“What do you want to be when you grow up?” a young child was asked. “A missionary on home assignment” he replied 🙂 I can’t remember where and when I heard that little anecdote, but it springs to mind often as we’ve now been back in the UK for 7 months.
A lot has happened. We recovered from a very stressful, uncertain return journey, we’ve wound down from high-stress bush living, settled Oscar into a nursery, given a dozen or so presentations on the work in Kovol (mostly over Zoom), seen the birth of healthy twins, gotten through the newborn phase (wow, that was much harder with twins than a single baby!!) and cleared our backlog of work on the Kovol language we wanted to do.
I feel like we’re grinding to a halt now though. Upon returning from a visit where I spoke at a Church in Milnrow I feel like the wind has been sucked out of my sails. The to-do list I made back in January is much depleted, the remaining tasks are blocked (like waiting for visa applications to return), and since it’s been 8 months since my last conversation in the Kovol language, there’s not really anything I can do on that front apart from listening to stale language recordings on my phone and stare at language data, having an idea that explains what’s going on – but having no one to ask about it. There’s no shortage of language tasks I could do, but how beneficial they are while lacking the immersion of village life is questionable.
I want to plunge myself back into the grind of learning the language. If we could teleport back I’m sure we could get a good few hours a day of language study in while juggling the babies and Oscar, but we’d also need to teleport back for vaccinations, dentist appointments, and baby check-ups.
I know we’d probably struggle with living in the bush again as well. Life is harder and chores take longer out in the jungle. Alice and Millie are still only 4 months old so they still take it out of us.
If only we could do both… When we’re out in Kovol we miss our friends, family, and the ease, comfort, privacy, and stability of life at home, but at home, we miss our calling and interacting with Kovol friends.
We’ve still got another 4 months in the UK before we spend a little time in NL before returning to PNG with 9-month-old babies.(That’s going to be a tough journey! The bigger the girls are the better!).
This is where the Lord has us right now, and it’s a blessed place to be. It can be easy to feel guilty and lazy because we don’t have a 9-5 we need to go to, but we remind ourselves that what matters most is what the Lord wants us to be doing each day. In the future perhaps that will include working a job as a part of our home assignment, but that’s not possible right now with our children’s needs. We’ve been blessed with incredible freedom and flexibility as through supporters God provides for our financial needs; that freedom and flexibility is what we need to move our family to live overseas in PNG full time.
Too much freedom and flexibility? What a problem to have! I’m working on rejecting the amorphous guilt for having it and investing time and energy into family and preparing for future ministry.
The arrival of the summer holidays and the end of Covid restrictions has given us a great opportunity to enjoy things with Oscar.
As we visit with people we’re so encouraged to see our little boy grow more and more comfortable in social situations. He’s learning to relax and enjoy himself even with complete strangers, he’s getting used (and enjoying) regularly going to a swimming pool, he’s loving the easy access we have to movies and his weekly movie night (with junk food!), he’s building elaborate cushion forts and as we look ahead to starting home school with him he’s loving being read book after book from the library.
Alice and Millie are drinking, sleeping, and chatting away. Both are above average in weight (good job Mum) and we’re starting to see their distinct personalities come out.
I’ve found a brilliant book giving a 10,000ft view on agriculture in PNG (https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/33748) which I’m hoping will help me be less clueless about life in an agrarian tribe and I’m really enjoying reading books by the reformer Martin Luther. Lutheran is what people in the Kovol area nominally identify as. What an incredible source to potentially tap into later to reinforce Biblical truth.
Our direct involvement with ministry in Kovol has petered out, but we’re trying to indirectly be involved by keeping our family healthy, happy and the sort of people that will be a blessing when we do get back.
All in all we’re blessed, we’re happy, but we’re itching to get back to work in Kovol.