We’ve got a big challenge before us with learning the Kovol language and planting a Church. It’s easy to fill post after post commenting on the hardships as they come. The scale of the challenge means our mission has also taken steps to support us in numerous ways.
I could write much about the unseen work of the support team. From training centre staff in the UK, to pilots, administrators, builders and experienced missionairies who have done this before and advise us. We’re glad to be part of NTM PNG.
Last week though we received an extra boost in the form of Fiona, temporarily come to join our team. Fiona is a homeschool helper; she volunteered to spend a gap year out in PNG helping missionary families stay on top of homeschool.
She’s spent 8 months or so in PNG doing just that, and we’re blessed to have her for her last 2 months before returning to Germany.
These last 2 weeks now we’ve had Fiona making use of the Hansen family’s empty house and she’s spent mornings with the Stous family and afternoons with us. Another pair of hands to hold a baby has been such a relief.
We were able to have a language session where both Gerdine and I worked on something. That’s unheard of! Usually when we arrive in the village we need to take turns juggling two babies and doing what we can to stall the inevitable “I’m bored!” from Oscar. This time though Fiona is off playing games and we’re both chatting away in Kovol.
Gerdine feels the help more of course. I’m still “in the office” working on language tasks the same amount of time. There has been opportunity for naps though — having a baby sitter around is such a relief. Although in some ways it’s not the boost we thought it would be. We’ve realized that our kids are like sponges that soak up the attention we give them, and with Fiona here they’re just soaking up more 😀 It makes us really glad to think on all the extra time and attention our little ones are getting.
Oscar’s verdict is that “Fiona can play really well” and is very pleased to have been taught how to play toilet tag.
The Kovol people have seen visitors before, so there is nothing new per se, but there’s a whole new dynamic with the kids. It’s well known in the community that our job is to learn language, so kids running around laughing and having fun get shooed away so the “serious” work can go ahead (unfortunately this doesn’t seem to apply to crying babies!)
With Fiona here focusing on our children we’re seeing the Kovol kids begin to play games with our kids as never before. Games of tag spring up and there’s much giggling and posing for Fiona’s camera — fun things that we typically only experience glimpses of because it’s our job to sit with the adults and work out verb paradigms.
Fiona for her part seems to be managing well. I may ask if she wants to post some thoughts here so that you can hear what Kovol looks like through a fresh pair of eyes. We’re due to fly out for conference on Monday, so it’s a short stint and then it’s only 2-3 weeks after that in Kovol before she heads home.
Nevertheless it’s such a boost to have someone come all the way out here to support us. I’m aware of the many support workers here in PNG without whom we wouldn’t be able to be here. Each time we go out to our centre in Goroka and see everyone beavering away we’re freshly reminded of all the background work keeping our ministry in Kovol feasible. I know it, but it’s still easy to feel isolated and on your own out here when for 3 months at a time it’s us grabbing our notebooks in the mornings and going for another language learning day, without seeing or hearing much of the outside world.
It’s nice to have a new face to talk to.