Arop village…

by mendibpng

Yesterday started bright and early for us; however, we waited for a couple of hours at the airstrip for the clouds and fog to lift. Finally, we were on our way!

When he saw that my hands were full, our pilot Johannes Rehm helped walk Jenny Beth to the helicopter.

When the helicopter started up, Jacob protectively put his arm around Jenny Beth. He was ecstatic the whole day!

One thing we loved about this trip was being able to see the landscape so well. We flew closer to the ground in the helicopter than we usually do on the Kodiak plane. Ellie’s looking out over the beautiful highlands mountains in this picture.

Noah had a chance to be copilot!

Flying over beautiful Wewak…

And finally circling over the Arop Community School, where we would land. Ben tells me that as soon as he heard the helicopter coming, he started running.

Everyone took a break from school to come and see the helicopter land! When Jacob saw his daddy he said “Daddy, I found you!”

I felt gratitude like I’ve never felt when the helicopter left. Usually we arrive in the village all hot and sweaty and with black and blue backsides from sitting in the back of a pickup truck  after 2.5 to 12 hours drive. All this happens after having been on another airplane for 3 hours. We arrived in the village in less than 5 hours total with only a 5 minute walk to our house. In less than a 1/2 hour, the twins and I were all taking a nap.

Sometimes as a missionary I assume that I must chose the hardest thing. Yesterday showed me that this is not always the case! I signed up for hardship because I knew that God had called me to this life. However, every once in a while an unexpected blessing arrives and I am flooded with thankfulness. The helicopter ride did that for me yesterday.

Ben arrived here 3 days earlier than me  giving me a head start on the ‘normal’ cleaning that takes us 2-3 days at least. He swept out all the cobwebs, ant dirt and cockroach/bug droppings. Then he disinfected shelves and counter tops.  When I arrived, he started putting things away in the kitchen. This morning it only took a couple of hours to get our food rat proofed (well, as much as possible) and stored for the next six weeks.  This afternoon I will finish washing all of the dishes in our kitchen  so that I know everything is clean for the whole village stay. Tomorrow Noah and Ellie will start homeschooling.  Ben has been at the translation desk all day with the Onnele men.

Oh, and internet is working great!

The kids and I are dealing with normal transition stuff–we tend to be more on edge emotionally and all of us are tired. But as soon as I post this, I am going to talk to them about being grateful because it is so good for the soul to be aware of our blessings.

Psalm 118

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

August 19, 2012

Journey by helicopter tomorrow

by mendibpng

tomorrow will be a first for the Pehrson family! Since the helicopter is heading out to the Sepik, the kids and I will fly in it ALL THE WAY to our village. Here’s why I am so excited:

because of this day…

this one, when a bridge was out…

this one…

and this one: even on a Good-Road-Day, it’s not always a comfortable ride!

plus we’re anxious to see this guy again:

and to get back to our home in the village!


Today I’m packing up the last minute things and will *hopefully* be ready for our 6am pickup! If you are reading this today, please pray for the kids and I as we travel–it’s going to be wonderful to be taken all the way to the village but I’m also a little anxious about all those hours traveling on my own with four children!

August 17, 2012

Beautiful day!!

by mendibpng

Once a year we have Sports Day here in Ukarumpa for the primary school…it is always a highlight for our kids, and we are so glad to take part.

August 16, 2012

Meet Luke!

by mendibpng

Luke Elliott is from College Church in Wheaton, our sending church. He’s looking for a year of adventure before heading to college next year and picked us!  We are looking forward to having him join our family and team this year!

You can read his blog here or join his partnership team here.

We have been asking God to send people to help us in our translation project. I see Luke coming as a direct answer to this prayer!

Matthew 9:37-38 (NIV)

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Please pray for Luke as he prepares to come to Papua New Guinea. If you have ever gone overseas, you will know that he needs a passport, visa, medical clearance and assignments/paperwork to complete for his internship with us. Please pray that we will be able to give him a realistic view of the whole process of Bible translation and that God would use this experience to help shape the rest of his life.

August 15, 2012

So that they may know…

by mendibpng

Pictured above: our Arop friends Silvia and Alice a few years ago worshiping in church. These girls now have the  opportunity to hear the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts in their own mother tongue.

The past couple of weeks have been challenging, to say the least, health wise. I had a tummy bug  two weeks ago…then my back went out…and then this week my kids and I got another tummy bug. (Not all the kids though!) Ben left for the Aitape Baibel conference last Friday while I stayed home and worked on packing for the village.  I think the times I miss Ben the most are when the kids are throwing up at night (one of mine did, all over the floor), when there is a relational conflict between the older kids and when the twins wake up and cry in the night.

Needless to say, when Ben called me last night, I said something like “I am really glad you are there but it’s hard for me to share you so much with our work!”

Lest you feel sorry for me (no need!), I want to say that I had a great sense of accomplishment today, getting our 4 wheel drive truck down to the autoshop to get fuel, arranging to get the tires filled up, organizing a new gas bottle to be delivered, having all of our cargo labeled and ready to go before a 3 pm pickup, and sorting out other details for the trip. I even had time for a cuppa with some new friends and enjoyed two unexpected visits from friends after that! Added to the other ‘stuff,’ I have purposefully worked on having good boundaries with the kids, especially cracking down on complaining and whining in all of them from ages 2-13. Ben is much stronger in the area of discipline so it has been good for me to be on my own and work on consistency while he’s away. The kids have been really helpful and I am thankful that the transition stress hasn’t decended yet. (yes….it’s coming I know…but maybe the anticipation of riding in a helicopter will help!)

I am going to let Ben write some specific reports  in a few days about what is happening at the conference, but in general, he has been telling me that the church leaders and our translators are enthusiastic to be talking together about Bible translation. Specifically, they want to know how they can support the Aitape West Translation project and possibly expand into the Aitape East side.  Many of our Papua New Guinean translators shared today and covered almost all of the topics that Ben wanted covered (without having had prior knowledge of his list!)

I want to say that I feel a lot of satisfaction in this work we are called to do, simply because I look at the faces of the people we work with and realize that having the Bible in their own language is going to give them the opportunity to know God personally. They will be able to read His Word and learn truths that they have never heard before.

Tonight, I do miss Ben, but I am full of thankfulness that he is pouring himself out for the people of the Aitape West. Just in case you want to pray specifically for them, the language map is here (The languages we work with are in bold)

August 11, 2012

“my daddy’s on the airplane”

by mendibpng

So for the last few times that Ben has been away, Jacob tells everyone he meets “my daddy’s on the airplane. He going to the Billage” (village) It appears that he believes Ben is still up in the sky in a plane! Jenny Beth hasn’t mentioned daddy yet, but she has been extra sensitive lately. “Me happy. Mama, you happy too?”

Although Ben is not in a plane, he is presently with our team in Aitape preparing for the Aitape Baibel Conference I wrote about recently. If you have time to remember our teammates in prayer: Ken Tobiana, (special speaker) Ben, Jess, Beth and Bob (regional area director) will all likely have opportunities to speak publicly and to talk to people one on one. Also, our translators arrive tomorrow and many of them will have a chance to share their passion for Bible translation. Ben writes that he has heard reports that people from different denominations and churches are planning to attend. We are praying that people from each of the 11 language groups involved in our translation project will be represented.

The kids and I are doing great here. Sometimes when Ben leaves, it’s really difficult because I miss him and it helps to have two of us to keep our family of seven moving along. I had a deep sense of well being the whole day, and I think it’s because people have been praying for us. Today the twins shocked me by their ability to get to the potty on time. I know this  probably sounds trivial but with an upcoming village stay looming it is a huge boost to know they CAN do it.  I overheard my 11 yr old today boasting about Jenny Beth’s toilet skills to his buddies, it was really cute!

All our village food is packed and ready to go, with the exception of a few more things to dehydrate this week.  The boys have hosted sleepovers, and I had time to watch a chick flick with Ellie tonight. We leave in a week, Lord willing!

August 7, 2012

“Rejoice! I will say it again: rejoice!”

by mendibpng

Ben planned to leave yesterday in order to do face to face invites for the Aitape Baibel Conference that we wrote about in our last post. He learned from others that this is the best way to make sure that people hear about the event. We have been praying about this event and planning for it for over a year now.

Last week, we pushed hard to finish projects that needed to be done before he left–some relating to the translation project and some for our family. One of these projects involved moving Ben’s office into our bedroom and his cubicle a short walk away.

However, on Sunday, the day before his trip, I leaned over to plug in my computer and felt my back go out. I have had this happen before–my back spasms for about a day and then freezes up for an unknown length of time. All of a sudden I became emotional because I knew this was going to incapacitate me for at least a few days. If you know me, you know that I don’t like to sit around doing nothing, particularly when there’s a village trip to plan for: buying food six weeks (done, but all over the dining room!) dehydrating fruit and veggies, homeschooling materials to go over with teachers and sorting out everybody’s clothes.

Ben spent literally days trying to organizing the three legs of the journey that he planned to take on Monday.

Through the course of the day, we realized that he wouldn’t be able to leave as planned. One of our bosses called later that afternoon about another issue, and Ben poured out the story to her. She advised him to consider staying home but left the decision up to him. When I woke up from a nap a little while later, Ben was already making plans to stay for four more days. He told me that he would trust God to bring the people to the workshop.

The first day that I couldn’t move, I thought “this isn’t my choice of the way this is supposed to happen.” And yet I KNEW that there would be some good from it. Only two days later, here are a couple of things I’ve already noticed God doing:

  • In the last three months, Ben has been involved in two workshops while he worked on notes for Acts and did Project manager reports and paperwork for typesetting.  He also took days off to do a ‘staycation’ with our family. This means that he hasn’t had much rest in many weeks. Maybe God wanted Ben to rest before the conference!
  • We have arranged time to meet with some people who might be interested in joining our multilanguage project. As the team leader, Ben needed to be at these meetings.
  • We found out that three churches have already committed to coming to the conference. Last week all of our translators began calling us on their cell phones because a tower went up in our region….they are also helping us get the word out! Talk about GREAT timing for a cell phone tower to go up, yes?
  • The last couple of days friends have encouraged us. Often when we leave for a village trip, we are depleted and discouraged…and sometimes we wonder if we can do the task ahead of us. We have had friends bring meals, stop by to talk and numerous encouraging emails and messages. We praise God for fellowship, both near and far!

I could go on but these are the main things that come to mind. Here are the verses that I’m holding onto today:

Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

August 5, 2012

ABC: Aitape Baibel Conference

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Aitape Baibel Conference – Sios Bung Bilong Tokples ABC
(Aitape Bible Conference – Church Gathering for Vernacular ABC)
August 13-16

Please pray for this conference that starts next week for district church leaders from about ten denominations in Aitape. It’s all about asking God how they might partner together across denominational boundaries as part of the Bible translation movement in their part of Papua New Guinea. Luke was published last year in seven languages and Luke-Acts together will be published this year in ten. If district church leaders understand the importance of people hearing God’s Word in their own heart language, then their congregations at the local level may receive the training and opportunities they need to use and be transformed by the translated Scriptures. But there are also many other languages in the surrounding district that still have none of Bible in their own languages. So this conference is about the possibility of the Church being united in owning the mission to equip remote people living in darkness with the Word of God.

Pray for those leading the conference and the participants, that those whom God desires to be there will be able to come, and that the Spirit of God will grant unity of heart and purpose. And may it not be too long before those still walking in darkness see a great light.

August 1, 2012

welcome to the teenage years!

by mendibpng

A couple of weeks ago, Josiah turned 13, making him a teenager! Wow. It’s hard to believe that my sweet cuddly little boy is growing up. I’m sure most, if not every parent feels like the years have slipped by quickly…well…it’s happening here too. He’s learning to  discern for himself what is right and wrong. He is beginning to make good boundary choices with his time. Now is the time for us to give him room to grow and make those decisions himself so that when he leaves our home he will have some tools in place to do so. Once in a while, when I see him making mature decisions, I feel a sense of relief but also a teeny bit of loss. He needs us still but not in the way he did when he was little. So all that to say, Happy 13th Birthday Josiah. May you continue to grow to become a man who loves God and loves others well.

the first order of the day was to give Joe a guitar  amp we had sent by sea many many months ago!

Ben helped test out all the different settings while Joe played. Not sure who had more fun, dad or son…

Later that afternoon, we rented the community waterslide for his birthday party

Hold onto your glasses!

Ellie took a couple of turns before it got too cold!

Afterwards, Joe and friends all came up to our house, changed and ate pizza rolls and popcorn. Here he is blowing out candles on his desert pizza. Oh, and they finished off the night with a loud game of Quelf. If you’ve never played this hilarious board game, I  highly recommend you try it.

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